A congressional subcommittee on Thursday approved a $15.2-million allocation for 200 units of Navy housing in Chula Vista, virtually clearing the way for construction to begin next year on the controversial project.
Meeting in closed session, the subcommittee on military facilities and installations of the House Armed Services Committee approved the funds for development of the 34.3-acre site at Telegraph Point or any other site that the Navy selects, said a statement from Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Coronado) Washington office.
"There is little chance that these housing units won't be built now," Hunter said in a prepared statement. "The big hurdle was in the subcommittee, and today's vote proved that they were solidly on board with us."
Rep. Jim Bates (D-San Diego), an opponent of the housing project, wanted the subcommittee to "fence" construction money until an alternative site could be found. Fencing would have authorized the funds, but would have prevented the Navy from using them for construction at Telegraph Point. Bates could not be reached for comment.
The site, at the northeast corner of Telegraph Canyon and Otay Lakes roads, has been the target of community protests since November, when the Navy announced it had purchased the land.
Some homeowners adjacent to the site fear the Navy homes will lower the value of their properties. Others say the site, isolated from Naval facilities, will result in a waste of tax money.
But Capt. Peter Litrenta, a Navy spokesman, said, "This is good news. We're pleased that the project is moving forward because of the need for housing."
Bruni Jacobi, a resident of Charter Point town homes across the street from the proposed housing site, said she was initially opposed to the project. But now, she said, "I don't think it does anyone any good to fight it anymore."
The Navy is "concerned with their image in the community," she said. "Even though they don't have to tell the City Council what they want to do, they seem to be cooperating with the city."
The site was rated No. 13 among 24 sites in San Diego County considered by the Navy. The City Council held a special citizens' meeting in November so residents could voice their concerns about the project, but later discovered that the city was powerless to halt it.
At the time of the November meeting, Congress had not approved money for the housing project, so city officials thought it would be several months before the Navy made a decision. But a week later, the Navy announced that Congress had given its approval.
The Navy paid $3.6 million for the site, and construction of the housing will cost $15 million. It is slated to begin in 1986.
Chula Vista Mayor Greg Cox said he had not taken a position on the project. But he said that "whatever goes on that site, whether it is military or commercial housing, should be something acceptable to the city and basically blend in with the surrounding area."
Cox said that on Tuesday the City Council accepted a staff report prepared last month that contained a list of seven alternative housing sites that could be used for Navy housing. None of the developers, however, wanted to sell their property.
Based on recommendations from the staff, Cox said, Telegraph Point was the "best site in the city."
Councilman Leonard Moore said that unless the city can find a developer who wants to swap land with the Navy, "Telegraph Point was the only logical site." Moore said the City Council will hold a council conference with the Navy so community members can review the Navy's plans for the project and.