November 21, 2003

Editorial:

Redeveloping Chula Vista

The City of Chula Vista is rapidly changing, from what was once a relatively quiet city, considered a bedroom community, to a city that is now bursting at the seams after a decade of rapid growth. More often than not, the fast track of housing development has outpaced the necessary services needed to support such growth. The city now finds itself in the position of having to catch up with all the new development. In the meantime developers have moved ahead and are focusing in on the next building opportunity and that is in redevelopment.

To resolve the dilemma, developers and pro-growth advocates created a private company, Chula Vista Urban Development Committee (UDC). This private company became a private/public company when the City of Chula Vista invested $15,000 in the UDC. The focus of this group is to create a center city development corporation with the focus of tapping into redevelopment funds and tax incentives. Bottom line is that it would make it easier for developers to build. Good examples of such building include Horton Plaza and the new Petco (Padres) Park. And of course there are the piecemeal projects that encompass the Gaslamp Quarter.

While the talk of redevelopment is focused on center city Chula Vista, redevelopment in fact could and does include everything west of I-805.

So what is wrong with redevelopment … nothing. We are not so naive as to think that redevelopment is not needed on the west side. What is wrong is the process through which this redevelopment agency is being developed. The UDC is a very small group of ten individuals representing a very specific focus, development. The UDC has assumed, and the city council has acquiesced the responsibility of developing this plan for a redevelopment agency. The UDC hired a consultant, laid out their vision, and instructed them to devise three models. These three models have been presented to the city, and now the city will decide which plan works best.

Left out in this whole process, so far, has been the community of Chula Vista. The community will not have an opportunity to provide their input until the next (?) community forum, where they, then, can add input to the UDC’s vision for a redevelopment agency.

Also left out of the process has been the Economic Development Commission (EDC) for the City of Chula Vista. The EDC is comprised of community, business, and educational representatives. Unfortunately, the EDC merely serves as an advisory board. La Prensa San Diego Editor Daniel Munoz serves on the EDC, and in his two years of service, he has yet to see or hear from a single city councilman or mayor, the very people we are supposed to be advising.

The UDC has been the brainchild of several of the Economic Development Commission’s members, some of who have since resigned and several of whom who are still part of the EDC and part of the new Urban Development Commission, a sort of de facto EDC. Despite the vacant seats the Mayor has failed to fill these positions, which often times has resulted in cancelled meetings due to a lack of a quorum. The reason being conveyed for the lack of appointments has been that the mayor is waiting to see what develops from the UDC, which will then determine the fate of the EDC. Here in, again, is another example of a private group representing a specific focus and dictating the fate of a public committee that was created to represent the various communities of Chula Vista. As for the EDC, it is, as they say, the writing is on the wall!

It has been quoted recently that the new redevelopment agency will be comprised of developers and bankers, experts if you will, with both eyes on growth. And left out of the equation … the community. The city has gone through an exhausting yearlong study and survey in which it asked Chula Vista residents what their primary vision/concerns are, and they overwhelmingly expressed that quality of life is their primary concern.

With the new year the City Council will decide on the structure of the new redevelopment agency, let us hope that they keep the resident’s concerns as the primary focus and that they doen’t hand over the future of Chula Vista to developers.

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