Op-Ed By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco
Do you know what I am thinking about as we get ready to take a vote in November on what is going to happen to Coyote Hills (Measure W), one of the last natural habitats and open spaces left in Orange County, in my hometown of Fullerton California?
I am thinking about that television ad campaign by the Chevron Corporation (the oil company who has had rights to the Coyote Hills property since 1913) in the 80's. Do you remember the one I am talking about?
Zoom in on an adorable Bear quietly snoring and sleeping with it's cute little cubs as snow lightly falls. The voice over: "Would a Company really drill for oil in the dead of winter in North Dakota so that the Bear can sleep through the coldest part of the year....People Do...Chevron."
Why can't the good people of Fullerton get THAT Chevron Oil Company? You know...the warm and fuzzy Chevron. The one with the cute talking cars and the cuddly and fuzzy snoring Bears?
Why do we get the Chevron that is behaving more like their predecessor, the Standard Oil Company who systematically and single handedly, among other things, along with a tire company dismantled one of the best public transportation systems in the country in the interests of selling more gas, oil, and tires?
We really don't need more homes and shopping centers in Fullerton....We can't even fill the houses and stores we have now.
I get it. I'm a home and land owner. I would be upset too if somebody told me I couldn't do what I wanted to do with my property. But, I also haven't extracted millions of dollars worth of crude oil off my property over the past 100 years either.
Just because something is ok and it may be within your lawful right to turn half of Coyote Hills into rows and rows of cookie cutter homes Chevron, doesn't mean it is the right thing to do.
Why can't Chevron just sell the land (even if it is below market rates) so the folks in this area can enjoy the last open space in Orange County? Or, why can't they form a partnership with a group interested in the Quality of Life and keep the land open? Just think, Chevron, if you do that, think of all of the goodwill that will be generated for your company. Maybe you can produce another "Adorable Bear...People Do" type commercial.
I divert a little from the people who want absolutely no development on the Coyote Hills property. I agree there should be no homes built on that property. It's a public safety issue. From what I know, there is no way to predict with certainty that those homes will be safe on a land where oil has been taken for years. Who is going to be responsible when the first home blows up? The City of Fullerton does not have the money for that.
I would welcome a partnership with Chevron. I don't care if you call it the Chevron Coyote Hills Natural Conservatory. I wouldn't even mind putting a Museum on one end of the land that talks about the impact of oil in the region and charge Five Bucks a head because like it or not, oil is a big part of our history. Maybe a new outdoor ampitheatre for concerts and live theater against the natural setting of the Coyote Hills on the very edge of the open space. I wouldn't even mind if you call it the Chevron Coyote Hills Ampitheatre.
A lot of folks in this town want a wide open space to hike and enjoy and share. Is that too much to ask after Chevron has made millions and millions off the property over the years? We're not asking for Chevron to lose money on the deal...just listen and work with the majority of the folks that live here and do the right thing. And a lot of us want a wide open space where Chevron used to drill for oil.
And one more thing, Chevron....why was it all right to keep the land open for over a hundred years with no development while you took crude oil out of the property? Where was the desire then to turn one of the last precious open spaces in the county into more urban sprawl?
No matter what your position on this matter is...be sure to get all the facts on Measure W and be sure to vote in November.
This is one of those important moments in our town's history.