COUNCIL DISTRICT ONE CANDIDATE FRANCISCO “FRANK” RIVERA
Francisco “Frank” Rivera is running for Chula Vista City Council District 1 being vacated by Council member John McCann who is currently running for mayor. The 60-year-old Democrat said he has lived in Chula Vista since 1982 when he moved to the west side. He met his wife in Chula Vista, married, has one son, moved to the Sunbow community, then moved to Eastlake when their house was constructed 20 years ago. “Now, that the city is in districts, I have lived in three of the city’s districts and was married in the fourth one,” he said.
Rivera began working for the city in 1984 as a college engineering intern, working in construction, land surveying, design, traffic engineering, wastewater engineering, land development, transportation planning, and many other projects. Rivera is the principal engineer for the City’s Engineering Department.
“Throughout my career in Chula Vista, I have had the opportunity to work on many of the large projects on the capital side, which is our utilities, our infrastructure, roads, sewers, drainage,” he said. “But also, on regional transportation projects. Including freeway interchanges on Interstate 8055. State Route 125, improvements on Interstate 5, and the regional bus route 225. My career has been a variety of experience on anything doing with civil and traffic engineering. I am a California state licensed civil engineer and traffic engineer.”
Rivera said regionally, he has worked on several projects through SANDAG committees on the traffic engineering and technical policy side, and the city of San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater Technical Advisory committee. He is on the Measure A Public Safety Citizen’s Oversight Committee, helping making decisions on where the tax revenue is spent on public safety.
Rivera said in working with land development, he was the project manager of many of the communities in east Chula Vista, most of them in District 1.
“I have dealt with developers, I have dealt with the community on projects, including the Chula Vista Bayfront, and bicycle facilities by getting the Bayshore Bikeway constructed along Bay Boulevard. Master Plan documents such as the Main street corridor, the F Street corridor, Multiple Species Conservation Plan. I have contributed to the city’s General Plan on the transportation side. So, a lot of different work that involves the expertise that I have, I have contributed to those documents or those projects over the last 37 years.”
Rivera said the experience he brings to the city and city council is his understanding of how all departments work, as in getting projects ready for the council, he had to work with his peers in all the other departments.
“Whether it was a developer project, a city initiated project, or a community initiated project, I had to get input from all relevant staff on each of these particular projects,” he said.
Rivera said the answer to why he is running is the same answer as to why he has never worked anywhere else.
“I love this city,” he said. “I have lived in the city for 40 years, I have relatives and family that have lived here, I love the community, and I just cannot walk away. I have made many contributions to the city, and I want to continue to make contributions. With my experience, I know I can provide that experience that our city council needs.”
Rivera said he has been through the city’s budgets 37 times, and the economy may be good or bad, and decisions are made each fiscal year on how the city proceeds on the short term.
“I have been through the good times and the bad times in Chula Vista where we had a lot of growth activity, where we did not have growth activity, so I have experienced it all,” he said. “I have been to several hundred council meetings during my career, made many presentations to the city council. I have worked with all the elected officials since 1984. So, collaboratively, we have solved all the issues the city has had to date. Whatever I have been tasked to work on, I worked on solutions that works for everybody. I feel that is important and everything that I have worked for in the city of Chula Vista, I would have not worked for another agency. Chula Vista is the best city to live and work in. I have been very fortunate to have stayed employed with the city for all these years, and when I look around, there is still more to be done. There is always that next project that gets me excited. In working on the bayfront project, the environmental side was extremely difficult, but collectively, we got it done.”
Rivera said Southwestern College has been continuously growing and South Bay residents, when they want to go to a four-year university, they must leave South Bay.
“We need more options,” he said. “(A university) is important. It helps keep people in the region or brings people in the region. We have a unique situation with our proximity to the border, so we could have many of the studies for international business with our proximity to the Otay Mesa and the maquiladora (manufacturing) industry. There is that potential for international business, STEM and STEAM programs. The university gets us jumpstarted into where Chula Vista is going to be three, four, five decades from now. It is keeping that vision in Chula Vista getting better and better.”
Rivera said to think about the bayfront project in this way. “The environmentalists won, the developers won, and the public won,” he said. “But the understanding was that we would leave the north portion generally unchanged at the Sweetwater Marsh area, but we need the revenue in the harbor district to maintain the Sweetwater Marsh area as pristine as we can.”
Having lived in west Chula Vista, Rivera said he is worried about the gentrification of west Chula Vista, but that the west side does not have the master planned communities that are east of I-805, and land uses, especially in the northwest part, because the city adopted the Urban Corp Specific Plan, the region and the state do not want urban sprawl anymore.
“So, we have to accommodate growth where we have already developed,” he said. “That means everybody, not just Chula Vista, are going to end up with higher densities, and tendencies where all cities, vertical is where it needs to go to accommodate the growth. Over time, cities will change, but along the way, we need to find ways where we do not see this type of gentrification occur. But we must comply, and we cannot just keep going east like we used to. It is a difficult question. There is never just one solution for this. I think everyone that lives in those areas where gentrification could happen, is to be more aware of that. It is case by case. Everyone has a unique set of circumstances, and people make decisions based on what is best for them.”