Hillsides Face Development
Communities and public officials have worked for decades to preserve and protect the hills from development, but the increasing pace of development projects and demonstrated public support for preservation have compelled this current plan of action.
The greatest incentive for creation of HOSEC was the proposed development by Aera Energy, a subsidiary of Shell ExxonMobil, which would be largest single development ever proposed in the hills bordering Los Angeles and Orange counties. Public officials in the cities of Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights and Whittier along with representatives from the unincorporated communities of Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights began discussions on how best to respond to this threat, and to assure public acquisition of the property.
Public Opinion Supports Open Space
The impacted communities financed a baseline public opinion survey by the nationally recognized research firm of Decision Research to determine community views on the proposed development and on alternative acquisition scenarios. Survey results show that residents strongly believe that open space contributes to the quality of life, and that public protection and acquisition of open space is their highest priority.
Following council presentations, public testimony and discussions by the cities of Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights and Whittier voted to create the Hillside Open Space Education Coalition. The coalition was formally created in 2004 to seek ways to preserve strategic hillside parcels, and to mobilize public resources to preserve and acquire the parcels threatened by development. HOSEC will prepare cost-effective public education communications programs to identify tangible community support and avenues for the public acquisition and preservation of open space areas in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Acquisition Committee Formed
One of the first actions by the HOSEC Steering Committee (composed of one representative and alternate from each of the four cities, and representatives from the two community associations) was to create a committee to discuss acquisition of the 3,000-acres facing development.
Aera’s plan calls for 700 acres of open space and an 800-acre luxury golf course surrounded by shopping centers and 3,600 homes that will be located on the remaining 1,500 acres. This extremely intensive development proposal will bring an additional 40,000 vehicle trips per day to area streets and destroy the undeveloped scenic backdrop to North Orange County and Southeast Los Angeles County. The development represents a huge threat in the middle of existing open space that provides movement for a wide variety of animals that live and use the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor.