Problems on Third irk some

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On Nov. 29, businesses and residents chimed in at a session to address concerns on Chula Vista’s Third Avenue. This informal virtual forum was hosted by the Institute for Public Strategies, council member Jill Galvez, Third Avenue Village Association and the Chula Vista Police Department.

IPS South Bay Program Manager Jovita Arellano said several business owners contacted IPS regarding vandalism, property damage, and drunk in public, issues that have happened over the past couple of years on Third Avenue.

“This is important, and we want to see what we can do,” Arellano said. “The business owners and residents that have been affected. We all can work together to hopefully come up with a solution. This will not be the last meeting. We will hold several more. This is the beginning.”

Chula Vista police captain Phil Collum said though the police department is paid to protect the city that it “takes a village” to solve the problems that the avenue is facing.

“We have all seen changes in central Chula Vista, especially along the Third Avenue corridor,” he said. “All changes come with pluses and minuses and one of our passions is working with the community in solving problems.”

TAVA Executive Director Dominic LiMandri said Third Avenue is diversified with large property owners on one end and a closer knit of small proprietors and long-term business owners on the other end.

“This is an opportunity for us to receive feedback from the community and how we can better create a more appealing street and appealing experience on Third Avenue,” he said.

Galvez said Third Avenue has gone through a “renaissance” and is experiencing growing pains.

“Some of the things I have been proactively trying to address is the lack of parking,” she said. “The city has been working on a parking study.”

Galvez said this has taken a backburner as the city has been working on finalizing some of the Chula Vista Bayfront projects. “We continue to work on issues one by one.”

Rosa Cordova of Salon Escape said she has worked on Third for 22 years and she is happy to see Third Avenue thriving, but a month ago, one of her windows was broken the night of the Dia de los Muertos festival.

“That was very scary,” she said. “There was blood all over the window and the floor. There was a fight, maybe a lot of drunk people. I do not know. But another issue that I am having is the door on the side of F Street is being used every day as a bathroom. So, every morning I have to be out there cleaning.”

Chula Vista resident Karim Tapia said that the residents behind the businesses are being overlooked.

“People remove my trash cans, they defecate, they urinate,” he said. “Five months ago, my car was totaled. I am assuming by a drunk driver. I called the CVPD, and they could do nothing because there are no cameras. ACE parking has no cameras. Some lights are broken. They graffitied the building that I live in. I bring my grandchildren here and I have been challenged to fights. It is not the homeless population. It is the inebriated coming from Third Avenue that are just drunk. There is drug dealing going on here. I see it every weekend. The same individuals are here every weekend exchanging drugs and cash in the parking lot. We need help.”

Tapia said his neighbor has experienced the same thing and when he calls to complain, it is a roundtable of calls to the city, ACE, each telling him it is the other’s responsibility.

Blackie’s Trophies & Awards owner David Mace said he works late at night and looking into the parking lot behind his business, people are urinating, throwing bottles and beer cans, and people so drunk coming to his door to ask to use the restroom.

“They are so drunk that they cannot even stand,” he said. “I see bicycle clubs riding down the street in circles, doing wheelies, completely blocking traffic. I have noticed police here on a regular basis, fights going on.”

Mace said he talked to Chula Vista Brewery when there was a gunshot when someone was not allowed to enter because they had an open container. He said with parking, the signage on Third Avenue is not visible enough to direct people to park in the parking lot behind the businesses.

“There is a hundred people at the corner of Davidson and Third Avenue pretty much every Friday and Saturday night with people getting inebriated outside. The yoga studio had its windows broken out. The music studio had his windows broken out of his van. Increased violence has come around. People coming into my father’s store, there have been several incidences where I felt our safety was in jeopardy. I understand the breweries and other businesses are there making profit, but people drinking so much and not getting cut off, it is very worrisome of what is going to happen in the future,” he said.

Michael Mace, owner of M & M Jewelers said last year a customer came in from Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Company, did a grab and run, putting him in the hospital with a fractured skull.

“I have been downtown since 1977,” he said. “I have seen things people would not believe. In the past five years we have been broken into twice. We have had people coming in drunk or drugged up. Back in 2000, there were three restaurants that had alcohol licenses and one bar which was the Fleet Reserve,” he said. “Now we have over 20.”

Mace said he did some research about ABC licenses and found that 100% of the new businesses, the breweries, the taverns, and the restaurants had all “either omitted or falsified their applications.”

Academy of Music & Dance owner William Hiley said that he “general drunkenness” is happening every day of the week. His business is in an alleyway between F and Davidson streets.

“It has now been nicknamed puke alley,” he said. “I have people defecating, vomiting, right on my front door. It is not a homeless problem. It is the drunken clientele from these breweries. I am the one that gets to clean up that vomit and everything else. I can keep doing this. I do not want to, but I have little kids coming into my music school for 40 years.”

Chula Vista Brewery owner Tim Parker reminded everyone that there are only two breweries on the block, the rest are bars and restaurants.

“A lot of our problem is people wanting to come in that are already drunk,” he said. “We do not let them in. You do have a huge homeless problem. Many of you do not think they are homeless, but having contact with them every day, they are.”

Galvez said it is a struggle to add more police officers. She said the CVPD has 39 vacancies that remain unfilled with between 190 and 200 applicants in the queue to become police officers.

“There is definitely a shortage,” she said. “I agree that a private security company would be worthwhile.” She said there is a private security for a portion of Broadway, but it has had to call the CVPD for backup several times.
Collum said it takes 18 months to train new police officers, and even if response is slow, it is important to continue to make the calls to report these incidences to the police department and that it is extremely appreciative of the help from the community.

“Right now, we are able to hire 280 sworn officers,” he said. “It takes a total of 18 months to hire and fully train an officer. This will allow us to do things we have not been able to do in the past like dedicated bike patrols and foot patrols in certain areas of our communities.”

LiMandri said there are infrastructure improvements that TAVA can make on Third Avenue to help push back against some of these quality of life concerns.

“Creating a presence on TAVA is going to be one of the biggest things to help deter against these chronic frustrations that business owners and residents are experiencing,” he said.

He said having a security patrol, increased lighting, cameras and lighting over the parking lots, plugging in with local homeless outreach teams will help in connecting with the CVPD in addressing the quality of life concerns.

Problems on Third irk some