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Continuing on to the seventh most interesting story to look for in local politics in 2007, I turn to the South Bay. Again, the order on these is tough to choose. This story, like all of them, could blow up or go out with a whimper.

7. The Chula Vista Bay Front

The city of Chula Vista is no longer a suburb. With scandals and brutal political maneuvering, it has graduated to the club of big cities. And although people have been dreaming about what can be done with its waterfront for decades, now the push has reached a critical mass. Gaylord Entertainment and port officials will likely soon announce a new plan to build that company its dream resort, hotel and convention center. Neither Gaylord, nor the waterfront’s other perspective big-time tenant, the Chargers, can live with the ugly South Bay power plant there.

What will the powers that be do?

Some of the region’s biggest issues, therefore, collide on Chula Vista’s bay front. Think about it: Embedded between the lines of the discussion about the South Bay power plant is SDG&E’s and its parent company’s plans for the Sunrise Powerlink — the miles and miles of powerlines the utility says is needed even though it crosses wilderness lands. Sempra might well make it clear that getting rid of a power source like South Bay’s would be easier to stomach if the utility is allowed to build its dream link.

And with Gaylord, the celebrated new power of the labor and environmental movements to help define these kind of projects is being put to the test.

Then there’s the football team. The city of San Diego could not have been happier to have the dog of the Chargers barking in someone else’s lawn. Mayor Jerry Sanders and the City Council would like nothing more than for a solution for the Chargers to arise — keeping them in the San Diego region — while not requiring San Diego officials to spend any political (or real) capital working out a plan. But the Chargers are in the playoffs this year with a good team. I think their chances at reaching the Super Bowl are slim but if they do, the desire to keep them in San Diego will reach an all-time high. Chula Vista might take on the challenge, or it might not. But we’ll have a good idea how this choice comes out by the end of the year.

Finally, there’s Chula Vista. The city will need revenues to flow in at a good clip in order to stay solvent. It has promised its employees raises well into the future. Like some of the people who owned homes in the city, Chula Vista officials borrowed and borrowed on the unquestioned belief that the houses would keep rising in value generating demand (and tax revenues) well into the future. If the city wants to build a new football stadium and a convention center/resort on the bay front, it better have its financial house in order.

SCOTT LEWIS

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