Pamela Bensoussan was elected to the City Council in November 2008, after years of service on City boards, commissions and civic organizations. She was born and raised in Chula Vista. Career and studies took her to Paris in the mid 1970s where she gained an international perspective on economics, history and society. In 1984 she returned home to Chula Vista with her two small children. Pamela is a professional certified art and antique appraiser, accredited by the American Society of Appraisers, and is a two-term past president of the society’s San Diego chapter.
A strong advocate for responsible development, Pamela chaired the City’s Redevelopment Advisory Committee during its first year and served several years on the Third Avenue Village Association (TAVA) Design Committee. She believes that growth and redevelopment in Chula Vista can be achieved without sacrificing our neighborhoods and quality of life. She is committed to making this goal a reality and has established the City Council’s Revitalization Task Force.
Pamela also served on the 2005 General Plan Steering Committee, the General Plan Environmental Subcommittee and the Planning Commission. She believes the city’s economic health problems can eventually be solved through sustained balanced growth that addresses quality job development, work force training, multi-modal transportation near housing, and environmental sustainability using smart growth principals. Pamela recognizes that regional planning is important to accomplish these goals and is the City Council delegate to the South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) Board of Directors. She also serves on their Transportation and Infrastructure and Marketing and Tourism committees.
During her first two years on the Council, Pamela focused on advancing the Bayfront Master Plan and shutting down the polluting South Bay Power Plant – setting the table for a future world class waterfront. The Master Plan EIR and land swap were approved in 2010 by the City, Port District and State Lands Commission. The last step in the process is approval by the California Coastal Commission, which will hear the issue in late 2011 or early 2012. The Power Plant finally ceased operations on December 31, 2010. The Council must now focus on advancing the demolition of the plant to remove the visual blight on the bay and on a comprehensive environmental cleanup of the site.
While serving five years on the City’s Resource Conservation Commission, Pamela gained an understanding of the delicate balance required in planning for future development and environmental sustainability. She is proud to be the City’s representative to ICLEI, the worldwide organization of local governments for sustainability. In December 2010 she won ICLEI’s prestigious Local Elected Official Sustainability Leadership Award recognizing her role as a champion for Chula Vista’s climate change efforts and as a national leader in the movement for local environmental sustainability. The Councilwoman recently accepted a Green Business Challenge award for Chula Vista at the New York Stock Exchange. The Green Business Challenge, a partnership with Office Depot Corporation and ICLE will aid the City implement its Clean Business Program.
Pamela serves on the Council Energy Subcommittee, advising Council on new climate change mitigation and adaptation plans crafted by the Climate Change Working Group and the city’s Environmental Services Department. As a member of the Energy Subcommittee, she co-sponsored the city’s first community garden policy adopted in 2010 and advocates for policies that contribute to healthy lifestyles and that discourage childhood obesity.
Pamela lives in the Historic Greg Rogers House on Second Avenue and is keenly aware of our City’s architectural and cultural history. She opens her home regularly for tours and events and to students at Greg Rogers Elementary School helping them learn about early Chula Vista through experiencing one of the city’s original orchard houses.
While serving on the Heritage Museum Executive Board she co-founded the city’s first historic home tour, raising funds for the Heritage Museum and preservation efforts in Chula Vista. Those activities inspired her to lead the effort for an updated historic preservation ordinance. Since 2002 she has served on three subsequent committees to plan for, study and craft that ordinance.
Passionate about preserving our connections to the past, she is working with Mayor Cheryl Cox, Centennial Manager Mary Marcdante, and the Committee of 100, on a successful the year-long 2011 Centennial Celebration.
One of our city’s major attractions is the award winning Chula Vista Nature Center, nestled in the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, providing wetland-related programs and exhibits to the community and visitors. Councilwoman Bensoussan joined Mayor Cox to form the City Council’s Nature Center subcommittee in 2009 that helped shepherd the Center through a sustainability plan to guarantee preservation of this community jewel for future generations by transitioning operations to a new 501(c) non-profit organization.
Other boards and committees that Pamela serves on are the Otay Valley Regional Park, the SANDAG Energy Working Group, and the California League of Cities Executive Committee for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter. In 2011 she was honored to receive the Woman of the Year Award for the 79th Assembly District, bestowed by California State Assembly member Ben Hueso of the 79th District.
Excited to be a member of this City Council that will bring the community much closer to realizing our goals of a thriving waterfront on the West and a University and Research Technology Center in the East, Pamela understands that it’s during challenging times that we become the most creative and inventive. She is committed to making our dreams for our community come true.