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Chula Vista takes cable company to court Allison K. Sampite | Thu, May 26 2011 05:50 PM

Some Chula Vista residents are fed up with a cable provider's shoddy service. To add insult to injury, that same company is doing business in the city without a license.

Trouble with NexHorizon's Internet service, lack of channels and complete blackouts have been tolerated by some customers for nearly two years.

Barbara Foster lives in the Congregational Towers for seniors on Third and F Street, where many residents are older than 70.

Foster said when she calls the company to complain she either receives no answer or representatives give her the run around.

"They still advertise certain channels that we don't even get," she said. "All some people have here is TV."

But residents weren't the only ones having difficulty getting through to the cable provider.

Chula Vista city staff gave Nex Horizon formal notice in August 2009 that it had violated its franchise agreement and gave them 30 days to address violations, including not paying franchise fees, not performing contracted work and working without adequate insurance.

The city's Director of Conservation and Environmental Services Michael Meacham said the city worked diligently with NexHorizon to facilitate its compliance but it never corrected the violations.

"Broken promises harm the public interest," Meacham said.

In 2008 NexHorizon took over Chula Vista and National City Cable. Some residents in the city chose to have their service provided by NexHorizon over other cable companies because of cheaper fees.

NexHorizon had also told customers they would expand digital channels, broadband Internet and digital phone services at a competitive price for its customers.

The promises were short-lived.

Ken Muraoka is the manager at Palace Garden Mobile Home Park on Second Avenue. He said his experience with NexHorizon's service has been a nightmare.

In the '70s the park had Cox Cable as its service provider and switched in the '80s to Chula Vista Cable, Muraoka said.

As residents became unhappy with NexHorizon's level of service, he asked the company to vacate the premises.

But they didn't leave.

"They were forcing our residents to use their service and our contract was up with them," he said.

In November 2009 the Chula Vista City Council voted unanimously to cease business with NexHorizon Communications, Inc. for breach of contract. That same year the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Colorado.

Three weeks ago, Muraoka pulled the company's equipment out so Cox Cable could come in.

NexHorizon also neglected to remove power poles on Fourth Avenue and L Street, which significantly delayed and damaged a city project called "Safe Routes to School."

The delays have cost the city an approximate $300,000 in additional construction fees.

Meacham said poles block handicap access and have forced city staff to redesign the project.

In addition to those costs, NexHorizon owes the city $120,000 in unpaid franchise fees.

Recently the city filed a temporary restraining order against the company, which was granted, ordering NexHorizon to cease interfering with the city's ongoing utility underground projects.

"They've done so much harm to the city and its customers that we need this to stop now," Meacham said.

Representatives of NexHorizon could not be reached for comment.

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