March 30, 2007

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

A Rebuttal to Patty Chavez opinion

RE: “Honoring Cesar Chavez by carrying out his ideals” by Patty Chavez (published 3/23/07).

The South West Chula Vista Civic Association is not opposing Home Depot, because it will provide 175 jobs, sales tax, tax incre-ment and remove a vacant building creating problems. We are saying that we want the city to ensure that Home Depot does not negatively impact the neighbors to the west and north. Residents deserve more than minimal standards met on paper.

Home Depot has agreed to reduce the number of trucks passing between the back of their building and over 800 multi-family unit residents. They have agreed to build a wall. We are asking for a higher, longer wall. We are also concerned about lumber being off loaded and “staged” a mere 15 feet from the property line, which is less than 5 feet from the sides of several condominiums. We think more than a wall is necessary to protect the health and quality of life of these residents. We also want as many trucks as possible kept off Moss Street, which is a narrow residential street not built for an average of 115 trucks a week. There is a difference in threshold standards as it happens between single family and multi-family homes. If these were single family homes, the thresholds could not be met. Many of us do not feel this is just. As one resident said, “Our quality of life is already less living in apartments.” This is an environmental justice issue.

We are also working with the city to get input from residents for a specific plan for the southwest as well as meeting with city staff on the infrastructure issues and trying to find solutions as well as pressure the council to come up with a funding source for maintenance. Does Ms Chavez realize that the estimate is $135 million dollars to bring all the infrastructure in the city up to standard, and not one department has adequate funds to do needed routine maintenance in order to avoid future failures?

Another concern is the number of affordable housing units that could be lost because of the potential conversion of trailer and mobile home parks by the proposed zoning changes of the recent General Plan update. It is imperative that these people get involved now in ensuring the city will have a strong conversion ordinance to protect them. The city is now revising their ordinance.

We are committed to getting residents involved in the process. The Mobile Home Park Overlay is only for four years. Something very strong needs to be in place to protect these residents, who simply can not afford to move elsewhere. The city has a deficit of 3500 affordable housing units already according to the recently adopted Housing Element. The mobile homes and trailers are the main source of affordable housing-thanks to the rent control ordinance-in the city.

The people living in southwest Chula Vista are forced to endure the seventh worst toxic air pollution in the county and the third worst criteria air pollution due to the stationary polluters in the area. They have a 20% higher asthma hospitalization rate. It is time for them to unite and demand consideration of ways to improve their quality of life. La gente unida, jamás será vencida! but one voice alone is easily ignored.

The main purpose of the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association is to provide a structured association for the residents, property owners, and business owners of the under-represented Southwestern region of Chula Vista, to participate in the preservation, planning, development and protection of the unique character of the area through community education and group action. Group action is a time honored way of preserving community character and bettering conditions. In fact it is probably the only way anything of value gets done as Cesar Chavez and others have taught us all.

It is unfortunate that Ms Chavez has confused honoring Cesar Chavez’s ideals with criticizing community groups that are experimenting with group actions that she does not happen to personally agree with. I remember that there were numerous growers who violently disagreed with the actions of the United Farm Workers and probably still do as there are developers, realtors and politicians who violently disagree with the actions of SWCVCA, NWCA, and Crossroads II. The important thing with all three groups is that people are coming together to support one another in their battles to protect the character of their communities.

One of the principal planners for the City of Chula Vista put it very well last Thursday when he said there is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained between preserving the character of the community the residents want and implementing the General Plan Update. The more people we can engage in the effort to find this balance the more people will be satisfied with the results.

Theresa Acerro
Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association

Opposition to Two Inititatives for Chula Vista

Someone said once that the best definition of democracy is the right for someone to shout from the top of their lungs something that causes the very hair on the back of your neck to rise; your blood to boil; and incite such an anger in you that…well, you can guess the rest. However, you would defend the right for this—or any person—to state that position freely (despite your vehement opposition) and you would defend that right to the death.

This thought came to mind when I read about published opinions on to two ballot measures destined for the Chula Vista ballot that defined—in somewhat pejorative terms—the proponents for two initiatives to restrict building heights and electing—as opposed to appointing—the Chula Vista City Attorney.

For the record, I oppose both initiatives and NOT on the basis of who is sponsoring or supporting them. Rather, I believe that government (good public policy) should not be made given an initiative process which will be purely political in its execution. As for building heights, well, in my opinion, that is wisely placed in the domain of City Hall (experts in the Planning Department) and the officials elected to represent the people, right? As a recourse, if you DO NOT approve of what they do in this regard, simply un-elect them. These land-use decisions are what you the taxpayers are paying them to do and by all means hold them accountable for the decisions that they make.

As for electing Chula Vista’s City Attorney, well San Diego has had elected City Attorneys since the 1930s and the jury is still out on how that is working.

Frankly, the proponents of these initiatives are well meaning people, they are just wrong (in my opinion) on these two initiatives, but there is absolutely NO NEED to demonize these people; rather lets keep the discussion on what’s best for the city and why.

Bob Castaneda
San Diego

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