Several years ago, Forbes magazine panned Chula Vista as one of the most boring cities in the country. The city has few attractions to lure tourists or entertain residents — and now faces the possibility of losing the Olympic Training Center, an attribute located on the east side.
On August 11, Chula Vista councilmember Rudy Ramirez held monthly office hours at the Olympic Training Center. Approximately 40 residents attended the meeting. Deputy mayor Patricia Aguilar also attended. According to both councilmembers, the Olympic Training Center has been operating in the red.
In May, 10News reported that the Unites States Olympic Committee sent a letter to the City of Chula Vista that said in part “we believe that it is possible that we could better deliver against our mission if a third party were to take over responsibility for operations at the CVOTC [Chula Vista Olympic Training Center].”
Former city manager Jim Sandoval told 10News, “The city is ‘very interested’ in possibly acquiring the title.” But Sandoval also mentioned the city would have to do its “due diligence” and look into financial feasibility.
The United States Olympic Committee and the City of Chula Vista hired JMI Sports — a concern for some attendees — to look into financial scenarios for the site.
In a way, the residents of Chula Vista have already paid for the site: Eastlake Development Corporation, which has developed a significant part of eastern Chula Vista, donated the land in exchange for increased housing density.
A 1989 Evening Tribune article relates the complicated concession: “Eastlake officials had been dangling the carrot of an Olympic Training Center, scheduled to open on Lower Lake Otay in 1991, as incentive for city council approval of more than 10,000 units throughout the 20-year development.
“The 10,000 figure reflected an estimated 2,000 dwelling units that would be needed to compensate the developer for donating the training center land and $11 million in needed infrastructure and construction costs.”
The article goes on to recount how former councilmembers David Malcolm and Gayle McCandliss spent hours negotiating with Eastlake and came up with a compromise figure of 532 additional units.
During the August 11 meeting, Ramirez stressed that the discussion was “very preliminary” and that the city was in search of a model that could be self-sustaining.
Aguilar also emphasized that the city cannot afford to subsidize the training center and to that end she offered a future scenario in which the land could be preserved by serving as an athletic facility for the university, which the city is in the process of creating.
The area immediately around the Olympic Training Center has had intensive residential development in the past few years, and the six-lane Olympic Parkway dumps into what is essentially a cul-de-sac on Wueste Road.
Residents impacted by these residential developments and attendant traffic problems were the most vocal at the meeting.
A resident said that as an adjunct to the Olympic Training Center, the community had been promised a resort and commercial development. “Instead we got condos,” she said. “We have a master plan and the city has walked all over it.”
Residents opined that even now, when the training center has a big event — like the March 29 BMX competition, for example — they are overwhelmed by traffic and accompanying hazards. Several people expressed the fear that the city may acquire the training center and lease or develop it into something that creates more traffic problems.
Residents concerned about the impacts of the new development surrounding the Olympic Center announced at the meeting that they have formed a group called the Eastlake Action Group.
According to deputy city manager Kelly Bacon, who also attended the meeting, there are CC&Rs — covenants, conditions, and restrictions — that dictate that the United States Olympic Committee cannot change the use of the land until 2025.
Most of the attendees felt strongly about retaining the sports legacy created by the Olympic training site and felt that the center had been an inspiration and a resource for the youth. One of the last speakers pointed out that the center is an asset that belongs to all of San Diego, not just Chula Vista.