On Wednesday, April 22, Chula Vista planning commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on approving Baldwin & Sons' application to create 600 multi-family units in the Otay Ranch area of Eastlake.
At the meeting, held in council chambers, city staffers explained that in 1993 Chula Vista created a general development plan for Otay Ranch. The plan designated 1.2 million square feet as commercial retail property that would serve the needs of the Eastlake community. By 2006, developers had constructed the Otay Ranch Town Center Mall on some of the land.
Baldwin & Sons, a developer of over 18,000 homes throughout Southern California, currently owns 35 acres just north of the 85-acre mall. The city originally approved commercial use for this space, anticipating “big box” retail development with large parking lots.
However, Baldwin & Sons wanted the plan amended, proposing that the 35 acres become mixed-use residential. The project would anticipate an increase of 180 students within the Wolf Canyon Elementary School area, 52 additional middle-school students and 121 more high-school students.
Their proposal includes plans for a two-acre park with a picnic grove and an amphitheater. The proposal includes the construction of two hotels.
Nick Lee of Baldwin & Sons gave a presentation on the multi-use site, explaining, “We wanted to create a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood…. It’s in walking distance of grocery stores, the mall, the theater, the restaurant.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, however, Eastlake resident Jessica Hayes said that women won’t walk to Home Depot, buy a bag of fertilizer, and walk back. “We are going to drive. Pay attention, because it’s going to really impact traffic; and when you have 600 units, that’s 1200 to 1800 cars.”
Eastlake Greens resident Angela Reed said, “When I moved into Eastlake in ’98, Olympic View was our only elementary school available, and my daughter went there for kindergarten. Had she been allowed to stay for first grade, there would have been over 900 students, because the city didn’t plan [for] the number of families with children to attend the schools. I have a feeling that that’s going to be a similar situation.”
Colton Sudberry, an award-winning developer who helped create three town centers in Eastlake, spoke in favor of the project. He said Eastlake already has enough commercial retail space because “You can count on one hand how many quality retailers want to come to East Chula Vista right now.”
After the vote, Baldwin & Sons senior vice president Stephen Haase approached the podium and addressed the second item on the agenda: a public hearing for the four-story Residence Inn by Marriott Hotel with 148 guest rooms. He said, “Given the decision and the testimony tonight and the fact that the development agreement does intertwine the hotel with the development that we proposed, I request a continuance.”
The request was granted. The application will now go to city council for review.