High-density housing developments and master-plan changes often provoke a fuss from residents — but opposition usually evaporates once a city makes a decision. Opponents to the Lake Pointe development in eastern Chula Vista, however, don’t seem to be going away.
Lake Pointe is a proposed 284-unit condo/apartment development on 12.2 acres in the Otay Lakes area in eastern Chula Vista.
Even though the city council voted to change the master plan to accommodate this development in 2012, residents from the area turn up at public meetings to reiterate their concerns about fire safety, traffic hazards, lack of parking spaces, and overcrowded schools in the project area.
Located adjacent to the Olympic Training Center, the area was originally zoned for commercial use. A small portion, .6 of an acre, will still be commercially developed.
Opponents of the development say they believed the brochures about their Eastlake homes: “city close and country quiet…with retail and a restaurant row across from the Olympic Training Center.” Now they say they’re not sure there will even be an Olympic Training Center.
They also say they believed in the Chula Vista’s master plan.
According to a September 2012 U-T article, when approximately 40 residents went to protest the master-plan change, Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox “lambasted the residents” and stated “I think there’s a lot of fear of what we don’t understand…. That’s why kids are afraid of the monsters under the bed they don’t understand.”
Understanding the impacts of the many residential developments in the area has been a gradual process for residents in this southeast corner of Chula Vista.
There are four high-density developments in the proposed project area: Summer Hill, Greystone, Olympic Pointe, and Casa Lago. Residents point out that within this housing cluster the traffic is aggravated by the fact that there are four traffic lights and one stop sign in three-tenths of a mile.
Concerned residents have coalesced into the Eastlake Action Group. Although the group has been told Lake Pointe is a “done deal,” they continue to do battle in their homeowners associations, at Chula Vista’s Safety commission, and most recently at an administrative zoning hearing.
At the September 3 Safety Commission meeting, EastLake Action Group members reiterated their concerns about the overflow parking situation. Speakers asked the Safety Commission to paint red curbs around fire hydrants.
According to Barney Reed, many who attended the meeting were stunned when commissioners told them there was no money in the city budget to paint curbs red. Reed said many of the residents question where their Mello-Roos taxes go if the city can’t even afford red paint.
On September 11, the city held a hearing for a conditional use permit. The Lake Pointe developer, Lennar, made a request to put model homes and a sales trailer on the property in anticipation of the development.
EastLake Action activists showed up to speak against — not only the trailer and model-home proposal — but the project itself.
Opponent Carlos Alvarado stated that “the city walked all over the master plan, and as a result the residents in the southeast corner of the city are in imminent danger from fire.”
Alvarado, an electronics engineer for more than 30 years, likened the area to a poorly designed plane that could crash because of inadequate safety systems. “There are over 5000 people crowded in a narrow area with only two ways to get out, and there are not enough safety facilities to support the area.”
Chula Vista has a Growth Management Oversight Committee that monitors city services such as fire-department response times.
The 2014 oversight committee report states, “The Fire threshold standard has not been met for the third consecutive year…. The Fire department attributed the decline in response time to an increase in all volume (1,184 calls).”
Jason Rissman, another resident from the project area, told the zoning administrator at the September 11 meeting, “The density in that particular corner of the city is like someone said, ‘Hey, let’s build as much as we can, as close together as we can, and if we can’t go out we’re gonna go up.’ It seems like a complete travesty…. We’re here to plead our case because we care.”
Another member of the Eastlake Action Group brought up an issue she believed should invalidate the 2012 master-plan change. Kathleen Reed pointed to a city ordinance for setbacks for buildings along scenic drives. Lake Pointe is on a scenic road. The ordinance calls for a 75-foot setback, which the group asserts the project violates.
When the conditional use permit meeting adjourned, the zone administrator, Mary Ladiana, said she would render a decision in ten days about whether the sales trailer and model homes could occupy the project site.
After the meeting, Jim Neil told the Reader that although the project has changed hands (it was owned by Integral Communities), the design and density will stay the same.
On the steps of city hall, project opponents surrounded Neil and continued to press their case.
Gus Guzman, member of the Eastlake Action Group, said if issues are not addressed, the group will have no alternative but to picket the property.