Thursday, May 28, 2009 | The Port of San Diego was formed by the California Legislature in 1962 to help manage and administer the waterfront of San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Coronado and Imperial Beach. In doing so, the idea was to prevent parochialism and act as a region.
Forty-seven years later, for the residents and taxpayers of Chula Vista, this honorable idea has not paid a dividend. For the residents of San Diego however, the idea of a shared governing organism has certainly paid off.
A look at San Diego’s bay tells one story. Start with the San Diego Convention Center, and proceed to Petco Park, then on to the numerous high-end hotels, the decision of San Diego to be part of this joint venture has been a complete windfall for its residents and developers. Up until recently the San Diego Airport was also part of the Port of San Diego. This is a true win-win situation for San Diego by almost any measure.
However, one look at Chula Vista’s bay front tells yet another story, one full of promise and failure. For as long as I have been around, some 38 years, Chula Vista has been talking about developing a beautiful bay where our deserving and hard working residents can come and dine, work, play and enjoy the wonderful environment our shores offer. After another round of failed development projects, specifically the proposed Gaylord Entertainment project, and with the Pacifica Companies condominium project on the ropes, we are still talking about the possibilities.
Who is to blame? It would be easy to say our port representatives or city council (both past and present), but I say no, it is not that simple. In fact, it has been the inherent competing interest that makes up the Port of San Diego that has been Chula Vista’s major obstacle. The cities of Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, and Coronado each have one vote while San Diego has three. Do the math.
What would be the incentive for San Diego to use port dollars in support of Chula Vista? There is none.
Chula Vista taxpayers have been paying their share of port taxes for 47 years. What have we received in return? Not much.
So what is the solution? Is it a better skilled port representative? No.
Chula Vista needs to leave the Port of San Diego and go it alone. It is time we controlled our own destiny. The Port of San Diego is a creature created by the state; it can also be amended by the state.
I urge the Mayor and City Council to work with our State representatives, Mary Salas, Marty Block and Denise Ducheny, to introduce legislation to extract Chula Vista from the port. It would not impact any of the other cities. It would just be a simple bill to say enough is enough.
One less level of bureaucracy and competing interests will give Chula Vista the ability to finally develop its bay front— A bay front 47 years in coming.
Eduardo Valerio is a Chula Vista resident, former aide to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and chairman of the Chula Vista Library Board of Trustees.