Chula Vista council members on Feb. 11 passed a resolution that would tell the California Coastal Commission it fully supports additional undergrounding of the controversial bayfront SDG&E substation, and that it backed the Bayfront Enhancement Fund Alternative.
But that resolution came after council members spent nearly three hours tearing apart the drafted resolution to modify the language in their support for the plan.
The original wording of the draft would have been good enough for council members to hold a vote, but Mayor Cheryl Cox suggested including a few additions to the proposal. Council members then felt it was best to review the wording of the resolution by going over each paragraph.
Among the changes Cox wanted was to allow the California Coastal Commission staff to consult with the California Public Utilities Commission about the project.
Councilwoman Mary Salas said it was important for council to go over every detail because it was their chance to express themselves to the Coastal Commission on its plans for the substation.
“This resolution is our opportunity to firmly state to the Coastal Commission our values and our vision for the bayfront,” Salas said.
The Bayfront Enhancement Fund Alternative is a $5 million measure proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric that includes the removal of lattice towers and provides a $2 million endowment to the Living Coast Discovery Center.
The new resolution states that the City Council reaffirms its strong support and requests Coastal Commission approval of the following:
“The relocation of the SDG&E substation from its existing site within the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, now designed for redevelopment into a community park, RV park and industrial park, to the 12-acre relocation site to the south of the existing site, currently designed and zoned for industrial use.”
The resolution further adds that the City Council also requests that the Coastal Commission independently completes an analysis and considers the benefits of requiring the undergrounding of any and all additional transmission lines proposed, as long as undergrounding complies with the Coastal Act and Chula Vista Local Coastal Program Amendment policies.
Attorney John Moot, who represents Inland Industries, a family-run company which owns property in the area where the substation will be relocated, has fought to get the entire substation project undergrounded.
Moot said the city’s desire for the substation is now in line with the community’s.
“At times because of what’s at stake, we always haven’t been on the same page,” he said. “But I do think tonight we’re on the same page.”
Jennifer Ramp, spokeswoman for San Diego Gas and Electric, said in an e-mail that the company maintains its position that the entire substation shouldn’t be undergrounded.
“SDG&E has not seen the text of the resolution that the City Council adopted, but understands that the city is pursuing additional undergrounding — above and beyond the extensive undergrounding and environmental benefits that are already included in the project. SDG&E has repeatedly expressed concerns about the delays caused by the city’s actions and Inland Industries’ efforts to block the substation.”
Ramp adds: “SDG&E still hopes to relocate the substation but with several approvals still outstanding, relocation is far from certain.”
Ramp did say the proposed project is a huge win for the city of Chula Vista.
The resolution passed on a 3-2 vote, with Cox and Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan opposed.The California Coastal Commission is set to discuss the substation in March.