By Barbara Zaragoza
BIG news: Chula Vista — the second largest city in San Diego County — had its City Council vote unanimously to have the city become part of the Welcoming America Network. Although, as news outlets reported, there’s no strict definition of a welcoming city, the declaration is a symbolic gesture meant to make people, in particular immigrants, feel welcome.
The new Chula Vista Police Captain, Roxana Kennedy, spoke during public comments and affirmed that the CVPD would not enforce immigration laws because it was the responsibility of the federal government. Instead, she explained that everyone in Chula Vista would receive equal enforcement of the law and would be fairly treated.
You’ll remember that Mayor Serge Dedina initially declared Imperial Beach a Welcoming City, but had to retract the declaration in September 2016 when — as reported by the San Diego Reader — “… protesters at the Sept. 21 meeting booed the mayor’s father as he spoke about being a refugee from Nazi Germany and said the U.S. should let in more refugees. Many of the anti-proclamation crowd held up printed “No ISIS” signs.”
During a National City Council meeting in February a large number of residents came out to support a Welcoming Proclamation, but at the last moment Mayor Morrison presented a “substitute” resolution that took out the words “Welcoming,” “Immigrant” and “Refugee”. The substitute was approved in a 3-2 vote.
Mayor Morrison explained that he “didn’t want an outside group dictating and defining what National City is in our viewpoints.” Later, open government advocates sent a cease and desist notice for violations of the Brown Act.
In addition, the Chula Vista City Council officially asked for the resignation of Otay Mesa Water District board member Hector Gastelum due to his racist tweets about Muslims and African-Americans. The vote was 4-1 with Councilmember Mike Diaz dissenting.
Gastelum defended his tweets during public comments, basically trying to explain that he was an advocate for human rights in the Middle East. He didn’t, however, explain his disturbing tweets about African-Americans, such as this one sent to me by a reader last week:
- Tenants are moving into the affordable housing units in Paradise Creek, which eventually will be a 201-unit project. (Phase I has been completed, Phase II is underway.) More than 3,000 people applied during the first phase. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- The National City Police Department has 52 uniformed officers now using body-worn cameras. The department entered a five-year $90,000 contract with Taser for their cameras. (In 2015 the Chula Vista Police Department did the same.) National City Police Chief Manuel Rodriguez said it would bring more transparency to the department. (Chula Vista Star News)
- A consulting group AECOM will study sea level rise in Imperial Beach. The group hopes to sync the city’s coastal plan with its zoning ordinance, identify strategies that adapt to sea level rise and create a climate action plan. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- A Hampton Inn was approved by the city’s design review board. With the Bernardo Shores condos being built and a new Navy SEAL training center, the city is expected to have an increase in visitors. The hotel will be located at the Breakwater Town Center Development on Palm Avenue between 7th & 9th Streets. (Dig Imperial Beach)
- The San Diego Union Tribune also wrote an extensive report on Tijuana sewage fouling beaches from the Mexican border to Coronado. It explained, “In fact, more than 80 percent of all the beach-closure days in the county since 2006 have happened between Coronado and the Mexican border, data from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health shows.”
- A “South Bay Clean Water Movement” has started in response. The group has collected over 1,500 letters that have been hand delivered to several offices of politicians. They also have organized a march that will take place on April 29th at 3 p.m. (Eagle & Times)
- Meanwhile, rather than focusing on binational infrastructure, the Trump Administration is zeroing in on the first phase of border building with an initial cost of more than $3.6 billion. The focus will be highly trafficked corridors, including San Diego. In particular, the Washington Post reported, “Homeland Security chose Imperial Beach and Chula Vista as priorities for border barriers because it would be easier to build on the region’s federally owned land…”
- Ahead of Attorney Jeff Sessions’ tour of the border, about 80 people gathered to protest near the San Ysidro border crossing. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- And finally, our South Bay Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher released a strong statement after Sessions along with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Ron Johnson visited the San Diego border:
“Jeff Sessions came to San Diego today to tour the border stations in the 80th district and saw firsthand that our community is determined to resist the hateful, bigoted and unjust policies his Justice Department is trying to impose on us. His warped and delusional views on immigration just don’t match the reality that our community is filled with hard-working, law-abiding patriots who reject this Administration’s divisive agenda.”
Gonzalez Fletcher is also the joint author of AB 946, the Resist the Wall Act, which calls for California’s pension funds to divest holdings of businesses that bid on the border wall. (From the Assemblywoman’s website)