The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy has granted $2 million to the city of Fullerton.
The $2 million will be used by the city of Fullerton to acquire 10.4 acres of land, known as Neighborhood 1, in West Coyote Hills.
Neighborhood 1 is adjacent to the 72.3 acre Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve. The total price to acquire the land is $9.6 million according to a Fullerton city official.
It was back in April of 2014 that the project to acquire land for the preservation of West Coyote Hills began. It was called the Path Forward acquisition plan and is described in the Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM).
“The Path Forward plan was the result of talks between Pacific Coast Homes, the Friends of Coyote Hills, Open Coyote Hills and the City” Doug Chaffee said, mayor pro-tem of the city of Fullerton for more than four years during a counsel meeting on Oct. 7, 2014. “It called for Pacific Coast Homes to sell the Coyote Hills property if the parties can agree on a fair price and reasonable terms.”
Currently, Pacific Coast Homes owns approximately 510 acres of land in West Coyote Hills. Out of that land, 161 acres will be used to build single family- attached and detached homes as stated on the Addendum No. 1 to the Approved Final Environmental Impact Report. The maximum amount of homes they are allowed to build is 760, but 757 homes are planned to be constructed.
Even though constructing 757 homes is a possibility, Pacific Coast Homes agreed to sell their land property under the terms of an agreement with the city of Fullerton. The is due to the Path Forward acquisition plan which called on Pacific Coast Homes to set aside land for purchase and time to acquire necessary funds for purchasing.
The appraisal of the lands were based on a model used to acquire all federal lands, and estimated that the eastern half of the Coyote Hills property was worth about $19.34 million as stated on the appraisal by the Harry Heglar Associates, which was created on January 2016.
Currently, Fullerton is trying to find and receive as many grants as possible to successfully acquire the entire eastern half.
In the eastern half, there are two properties being offered by Pacific Coast Homes which are known as Neighborhood 1 and Neighborhood 3, which is shown on the VTTM.
“The City and its environmental partners are focusing on purchasing the entire eastern half of the Coyote Hills property to establish 220 acres of contiguous open space,” stated the official City of Fullerton website. The 220 acres would include Neighborhoods 1 and 3, the already existing Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve and the open space.
Purchasing both Neighborhoods, totaling the entire eastern half of West Coyote Hills, would cost the city approximately $19.34 million according to the appraisal. If funding becomes available, Fullerton is considering purchasing land on the western half as well.
The $2 million granted by The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy is the first grant received by the city of Fullerton to help fund and successfully acquire the entire eastern half of West Coyote Hills.
The conservancy received funding by Proposition 1, “The Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014”, which was approved on November 2014 as stated on their Rivers and Mountains Conservancy website.
Fullerton applied and was named a grant recipient, meeting the conservancy’s Proposition 1 objectives which is a requirement. So far, the city has identified more than $20 million in potential grant funding. The friends of Coyote Hills have also secured a matching grant for $1 million.
Successful acquisition in this project would benefit the 359 different species that reside in West Coyote Hills. Many of the species there are threatened and endangered such as the Coastal Sage Scrub, the California Gnatcatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo.
“It’s our duty to make sure we protect this area” Austin Simpkins explained, a nearby La Habra resident. “It’s our duty that we protect the species that live here so they also have a place to call home.”