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Chula Vista Waterfront Plan Awaits OK From Coastal Commission

Aired 3/13/12 on KPBS News.

Chula Vista hosted the March meeting of the California Coastal Commission last week. Now the city is looking forward to seeing its waterfront development plan on the agenda.

A satellite map of a proposed redevelopment project on the Chula Vista bayfront.
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Above: A satellite map of a proposed redevelopment project on the Chula Vista bayfront.

Developing the Chula Vista waterfront has been planned for a decade, and it's moved forward in fits and starts with a changing cast of developers. City Manager Jim Sandoval said approval by the California Coastal Commission has been delayed more than once.

"We meant to have it heard in November, here we are in March, and now we're looking at July," he said.

But if commission approval comes this summer, Chula Vista can move forward with a plan to develop what Sandoval calls the last underdeveloped bayfront in the state. Plans call for three hotels, condominiums, an industrial business park and a convention center on 560 acres. Currently, the development zone is made up of a lot of empty land.

Sandoval said an old bayside power plant will be demolished. Now he said the old Dynergy plant looks like it's been shrink wrapped, as workers seal it off to remove asbestos. If all works out as city officials hope, the redevelopment project will generate $11 million in annual tax revenues and more than 2,000 permanent jobs.

"Now most of those are not high-paying jobs," said Sandoval. "They are service sector jobs. But we also have other projects in the city that are about to take off."

Sandoval cites plans to develop a university and research park in East Chula Vista, but those have a long way to go. Chula Vista has had to work to recover from the housing bust. Foreclosure and falling home assessments have forced city to cut a quarter of its public workforce. Today, sales taxes have replaced property taxes as the city's biggest source of revenue. City officials hope the bayfront development will help municipal coffers recover what's been lost.

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