Council voted 5-0 to purchase two parcels of West Coyote Hills from Chevron as open space at their December 17 meeting.
With this purchase, the City will own the entire 217.2 acre eastern portion of West Coyote Hills from Gilbert Street to Euclid Street. This also includes the city-owned 72.3-acre Robert Ward Nature Preserve and an additional 120.8 acres of open space that will be deeded over to the City by Chevron/PCH as part of their 2015 development agreement, which allows for construction of 760 homes and a shopping center on the other side of the property.
The City has secured the necessary grant funding to acquire 24.1 acres (Neighborhoods 1 and 3), whose value is appraised at $18.075 million.
According to the staff report, the goal of the acquisition is “to protect the open space and habitat, protect and restore urban watershed health and provide environmental education and stewardship.”
The entire open space will have recreational trails, vista points and a nature center. The initial trails should be open to the public in the summer of 2020.
Grant funding for this purchase comes from the following sources: Rivers & Mountain Conservancy, the Warne Family Endowment Fund, CA Natural Resources Agency, CA Parks & Recreation, US Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Board $2.809 million, and the CA Coastal Conservancy/State Budget.
Angela Lindstrom, leader of the Friends of Coyote Hills, which has worked to preserve this land, talked about the significance of this area, as it is home to more than 56 pairs of the endangered California gnatcatcher—the largest population north of Baja. There are also several other threatened species of birds that live in Coyote Hills.
“I for one am glad that we’re doing something here, that we’re doing our part to save this precious habitat—at least half of it so far,” Lindstrom said.
She also thanked State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva and former State Senator Josh Newman who worked to obtain a significant amount of state funding for acquisition.
Finally, Lindstrom thanked everyone in the community who voted for the 2012 Measure W referendum.
“Your votes mattered. Your votes are the reason Neighborhood 2, which is the heart of this acquisition, has already been saved,” Lindstrom said.
Diane Vena urged council to continue to work to save all of Coyote Hills.
“People working together saved part of West Coyote Hills. People working together can save the rest,” Vena said.
Molly McClanahan suggested that the city hold public meetings to share information with the public on the proposed trails and improvements, as well as public tours into the interior of the Nature Preserve.
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