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Lawsuit filed over Vista del Mar project
By Allison Sampite-Montecal | Sat, Oct 13 2016

Chula Vista is being sued over a controversial condominium project on Third Avenue the City Council approved in August. Chula Vista property owner Earl Jentz and Chula Vista resident Gloria Gonzales jointly filed the lawsuit, claiming the five-story project doesn’t fit in the neighborhood or comply with the city’s general or specific plan for the area.

The development, Vista del Mar, would have 71 one- and two-bedroom condos with one commercial unit at the corner of Third Avenue and K Street. It is being designed by Studio E Architects for developer Hamid Mani.

Jentz and Gonzales are being represented by environmental and land use attorney Everett DeLano.

“It’s a really massive project in relation to the neighborhood and even the commercial establishments nearby,” DeLano said. “The specific plan says the site is supposed to be a commercial site, and this project is obviously not commercial.”

He added that with about 600 square feet of commercial space within a 91,000 square foot project, it's difficult to claim it’s a true mixed-use project.

“It’s just a massive high-rise apartment building,” he said.

Another aspect of the complaint, DeLano said, relates to due process and a fair hearing. He said property owner Jentz wasn’t given either since he wasn’t allowed to explain his reason for the appeal or provide a rebuttal at the August public hearing.

City Attorney Glen Googins said the city disagrees with Jentz’s allegations that council approval of the proposed project was done illegally. He said many people debated its pros and cons in two public hearings.

“We believe that all sides of the debate were given full and fair opportunities to express their views, and that both the city’s process, and the terms for its ultimate approval, fully complied with all applicable laws,” Googins said.

The Sept. 15 complaint follows a July 1 appeal by Glenda de Vaney, Martha Coulson and Jentz to the City Council of the city’s June Planning Commission decision to approve the 1-acre development. The vote was 5 to1.

Additional complaints included that the project was too tall and bulky for the single-family residential neighborhood. Tenants on Church Avenue and K Street would lose privacy with views of the project's east-facing balconies overlooking their neighborhood.

In response to complaints during a Planning Commission meeting in June, the developer made several changes to the design, including:

Decreasing the number of residential units from 80 to 71
Removing some balconies and pushing others back into an alcove
More landscaping and parking spaces.

With residents still unhappy, Planning Commissioners asked the developer, as a condition of approval, to work with city staff to further protect neighbors’ privacy.

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