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A win for the community By David Danciu And Peter Watry | Sat, Aug 04 2012 12:00 PM

Planning for the Chula Vista Bayfront Plan by the City/Port started 10 years ago, and is expected to be approved next week by the Coastal Commission.

Crossroads II believed the public deserved a “Signature Park,” a landmark park on its bayfront.  The first Bayfront Plan, in 2004, featured a 35-acre Signature Park in the “Harbor District” on the bayfront.  Then in 2005 Gaylord Hotels showed up.  Gaylord was unique in that their market was mid-sized conventions, so they brought their own customers and were not dependent upon tourists or visitors.

Gaylord wanted the prime spot that our park had, so the park was moved north near the foot of E Street. But just days before the final approval of this plan by the City/Port, it was revealed that the Environmental Health Coalition and the Port, in secret negotiations, signed a settlement that put such severe restrictions on the use of the park that it killed the idea of it being a “Signature” park.

The only choice for a Park now was back in the Harbor District.  But that District was planned for some 3,000 hotel rooms, 1,500 condo units, a marina, and many shops.  How could we squeeze in a real park?  We met resistance, so we formed a “Better Bayfront Coalition,” consisting of Crossroads II, Southwest Chula Vista Civic Assoc., Chula Vista Mobile Home Residents Assoc., and the Marine Group Boatworks.

The coalition stated three goals:  (1) creating a 35-acre landmark park in the Harbor District near the water, (2) helping the Boatworks get the 21-year lease extension they needed to continue getting contracts, and (3) somehow lessening the expected future gridlocks on I-5.

We had three leverages:  (1) We began a petition-drive that collected 630 signatures supporting these goals, (2) we spoke forcefully at the two Coastal Commission meetings held in Chula Vista, in March and July.  And (3) we threatened to urge the Coastal Commission to vote “no” on the Plan. This latter threat was not an idle threat — about two years ago the Coastal Commission voted “no” on the Embarcadero Plan on San Diego’s bayfront because a park in the original plan had been eliminated by the time it got to the Coastal Commission.  Might history be repeated in Chula Vista?

Meetings between our Coalition, the City, the Port, and the local Coastal Commission staff followed.  The Coastal Commission staff urged the sides to settle the matter, and, at the last minute, bent one of their rules which made an agreement possible. What we ended up with is a 20-acre site on the bayfront for our landmark park.  After 10 years of effort, most of us are satisfied.

As for the Boatworks getting their 21-year extension, we think that joining our Coalition was a great help to them.

Crossroads II is the only player that has supported the Boatworks for the entire 10 years.  
Our city Council would not support them, but, as stated, we think joining our Coalition helped. The 21-year extension has now been signed,  and one of the Port’s conditions to granting the extension was that the Boatworks disassociate itself from the Coalition. We took that as a great compliment!

As for lessening the expected gridlocks on I-5, we are sorry to report we made no progress on that. The Environmental Impact Report says that we can expect gridlock (Level of Service “F”) on I-5 for several hours each day.

Watry and Danciu are members of Crossraods II

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