Brace for culture change, Chula Vista

Sale of lots to developers to affect parking on Third Avenue

This city parking lot at the corner of Center Street and Church Avenue was sold to a developer for $425,000
  • This city parking lot at the corner of Center Street and Church Avenue was sold to a developer for $425,000

“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.

Parking for Chula Vista's farmers' market is expected to be affected by the sale of the lots.

Parking for Chula Vista's farmers' market is expected to be affected by the sale of the 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.)

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Comments

Bob Hudson, It's interesting to note that one of the lots that was sold, according to Crockett, brings in over $1,000 a month in meter fees.

Taking away parking spaces is not the only way the Council is dooming Third Avenue businesses. Landis Street runs parallel to Third on the west side of Third, between E and F. The Urban Core Specific Plan originally designated this for 7-story condos, hoping to attract young professionals with discretionary incomes. That was intended to help save Third Avenue businesses.
But a year or so ago, the Council approved an apartment/condo project now being finished at the corner of Landis and Davidson -- which is specifically for low-income people.
Now I am all in favor in housing for low-income people, but just now where it hurts Third Avenue businesses. Hasta la vista, Third Avenue!

Please name one thing, one business or attraction worth getting people to make it a destination. Less parking is certainly not a good answer. The parking in Chula Vista sucks as it is. Now it is going to be worse. So how does housing a bunch of low income people help your businesses? Taking away the parking spaces. Brilliant. We should require an IQ test before any city council candidate can run for office. Chances are few could qualify.

So the mayor expects me to walk from Rancho Del Rey? and then what, carry my stuff home from the farmer's market?

Ponzi, there are destination places. In the area that will lose the parking lots there are several good restaurants. There is a very creative Sushi place that blends Mexican and Japanese flavors and is always packed, California Sushi http://californiasushibar.com/HouseRolls.html There is an intimate Trattoria Italianissimo http://italianissimotrat.com/dinner-menu/ and a great little theater which puts on an interesting mix of traditional and cutting edge plays called OnStage Playhouse. I looking forward to seeing Evita there in May. There are other good places, but you're right, it is more what-it-might-be, not what-it-is...

That's why planning and leadership is so important.

Italianissimo is excellent and I go all the time. but if the city makes it too difficult to park it won't have much of a future

This mayor and council are not bright enough to understand complex urban planning issues.

I once had a conversation with Mayor Salas about the need to preserve green space around Otay Lakes before it is too late. She looked at me like I insulted her mother and said "No, it will all be housing." Wouldn't even entertain another opinion.

I also had a conversation with her where I questioned the plan to build houses east of Otay Lakes and south of the Otay Ranch shopping center as well as the bayfront project. She said "You don't get it, you don't understand, we will never stop building."

--"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 unanimously to sell two lots that provide parking spaces for the downtown area.--

Realizing in hindsight that a mistake was made might be excusable, but admitting beforehand that the actions you're about to take will knowingly aggravate an existing issue isn't.  The first paragraph of this article must have heads shaking in Chula Vista.

cvret:  Your point regarding the mayor wanting you to walk from Rancho Del Rey to the farmers' market is well taken.  She says a large body of evidence shows that future generations will be relying less on their cars and more on mass transit. Really? Does she get a car allowance? Is she willing to give that up and show by example how convenient it is to get from point A to point B? Every time I check for directions online I see mass-transit-time to be 3 to 4 times longer than by car, and that's if mass-transit to your destination is even available.

Those comments about what Mayor Mary Salas told them is very disheartening and disappointing -- but not surprising. I hope someone challenges her in 3 years. The best thing that can happen to Chula Vista is for Mary Salas to retire and be doomed to walking or taking mass-transit everywhere she goes.

Alexandra Vinson Shepard, Incredible price, no? The sale was public. The mayor led prospective buyers on a walking tour of the lots for sale during the summer. The catch for a realtor was that he or she had to present the Design Review Committee with plans for residential development. As Crockett said, it was an effort to keep the lots from lying fallow.

Some people will be interested to see this website regarding the Urban Core Specific Plan--it's quite expansive at buildout.

http://biasandiego.org/chula-vista-urban-core/

Looking back through campaign disclosure statements, it appears that developers have given lavishly to all of our mayors including Salas.

So glad John McCann is no longer on the SUHSD board.

It's seems like the City is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. If they do nothing, they get criticized for letting the downtown area deteriorate. If they beautify the streetscape that's not enough to draw people to the area. If they sell parking lots there's not enough parking. If they allow new residential to be built its too crowded. I own a business on Third and am excited to see the positive changes and the potential of downtown CV. Change is inevitable and necessary to grow and improve the area. Not everyone can be pleased by the changes, but change is coming!!

third ave seems like it is always under construction

Bvavsvavev,

The blog seems to have taken its own direction, a healthy thing. But maybe I didn't make the discussion clear enough. There was never a question about selling parking lots, the state has mandated the former Redevelopment Agencies divest themselves and get out of the real estate business. The lots must be sold. The city apparently has some wriggle room for one parking lot, maybe being able to keep it. So the question was, how best to use this wriggle room. Aguilar noted the business owners between Third and Madrona on the east side would be "in a choke" and that there might be an effect on the Farmers' Market location. A lot of people were not aware of that possibility and it seems like an appropriate thing to discuss at the council level. There was no one who spoke against residential development.

And, on the personal side, I frequent Third Avenue all the time...and welcome the new additions. There's a nice little alehouse open now--a good little meet up kind of place. I miss the old places too...like when we had a Latin American bookstore with art openings and poetry readings...

I am not quite understanding something - if Third Avenue is having difficulty drawing customers for its businesses what makes anyone think the 'new high rise residences' will become anything more than Chicago like Projects?

It is so easy for those who do not reside on the West side to tell West side residents what is good for them and their property values.

Hopefully much thought will be put into what types of businesses will replace those lots.

VigilantinCV - the leadership of Mayor Salas has been a major disappointment. One thing for sure she has definitely racked up air 'mileage points' during her trips to Paris and Mexico. Too bad some of that mileage money couldn't have been put to use for solving real problems like the homeless situation - oh, that's right she is 'studying it'.

I am definitely not against all change, but I do think that there should be some sort of plan involved, so that things work together.

What is up with the City Plan?

Shouldn't some of these ideas be presented as a part of it?

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