February 4, 2005

Roosevelt St. Neighbors Say ‘No’ to Españada

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Kent Lansing loves living on Roosevelt St.

He said that the Chula Vista neighborhood is “wonderful” and that his neighbors are “nice people” who aren’t looking for trouble.

Lansing has been living with his wife Maria Elena on Roosevelt for the past six years. During those years, “life has been good here,” Lansing said.

Nevertheless, that’s going to change once La Españada, a two 15-story condominium towers complex, is built on H St., Lansing stated. “It’s going to be a nightmare,” he said.

The reason according to Lansing: “The dense traffic that’s going to be created because, although Españada residents will enter on H St., they would exit on Roosevelt.”

Currently, Roosevelt is a narrow, residential street with single-family houses, many of them registered as historic homes, he added.

Cars can only park on one side of the street because if there were to be cars parked on both sides it would be impossible for Roosevelt to be a two-way street, Lansing said.

As it is, traffice can be dense on Roosevelt, due to the traffic from 4th Ave., which has a hospital nearby, and from 3rd. Ave., where traffic can be chaotic, particularly during school hours, Lansing said.

After La Españada, Roosevelt residents are going to be living in “a great mess,” according to Lansing.

“Españada would dump all of its traffic and congestion on our street and destroy our neighborhood,” he said. “The city seems more willing to give the developer of Españada anything he wants which includes condemning or properties, dislocating people that live here, and forcing us out to satisfy corporate interests, and not the interests of the people who live here.”

Lansing, together with his wife Maria Elena and some other concerned neighbors, have organized the Roosevelt Street Coalition.

On January 27, the coalition, which is a group of residents, homeowners, and property owners, held a bilingual press conference at the Norman Park Center, on F. St., to let the public know about the issues they claim will affect them once La Españada is built.

Among the issues addressed at the press conference, which about 100 people attended, were the hardships, the elimination of affordable housing, and the harmful environmental impacts to the community created by La Españada development.

Lansing said that during winter the two Españada towers will cast a shadow on the properties north of it, “so those houses are going to be in the shade most of the day.”

When you walk around Roosevelt, you can see the discontent that exists among residents. Many houses have “Stop the Españada!” signs in their front yards.

“Our neighborhood is mainly composed of low to medium-income families,” Lansing said. “There will not be any affordable housing in Españada. And instead, many families, as many as 40, will be displaced to build this project. Most of them come from low-income families. There’s no other place for them to go here in Chula Vista. I don’t think that’s fair.”

Many of the families that live on Roosevelt are Latinos who live on the apartment buildings near the future site of La Españada, Lansing said.

His wife, Maria Elena, is of Mexican descent and she has been organizing Latino families on Roosevelt.

“People are very angry around here,” she said. “At first we thought La Españada was going to be a benefit for the community, but when we started learning more about the project, we realized we were going to be affected by this.”

Maria Elena said that this weekend she will meet with the Latino residents who will be displaced.

“Those tenants tell me that they are very worried,” she said. “They ask me, ‘Where are we going to go?’”

Lansing said that the rest of Chula Vista can support the Roosevelt Street Coalition’s cause by calling the City Council and asking them to reconsider the Espadaña.

“We’re not against progress, we’re in favor of progress,” Lansing said. “But when you put such a large project in the middle of a residential neighborhood, that’s not progress. That’s ruining a community.”

To learn more about the Roosevelt Street Coalition, visit www.rooseveltstreetcoalition.com.

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