Fullerton’s Energy and Resource Management Committee (ERMC) did not fully endorse Chevron’s proposed residential development in the West Coyote Hills at an open meeting last night.
Asked by planning staff to consider two questions regarding development, the committee agreed 6-4 that the plan protects and conserves natural resources, but concerns about water issues led to a nearly unanimous recommendation that further attempts be made by city planners and Chevron to increase the sustainability of the project. Gus Lucero cast the only vote in favor of the sustainability of the plan as it stands. Committee member Anthony Roberts was not present.
This was the second of three committee meetings intended to gather information and recommendations for the City Council which will decide later this year whether to allow Chevron to build on the played-out oil fields. The size of the audience has been dropping. About 45 people attended the meeting last night, down from roughly 75 present at the Parks and Recreation Department meeting Monday, and the nearly 200 people at the July 8 informational meeting.
Though the audience was smaller, they were no less attentive, many taking notes to prepare remarks for the public comment period, which consumed about an hour of the three-hour meeting.
Committee chairman Patrick McNelly pointed out that the ERMC has only an advisory role, and urged concerned citizens to attend the Planning Commission meeting.
“We’re simply an advisory group. We don’t have any decision-making power whatsoever. We certainly don’t have the kind of weight that the Planning Commission does,” he said.
He was nonetheless impressed that the committee had been asked to consider the matter at all.
“We’re not asked to review every development that comes before City Council,” he said. “We were asked, and for the first time that I can remember being on this committee — and I’ve been on this committee going on 11 years the first time and eight the second time — so nearly 20 years service on this kind of a group, I’ve never seen us get involved at this level of a community issue in terms of development. Ever before.”
At this point I’ll insert an editorial comment: At last night’s meeting I was struck once again by the fact that although this issue has raised a great deal of public interest and prompted more that the usual amount of negotiation, consultation and planning, I have heard surprisingly little discussion about Fullerton’s housing needs at the three meetings I’ve attended. Shouldn’t that be a priority when the matter under consideration is residential development? I have the sense that the strong opposition by those with environmental concerns (and I share those concerns) has dominated thinking to the extent that questions about housing — other than how those houses will affect the environment — have been left by the wayside. People are for the project because it will open up recreational trails and an interpretive center, or they oppose it because it will degrade the environment.
Who speaks to the housing issue?
Note: This is a restoration of a post that was inadvertently deleted.