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Next stop for contested development project is appeals court

By Robert Moreno - April 26, 2018

Two Chula Vista residents are taking their legal challenge against a controversial development project in their Chula Vista neighborhood to the California Court of Appeals.

Environmental and land-use attorney Everett DeLano filed a briefing on appeal on Jan.9 on behalf of his clients. Earl Jentz and Gloria Gonzales, who contend that the city of Chula Vista violated its own land use plans when it approved the Vista Del Mar project on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and K Street.
They argue that the Vista Del Mar development fails to comply with the city’s General Plan and Urban Core Specific Plan.

“We got the General Plan that specifically identifies this site as a designation that’s different from what they ended up approving in this project,” DeLano said. “Because it talks about a commercial and professional usage, not for residential uses.”

In his briefing DeLano wrote that the city did not adhere to its own land-use plans when it approved the Vista Del Mar Project.

“The staff report claimed the site has a general plan designation of mixed use. This is incorrect,” he states. “The Urban Core Specific Plan also identifies the General Plan Land Use Designation for the Professional and Office Commercial.”

DeLano also said that city has failed to consider the environmental impacts associated with the development, failed to require an environmental analysis and failed to consider alternative and mitigation.

The city has yet to file its opposition to the briefing. They have 30-days from the time DeLano submitted the opening brief.

But the city attorney said in a statement that he expects the court of appeals to side with the city based on the superior court’s ruiling.

“All of the legal claims raised by Mr. Jentz against the City Council’s approval of the Vista Del Mar project, were presented back in October 2017 to the

Honorable Katherine Bacal of the San Diego Superior Court,” said City Attorney Glen Googins. “After an extensive hearing, Judge Bacal issued a carefully reasoned and detailed order rejecting those claims and upholding the city’s decision. The city believes that the appeal of this judgement lacks merit and that Judge Bacal’s decision will be upheld by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.”

A superior court judge on Oct. 6 ruled that the Vista Del Mar project was in line with the city’s General Plan and Urban Core Specific Plan.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal also said an addendum made under the California Environmental Quality Act and that a separate Environmental Impact Report was not required.

The Vista Del Mar project is described as a mixed-use residential/commercial project consisting of 71 one and two-bedroom condominium units, a 1,770 square-foot residential fitness center, a 1,004 square-foot lobby, a 2,572 square-foot residential lounge, 616 square-feet of commercial space and a 1,700 square-foot public plaza.

Currently, the lot where Vista Del Mar is slated to go remains vacant, as previous buildings there were demolished.

Neighboring residents and community members protested the development in front of city hall last year stating that the five-story project was “massive” and did not fit in the neighborhood because of its towering height. Residents argued that residential units from the project would tower over neighbors’ backyards, causing an invasion of privacy.

The California Court of Appeals has yet to assign this case a court date.

The developer Niki Properties, LLC, could not be reached for comment.


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