August 8, 2003


The Future of Center City Chula Vista in the Hands of a Few

The direction of the City of Chula Vista is changing. For the past decade or so, the City has focused on building out the eastern part of the city finally reaching the point of saturation. As such the city is now refocusing on the center city of Chula Vista and towards this end the city council is looking at forming a new redevelopment agency. Nothing wrong with that except, the city council has entrusted a newly formed corporation, consisting of a self-appointed few, to create this agency – the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

The Urban Development Corporation is a corporation made up of five local Chula Vista businessmen representing such corporations as Pacific Waste, McMillin Companies, and the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce. The sole purpose of this group is to create a redevelopment agency. At this time this is the only group that is in the process of developing this agency plan to be presented to the City Council for final approval.

This special interest group received $15,000 from the City of Chula Vista, yet outside of the original organizers there are no other voices within this group, no diverse opinion, no other interest except corporate interest, and as far as this paper is concerned there has been no public notice in regards to this group. Yet this group will formulate the vision, the means, and the parameters by which this redevelopment organization will function. After the basic form and function has been developed the plan will then be rolled out for public consumption and input, but the basic structure will be in place.

The Hispanic community is familiar with this type of control; it is a way of life. This special interest group is referred to by minority groups as the ‘good old’ boys system’ who rig the game so that their interest is protected and that they receive the maximum benefit. An example of the system protecting the good old’ boys can be found in the City of San Diego where minority contractors receive relatively little in contracts, after the General Contractors successfully had the cities affirmative action plan overturned. The difference being is that now it is not just the minority communities that are being left out!

No minority groups or organizations were invited to participate, no community group were invited to participate, no homeowners, no business that is not associated with the chamber, no union group, no environmental group, no historical group, no other group was invited into this process. And that is what is wrong with this process!

Redevelopment agencies take the lead role on all redevelopment in those sections that qualify for redevelopment monies. San Diego’s CCDC, for example, is the controlling agency on all projects in the inner city, including the development of Horton Plaza, the Gaslamp Quarter, they oversee office development, hotels, housing, educational, retail, and their monies bridged the gap between the Padres and San Diego to ensure full funding for that project. The breadth and width of authority of this organization demand that any plans drafted to create this agency have the full input from all special interest groups within the city. Less than that is discriminatory.

Instead of acquiescing to a corporation the Chula Vista City Council should have created a task force that included all segments of the community to investigate the possibilities and invite other competing models to be drawn up, giving the city council and the people of Chula Vista a choice.

The Chula Vista City Council still has to approve the final plan for a redevelopment agency, which means that there is still time and opportunity to have a say. The UDC plan should be accepted as one plan. But there should be another plan presented by a group that represents all the other interest groups that have a stake in the future of Chula Vista and give them an opportunity to present their vision of a redevelopment agency. To leave the future of this agency in the hands of this select group of men is a disservice to the City as whole.

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