As City Manager for the City of Chula Vista, I am fortunate to work in what is becoming one of the great West Coast cities. I’ve been here 13 years, as Assistant Planning Director and then as Planning Director. I tried a brief retirement hiatus, before coming back as City Manager in 2008. I’m proud to work for a dedicated Mayor and City Council and appreciate the hard work of our employees who daily contribute to the quality of life in Chula Vista.
We’ve got one of the safest cities in the county, with thriving communities, excellent schools, economic opportunities, and great public facilities. But, like many other cities across the nation, ours has struggled to keep growing expenditures in line with declining revenues while at the same time continuing to meet community needs.
The City of Chula Vista was one of the first cities to feel the severe impacts of the recession in 2006. Since then, the City of Chula Vista has made great progress in climbing out of a huge budget hole by taking bold, proactive steps. Real pension reform, a leaner workforce, and efficiency measures have improved the budget outlook. Property taxes are increasing slowly as the housing market recovers. And, with the economy improving, sales tax revenues are modestly increasing. We have reason to be cautiously optimistic the worst of the cuts are over and we can start planning for a better future.
One of the great successes of 2012 was the approval of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan that will transform our underused waterfront property into a world-class resort and conference destination, complemented by a mix of residential, retail, and more than 240 acres of parks and nature preserve. Pacifica Companies is moving forward with planning and design of their residential development project on the bayfront. And, the Port of San Diego and City recently enlisted a multi-talented consultant team to provide real estate development and financial strategy assistance. Their work is underway and we should have a market feasibility study complete by summer and will know what kind of hotel and resort development projects would best suit our city.
Our university project is moving forward and by next year, we should have the 375 acres secured and can move forward with planning a south county university. We initiated an economic development study in December that will tell us the kinds of businesses we should pursue that take advantage of our prime location with industrial and commercial property close to transportation networks, the U.S.-Mexico border crossings, a thriving sea port, and an international airport. And, Millenia, a 230-acre project that will bring a vibrant mixed-use commercial, retail, and housing community to Otay Ranch, will break ground in the coming months.
While we have reasons to celebrate, we also need to address our challenges. We must devote resources to infrastructure, continue to enhance library and recreation services, focus on improving our sales tax capture, and complete projects like the Third Avenue Streetscape.
With your input and support, we will continue to advance what’s important for Chula Vista. I plan to use this column to highlight what’s happening in Chula Vista and promote opportunities for you to be involved in planning for our future. I want to hear from you. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Sandoval is Chula Vista City Manager.