December 16, 2005

Editorial:

The Voters Win Out Against Entrenched Corporate/Business Interest in National City and Chula Vista!

This was a great week for the residents of National City! The residents of National City, with much joy, witnessed the City Council voting down the Proposal to expand the use of Eminent Domain that would have consumed most of the Westside of the City. For the residents involved with this issue, this was a particularly satisfying outcome. Too often this issue brought out an antagonistic attitude from some of the Council members with the City Council taking the side of the vested members of the business community versus the interests of the residents!

For two years, the residents of National City had confronted the City Council at every turn and raised their voices in opposition to this proposal. Often times, it seemed as if it was a done deal and it was just a matter of time before the City Council would pass this proposal. But two things happened, the first and most important was that the opposition to this proposal stayed strong and in fact its voice of opposition grew as the voters and residents understood what was at stake. The second thing that happened, which really opened the residents yes, was the failure of Prop. B in last month’s election! The Business and pro-growth power structure, along with some members of the City Council, assumed they had the upper hand on this issue and they were going to see this sales tax proposal pass, which would have confirmed, to them, that they were in control of city politics. What they got, instead, was a resounding defeat at the polls. For the politicians it was a wake up call, the voters were paying attention and they did not like what they were hearing from their representatives.

For the city of Chula Vista it was a different set of circumstances surrounding the passage of the General Plan update. The General Plan update for the city of Chula Vista lays out a vision for the city that should carry it through the next 20 years. It was a plan that took several years to draw up and included the community throughout the whole process. The City took extraordinary efforts to include the community and this is reflected in the plan.

The bone of contention, with this plan, was the redevelopment of the Westside, in particular along 3rd and H Streets, and height limits. With the support of the Business Community, the City council put forth an agenda to raise the height limit which would have allowed for high rise buildings. The driving desire here was the desire to attract more businesses to the downtown area.

Community residents had a different vision for the downtown area of Chula Vista. Led primarily by Crossroads II, they had a vision of Chula Vista that was attuned to the needs of the residents of the surrounding area and with the historical integrity of downtown. Not diametrically opposed to new businesses in the area, they saw the introduction of high rises as incompatible with the residential neighborhoods. The community groups in Chula Vista marshaled their resources and engaged the Chula Vista City Council in a lively debate and practiced good old fashion politics. To their credit, the City Council listened and when it became painfully obvious that high rises were not welcome, the City Council adjusted their vision. This week the city council passed the General Plan update which allowed for mid-rise buildings. This was an example of civic government at its best.

In both instances, it was a matter of the citizens being involved with their local governments and having an impact on what happens within their cities. We congratulate all involved for having the fortitude and courage and to stand up and take a position on issues that affect them.

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