Chula Vista condo plan misses mark again

"When a statement says ‘avoid,’ it doesn’t mean ‘prohibited.’”

After recognizing attendees weren't pleased with the meeting format, former councilmember Rudy Ramirez stood on a bench and coordinated a second meeting.
  • After recognizing attendees weren't pleased with the meeting format, former councilmember Rudy Ramirez stood on a bench and coordinated a second meeting.

On December 16, residents gathered a second time to review a proposed development on Third Avenue and K Street in downtown Chula Vista. Although city staff provided pastries and coffee, the mood of the crowd was not good. Many people objected to the meeting format as well as to the project.

Architect's rendering of Third and K project

Architect's rendering of Third and K project

The proposed mixed-use development, called Vista Del Mar, was designed by Studio E architect John Sheehan for developer Hamid Mani. The project is a five-story apartment/condominium complex with 511 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The front of the project is on Third Avenue; the back towers face a residential neighborhood.

As a result of opposition to the project at an October meeting, the proposal was modified. The number of residential units was reduced from 80 to 76, eight guest/commercial parking spaces were added, and the number of balconies was decreased from 12 to 8.

The December 16 format to review these modifications, however, increased attendees’ frustrations. Instead of a presentation followed by questions, the public was invited to visit tables with architectural renderings and ask questions individually.

Developer Hamid Mani claimed, "Two or three people disagree with development. I’m going to stand above it."

Developer Hamid Mani claimed, "Two or three people disagree with development. I’m going to stand above it."

There were approximately 60 people in attendance. Many expressed the opinion that the format was designed to circumvent questions in a public setting. As people began to circulate, former councilmember Rudy Ramirez commandeered the situation by standing on a bench and coordinating a second meeting. The architect, the developer, and city staff stayed for an additional question-and-answer session.

One supporter of the Vista del Mar development stated that Third and K needed to be upgraded because the area was deteriorating and attracting homeless people. Another supporter said she has lived in western Chula Vista all her life and can’t yet afford a house. This development would give her an opportunity to live in a new and affordable place.

Several people commented that they were not opposed to the project, rather that five stories was too big for the location and would generate excessive traffic and parking problems. “Give us a project that fits,” was a common refrain.

Some residents were frustrated that elements of the project didn’t comply with the Urban Core Specific Plan that was hashed out by the community to govern area growth.

People opposed, for example, the developer’s request for an exception to Urban Core floor-area ratio specs: the Urban Core Specific Plan calls for 1.5, but the developer is asking for 2.0. This increase translates to more square footage, which in turn increases the number of residential units.

The architect responded that, in trying to be a good neighbor, the project design distributed the square footage away from the residential area and toward Third Avenue.

One man asked, “Why do you have to have five stories?” The architect replied, “The developer’s economic model determined it needs between 75 and 80 units to be worth developing at all.”

Balconies were a strong point of contention. People from the residential streets behind the proposed building assert that Vista del Mar occupants will be able to peer into their backyards and windows.

The Urban Core Specific Plan states: “Building design shall be cognizant of adjacent low density uses [residential housing] i.e., avoid balconies overlooking rear yards.”

But the city’s senior planner, Miguel Tapia, explained, “Guidelines are suggestions, they are not regulations. So when a statement says ‘avoid,’ it doesn’t mean ‘prohibited.’”

Near the end of the meeting, a resident asked the developer. “Why don’t you want to be a good neighbor and build only three stories?” Then the meeting took another curious turn.

Developer Mani said, “Many people from the city came to me and asked me to do the project. There are people living in National City and East County. They could live in Chula Vista.

“The city needs money. The city has economical problems. There is a university that the city is working on, so the city needs availability. There are jobs here. They need homes. The people of Chula Vista need help. I can go develop in National City or Hawaii if I want. Some people from the city came to my office today at 4 o’clock saying we are running out of apartments.

“I have 101 employees in Chula Vista. I am adding another 100. These people are living in Tijuana or National City. Two or three people disagree with development. I’m going to stand above it. I love Mexican people. I have 101 Mexican-American employees, and I’m going to stand for what I’m doing.”

Someone called out from the audience, “Why do you want to play the race card, man?”

Another person raised his hand and said there is no housing shortage in Chula Vista. “We have the biggest build-out in the entire county — that’s been part of the city’s problem.”

City staff will continue to analyze the project; the date it will go before the planning commission has not been determined.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Wow, this is just another example of how desperately the city wants new developments no matter how much it harms existing residents. There have been many examples on the east side where after new developments are built and people have moved in, they will come back and change the original plan to allow a lot more density that the developer wants, or, as in Lake Point. turning a small “commercial” area meant for local shopping, to more high-density “residential.” The city is considering asking residents to approve a big bond issue to fix old infrastructure, asking the city to ‘trust them,’ that they will do it right this time. Fat chance! The City’s trustworthiness is wearing thin.

I'm pretty sure the schools can't accomidate.

Shirley, That is a good point. I know one attendee asked about the Chula Vista committee on growth management said about west side development-- I believe the committee does schools, water, infrastructure...

I think the students from Third and K would attend Hilltop Elementary, Middle and High.

In the mean time, hope the season is being good to you. Tomorrow is the first day of winter, so every day after a little bit lighter...

So let old Chula Vista continue to devolve into rundown shanties and homeless camps, or breath some new life and vitality into it? You get to pick one.

But the city’s senior planner, Miguel Tapia, explained, “Guidelines are suggestions, they are not regulations. So when a statement says ‘avoid,’ it doesn’t mean ‘prohibited.’”

Then why do we even have guidelines?

This developer claims he could go to Hawaii or National City. So, why doesn't he do just that? While I don't know about National City, Hawaii isn't letting anyone build just anything nowadays. The overbuilding of the islands has made some of them far less than a paradise, and the locals aren't all that happy about it. The Aloha spirit isn't always alive and well.

He ought to give some consideration to the neighbors in CV. And, indeed, what are guidelines for if not to be followed? In Chula Vista words don't always mean the same things that they mean in the rest of the world.

You can't even build on Maui. There is a waiting list for a water meter. The waiting list is several years, so residents have to install rainwater catchment systems.

Too bad our leaders don't realize that at some point we cannot continue to conserve, or build desal plants or pipe more water in. All new developments should have an assigned limit of how much water they can consume and then the meter locks off.

More arrogance from developers and their friends, the "civic leaders" of the city of Chula Vista.

I hope all those in the neighborhood continue turning out and making noise, calling in and stating their opinions.

There is supposed to be a concept of the "public good", but in Chula Vista, that seems to be forgotten, as it is all for developers and those they have bought.

Developers have no interest in any place that they want to develop in. They don't care where they build as long as they can make money and move on. They have no dog in the fight and after the project is finished they will not be living there. Developers are looking for willing politicians which are not hard to find. Developers will not be there to deal with the traffic or any other outcome of their projects.

sjtorres: To say, … "Just pick one, homeless camps, etc. or vitality…" is really over simplifying the issue.

It sounds like the residents agree that an upgrade of the area would be good and aren't just saying no to development.  However, it is the developer who is unwilling to compromise and change his "economic model".

What I read is the project's opponents appear to simply be asking for a compromise regarding the size of the project, to change portions of it to avoid balconies overlooking their backyards, and provisions to deal with parking.  In their words, “Give us a project that fits”. Hopefully the Planning Commision will be sensitive to the needs of the community. This developer seems to care more about his bottom line.

Why a 5 story Project was considered as neighborhood friendly in the first place is a question that needs to be answered.

Mayor, City Council - how would you react to a build out of 5 stories looking into your homes?

It is always important to consider those persons who live in an area -

The racial inuendos - were NOT topic related.

More development sell outs, There should be mechanisms in place, (real ones) prohibiting: 1.anything higher than three stories on the West side of Chula Vista. 2. No balconies or windows from new development shall be able to look down into any pre-exsisting backyard in any Chula Vista neighborhood. 3. No city council member or any of their family members should be involved with any real estate developers or their money. The list could go on and on. Years ago Steve Padilla the Mayor and his buddy Pharis steamrolled a project through behind our house. Now we have balconies that are use as storage areas and it looks like crap. We have everything thrown into our yard from old food, cigarettes and used diapers. Such nice people that we end up getting here when they (the developers) don't end up selling them as condos but end up filling them up with low income tenants.

  1. why?
  2. So I walk out to the back of my property and I can see into 3 or 4 neighbors' back yards which are 10 feet or so below me. I have a 2nd story deck which provides a view of my next door neighbor's back yard. Tear my house down?
  3. What about telecom, trash collection, education? Only bums allowed to run for office?

511 square feet? That's one incredibly tiny shop.

Yep. About the size of a 2 -car garage. Maybe they had to put in something other than residential to suit some purpose or qualify for something?

And anyone who identifies themselves as a "Something-American", where the "Something" comes first, is no kind of real American. If your primary allegiance is to Mexico, go there.

"Mexican" is not a "race" or ethnicity, it's a nationality. And I thought we were supposed to be color-blind, equal, that "race" wasn't supposed to be taken into account? Why is it that the people who say that when I'm perceived to have some kind of benefit are the first to turn around and yell as loudly as they can about skin color when there's a benefit they can grab by doing so?

Read the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo stupid. You're not even from here. Shut up.

jnojr--That is a good point about the square feet of the shop. I think that zoning calls for mixed-use, so that is a genuflect in that direction. There was a handout at the meeting asking what kind of shop people would like to see in the development--coffee, deli, florist, juice bar....

As for the word Mexican-American, the only person who used it was the developer.

I'm not sure if the United States is shooting for color blind. Every form a person fills out asks him or her to identify--are you Anglo-American etc.

Gloria Smestad, I have seen the overflow parking in eastside areas and many old westside streets are becoming impacted, we don't have any real transportation alternatives. Every time I google somewhere I want to go it tells me I can get there in 20 minutes by car or 2 and 1/2 hours by public transportation.

I know someone who needs to go to the Naval Hospital once a week and goes by public transportation--it's an all day journey!

Susan - I don't give J much credit for common sense. Seen his opinions before. We put a nationality in front of American ie. Irish-American etc. Looked like a racist remark to me.

Who's "we"? I don't. I'm an American, period. Why do you feel some need to qualify that?

If you're finding "racism" in what I said, it's because you're desperately looking for it. I bet you see "racism" everywhere, and are one of the Chicken Littles who helps provide a smokescreen for what real bigotry is out there.

Yeah, American kids should be trained in bankable useful working skills but the lack is American fault not another country.

If "there is no housing shortage in Chula Vista", then why are rents up nearly 40% in 3+ years? https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-chula-vista-rent-trends/

We is the educated community, not people who make stuff up.

I had an opportunity to attend a meeting the developer, Dr. Hamid Mani, presented to a small group of business owners and community leaders (no elected leaders). Dr. Mani owns California Retina Associates, which is block south of the proposed area.

He outlined his vision and listened to feedback from our group. Many of the same concerns expressed at this community meeting were shared with Dr. Mani at our meeting.

Many of us that own businesses along Third Ave would love to see progress and change to benefit all residents and businesses in the area. The challenge is finding change that residents will accept. Any type of progress is ultimately going to cause disruption, whether it be traffic, construction, parking, etc.

The question is do we want West CV, Third Ave and downtown CV to continue its slow decline? Or are we willing to accept change, progress and development? I'm for change, progress and development.

This specific development may not be the answer due to all the concerns noted. But something has to be done in West CV, Third Ave and downtown CV to stop the steady decline.

The Developer & the NIMBY game. The developer and their partners agree to build 300 homes on a tract of land. But in order to get that project through all the opposition, you have to play the game. Ask for 900 homes. Then you dink around with the NIMBY’s until they settle for 350 homes. Everyone is happy. The developer is happiest of all.

This may or may not be what is happening.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader