April 9, 2004

Commentary:

South Bay’s Hidden Place

By Patricia Aguilar

Those of us who live in South Bay know we have discovered paradise—perfect weather, a quick trip to downtown and the airport, just as quick to the border, a small town feeling, and the most ethnically diverse area in the county. But one of South Bay’s assets is largely unknown, not only to most San Diego residents, but also to most South Bay residents—its frontage on San Diego Bay. Traveling south on I-5, as you approach SR-54, look to the right and you’ll see a small, isolated wooden building. This is the Chula Vista Nature Center, which sits in the middle of Sweetwater National Wildlife Refuge. Then I-5 loses elevation, and the view of the bay is lost. The next thing visible off to the right is the South Bay Power Plant. The hidden place is between these two landmarks—550 acres of bayfront land, most of it vacant, the only vacant land left on San Diego’s bay.

But not for long. Like all of San Diego County, development pressures are unrelenting, and will not be stopped. The only questions are how much development and what kind? This argument is currently going on over South Bay’s hidden bayfront and is about to come to a head. On Monday, April 12, the consultant hired by the Port District and City of Chula Vista to master plan this hidden place will present three alternative development plans. What will they be like?

CROSSROADS II has a vision for our bayfront. This vision can be described as “Buildings in a Park.” We believe that our bayfront must be viewed as parkland first, and buildings should not overwhelm the feeling that one is in a park. Open space should dominate over developed land, and building size and placement should be determined by how each building fits within the landscape, not vice-versa. We also believe that a grand park-on-the-water should be included as part of the Master Plan. We believe such a signature park can become a place that will draw people from all over the county. True, the hidden place will be found, but the result will be worth it.

If you share this vision, join us in our quest to fight off the moneyed interests that want to see this last precious waterfront land dominated by condos and office buildings. Help make the Chula Vista bayfront a resource for the people, all the people. We need your help! Contact us at xroads2@cox.net, (619) 427-7493.

Patricia Aguilar is President of CROSSROADS II. CROSSROADS II is a grassroots organization of South Bay residents who volunteer their time to see that local residents have a voice in planning and development issues in the city of Chula Vista.

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