More than a decade of planning came down to a finger-crossing 64 minutes, followed by a unanimous vote of approval from the California Coastal Commission, of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan.
But it wasn’t without recommendations from commission staff suggesting significant modifications first.
Some of the included changes were the result of discussion between San Diego Unified Port District, Chula Vista city staff and community group Crossroads II.
“The original plan was denied but the changes that were recommended by (commission staff) and Crossroads folks were incorporated in the plan and that’s the plan that was approved,” said Chula Vista Port Commissioner Ann Moore.
The Chula Vista bayfront master plan will transform 556 acres of Chula Vista bayfront property into a working waterfront and world-class destination for residents and visitors. It includes a land use mix that balances coastal development and protected coastal open space.
Amendments were made to the plan last month addressing environmental concerns such as lack of public access and visual obstructions. Modifications included lower building heights, creating more set-backs to protect sensitive wetlands and increased park space.
At a news conference held by city and port officials last Friday, dozens of local delegates gathered to discuss what the approval means and next steps.
Chula Vista City Manager Jim Sandoval called the approval “a game-changer” for the city.
“We’ve gone through some tough times and this is just a signal of where we’re going — it’s putting the city on the map and it’s a great economic development driver for Chula Vista, the region and the state,” Sandoval said.
The city is working closely with Pacifica Companies and the port district to get financing for a resort hotel.
Pacifica, a diversified real estate company, has been involved in bayfront collaboration for 12 years and is building the residential portion of the plan, which includes 1,500 residential units, 15,000 square feet of retail, 420,000 square feet of commercial office and a 250-room hotel.
Sandoval said the next steps involve securing financing for resort and hotel development as quickly as possible to move the condominium project forward and continuing to work with the port to secure requests for proposals within the city, state and internationally.
While the Chula Vista Bayfront Mater Plan is the result of a joint planning process between the port, city and Pacifica, it couldn’t have happened without key community players, said some officials.
City Councilwoman Patricia Aguilar said suggestions from Crossroads II made the plan better than it was.
Prior to the plan’s approval, Crossroads II members sent 630 petitions to the commission citing issues with specific areas of the proposed plan, including insufficient room for a land-use park and the proposed removal of Chula Vista Marine Group Boatworks.
After receiving them, the city and port district signed a letter of agreement, which supported what Crossroads members call “the better bayfront plan.”
Chula Vista Port Commissioner Ann Moore said it was important to have the community behind the project.
“In order for us to get Crossroads involved and to work them as far as the terms … meant a lot because it means that we have complete community support,” Moore said. “The Marine Group is truly an asset. They made concessions that allowed us to still have a convention center and hotel that will complement their views.”