After a long circuitous route, taking over 2 years, the formulation of a redevelopment corporation for the City of Chula Vista is finally coming to a vote by the city council on May 24.
While no one has questioned the need to redevelop western Chula Vista, the form and fashion by which this corporation was created has been a bone of contention from the very beginning. Ater two years of studying, meeting and discussing, nothing has changed from the original concept to the present day finished concept.
The initial impetus for this corporation came from the Urban Development Committee (UDC) which consisted of a small cadre of what could be considered movers and shakers within the City of Chula Vista, primarily developers, realtors, big business. This group went before the City Council asking for and receiving several thousand dollars, roughly in the neighborhood of $15,000. Using taxpayer’s monies this group went from a private group to a public organization which was then given the sole responsibility of developing the model for the redevelopment corporation.
What was blatantly obvious then was the lack of public participation, involvement, or decision making ability by the rest of the citizenry within Chula Vista. There were no community groups, no labor groups, no minorities, no environmental groups, no historical groups, or just plain folk, involved.
This was about a private power structure taking control and creating the rules through which they could continue to dictate and benefit from the creation of such an organization. The organization that was created limited participation from the general public. All decision making would be in the hands of the developers, realtors and big business. The general public were left without a say in what resulted.
According to the documents presented, the four independent directors, the decision makers, shall be made up of 1) Architects/Environmental Planner; 2) Real Estate Developer/Business Leader; 3) Financial Planner/Educator/Community Leader; and 4) Civil Engineer/Urban Designer/Scientist. On top of these requirements none of the applicants have to be Chula Vista residents.
The remaining five seats on the board will be filled by the City Council, and quite frankly after watching what is happening with the City of San Diego, this does not fill us with confidence. An oddity about this, that city council members will fill the remaining seats, is the fact that the redevelopment corporation will serve the interest and provide recommendations to the City’s Redevelopment Agency whose board members are -- the city council members. Go figure. Does this mean they will be drawing pay as city council members, pay as members of the redevelopment agency, and pay from the redevelopment corporation???
The other major issue with the development of this corporation was the lack of public participation. This failing had been dully noted and after two years of discussion, meetings, and many pages of documentation with ideas of incorporating the community the bottom line and staff recommendation is that nothing, NOTHING, be done at this time to incorporate the community into the process.
Compounding the lack of public participation the new redevelopment corporation will assume the responsibilities of the Resource Conservation Commission, the Design Review Commission, and the Planning Commission. This on top of the disbandment of the Economic Development Board which was put on hiatus 2 years ago in difference to the development of this corporation.
The Redevelopment Corporation will have control over the look, feel, and character of Western Chula Vista and the community will not have a say if this incorporation becomes a reality.