I want to share my reflections from 16 years with the City of Chula Vista as Director of Planning and Building and more recently as City Manager.
In the early 2000s, the City saw its highest level of growth with thousands of homes built in the Otay Ranch area and the opening of the Otay Ranch Town Center. In addition, more than 11,370 acres of protected open space was preserved, and the General Plan Update was initiated. The strategic planning to revitalize western Chula Vista was set in motion and the City was recognized as a Smart Growth city.
Then the worst recession in decades hit. By this time, I had retired as Planning Director but was asked to return as City Manager in 2008. It was a difficult time, but the Mayor, City Council and City employees all worked together to avoid financial disaster. A comprehensive budget balancing effort was implemented and Chula Vista was one of the first cities in the county to adopt full pension reform.
I am proud to say that at my last official meeting, the City Council adopted a $134.5 million balanced budget. The 2014-15 budget provides the highest level of municipal services based on resources, makes progress on key programs and projects, continues stabilizing the City’s financial base, and maintains a balanced General Fund budget.
One of the greatest City successes during my tenure as City Manager was the approval of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan. When completed, this project 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 their residential development project and the Port of San Diego recently issued a Request for Qualifications to seek a developer for the resort hotel on the bayfront.
By the end of this year, three major efforts will be underway: the 375 acres for the south county university site will be secured and planning can move forward; the Millenia project will continue to make progress; and the second phase of the Third Avenue revitalization project will begin.
Chula Vista now is one of the safest cities in the country with thriving communities, excellent schools, economic opportunities, and great public facilities. The City has received numerous environmental awards, commendations for budget and finance documents, and recognition for bicycle infrastructure and trail networks.
As the outgoing City Manager for the City of Chula Vista, I am proud to have worked for a dedicated Mayor and City Council and appreciate the hard work of all our employees who contribute to the quality of life in our City on a daily basis.
Chula Vista is poised to become the next great West Coast city and it has been an honor to have been able to contribute to its success.
Sandoval retires in July.