City prevails in West Coyote Hills litigation

Today the California Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed on January 15, 2019 by Friends of Coyote Hills regarding West Coyote Hills development approvals, according to a press release issued by the City.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to not review the case of Friends of Coyote Hills vs City of Fullerton (Pacific Coast Homes), the September 2017 ruling of the California Court of Appeal will stand, allowing limited development to proceed in the area of West Coyote Hills.

On November 17, 2015 the City Council approved Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM) No. 17609 and certification of an Addendum to the previously certified Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the West Coyote Hills project. The public benefits contained in the VTTM include trail development, an interpretative center, an endowment to maintain the West Coyote Hills open space, as well as other amenities as found on the city’s website.

The Friends of Coyote Hills; Center for Biological Diversity; and, Friends of Harbors, Beaches, and Parks (together “Friends”) filed a lawsuit against the City in February 2016 and in October 2016, the City prevailed in Superior Court. The Friends appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal.

On December 6, 2018, the Fourth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal of the State of California sided with the City and Pacific Coast Homes in the appeal. All three judges affirmed the City’s actions. [Read the ruling.]

Following the December 2018 decision by the Fourth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal of the State of California, the Friends of Coyote Hills filed the January 2019 petition for review, ultimately ending in today’s denial by the California Supreme Court.

“The end of this litigation means the City can work with the private property owner to begin a series of initial trail improvements so that our community can begin to enjoy the natural amenities of the West Coyote Hills area and the City’s Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve,” stated Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer. “We look forward to working with all members of the community to see over 40 years of efforts come to fruition in the adopted Path Forward, allowing limited development but preserving as open space the majority of West Coyote Hills, to include over 217 contiguous acres between Gilbert Street and Euclid Street.”

The Orange County Register posted a story on the court decision within the past hour.

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