A five-story building with 80 condominium units has been proposed for the northeast corner of Third Avenue and K Street in downtown Chula Vista. When the proposal was brought before the public in mid-October, it met with strong opposition.
In addition to 141 subterranean parking spaces, the project will have ground-floor commercial space. The development will entail the demolition of several buildings, including the Alliance Training Center.
Many are eager to see Third Avenue revitalized and believe the right project would put “feet on the street.” But, objections to this specific project are myriad.
The rear of the development abuts Church Avenue, a well-tended street that is zoned residential. Some Church Street residents say the five-story building will block sunlight and breezes they currently enjoy in their single-story homes.
There are also privacy concerns. Some condo balconies will overlook the backyards of some Church Street residents. Balconies will be screened, but critics say this will not address privacy issues.
Pandra, a resident of Church Street, said she was upset by the fact that this complex has been billed as condominiums, but at the community meeting to review the plans the Studio E architect referred to the development several times as apartments. When she asked for clarification, she was told by the architect the condominiums won’t sell, so they will be apartments.
The site is zoned under the Urban Core Specific Plan that sets guidelines for the buildout of Chula Vista’s downtown area. Peter Watry, a member of Crossroads II, a community group that focuses on land use, has referred to this condo/apartment development as “the trashing of the west [side].” He said the project has two pages of deviations, or exemptions, from the guidelines. Watry believes that if the city allows for these deviations it will set a bad precedent for the projects that follow.
One of the deviations requested is to not include any commercial parking space. According to a project memorandum from the architect company, Studio E, “Project requests a deviation on the commercial parking requirement given the small size of the commercial space (511 sf). Providing one commercial space within the [condo] garage would create complexities with regard to securing the garage with entrance gates and separation of the residential and commercial parking.”
Traffic is heavy on Third and K. The area is bounded by streetlights and some have raised concerns about congestion during peak hours. A traffic study was not done for the project.
Other project deviations include smaller parking stalls and a reduced setback for the part of the building that faces the residential area.
The development comes at a time when the city council is considering a proposal to waive fees for developers on the west side of Chula Vista for at least ten years. Regarding the postponed fees, director of Development Services Kelly Broughton told the Voice of San Diego that lowering the fees would mean a compromise that would translate into reduced services for west-side dwellers.
“Right now the city has a rule that there should be three parks for every 1,000 residents,” Broughton stated. “If the city decided to lower the number of parks required per thousand people, it would lower the cost, but at the expense of building fewer parks. And by delaying when these fees are paid, the city will also be delaying when the services that are meant to be provided with them will be delivered to area residents.”
Project opponents had hoped that the city and the architect would bring a revised project back to the community before it goes to the planning commission.
The Reader placed multiple calls to four people in Chula Vista’s planning department. At 8 a.m. on October 29, a city planner called and said Richard Zumwalt, the project manager, would call back at 9:30. At 11:15, the city’s communications manager, Anne Steinberger, called to ascertain the questions. No answers were forthcoming from the city by the filing of this story.