The Star-News - Nov. 8, 2002

A fine example of smart growth


Something rather inspirational happened in Otay Valley Regional Park on Oct. 26 and it was achieved by a massive collaboration of construction companies, city employees, students and (would you believe it?) developers.

The park itself represents a multi-jurisdictional planning effort by the County of San Diego and the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista. In 1990, the jurisdictions entered into a joint exercise of powers agreement for its coordinated planning, acquisition, and design. The agreement established a three-member policy committee of elected officials and a 30-member Citizens Advisory Committee.

Altogether, 194 volunteers from the cities of Chula Vista and San Diego succeeded in planting 500 native trees, in one day, to beautify the environment and to improve the quality of life of all the birds and other animals that inhabit it.

The effort required 979 volunteer-hours. But none of this could even begin without the assistance of crews from Donovan Prison Community who, two weeks earlier, cleared two camps formerly occupied by homeless people and removed a quantity of concrete, asphalt shingles and household trash. It took three days just to truck the 18 tons of trash to Otay Landfill.

When the area was cleared, Bill Lawrence, a senior ranger with the City of San Diego, supervised the drilling, with powered augurs, of 500 holes in an area to the west side of Beyer Boulevard, south of the Otay river, below homes that stand on Subol Court on the south of the Otay River and adjacent to the south side of Fenton Pond.

Some of the holes were drilled near Hollister Pond, which is habitat for a large number of water birds, near Hollister Street, two blocks north of the Palm Avenue Trolley Station.

Fertilizer was added to the holes, which were then covered up until the day of planting and watering. The native trees to be planted were coast live oak, western cottonwood, western sycamore, toyon (Christmas berry) and Mexican elderberry.

These were bought with a grant from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Calpine, and the County of San Diego's District 1. Their planting was coordinated by the Tree Planting Project's CO-chairs: Lawrence, John Willett (Chairperson of the Otay Valley Regional Park Citizens Advisory Committee), Robert Rushlow, (San Diego County Parks Department) and Frank Herrera-A (City of Chula Vista).

But the ultimate key to the project's success was the participation of many groups including Mar Vista High School's Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Eastlake High School's Key Club, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Otay Real Estate Company, Otay Land Company, and residents interested in improving the habitat.

Nice job!