The City of Chula Vista needs $600 million for infrastructure repairs, according to a report presented by a city employee to the Growth Management Oversight Commission on February 18th inside City Hall.
Amanda Mills, the performance and organizational development manager for the city, explained that Chula Vista’s storm drains are over 50 years old, many of their fire trucks are over 30 years old, and parks have become worn, among other problems.
An Asset Management Program Advisory Committee worked with about 40 community groups to identify problems and solutions to Chula Vista’s infrastructure needs. The committee also created surveys that showed the largest concern among residents are the dilapidated conditions of streets that, if not replaced or repaired, may cause sinkholes, flooding, property damage, or injuries.
The city’s growth-management commission was requested to provide feedback. Created in 1987 to measure the city’s quality of life, the commission’s nine members represent the city’s four regions (northeast, northwest, southeast, northwest) and several areas of expertise (business, education, development, environment, and a representative from the planning commission). They meet from September to May and have already heard presentations about Chula Vista’s schools, libraries, air quality and police, among others. Each May they present an extensive report to the city council outlining the city’s needs.
At the February 18th meeting, Mills said the city was considering a November ballot measure of either a half-cent sales tax, which would bring in about $15 million per year, or a $200 million bond.
“With the bond measure, you could do a lot of the work up front,” Mills explained.
Bond money would come from property taxes. The half-cent sales tax, on the other hand, would be paid at the time of the sale of goods and would not apply to certain items, such as groceries and prescription medicines. According to a survey (done in English and Spanish, with about 880 participants), there was more support for the sales tax.
Chairwoman Amida Torres asked, “I’m a little confused as to how a sales-tax measure would really help because it’s $15 million a year on a $600 million problem.”
Torres then asked if the sales tax could be placed on the November ballot along with the bond measure. Mills said, “It’s hard. People are going to see it as a competing, not a companion measure.”
Torres commented, “What I’m hearing out in the community is that the city is crumbling around us. The streets specifically are what people see more than anything else. And, 'Why are you allowing more growth,' if we can’t maintain what we already have?”
Thereafter, Eric Crockett, director of economic development for the city, provided a presentation of the upcoming growth in eastern Chula Vista, which will include a new university, new retail centers, up to three hotels, and 350,000 square feet of office space.
Eastern Chula Vista, he explained, could become a strategic mega-region due to its location only four miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. “Of the housing, you’re seeing about 1000 units,” Crockett said.
The city is still asking for public input through an online survey.