Chula Vista City Council members Pamela Bensoussan and Rudy Ramirez accepted campaign donations from developer Integral Communities. Last week they voted for a zoning change that favors the company's proposed project.
Residents who live near a proposed development called Lake Pointe in the eastern part of Chula Vista were stunned that the city council voted last week to change the general plan to accommodate a 284 condo/apartment development on a scenic highway close to Otay Lakes. Angered by the decision, many east-side residents are regrouping for more opposition.
On September 25, the council voted 4-1 to change the city’s general plan; council member Patricia Aguilar cast the dissenting vote. Because of significant community opposition, council members asked the developer, Integral Communities, to bring the project back in a few weeks.
The 12.2 acres formerly zoned commercial are now zoned for mixed use; the plan Integral brought to the council in September contained 11.6 acres residential and .6 commercial.
People who live in the lake area oppose the project for a number of reasons: residential parking in the area already overflows onto the streets, schools are overenrolled, and they say the project is too high-density.
Some of the residents who are battling the development — or at least seeking modifications — met on October 1 to strategize. Their first commitment was to double their numbers. They also planned to meet with the city attorney and the developer.
Jason Rissman holds a plan of the proposed development at the October 1 meeting of residents.
Jason Rissman, who is president of the Sonora Ridge Homeowners’ Association, has been battling the plan since last year. His association, which represents 174 homes, voted to oppose the project, and he and his group collected over 100 signatures from surrounding developments.
Rissman says the area affords a beautiful view of the lake and mountains. “Why does there have to be so much density? Why does the project have to have three stories?”
During an October 2 interview, Rissman echoed a dominant theme from the meeting the night before. “The mayor addressed people inappropriately and unprofessionally. She used to be a school teacher, and she spoke to project opponents as if they were children.”
Cox said to the 50-plus residents at the September meeting, “Would you rather we’d have suggested a mobile-home park or a big-box store? A Walmart or a Costco?”
Opponents were also shocked to learn that the developers, Integral Communities, gave campaign contributions to council members Rudy Ramirez and Pamela Bensoussan. Incumbent Bensoussan is in a November runoff against Larry Breitfelder.
Campaign donation records show Integral Communities’ principals and their wives gave Bensoussan $1900 during the primary election. (Contribution filings for the general election will be available today. Any pertinent contributions will be added to the story.)
City attorney Glen Googins said in an October 2 interview that council members can recuse themselves whenever there is a potential conflict. The most common reason for recusal is when a council member lives close to a project. In regard to the Lake Pointe project, Googins said, “There have been allegations, and I am looking into them.”