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On the Waterfront

Southern waterfront area includes diverse plans

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Two South County cities have crafted different plans for their neighboring waterfronts. National City has made a firm commitment to the working waterfront, whereas Chula Vista has created a master plan for a world-class bayfront.

National City

"The working waterfront is the life blood of National City," said Nick Inzunza, the city's mayor. "We're exploring ways to bring in new developments, but also to expand existing developments."

While the Naval Station occupies the northern end of National City, the Port of San Diego -- which manages the tidelands on behalf of the state of California -- leases the remaining waterfront to industrial businesses, such as Dixieline Lumber and The Pasha Group, an automotive distributor.

Inzunza wants industrial businesses to expand onto city property.

"If we can push them on our side, we can increase our tax base," Inzunza said. "If they need capital to increase their economies to scale, we have bonding capacity. It's cheaper money than they'd be able to get on the open market."

For fiscal year 2001-02, National City received $817,931 in tax revenue from businesses on port land, according to the port. This included property tax, sales tax, transient occupancy tax (TOT) and business license tax revenues.

A tax-base increase for the city will result in better services -- such as more police officers, expanded library hours and better parks -- for the residents of National City, Inzunza said.

He added that the city's infrastructure west of Interstate 5 was built to support industrial uses, whereas the infrastructure east of the freeway supports residents.

"National City is not the ideal vacation spot," Inzunza said. "We have our niche on the port and our bay, and we're going to take advantage of it."

Sharon Cloward, the executive director of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, said she met with Inzunza in July and was pleased about his support of the working waterfront. The association works to enhance trade, commerce and tourism on San Diego Bay's tidelands.

The industrial waterfront provides thousands of jobs, she said, and without them, the regional economy would suffer.

Other activities in National City near the waterfront include a development on the 2300 block of Cleveland Avenue for Motivational Systems Inc., a business that provides sign systems to commercial and residential builders and developers.

The National City Community Development Commission is developing a $4 million aquatic center on 4,500 square feet of Pepper Park. The center will provide primarily youth-oriented programs, such as kayaking and rowing, managed by the South Bay Family YMCA.

A 250-slip marina is also under construction east of Pepper Park.

MRW Group, Sycuan Tribal Development and Latino Builders have plans to develop the Marina Gateway Plaza Hotel project on six acres on the south side of Bay Marina Drive. The site will include a hotel with 173 rooms, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant and 16,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Construction could begin next year pending approval from the Planning Commission, which was scheduled to discuss it Aug. 15.

MRW Group, Sycuan Tribal Development and Latino Builders have plans to develop the Marina Gateway Plaza Hotel project on six acres on the south side of Bay Marina Drive in National City. The site will include a hotel with 173 rooms, a 4,000 square foot restaurant and 16,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The Olson Co. is seeking to build 40 condominiums on a site next to the hotel. Plans are pending.

The developments, if constructed, will be within walking distance to the marina.

Chula Vista

The city of Chula Vista is working with the Port of San Diego and private developer Pacifica Cos. to develop a master plan for the Chula Vista waterfront.

The Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan - Draft Illustrative Plan as of July 25, 2005. The City of Chula Vista is working with the Port of San Diego and private developer Pacifica Companies to develop a master plan for the Chula Vista waterfront. The Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan will consider 550 acres of land and water areas to create a destination in Chula Vista. The plan, which should be completed in 2006, will include entertainment venues; parks; restored nature trails; retail shops and restaurants; resort hotels; and new housing and office buildings.

The Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan will consider 550 acres of land and water areas. The goal is to create a legacy destination in Chula Vista. The plan, which should be completed in 2006, will include entertainment venues, parks, restored nature trails, retail shops and restaurants, resort hotels, and new housing and office buildings.

Gaylord Hotels, a hotel developer, recently proposed to build a resort destination hotel and convention center along the bay front. A presentation was made to the Chula Vista City Council in June and the Citizens Advisory Committee also has been discussing the proposal. The port was scheduled to discuss the proposal Aug. 9.

Chula Vista Mayor Stephen Padilla said the Bayfront Master Plan will create at least $1 billion dollars' worth of investments in its initial phase.

"The bay front is critical in achieving the kind of economic benefit for the community," Padilla said.

The development is a catalyst for further investments along the bay front, he added, and said he has no concerns about the bay front project.

"We've achieved a great level of consensus that's pretty unique between a variety of groups in the community, from business to labor to the environmental community," he said. "We've got a level of cooperation and collaboration that's unprecedented. And we intend to keep that together."

The Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan was selected recently by the San Diego Chapter of the American Planning Association to receive the Education Project Award.

The project gained recognition for its public outreach program that informed stakeholders about its land use plan through public meetings and a special working group.

In fiscal year 2001-02, Chula Vista received $801,930 in tax revenue from businesses on land managed by the Port of San Diego. This included property tax, sales tax, TOT and business license tax revenues, according to port documents.


Horton is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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