Political pressure is building in National City to allow Alliant International University to take over some classrooms previously dedicated to National City Adult School.
On August 5, the National City Planning Commission voted to table the consideration of a conditional use permit to Alliant International University/Sweewater Union High School District until September 16.
At the August 5 meeting, commissioners expressed reservations about changing the intended purpose of the adult school site, about parking problems at the site, and about the city’s commitment of redevelopment funds for the specific purpose of building an adult education center.
Further, the commissioners wanted to give the public more time to consider the benefits and/or consequences of the proposal and Sweetwater/Alliant time to prepare a response to commissioners’ concerns.
However, the commissioners’ unanimous decision is being challenged.
The CEO of the National City Chamber of Commerce, Jacqueline Reynoso, wrote a letter to the commissioners, on behalf of the chamber’s Economic Development Committee, in which she instructs the chair of the planning department: “This is a time sensitive issue that needs to be acted on quickly. [Alliant was supposed to begin instruction August 26.]
“We are aware that there is a 10 day noticing period before the Planning Committee can convene. If we begin the process tomorrow, August 9, 2013, the planning commission may issue notice of a special meeting and public hearing for no later than Monday, August 19, 2013. Calling for this meeting immediately will allow the Planning Commission to convene and make a determination in time for the National City City Council meeting that is scheduled for Tuesday August 20, 2013.”
The planning commission did not follow the prescribed timeline; however, on August 19 they are going to take up the question of whether or not to convene a special meeting in order to consider approving Sweetwater/Alliant’s conditional use permit.
In an August 14 interview, Reynoso stated: The planning commission’s job is not to look at politics or the memorandum of understanding [between Alliant and Sweetwater], their job is to consider if it’s an allowable use of space.”
When asked who was on the Economic Development Committee, Reynoso said there are over 500 viable members and it depends upon who shows up to vote. She said she could not recall who was in attendance; however, she promised to forward minutes from the meeting that were being drafted. (As of the posting of the story she has not forwarded the minutes.)
Reynoso did say that superintendent Ed Brand attended the Economic Development meeting as well as National City mayor Ron Morrison.
When asked if the committee voted to support Alliant because they felt Alliant would bring some economic benefits to National City, Reynoso answered, “No, we just want to see the community have another higher-education option.”
Aside from being CEO of the chamber of commerce, Reyonoso is listed as a trustee on the website for the for-profit United States University in Chula Vista. According to a Don Bauder article, the university was fined $700,000 in April 2013 by the federal government “for falsifying records so students who could get Pell Grants."
Brian Clapper, who is a director on the National City Chamber of Commerce, said in an August 14 interview that he objected to this “hurry up” meeting. “The process has not at all been transparent; all the cards aren’t on the table.
“We need this adult center. Students in our community need the classes to learn English, to gain citizenship, to become medical assistants, to take math courses. Why are they pushing this on the second lowest economically sound city in the county? Why are they pushing this down our throats?”
Clapper says he was recently warned by another member of the chamber that he better go along with allowing Alliant into the Adult Center. His response was, “I have a mind and a heart of my own.”