Next Term 2011 - 2015
Mayor Cheryl Cox
December 7 , 2010
Serving in public office often means getting some of the credit in the good times, and most of the blame in the bad times. And yet, the bad times are when good public service is probably needed the most - the times in which we need civil discussion, honest dialogue and open debate among thoughtful and reasonable voices.
When I was sworn in as Mayor four years ago, the city’s reserve funds were far too low and the City was overextended in its expenses. Within a year, the economic downturn further compromised our efforts to rebuild what had been lost. In response, the city made drastic cuts to staffing and services.
A poor economy and losses in housing and job markets have dominated our daily lives since 2008. While we work to rehabilitate the city budget, we should also recognize that we have made, and continue to make, progress on many fronts to help improve Chula Vista’s economy and community:
• The overhead transmission towers and power lines have been removed from our bayfront’s skyline;
• After 18 years since the last Local Coastal Plan approval, the Bayfront Master Plan was unanimously approved by the Port and the City Council last May;
• The Sunrise Powerlink will break ground this week to provide solar-generated energy for the region;
• Chula Vista will join the Port and Pacifica Companies before the State Lands Commission next week;
• The switch for the South Bay Power Plant will be turned “off” on December 31st this year;
• The City and property owners agreed on a two-year timeline in negotiations to bring into the City’s ownership 375 acres that will comprise the University/Research Park - We’re halfway there, and we are not waiting until the property is in the City’s possession to build partnerships;
• The Urban Core Specific Plan for the oldest parts of Chula Vista weathered all legal challenges and is moving forward to bring a quality, revitalized neighborhood to western Chula Vista; and
• Progress continues in the Otay Valley Regional Park to add trails and areas for active and passive recreation;
My priorities for the next four years are:
• to continue correcting Chula Vista’s financial condition;
• to push towards continued successes on the Bayfront, University/Research Park and Urban Core Specific Plan;
• to strengthen the foundation for improved public transportation and reduce traffic congestion; and
• to support efforts to build an environmentally-friendly community.
The city’s fiscal health is my top priority. Today, Chula Vista is not spending beyond its means and its staff is smaller, much smaller. The City now operates at 1987 staffing levels under a budget that has dropped from $172 million in 2007 to $124 million dollars today.
Employee pensions contribute to the city’s potential for financial recovery. Like cities throughout California, we are instituting pension reform. Out of 951 employees, 152, including elected representatives and executives, have committed to paying their share of their pensions beginning next month. To close a projected $12.5 million deficit in June, we need the participation of all employees. Corporations and private employers have made substantial changes in their employees’ pensions. Local government can do no less.
In an effort to complement Chula Vista’s residential inventory, our city must be business-ready. To do so, we will use Redevelopment as a strategy to help create jobs, help businesses survive and thrive, and most importantly, build workforce affordable housing. Used wisely, redevelopment connects residential, open space and commercial/business areas with higher property values, extending the life of infrastructure.
Our capital improvement projects hold great potential for our city and I will see to it that these projects continue to progress. Step by step, we continue moving forward to develop a world-class Bayfront that will be an economic catalyst for Chula Vista and the South Bay. Its master plan promotes outdoor activity along the water's edge, and provides our city with much-needed hotels, conference facilities, and housing with improved roads, parks, open space and restored natural habitats. A link to the Bayshore Bikeway will provide recreational and entertainment opportunities. Buildings at the foot of H Street were demolished in 2007, and next year, H Street will be opened to Marina Parkway.
As a former teacher, I am energized by our potential for increased higher education through the University/Research Park. As a community, we must continue to support what will become an economic and educational hub for a four-year university, surrounding research firms and supporting businesses. Our vision of developing consensus from a diverse set of stakeholders, representing the community, includes a public participation and outreach project, paid for by dedicated funding with no impact to the city’s General Fund.
Transportation drives the economy and creates jobs. Where and how we invest in transportation, impacts housing and job markets. It affects energy needs and our ability to be economically competitive, and can be the driver of revitalizing older neighborhoods.
As Chula Vista’s SANDAG representative, I know how important it is to advocate for transportation that provides a 12-stop Bus Rapid Transit line. However, one BRT is not enough for a community that grew dramatically in the high construction years from 1984 – 2004. In the next 40 years, the South Bay will add major residential and commercial developments and University/Research Park traffic to the regional mix.
Effective transportation planning blends with our goals in sustainability. Chula Vista has the talent, the real estate and years of green practices to demonstrate that our city is open for business and looking to partner with investors, entrepreneurs and established corporations who share our passion for a clean, green future. Chula Vista has become a “cool city” by implementing cost-effective, common sense steps to reduce carbon emissions.
While other regions talk about wanting to be in the clean tech arena and their commitment to sustainability, Chula Vista can point to its 20-year leadership in this field. Californians recently upheld statewide policies aimed at generating more clean industry, and locally, I support Chula Vista’s lowering energy and water use, expanding the installation of solar energy systems, promoting alternative fuel vehicles, and designing walkable, transit-friendly communities.
Although it’s hard at times to see problems as undiscovered opportunities, Chula Vista is filled with great potential. Part of my job is to help us solve problems. But in a growing city of more than 230,000 residents, doing so will clearly take the efforts of everyone.
As we approach our centennial year in 2011, we can learn from and celebrate our past while recognizing that it is the choices, the compromises, the successes and yes, the failures, that impact what we do collectively and individually.
It has been said that nothing good in life comes easily. The community as a whole must become part of the team that helps make Chula Vista what we want it to be. As the new year rises before us, I encourage your New Year’s Resolution to include Yes! Let’s say Yes! to opportunities, Yes! to imagination, and Yes! to working to improve the future of Chula Vista.