August 10, 2007

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

City of Chula Vista should go back to original plan for the bayfront

Long before Gaylord arrived, the city of Chula Vista, the Port and regional stakeholders had reached a strong consensus on a bayfront plan. It envisioned a signature waterfront park, a marina, resort and convention property, distinctive residential units and retail. It balanced the social and economic needs of the community and business, managed infrastructure improvements, traffic and growth, while preserving the important wildlife habitat and ecosystem of the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and the bay.

Along comes Gaylord with its own desires and a project much larger than the plan supported by the original Bayfront Community Advisory Committee (CAC), City and Port. The Gaylord plan would have resulted in serious unmitigated negative impacts, such as traffic gridlock on I-5, lessened air quality and environmental losses. To accommodate Gaylord, the signature park was downsized and moved from the waterfront to an area closer to the freeway. In compensation for the many negative impacts, a compromise was proposed that would have established The Southbay Community Benefits Foundation to fund long term impacts that are not necessarily mitigated by the EIR, such as social and environmental impacts. 

Other elements of the proposal included bringing off-site affordable housing for the low wage jobs being created by Gaylord, incorporating energy efficiency in the new developments that would enable the eventual removal of the power plant, and ensuring local hires. While Gaylord is using the labor issue as the deal breaker, I suspect what it really wants is to free itself from any possible social and economic obligations that were implicit during the CAC process.

Gaylord figures the business community will gladly join in thumping and blaming the unions, while its real goal is to squash any obligation to the community to mitigate the damages its project will bring to South Bay residents. Well, the South Bay deserves better. The City and Port should return to the original Plan as endorsed by all the stakeholders. We have the last huge piece of readily available bayfront in California. Let’s get a decent partner in the development, not a company that wants to reap a huge profit without providing any significant community benefits.

Georgie Stillman
Member of Chula Vista Resource Conservation Commission

Labor Unions committed to ensuring bayfront jobs go to Local Workers First

Since Mayor Cox and the Port first chose Gaylord as the lead developer for the Chula Vista bayfront project, we’ve been saying that Gaylord is an out-of-state developer that can’t be trusted. The fact that they withdrew their application, only to come back is more evidence of their pattern of broken promises and empty threats.

We remain extremely disappointed that Mayor Cox has chosen to side with an out-of-state developer rather than work with us to guarantee that $300 million in public money will result in jobs for the men and women who elected her. We are also surprised that the Port—a public agency that committed to allow the community to have a voice in shaping how this incredible piece of property is developed—has chosen to impose a gag order on negotiation proceedings. This isn’t the way a democracy should work. People’s livelihoods are at stake here and local officials should be protecting citizens, not selling them out in backroom deals with big shot developers from out of state.

While Mayor Cox and the Port have abandoned the local workforce, we remain committed to ensuring that if Gaylord wants $300 million in public money, they make a legal commitment to hire the local men and women who live in Chula Vista and the surrounding region first. We will not back down.

Tom Lemmon
San Diego County Building & Construction Trades Council

Watch what you think!

Whadda ya think? Wait!! Don’t answer that if you live in the Dumanis thought police jurisdiction. Just ask Steve Castaneda. He “thought” about buying a condo in the forbidden zone and look at him now-facing a whole bunch of felony charges. He “thinks” the Mayor set him up but there he goes thinking again-won’t he ever learn? He really shouldn’t bother to think because thinking doesn’t seem to be a prerequsite of serving on the city council. They didn’t “think” that 22,000 petition signers were serious! In fact it appears that our school marm mayor would prefer that the councilboys just sit back and let her tell them what they think. So Steve, Rudy, Jerry, John, just sit back, relax and put those brains in neutral and avoid a(nother) citation by the thought patrol.

Ted Kennedy
Chula Vista

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