By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
A group of Chula Vista residents submitted required signatures to the City Clerk to qualify a ballot measure that tries to protect the character of Third Avenue Village by limiting high-rise developments.
The group, Chula Vistans for Community Input II, turned in 15,649 signatures on Tuesday, Dec. 19, to the City Clerk office in order to qualify the General Plan Protection Initiative.
The initiative seeks to protect the land use element of the City’s General Plan in two ways.
First, the measure would require that any future amendment to the general plan allowing buildings over 84 feet, outside areas designated for high rises, would have to be approved by the voters of Chula Vista .
Second, the initiative would protect the character of the Third Ave Village by capping the height of buildings on lots fronting on Third Ave between E St. and G St. at 45 feet.
The City Clerk’s office did a preliminary count of the signatures and on Wednesday, Dec. 19, sent them to the San Diego County’s Registrar of Voters for the official tally, said Donna Norris, assistant city clerk for the City of Chula Vista.
Norris said that the Registrar of Voters has until February 1 to verify those signatures. The petition needs at least 9,113 to qualify for the ballot.
Norris said that once the Registrar verifies the required signatures, it will be sent to the Chula Vista City Council for the next available meeting.
Some of the proponents of the initiative said they hope the issue will be put on the ballot of the June 2008 election.
“All we’re asking the City Council is to place the initiative on the ballot and let people decide,” said Jim Peterson, one of the proponents of the initiative. “We’re not telling people how to vote on the issue.”
Other community groups, such as Crossroads II, have endorsed the General Plan Protection Initiative.
“We believe that high rises do have a place in Chula Vista, just not within our Third Avenue Village,” said Crossroads II representative, Peter Watry.
This is the second time this year the signatures were submitted to the City Clerk. The first time the signatures were submitted earlier this year, the City Council filed a lawsuit against the City Clerk because the original notice of intent to circulate the petition was published in La Prensa San Diego and not in The Star News.
La Prensa San Diego is a legally adjudicated newspaper of general circulation in the City of San Diego and County of San Diego, but the measure was required to be published in a newspaper adjudicated in the City of Chula Vista.
“The rejection was based on a technicality and the City Council certainly could have put the issue on the ballot,” Peterson said. “But they chose not to do so and that pretty well tells us that the City Council is not paying much attention to what the people have said they want. So, here we are again. Doesn’t it just make sense to just let the people vote on this? It sure does to me.”
Peterson said that even though the measure only needs around 9,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, the group submitted more than 15,000.
“We collected more than the necessary signatures to not only ensure that the measure would qualify for the ballot, but to send a clear message to the council. We’re more optimistic that this time this initiative will get on the ballot,” he said.
To learn more about the General Plan Protection Initiative, call (619) 422-6000 or visit www.letchulavistavote.com.