July 13, 2007

Northwest Chula Vista has a strong voice

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

If you live in the Northwest side of Chula Vista, what are the issues that are most important in your neighborhood?

Is it building heights limitations? Is it redevelopment? Is it the KOA Riverwalk?

Whatever it is that concerns you as a Northwest Chula Vista resident, there’s a grassroots community organization of neighbors that is a platform where residents like you can voice their opinions and promote positive change in the area.

The Northwest Civil Association (NWCA) is a community group founded in Jan.2006 “to empower the diverse residents of Northwest Chula Vista to enhance, protect, and preserve the unique character, quality and heritage of Northwest Chula Vista through education and group action,” according to its mission statement.

At a recent open mic forum organized by NWCA at the Chula Vista Library Auditurium, about 40 people showed up and used the opportunity to voice their opinions.

“When I was able to buy a house, I chose to buy it here, in Northwest Chula Vista,” said NWCA member Jose Delgado. “I want our city government to do what they were elected to do: Govern.”

Another member, Norberto Salazar, proposed the creation of an education sub-committee that would tackle issues related to public education at all levels.

The group also had guest speakers, such as Enrique Morones, president of Border Angels, who spoke about the work he and Border Angels are doing in favor of immigrants.

The goal of the NWCA founding members was to create a community planning group similar to the ones that exist in the City of San Diego.

“Chula Vista doesn’t have official planning groups like that,” said NWCA President Pamela Bensoussan. “So the purpose of the NWCA is to work with city staff and developers for better development of neighborhoods here. We are a group of concerned citizens who have come together to help determine the quality of growth in our community.”

Bensoussan said that at the monthly meetings, members have tackled many issues important to the area, from historic conservation to redevelopment, from affordable housing to the bayfront.

“We are pro-growth, but we believe in measured, responsible growth,” she said.

The 100 member strong NWCA encourages members to get involved in city government in order to create change.

“We have been in lobbying for the City to adopt the historic preservation work program that will re-write our HP ordinance and conduct a comprehensive survey of Chula Vista’s historic sites,” Bensoussan said.

“On complicated policy and zoning documents including the Cummings ordinance proposed amendments, the UCSP and the Bayfront DEIR, we have issued white papers with our recommendations – sometimes these are incorporated into revisions of staff-recommendations,” she said.

“Our organization has representation on the Redevelopment Advisory Committee – which makes recommendations to CV’s Redevelopment Agency and Redevelopment Corporation (CVRC) and provides opportunities to influence redevelopment projects in the early stages of their design.”

The NWCA represents the diversity of people living the Northwest side of Chula Vista, and the issues the tackle affect all groups, Bensoussan said.

If you live in the Northwest, there are many ways to participate in Northwest Civic Association.

The monthly meetings, which are held at the Chula Vista Library, have featured guest speakers including several members of Chula Vista City Staff who made presentations on City programs involving street and neighborhood safety, traffic, graffiti abatement and abandoned vehicles, and public transportation.

The group has special “task force” committees that focus on specific topics, such as: affordable housing, redevelopment projects, and the Urban Core Specific Plan.

“We encourage members to get involved in commissions and we are very pro-active in striving for meaningful community participation in government,” Bensoussan said.

If you would like to find out more or get involved with the Northwest Civic Association (NWCA) you can call (619) 429-0610. Or visit www.northwestchulavista.org.

The next meeting is August 13th, at 6 p.m. in the Chula Vista Central Library.

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