… New Pedestrian Border Crossing Will Open In July, and Chula Vista Mayor Proposes Sales Tax Increase
By Barbara Zaragoza
The Imperial Beach City Hall Facebook page posted pictures of the Tuna Crab invasion on Wednesday, May 11th. They alerted beach goers: “Overnight thousands of reddish-orange tuna crabs are washing ashore in Imperial Beach. This also happened last year in mid-June. Scientists say it may be caused by El Nino and the massive pool of warm water that developed last year in the Pacific. The crustaceans usually wash ashore during the El Nino years. Local birds have begun to eat the crabs. The remaining carcasses will remain on the shore until they decompose or are swept back into the water.” The Union Tribune also posted pictures.
New Pedestrian Border Crossing To Open
The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce sent a press release announcing that the Pedestrian West Facility (PedWest) will open on July 15, 2016. The building is located next to the Las Americas shopping mall on Virginia Avenue. This week I took a picture of how construction is coming along.
Over 25,000 pedestrians cross the border in each direction every day. That means massive sales tax dollars $$$ for San Diego and big revenues for MTS when pedestrians take public transportation, such as the trolley.
Unfortunately, what it does not mean is that more money goes into the hands of San Ysidrans and the small business owners along San Ysidro Boulevard. According to a Union Tribune article in 2012, the Simon Property Group owns the Las Americas mall. Simon also owns Fashion Valley Mall and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets. The Shamrock Group additionally owns ‘Outlets At The Border’ right next to Las Americas. They are the ones who will profit most from the pedestrian crossing adjacent to their malls, not San Ysidro community members.
Simon Property Group’s internal market research estimated that 21 million people who enter the U.S. each year through the San Ysidro border crossing say their primary purpose is to shop. This high-end mall that touts many chain stores is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it has lifted San Ysidro into a tourist destination with people coming from North County and Rosarita to enjoy their day. A curse because no more than 8% of people who cross the border each day go into San Ysidro Boulevard where most of the small business owners struggle to make ends meet.
Mayor Salas Proposes Sales Tax Increase
You may remember that I reported on the many bonds Chula Vista would like to put on the ballot in November. Last week, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas gave a State of the City address and announced a proposal for a temporary half-cent tax increase to offset what she said is the city’s $270 million infrastructure deficit. If approved by voters, Chula Vista’s sales tax would temporarily rise to 8.5 percent. (The Chula Vista Star News reported.)
Upgrading Our Cities
- Mayor Ron Morrison announced on his Facebook account: “More and more businesses coming to National City. Here is new construction at the corner of Mile of Cars Way (24th) & Hoover that will be a Freddy’s Frozen Custard and SteakBurger. This will be the first one south of LA.”
- Did you know? The Neighborhood Council Program was developed in an effort to improve communication with the community and to bring services directly to National City residents. In collaboration with other City departments and external agencies, this division commits to keeping residents informed of current events and responding courteously and expeditiously to requests for service. Click on the above link to find out more and go to the meetings. It’s worth it!
- Mayor Serge Dedina posted on his Facebook account: “I’m very excited that work has finally begun on the Breakwater Town Center at 9th and Palm!! This new shopping center will include a Grocery Outlet, Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s, T-Mobile, Baskin Robbins, Chipotle, Five Guys, and Wing Stop. Thanks to our city council and staff, Sudberry Properties and Assemblymember Toni Atkins for working tirelessly to help make this happen. We expect the Center to open in May 2017, or in less than a year.” The Union Tribune tells us more about this development.
- Chula Vista Councilmember Pat Aguilar said on her Facebook account: “We’ve heard many complaints about long-term parking of recreational vehicles on city streets, so we wanted to let you know that a new ordinance is about to take effect to address these concerns. Starting May 16, RV parking on Chula Vista city streets will be prohibited, except by permit. Residents who own RVs will be able to obtain a permit to allow the RV to be parked on the street their home for up to 24 hours.”
- Also, I wrote the last of my three part series about Chula Vista’s vast eastern expansion. Take a look at some of the problems and concerns community members may have in the future: The Great Eastern Expansion and The Millenia Project.
Chula Vista Attendance Boundaries and Carpetbagging
Attendance Boundaries Called Illegal. Protests of the attendance boundary changes by the Sweetwater Union High School District continued this week. Community member Christopher Gavin reported that he went to the May 9th board meeting and handed out a flyer to those in attendance as well as on the windshields of cars in the parking lot. The flyer explained that the new attendance boundary changes violate state law and discriminate against Mello-Roos communities.
Back in January, the SUHSD approved attendance boundary changes. Several schools were affected, but community members along the I-125 West whose children have been switched from Eastlake Middle and Eastlake High School to Bonita Vista Middle and Bonita Vista High School are particularly upset, saying they paid Mello Roos for their children to go to Eastlake schools.
Carpetbagging Claims. The Chula Vista Star News ran three “Letters From Readers” in its last week print edition from Peter Watry, David Danciu and candidate for Chula Vista city council’s District 4, Rudy Ramirez. They protested that Eduardo Reyes is running win District 4 even though he only moved into the district nine months ago. Prior to that, he lived in Eastlake and Bonita. Reyes, however, says he moved when he and his wife separated.
Additionally, the Union Tribune reported that Ramirez along with some southwest Chula Vista residents asked the City Council during an April 26th meeting that the city’s Charter Review Commission look at how residency is defined and whether there could be a minimum requirement incorporated into the districting language. Read the full article here.
City Attorney. With residency requirements brought to the forefront, the City Council will also address the residency requirements for Chula Vista’s city attorney. Currently, the city attorney can reside anywhere in the state of California. (And as a comparison, in National City, there is no residency requirement for city attorney. The position is appointed.) Chula Vista Star News has more of the details.
Yes, it happens here too:
- A 62-year-old bicyclist was struck by a big rig on the connector from Main Street to southbound Interstate 805 in Chula Vista. The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. (Imperial Beach Patch)
- A teenager girl gave birth in her parents Main Street, Chula Vista home, but within twenty-four to thirty-six hours, the infant was found lifeless in its mother’s bed. (Imperial Beach Patch)
- A woman died after being struck by a car near Dairy Mart Road and San Ysidro Boulevard. The driver was suspected of being drunk at the wheel. (Imperial Beach Patch)
- A man was arrested after downloading child pornography on a computer at the National City Public Library and then distributing the images. (Times of San Diego)
Ready For Elections?
Voter registration is soaring in San Diego County, so let your voice be heard too. Here are my articles about your candidates in the June 2016 primaries:
A Few Events I’m Touting This Week
- The Chula Vista Historic Homeowners are hosting a home tour on Saturday, May 14th from 10am to 4pm. The tour begins at the City Hall parking lot. You can find out more here.
- You can pair the tour with Ales & Amps, Chula Vista’s first craft beer event, on Saturday, May 14th from Noon to 6pm around Memorial Park and Third Avenue.
- There’s a growing movement for a U.S.-Mexico border bike lane, The Atlantic Citylab reported. San Ysidro is really at the forefront of the change, trying to make the entire South Bay, the border and the San Ysidro community bike friendly. You can find out a lot more on Friday, May 20th at 5pm when The Front Art Gallery (147 West San Ysidro Blvd.) hosts a “Bike Border Dialogue”.
- WILDCOAST will host their 6th annual Otay Valley Regional Park Day on Saturday, May 21st from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. I’m a great fan of the OVRP and have written quite a bit about it. At this event, local conservation organizations and recreational outfitters will guide nature walks, native plant walks, and other outdoor and educational activities from the Beyer Blvd. Ranger Station at 2155 Beyer Blvd. 92154.