“Parking on Third Avenue is an issue and will become more of an issue,” said Chula Vista councilmember John McCann shortly before the council voted to sell two lots that provide parking spaces for the downtown area.
Redevelopment agencies were dissolved in 2011 under governor Jerry Brown and redevelopment successor agencies are obliged to sell off property purchased by the agencies. The city put 11 lots on the market in July, but only 2 lots were approved for sale at the December 15 council meeting.
MV Properties Inc purchased the lot on Center Street and Church Avenue for $425,000, and Public Architecture purchased the lot on Northwest Madrona and Church Avenue for $245,000. A stipulation the city put on the purchase was that the developers had to submit designs for residential projects for the lots.
One development will have approximately 9 residential units, the other approximately 16. The designs will have to conform to the Urban Core Specific Plan, which governs the design for urbanization around Third Avenue.
The city and its residents will realize the proceeds from the sale of the lots. The money will go to the county and then be paid out to school districts and public agencies. The infill development will also advance the city’s plan for a more vibrant downtown area.
However, several councilmembers acknowledged that parking problems on Third Avenue will be exacerbated. According to Economic Development director Eric Crockett, there will be 97 parking spaces lost as a result of the two lot sales. Overall, when the city finishes dispensing with the lots, the number of parking spaces will be reduced from 1727 to 1568.
Pat Aguilar, councilmember for District 2, which includes Third Avenue, asked to postpone the decision on the sale of the lots for at least one meeting because she believed the council should hear more from business owners along Third Avenue and from the Third Avenue Village Association. The city has some flexibility in the disposition of lots, which Aguilar wanted to explore.
In July 2015, the Third Avenue Association board of directors took this position regarding the parking lots: “The TAVA Board of Directors is requesting that the City of Chula Vista utilize parking district funds to purchase as many redevelopment parking lots as possible, in the priority that the City of Chula Vista deems most advantageous.”
Not all Third Avenue merchants belong to the Village Association. Aguilar opined: “Here we are on the one hand trying to attract business to this area and to help them to flourish, and on the other hand creating a significant choke between between F Street and Madrona on the east side of Third. There will be zero parking there.” She also noted that the Urban Core plan, which was devised with community input, included the two parking lots.
Aguilar also raised the concern that selling the Madrona lot would have “an adverse effect” on the farmers’ market. She noted that due to limited parking, she and others rely on the lot when they go to the market. Crockett said there have already been discussions with the Third Avenue Village Association about whether the market should be moved, and to what location.
Crockett said the city will be rehabilitating the parking structure on F Street to remediate the loss of lots. The structure, which could provide parking for 700 cars, by his report, is unclean and poorly lit. A small lot beside the Vogue Theater will also be prepared for some mitigation parking.
Crockett pointed out that the city is going for a “culture change” on Third Avenue with more pedestrian-friendly areas.
Mayor Mary Casillas Salas opposed Aguilar’s request for a delay and stated, “As we’re transitioning into a different model of urban development, we’re planning for future generations and how they want to live. We’ve got a large body of evidence that says they’re going to be less dependent on the car and more on mass transit and we’re already beginning to see a whole different demographic that’s starting to patronize Third Avenue.”
Pedestrian philosophy aside, Crockett also discussed the development of one of the remaining redevelopment lots for an additional parking structure.
Councilmember Pamela Bensoussan argued that the city had obtained two very good developers and said, “What kind of message would we be sending by delaying? Time is money. I’m totally opposed to delaying the item. Let’s get crackin’.” She called for the vote and the item passed 3-1, with Aguilar casting the dissenting vote. Councilmember Steve Miesen was absent.
(corrected 1/7, 8:35 a.m.)