Can residents afford bayfront project?

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The city council in Chula Vista unfortunately has spent years changing commercial and industrial zoning to residential so that we no longer have adequate businesses to produce funds to pay the bills. Instead of changing their mode of operation they prefer to dream big on the Bayfront, a University site, cannabis, etc. The only full service Gaylord on the west coast is an awesome dream, but is it worth only getting back around $211 million from the Project in years 20 through 38, a fire station and payback for yearly payments on an investment of $1.4 billion in subsidies when we only have $23 million in reserve and have deficits forecast for every year in the future—deficits which will mean more staff reductions and less services for the residents of the city? We now have only two code enforcement officers, four building inspectors, eight people to fix roads and sidewalks, one plumber, etc. What comes next-reduced hours, closed parks?

Council members need to get their act together and value existing commercial and industrial businesses within the city and look for businesses with high paying jobs for any vacant lands.

The South Bay Boat Yard and United Technologies Corporation on the Bayfront now provide high quality jobs and benefits to their employees and the city without subsidies. This Gaylord project is a heavily subsidized project, which is expected to bring over 3,000 jobs to the city-most of which will be very low wage jobs.

The city’s share of bonds issued with the port when construction starts will be $296 million (plus fees and 38 years’ worth of interest) that will eventually be paid by income from the project. The city also has agreed to pay $1.3 million increasing at the rate of 3% yearly for 38 years to Gaylord (a total of 90 million dollars). They made their first payment on July 1, 2018. It is the same amount of money that the port gives them yearly to pay for police and fire expenses on the Bayfront. (Will Prop A now pay those expenses?)

The Gaylord project will also not have to pay normal development fees (other than a fire station), so someone is going to have to pay for police and fire services, sewers, road improvements, parks, and whatever else is needed—Pacifica, new RV Park and other potential developers of Bayfront or Chula Vista tax payers?

It is questionable whether the city can afford this project, considering that they will need to make their regular yearly payments until 2036 on the police station, Civic Center, Redevelopment Agency Debt, and Tax Allocation Bonds. In 2019 this will be a payment of $8,955,693.76 on a total due by 2036 of $154,501,307.11. Typically the majority of the payments come from development fees and Residential Construction Tax (which Gaylord will not have to pay), and they also have yearly payments on their unfunded pension liability of approximately $775 million over the next 30 years. Last year’s payment was $9,751,780.

Yes, indeed this sounds like a fun resort for conventions or just visiting, but is this the time and place where it belongs? Can we afford it with all these subsidies? Perhaps, a new EIR is needed to analyze the subsidies which the original project was not offered?

Theresa Acerro resides in Chula Vista.

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