August 10, 2007

Open Letter:

Regarding Chula Vista Bayfront Development

Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) believes that the Chula Vista Bayfront is a unique and precious resource that should be developed in an environmentally sustainable and economically viable manner. EHC has been working for years to ensure that outcome.

In light of Gaylord Entertainment’s decision to re-enter negotiations with the Port of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista, EHC wants to share our position on the manner in which the Bayfront Development should proceed, no matter who the developers are. We hope that the following clarifies EHC’s history, goals and current position on the Bayfront issues.

Who is Environmental Health Coalition?

EHC is a 27-year old, environmental justice organization working for community and environmental health in low income and communities of color in the San Diego/Tijuana region. EHC’s membership includes many Chula Vista residents. EHC has worked tirelessly to preserve San Diego’s precious environmental resources, such as our efforts to establish the South Bay National Wildlife Refuge. As an environmental justice organization, these ‘traditional’ environmental efforts are coupled with a broader focus on ensuring that families have a safe and healthy neighborhood free from toxic pollution, affordable and safe housing, and jobs with family sustaining wages. Please visit EHC’s website at to learn more.

What is Environmental Health Coalition’s history on the Chula Vista Bayfront?

EHC has been committed to and actively working to achieve environmentally sustainable and economically viable development on the Chula Vista Bayfront for the past 17 years. The presence of the ugly and polluting South Bay Power Plant has blighted the Bayfront, damaged marine life, and frustrated attempts to bring quality development to the area. EHC led the fight to dismantle the power plant and prevent another polluting power plant from being located there. Both the Chula Vista City Council and the Port of San Diego have now endorsed EHC’s position on the power plant.

What is EHC’s current role regarding the Chula Vista Bayfront Development?

Some Chula Vista residents, elected officials and media outlets have asked EHC to take action to bring Gaylord back. Please understand — EHC has no control or authority over the decision-making processes to permit or deny development on the Bayfront. California has environmental protection rules that a massive project like this must comply with before construction can begin. EHC is an advocacy group, just like many others, which advocates to achieve our mission and to serve the best interests of our membership.

During the last 18 months EHC, and other groups concerned about the future of the Bayfront, have met with Gaylord Entertainment three times. Gaylord’s previous decision to stop pursuing their permits may be an indication of their inability or unwillingness to advance their project in a manner that would comply with state law. Since Gaylord has now changed their mind again and announced their desire to resume negotiations and advancement of their permit applications, we assure you that EHC will sit down and continue our discussions where we left off, if Gaylord is willing to do so.

What are EHC’s goals for Bayfront Development?

EHC has consistently articulated several core goals for all the Bayfront projects—no matter who the developer is. These are:

· Protect wildlife
· Build Green
· Be A Good Neighbor
· Hire Local Workers

What are the steps to achieving these goals?

EHC’s strategy for achieving these goals has three basic steps:

· Comply with the California Environmental Quality Act . The City of Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Report that failed to provide mitigation measures that would prevent environmental harm. Protection of habitat and water quality can only be assured when local agencies and developers comply with state law.

· Commit to Providing Community Benefits . Current law does not require energy efficiency or green building design to serve the environment for the next 100 years. Many developers have proven it economically and technically feasible to go further than the law demands in order to ensure that their impacts are minimized. EHC is working with one of the Bayfront Developers, Pacifica Companies, who has agreed to energy efficiency, affordable housing and financial support to achieve the community benefit goals.

· Establish the South Bay Community Foundation. This Foundation will provide sustained long-term funding to address the ongoing and cumulative impacts to natural resources and neighboring residents as a result of the new, intense Bayfront Development. It will be professionally managed by an independent organization such as the San Diego Foundation, and decisions related to funding will be determined by an Advisory Committee made up of residents from the local community, representatives of environmental, conservation, social justice and community organizations, and staff or elected officials from relevant government agencies. The current endowment goal of the Foundation is $20 million, which will result in $1 million per year in perpetuity to be spent on community benefit projects.

We want to make clear—none of the funding for the Community Benefits Foundation will go to EHC! There has been much misunderstanding of this and we welcome the chance to clarify the record.

EHC’s goals for the Bayfront development — protecting wildlife, building green, being a good neighbor and hiring local – are in the best interests of all Chula Vistans. We’re confident that there are developers who can work with the community to realize these goals and still make a profit. We urge you to tell the City of Chula Vista and Port of San Diego to move forward to develop a project that benefits the residents of Chula Vista.

Please contact me or Georgette Gómez for more information or to get involved with EHC’s efforts for the Chula Vista Bayfront Development.

Diane Takvorian
Executive Director

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