… South Bay Rapid Transit Breaks Ground, and the Bill of Rights Schooner Needs Help
By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass
South Bay Rapid Transit, Will It Catch Hold?
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, a groundbreaking ceremony marked the construction of the South Bay Rapid project, a $113 million, 21-mile bus route from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to downtown San Diego. Mayor Mary Salas said it would connect eastern Chula Vista with downtown San Diego.
The biggest question yet unanswered: Will residents switch from their car to public transportation?
Everybody knows the South Bay is a driving culture — and not by choice. Blame a guy named Jacob Dekema, the engineer for the 11th District Engineer of the Division of Highways who, after California passed sweeping legislation in the late 1950s, began to construct the freeways in San Diego County.
In a lecture Dekema gave at SDSU in the 1970s, he told the audience that Roman civilization’s greatness stemmed from its roads. Consequently, he felt that freeways were the ‘tide of San Diego’s great future’ and should be built at the cost to both historic preservation and cohesive communities.
For better or for worse, that’s why the South Bay has four major freeways (the I-805, I-5, I-54 and, more recently, the I-125). Some may say they’re eyesores. Others may point to the health hazards for communities who live nearby. Most residents in the South Bay would agree that the freeways have also created a “car dependency.”
Casa Familiar Claims Institutionalized Racism At San Ysidro’s Bus Station
Meanwhile, who already uses public transportation? More often than not, the majority of public transportation users are poor… and they make money for the rest of us. The San Ysidro Trolley Station has more than 11,000 northbound riders everyday. It is one of the few revenue generating stops in the entire MTS system. (Other less-used stops are paid for through taxpayer dollars.) Last year MTS spent $600 million to upgrade all stops equally on the Blue Line.
Now, MTS sent a court order to the co-owner of the McDonald’s transit building–located at the San Ysidro Trolley Station–demanding that he close his building’s second floor door that leads to the bus terminal.
Wendy Fry at NBC reported the details. The Mcdonald’s building offers the only elevator to get to the bus terminal. If the door closes, pedestrians will have to walk along a busy road with no sidewalks. The bus terminal in general also looks dilapidated.
Andrea Skorepa, CEO of San Ysidro’s Casa Familiar, wrote a letter to MTS calling the closing of the door and the poor condition of the bus bays “institutionalized racism.”
There are currently 24 carriers working out of the bus facility, ranging from shuttles to intercity buses such as Greyhound. Estimates of the number of people using the buses are between 400,000 and 500,000 people annually.
Chula Vista’s Developer Impact Fees
Focus on Chula Vista! wrote that the City of Chula Vista wants to pass the buck from developers to future homeowners on the west side of the city.
Developers of new housing units pay ‘development impact fees.’ The fees pay to provide services such as sewer lines, traffic lights, etc. The City depends on these fees to pay for basic infrastructure.
But now, Chula Vista is proposing Mello Roos on the west side. The idea is that by passing the expenses from developers to eventual homeowners, the west side might get a face lift faster. Why does Focus on Chula Vista! think it’s a half baked idea? Keep reading...
More Chula Vista
- Desiree Linden, 32, who went to Hilltop High School will go to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this year after taking second in the women’s race up and down Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.
- Southwestern College is currently turning its decades-old dirt lot into a $52 million wellness and aquatics complex. Located at H Street and Otay Lakes Road, the complex uses Prop R bond funds, a $389 million general obligation bond approved by voters in 2008. Robert Morena of the Chula Vista Star News reports that the complex include two Olympic-size swimming pools and a therapy pool, a 2,500-seat gymnasium, fitness labs, community locker rooms and classrooms. Wait… didn’t Southwestern just get a brand new mammoth stadium?
- Chula Vista PR Blogspot posted that “apartment-starved Chula Vista is getting a new $20 million complex on the city’s west side.” Construction started near the intersection of L Street and 3rd Avenue.
- The Bill of Rights schooner is down! South Bayfront Sailing Association had a major mishap on Valentine’s Day. Their schooner set sail and their transmission overheated with temperatures of 285 degrees. They now have to get a new transmission and the boat can’t sail until they raise $10,000 for a replacement. Until then, they’ll lose revenue and the Bill of Rights, an icon of the Chula Vista Bayfront, is stuck in the docks.
with Imperial Beach and National City:
- Wendy Fry at NBC requested travel expense reports from mayors in all 18 cities. According to the records, Chula Vista, San Diego and Imperial Beach spent the highest amounts in travel. Salas went to Paris for a climate conference, which was an invitation extended to only 14 other mayors in the nation. Faulconer’s trips were for meetings with NFL owners and NFL Commissioners to keep the Chargers in San Diego. Serge Dedina attended a conference in Mexico City, Las Vegas and a League of California Cities new mayor training in Sacramento. National City failed to produce the travel expense documents for NBC.
Union Laborers Fill National School District Board Meeting
National’s school board meeting had an overflow of union laborers spilling out to the sidewalk, Christine Huard at the U-T reported. The issue is about PLA’s, which has been debated in the Sweetwater Union High School District and the Chula Vista Elementary School District also. A PLA is an agreement that would require contractors who win bids for construction to operate under union rules.
In sum, schools districts are deciding whether school bond monies, approved by voters, would go exclusively to companies where the employees are union members. The issue has been debated because some say ‘it’s not fair’. All companies–those that have union employees and those who do not–should be able to bid on school projects.
Huard writes, “National School District trustees heard the pros and cons of a union-friendly construction contract during their last week’s board meeting, but declined to pose any questions. Instead, the school board will filter its inquiries through the superintendent, said board President Brian Clapper.”
- An inmate assault on prison officers took place this week at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. A 58-year-old inmate struck one of the guards in the face and then beat another unconscious. The injured officers were taken to an outside hospital, where they were treated and released. This is the second incident in February at Donovan. On February 2nd, another inmate allegedly hit a guard in the face, knocking him out.
- A federal lawsuit has been filed against a former Border Patrol supervisor who captured digital images of females while they were using the toilet. He is already serving prison time for his peeping.
- The Otay Mesa Port of Entry is expanding its hours of operation for SENTRI lanes (or trusted traveler program, which offers faster screening for its members through the border crossing). They are now open from 4 a.m. until midnight everyday for both pedestrians and vehicles. More than 20,000 vehicles and about 9,000 pedestrians cross the Otay Mesa port of entry everyday, according to the KPBS report.
- The controversial facial scan recognition began at the Otay Mesa border as well. It’s high-tech equipment that read irises in order to verify the identity of foreigners leaving the country. U.S. Customs and Border Protection are now screening pedestrians crossing into Mexico at Otay Mesa. Sandra Dibble at the U-T reports, “The test, which began last week, is part of an effort that uses biometrics to crack down on the use of fraudulent documents and track foreigners who remain in the United States with expired visas. Through the end of April, all pedestrians leaving San Diego through Otay Mesa will be screened, but only foreigners will have their identities documented through iris scans and facial recognition technology.”