The DVD has been broken, so video of meeting is not available, but Leslie was kind enough to send us a copy of the Power Point presentation, which you can see by clicking this sentence.


She also sent a short video of a panoramic view of what the bayfront could look like when CVBMP is actually built. Click here to see it.


On October 11, 2007 the Chula Vista Redevelopment Corporation (CVRC) held a five hour workshop at the Chula Vista Public Works building. We made a video record of the meeting. During that workshop the question of what the role of the CVRC in the development of the Bayfront was came up. The city manager expressed the opinion that the CVRC should be involved in the process and would be.

Issue Two, September 20,2007

Ralph Hicks &Leslie Nishihira from Port with Deni Stone from CV city at Crossroads II meeting

Chula Vista Bayfront Report

By, President of SWCVCA http://www/


On September 20 at 6:45 PM Ralph Hicks, the land use planner for the Port of San Diego gave a presentation at the Civic Center Library in Chula Vista about the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan. Early in the process the bayfront was divided into three sections in order to facilitate discussion about placement of various suggested uses: Sweetwater District to the North (adjacent to the National Wildlife Refuge and the Nature Center), Harbor District in the middle (where marina now is) and Otay District to the south (where Power Plant now is). This discussion developed because the Environmental Health Coalition helped the community to organize to defeat an inappropriate high rise residential plan adjacent to the Wildlife Refuge called “Bayfront Commons.” The Port and the city decided it was necessary to swap this sensitive land for already developed port land and plan the entire bayfront together. 

Ralph started out by telling everyone what he believed was essential for a successful plan: Timing, Dynamic and Powerful Leadership, Collective Conscious of the Community, Money and Regulatory Elements. In his opinion the Chula Vista Bayfront now has all these elements.

Ralph started by describing the Harbor Plan, which was the plan developed at the 15 Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings, 7 Power Plant Working Group Meetings, 8 Public Workshops, over 30 community presentations, 3 newsletters, a website comment form, and several joint Port and Chula Vista City Council meetings in Phase I from 6/02-5/04 and 16 more CAC meetings (including two “charrette” workshops), 5 meetings on economics, a bayfront tour, 7 more board and council meetings, a public meeting in December, and 15 more community presentations. The Harbor Plan included a large Signature Park with an amphitheater and cultural buildings on the bayfront. Many disparate groups came to consensus on this plan during Phase II from 5/04 to 8/05. Ralph went through the plan piece by piece telling why it has been scraped.

In my opinion there are feasible options for dealing with these “problems” with the plan CAC adopted. Many of us believe the actual reason all the public input was thrown out was that Gaylord appeared and said they wanted the Signature Park site and would not consider the site the CAC wanted for a Resort-Conference Center, but Ralph chose to explain it by explaining how the port works. The Port District is not a tax-supported agency. It receives no tax funds. All of its income must come from leases and fees. The cities where the Port’s property is receive the property, sales and TOT taxes.

He next explained the Sweetwater Park site that was adopted in order to accommodate Gaylord. This site divides the park up into two pieces-a piece near the Sweetwater National Wildlife Refuge, which will have to be pastoral without the usual urban park amenities due to the sensitivity of the surroundings, and a smaller piece where Bayside Park is now located.

Ralph spent some time explaining the over 200 acres of green space that will be part of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan. He explained that this open space, roads, and other infrastructure would require a $178 million dollar bond to be issued. All the expenses of this bond will be paid for by the TOT (room tax), Sales Tax, Tax Increment, and rent that Gaylord will pay for the next 20 years or so. This will mean that the port and city will not make any money off of this project for the life of the bond. (On September 27, 2007 this item was on the agenda of the CVRC(Chula Vista Redevelopment Corporation): A joint planning effort between the City/Redevelopment Agency (Agency) and the San Diego Unified Port District (Port) created the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan (CVBMP) that envisions developing a world-class waterfront using sound planning and economics.  The CVBMP project area encompasses a total of approximately 550 acres that includes approximately 490 acres of land area and 60 acres of water area that lie within the Bayfront Redevelopment Project Area.  Over the next several years, the City anticipates the CVBMP's new development and redevelopment projects will require between $178 million and $510 million in capital and infrastructure requirements.)

Ralph talked about the difficulty of getting rid of the power plant because of the must run status it has.  The Port and the city both want to get the power plant off the Bayfront but something has to be found to replace the power it generates.

He also explained that it is unlikely the South Bay Boat Yard can be moved from its current location, since there does not appear to be a feasible alternative site for it. By state law maritime uses must be given preference.

Ralph believes that there will be some tension concerning the park in the Sweetwater District. He is probably correct, and the environmental document must clearly describe exactly what can and cannot take place in this park or it will surely be considered inadequate again. A complete and thorough project description is a primary requirement of an EIR.

        Ralph briefly mentioned the residential, which cannot be built on port property. Residential is not an allowed use according to Tidelands Trust law. This is why there must be a land swap of the port land where the residential is planned and the parcel adjoining the Sweetwater National Wildlife Refuge, which the Pacifica Company has an option to buy.

Laura Hunter and Georgette Gomez from the Environmental Health Coalition came to a meeting of the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association in July and explained the Community Benefits Agreement the Bay Coalition was able to get Pacifica Company to agree to. Some of the agreements mentioned by Ralph were that only 1500 residences would be built and no residences would be built on the Otay portion of bayfront. (The original plan called for up to 2,500 residences on the Harbor and the Otay portions of the bayfront.) This agreement will only be signed if all the mitigations deemed necessary for impacts identified by the Environmental Impact Report are guaranteed.

The original draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) 8/05-12/08 found that energy, water and traffic resulting from the bayfront projects would cause severe negative environmental effects. The conditions of this agreement with Pacifica would make sure that Pacifica’s buildings were constructed to exceptionally high environmental standards, conserving as much energy and water as possible. The CCR’s of the project would enforce many of the environmental mitigations being asked for by environmental groups to protect the environment-such as control of pets. 

Another part of the agreement included funding of a South Bay Natural Resources, Environmental Justice, and Community Benefits Foundation. This might be managed by the San Diego Foundation and grant grants to western Chula Vista residents and/or groups to help mitigate the significant negative effects of all the planned construction on the bayfront upon the residents of western Chula Vista. Gridlocked traffic on I-5 and many nearby ramps and roads is just one of the negative effects. The idea is that every development on the bayfront will pay into this fund to meet the goal of $20 million dollars, which would provide a million dollars per year in grants. This is a piddling amount compared to the impacts. Gaylord was asked to pay into this and/or help provide affordable housing for its predicted 3,000 workers. Their vice president said, “That is the city’s responsibility, not Gaylord’s.” Hotel and retail jobs tend to be some of the very lowest paying jobs. People with these jobs cannot afford housing in Chula Vista without help.










At least one person in the audience found it very troubling that Gaylord would be getting a $130 million public subsidy for its convention center (in addition to the $178 million bond for public infrastructure). It is only reasonable that with a $308 million dollar public subsidy Gaylord should be required to provide community benefits such as helping to provide affordable housing for its workers, an ongoing contribution to a Community Foundation, exceptionally sustainable building practices and a living wage with benefits for all its employees. Otherwise it is questionable whether the revenue (after the bond is paid off in 20 or more years) will be enough to compensate the hospitals for increased use by the uninsured and the city for increased need for affordable housing and other benefits required by 3-5,000 more low-wage workers, not to mention fire and police and maintenance of the infrastructure. Many of us believe part of the reason Gaylord made its dramatic exit from the scene was to get increased subsidies. The Port and city insist there will not be an additional bond, but no one has said Gaylord will not be given a break on the lease amount nor that the city and port will not agree to pay the costs of the considerable mitigation Gaylord’s development in the site they insist upon will require nor that Gaylord will not simply be given some of the tax increment money it will generate. There is also no mention of the ordinary and customary fees developers normally pay in Chula Vista. Will the Port and/or city simply absorb these costs? Can the city afford Gaylord?

The article “Downtown for Everyone?” by the Center for Policy Initiatives does an excellent job of discussing the problems caused by the kind of development contemplated for the Chula Vista Bayfront upon the economy of San Diego. Chula Vista is already on the point of economic meltdown. Can it really afford more low wage jobs and ongoing maintenance bills?

This brings us to the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that Gaylord’s original negotiator agreed to sign in January, but after a threat to sue from the Builders and Contractors Association Gaylord refused to sign and their negotiator quit. Ralph answered a question about the “demonization of unions” by referring to PETCO Park.  PETCO Park has a Community Benefits Agreement. This was the first agreement in San Diego.  

Community Benefits Agreements (CBA's) as well as Project Labor Agreements include guarantees that projects will not be a financial drain upon cities and their existing residents as well as help assure that necessary mitigations actually occur. It is possible to litigate an Environmental Impact Report within 30 days of approval, but actually once it is approved only resource agencies have the authority to make sure the mitigations required actually happen. A CBA adds a legal obligation that citizens can enforce.

Ralph stated, “We will not solve the south I-5 problems.” Two court cases have made it clear that agencies must contribute their “fair share” to mitigating regional problems exasperated by developments they permit to occur. Both CALTRANS and SANDAG made it clear to Chula Vista that the 144,000 additional vehicles on I-5 their Urban Core Specific Plan was predicted to create was indeed the responsibility of the city. The added traffic from the Bayfront Master Plan will also cause a huge amount of additional traffic. The two cases sited in link below make it clear that the city and Port will be responsible for paying for the needed upgrades to I-5 to accommodate the added traffic the proposed projects will cause. Both the Port and the city think they can delay paying for several years by meeting regularly with CALTRANS and SANDAG. It is doubtful whether legally these mitigations can be deferred, since normally mitigations are required to be prior to or concurrent with development causing the problem. A legal opinion on these cases states that at the very least all the financing for these improvements must be worked out before the CEQUA document is issued. It remains to be seen whether the city and Port will be able to do this. The original EIR generated over 1200 comments and was pathetically inadequate. The Port is working on a new EIR, which is due out in spring of 2008. The port hopes to certify it in fall of 2008.

This timeline seems unlikely to me for several reasons. The first is that the port refuses to discuss the contents of the document with anyone. The second is that there is no insistence upon a Community Benefits Agreement by the Port and the City (saying “tell these people to get along” just doesn’t help). Third there is no labor agreement, which many believe is critical to insuring a living wage to workers and providing work to the many construction and other workers who live in San Diego County. The San Diego Convention Center and PETCO Park have Project Labor Agreements. Gaylord should too. Fourth when asked about the Natural Resources Protection Plan Ralph said a different part of port was working on that, and it would not be done before the EIR.   The Natural Resources Protection Plan is needed to ensure that mitigations are actually carried out and the environment is protected. Ralph was also very vague about the clean up of the ground water, which is contaminated with numerous toxic chemicals and must be cleaned before any construction takes place. Fifth Ralph believes that there will be some tension concerning the park in the Sweetwater District. He is probably correct, and the environmental document must clearly describe exactly what can and cannot take place in this park or it will surely be considered inadequate again. A complete and thorough project description is a primary requirement of an EIR. The parks are projects too, so there must be a thorough and complete description of them in the document as well or the document will be inadequate. His comments indicate a lack of intention to provide this description, which is troubling. These are not good signs that the new EIR will address the numerous inadequacies of the previous one. Once the EIR is certified the State Lands Commission and the Coastal Commission must approve of the plan as well. These bodies do not look favorably upon projects with labor and environmental problems.