By Pablo Jaime Sainz
Maria Elena Lansing bought her house on Roosevelt St. 10 years ago. Since then, she said she has invested tens of thousands of dollars in that house, which was built in 1924 and is registered as historical.
For that reason, she and her husband Kent Lansing have organized the Roosevelt Street Coalition, which together with another community group called Crossroads II, are against La Españada, a two 15-story condominium towers complex which will be located on H St., near Roosevelt.
So they were very happy when they heard that the city council had postponed the final vote on the project until the completion of their General Plan Update, which presumably won’t take place until this summer.
What the Roosevelt neighbors see for their neighborhood is reduced impacts on community character, traffic, air quality, cultural resources, services, and utilities which is why they support the Community Character Alternative, which would reduce potential impacts from the heights and mass of buildings throughout Chula Vista’s General Plan area.
In order to make their voice be heard, Roosevelt residents, through the Roosevelt Street Coalition, hired a consulting firm that specializes in city planning to write a report on the General Plan for the Chula Vista City Council, said Kent Lansing, Maria Elena’s husband and spokesperson for the Roosevelt Street Coalition.
“The report basically stated that the General Plan that the City was proposing has many flaws and it would not meet the standards set by the state of California”, Kent said.
Earl Jentz, a member of the Roosevelt Street Coalition and Roosevelt Street resident, said he believes the Coalition’s report had an important impact on the Council’s decision to delay it’s final vote on La Españada.
“I think we’re having some effect. The City Council has decided to take another look at the plan, so we’re making some progress,” Kent said.
The Roosevelt Street Coalition and Crossroads II are organizations made up of residents, stakeholders, business people, and property owners. The Coalition represents the interests of the people of Chula Vista, something the City Council is not doing, Kent said.
“The Españada towers, as being proposed by the developer, are inconsistent with the Community Character Alternative as they would permanently distort the character of downtown Chula Vista. The city seems willing to give the developer of Españada anything he wants which includes condemning property, dislocating people that live here, and forcing them out to satisfy corporate interests, and not the interests of people who live here”, Kent said.
When the Coalition learned about the City Council’s decision to delay the vote, Kent said it was well received by Roosevelt residents.
“We love that the City Council is delaying it because maybe they’re going to look closer at the effects that La Españada is going to have on residents,”, Kent said.
So far, Roosevelt Street Coalition has had several community meetings to discuss these issues and La Españada.
At the last meeting, which took place on March 6, about 100 people showed up.
“We would like to thank the community for their support and ask them to continue writing and calling the council members and telling them to say no to Españada.”
Maria Elena said. “We know that La Españada represents money and tax revenue for the city, but we’re going to continue asking for modifications to the project.”
Maria Elena said that the developers have agreed to let Españada residents enter and exit on H St. Meanwhile, Roosevelt St. would only remain as an optional exit, she added.
“I’m in favor of progress, but we need to reach an agreement with the city and the developers. There needs to be a balance. It has to be good for the city, for the developers, and for Roosevelt residents,” she said.
Maria Elena said that many of the families that live on Roosevelt are Latinos who live in the apartment buildings near the future site of La Españada.
Many times Latino residents who don’t speak English don’t attend public meetings concerning La Españada because all the meetings are conducted in English, Maria Elena said.
“But I tell (Latino residents) to go to City Hall and ask them to see the plans, and to have someone translate it for them.”
The basic question that is raised in the meetings between the City and the residents is, “How is this going to affect us?”, Maria Elena said.
She added that daily life at Roosevelt St. hasn’t changed since La Españada development was announced, but once construction begins, she said the area would be chaos.
The City’s General Plan Update phone line is (619) 409-5486. To read a copy of the General Plan Update, you can visit www.chulavistaca.gov.
To contact the Roosevelt Street Coalition call (619) 426-5958, or visit www.rooseveltstreetcoalition.com.