A public ceremony was held at Chula Vista Bayfront Park on September 10, 2015 to unveil a new monument honoring the history of the former South Bay Power Plant. Titled "Powering the Arts," the 25-foot high structure is partially comprised of artifacts salvaged from the site of the former plant.
The South Bay Power Plant was located on the waterfront of Chula Vista from 1958-2013. During that time, it provided essential power to the region. Hundreds of locals were employed there over the decades. In October 2010, the California Independent System Operator notified the plant's operator, Dynegy South Bay, that the plant could be taken out of service because it was no longer needed for the region's power grid. On February 2, 2013, the plant was imploded.
Artist and Chula Vista native Michael Leaf had a vision to memorialize the South Bay Power Plant. His 25-foot-tall monument to it includes a large steel cylinder that previously stood at the top of the power plant. It is encircled by three gracefully curved red steel ribbons. Leaf chose the color red because to him it symbolized fire, combustion and explosion – elements used to produce the plant's energy, but also used for its implosion.
Leaf's monument also includes a custom park bench created from one of the plant's turbine rotors. Another component is a functional artist's easel that anyone can use. A plaque summarizing the plant's history is installed on the easel.
"Today's ceremony not only celebrates this monument and the history of the South Bay Power Plant, but it signifies progress on the bay front," said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas. "Former Mayor Cheryl Cox took the plans for the Chula Vista waterfront to a new level and we've come a long way since the plant's implosion."
In addition to Mayor Salas, the event was attended by former Chula Vista Mayors Cheryl Cox and Shirley Horton, Port Board Chairman Dan Malcolm, Port Commissioner Ann Moore, and several former Port commissioners who were involved with the transitioning of the plant's site from SDG&E to the Port of San Diego.
"It's very important to reflect on how we got to this moment," said Chairman Malcolm. "In 1998 the Port, in its vision to beautify and set the stage for future improvements along the Chula Vista waterfront, acquired the power plant site at terms which were extremely financially beneficial for the Port District and the region. In fact, the power plant acquisition by the Port won the highest award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association in 1999. I want to thank the former commissioners who were instrumental with that transaction, as well as the City of Chula Vista, for its valuable partnership."
The former South Bay Power Plant site is incorporated into the approved plan for the Chula Vista Bayfront – an ambitious waterfront development project encompassing 535 acres. A resort hotel and convention center, new hotels, public park areas, office space and residential units are all part of the project. The site where the South Bay Power Plant was located will be redeveloped to include a business park, RV park and a new public park.
"This is an exciting time for the Port of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista because we have been longtime partners in efforts to transform the bayfront with world-class development, public access and environmental preservation," said Commissioner Moore. "Our efforts to move the Chula Vista Bayfront project forward are bearing fruit, from the implosion of the South Bay Power Plant in 2013 to the extension of H Street last year. The addition of public art to our waterfront is yet another sign of progress in achieving the spectacular waterfront our city deserves."
In February 2015, the Board of Port Commissioners approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with RIDA Development Corporation to develop a resort hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista Bayfront. For more than 40 years RIDA has developed properties for top name brands such as Omni, Hilton and Marriott. RIDA is also one of the largest private real estate investors in eastern and central Europe.
About the Port of San Diego:
The Port of San Diego is a unified district encompassing five member cities surrounding San Diego Bay. A public agency, the Port is charged by the State of California with developing the tidelands and commercial business as steward of the public-trust tidelands along 34 miles of San Diego Bay. We share the waterfront with the Navy, which oversees 17 miles of San Diego Bay.
We operate under the Public Trust Doctrine, which specifies that these waterways and waterfronts are primarily reserved for water-dependent uses such as fishing, cargo activity, bay tours and recreational access such as hotels and restaurants; as well as environmental and natural-habitat preservation.
We have guided the development of this prime waterfront property with a carefully selected portfolio of world-class commercial real estate, maritime and public uses. Our 16 hotels, 25 marinas, numerous restaurants, tours and museum attractions operate side-by-side with a working waterfront of boatyards, sportfishing landings and marine cargo terminals. We also operate 22 public parks as amenities that attract visitors and enhance the value of our waterfront.