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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.

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Comments

Sjtorres Aug. 15, 2014 @ 3:53 p.m.

I blame the CV City Council for approving all those new mega apartment complexes surrounding the OTC. I predict huge debt and many more property tax increases in Chula Vista to pay for this white elephant.

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eastlaker Aug. 15, 2014 @ 6:48 p.m.

The Olympic Training Center didn't get the corporate sponsorship it needed after ARCO dropped out almost 20 years ago.

People who bought expensive homes in the "Woods" areas did so thinking there would be a commercial area with restaurants and views of the lake within walking distance of their homes, and it was a disappointment when the condos were built. And those condos were built out very quickly. And very close together. To me, they look more like student housing than anything else, which is making sense with the talk of the OTC being retained as the athletic facilities of the university (unnamed) being discussed by Chula Vista.

So, how does a community turn some negatives into positives? Start by involving the community a bit more--people are correct in saying that the city plan has been stomped on. Many times there have been items which are a part of the plan, but which disappear.

It doesn't engender a great deal of trust in city government. I have also heard fears that the university might end up being several storefront offices for a few "for profit" schools...which will definitely not enhance Chula Vista's reputation.

So why didn't Chula Vista work with the OTC in a consistent and gradual manner, so that a working relationship would make it easier to get things done that satisfy both entities?

I wish I knew.

IF--some people still have thoughts of San Diego getting the summer Olympics at some point, I thought I heard that for some reason, areas specifically designated as property of the US Olympic Committee cannot be used as venues. So that a transfer from the USOC might mean that the OTC (under a different name) could be eligible IF San Diego obtained the summer Olympics.

But all of that seems far-fetched to me.

3

VigilantinCV Aug. 16, 2014 @ 12:16 p.m.

Mayor Cheryl Cox wants to cement a legacy for her tenure. In my mind, the Olympic Point and Lake Point projects are her true legacy. She does not give a damn about people living in this community. All she cares about is getting something built to bring in those developers dollars. And Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan is always right behind her. Every mayor needs a lap-dog. Every time we look at the Olympic Point development and the soon-to-be Lake Point project, we should thank Cox and Bensoussan for these bad developments. Unfortunately, citizens of Chula Vista will have to live with this blight long after those two are gone.

3

superBee Aug. 16, 2014 @ 4:16 p.m.

The City couldn't manage the bay front located nature center and had to bail on that (Now called the Living Coast Discovery Center). Let's leave the OTC to find a private corporate sponsor to take on the running of the facility. We don't need straddled with the undoubted annually increasing maintenance and staffing costs.

2

Sjtorres Aug. 16, 2014 @ 10:04 p.m.

You can't blame Mayor Cox as Aguilar, Ramirez, Bensoussan, and Castenena went along with all the apartment complexes and even wants more than the mayor to be PC and increase "affordable housing" in Eastlake. Aguilar in particular has pushed for more low rent complexes in Eastlake. Doesn't she live in Bonita?

0

AlexClarke Aug. 17, 2014 @ 6:38 a.m.

LOL! Anytime a privately owned entity wants a city to take it over it always results in a financial disaster.

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anniej Aug. 17, 2014 @ 7:26 a.m.

And where is the community with all of its concerns and discontent?

MIA

2

eastlaker Aug. 17, 2014 @ 7:59 a.m.

anniej, here is part of the problem--how many issues can the public keep track of at one time?

The problem with SDG & E/Sempra and the power station as reported in the Star-News is something I wish I had time to follow, comment on and speak with Chula Vista officials about. The substation Chula Vista will end up getting will have a higher profile and be in a location that is suboptimal, from a design standpoint. (Too close to the bay, so that the profile will impair views). I wish I had been active on that, because they pulled a fast one on Chula Vista, sad to say.

What is really going on with the OTC? Are things really exactly as reported? Where will the people who are now training there end up going? Is it the hope that Chula Vista can somehow take over, and the Olympian hopefuls can keep training there for a fee?

If the OTC bails, and the city of Chula Vista does not opt to take over, does the property go into default, whereupon it can be bought by anyone and converted into anything?

Are there stipulations which must be followed?

You ask, anniej, where is the community with all of its concerns and discontent? Well, it is the end of summer, and it is hot out. Maybe they are at the beach.

We need better community involvement, certainly.

But it would be nice to get at least one big community issue solved before we need to jump in and work on something else!!!

1

superBee Aug. 22, 2014 @ 9:28 a.m.

Public participation will always be subject to the Paretto Principle... a small minority of the people will settle the majority of the problems. No blame here just a fact of life that the vocal minority get things done. Why is it that a small percentage of those eligible to vote even register to vote and of those registered to vote again often less than 50% actually vote. Even that very simple act of public participation is not taken advantage of. So we have elected officials time and again going against the publics wishes evident in the approval of higher density and changes in community plans. Look at the choices we face this upcoming election... all retreads from previous elections many of whom have voted us into the fiscal and planning nightmares we face in Chula Vista now and for the past number of years.

1

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