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General Press Releases
Waterfront Development

South Bay Leaders and Community Celebrate Sweetwater Park Groundbreaking

Chula Vista Bayfront Transformation Continues with Construction of the First New Park Space

South Bay leaders shovel dirt during ceremonial groundbreaking for Sweetwater Park
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Sweetwater Park Groundbreaking
Pictured from left to right: State Senator Steve Padilla, San Diego County Chairwoman Nora Vargas, Chula Vista Mayor John McCann, Port Commissioner Ann Moore, Port Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Assemblymember David Alvarez

The Port of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista along with other project partners, South Bay stakeholders, and community members today celebrated the start of construction on Sweetwater Park. The Port and City held a groundbreaking celebration at the project site near E Street and Bay Boulevard adjacent to the Living Coast Discovery Center and Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay RV resort. When finished, Sweetwater Park will be the first new park space completed as part of the Chula Vista Bayfront redevelopment, and the Port’s 23rd park along San Diego Bay.

Sweetwater Park is envisioned as a natural-habitat oriented recreational open space to showcase the unique natural wildlife assets of San Diego Bay, encouraging passive recreation activities to complement the adjacent Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The 21-acre park was designed with community input and will be enjoyed by residents and visitors for decades to come.

“Sweetwater Park will be one of most unique parks along San Diego Bay as it’s inspired by both nature and history,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “With community input, each of the elements were designed to honor the area’s wildlife and habitat. There are also elements honoring the Kumeyaay People’s ancestral lands both in the public art and educational signage. It will truly be a space for the community to feel proud of.”

“Sweetwater Park is one of the first substantial steps to building Chula Vista’s Bayfront,” said Chula Vista Mayor John McCann. “The park will allow individuals to experience the bay and the environment around it. We want this to be the people’s Bayfront, where residents in the City and the region can enjoy Chula Vista’s Bayfront.”

“Through the pandemic, we were reminded that recreational spaces are essential for social, mental, and emotional wellbeing,” said Chairwoman Nora Vargas, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “Investing in Sweetwater Park helps San Diego County achieve its goal to provide spaces where community members can be physically active and thrive.”

We wanted to create a space for residents and regional visitors to enjoy for generations to come. Sweetwater Park delivers on that and it’s thanks to engagement and input from the community and our partnership with the City of Chula Vista,” said Commissioner Ann Moore, Chula Vista’s appointee to the Board of Port Commissioners. “Sweetwater Park will connect us all to some of the best nature has to offer along San Diego Bay, allowing us all to experience and appreciate it, while also protecting our precious wildlife habitat and coastal resources.”

Sweetwater Park is being built just north of the Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center where construction is currently underway. It is anticipated to open in late 2024. Features will include:

  • Meadows and specialty gardens with native plants, shrubs, and groundcover. Some of these native plants serve as ecological buffers and mitigation areas to protect sensitive wildlife habitats, particularly at the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
  • Mounded grasslands
  • Nature playgrounds
  • Various seating and picnic areas
  • Pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths, some paved and others with softer surfaces
  • Sand dunes
  • Overlooks for bayfront viewing
  • Incorporation of Kumeyaay signage
  • Public art, including an installation by local artist Roberto Salas
  • Public restroom facilities
  • 216 parking spaces

These features are in addition to the Sweetwater Bicycle and Pedestrian Path that was built and opened in the spring of 2021. The three-quarter mile path will wind through Sweetwater Park.

The Port of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista conducted a transparent and open outreach process through which community members shared their vision for this park space. The Port and the City sought to learn how to best balance the recreational wants and needs of the community and create a welcoming, warm environment for visitors, while also preserving Chula Vista’s natural resources and improving/protecting waterfront access for future generations of Chula Vista residents. The final design of Sweetwater Park is a direct result of that engagement. Landscape Architecture firm KTUA led the design effort for Sweetwater Park in collaboration with the Port. KTUA was selected for their extensive urban park and waterfront design expertise – with an emphasis on local landscape architecture and natural resource management experience. KTUA’s award-winning, local portfolio includes Southcrest Trails Park in southern San Diego, the University of San Diego Paseo de Colachis, and the Canyonlands City Heights Trail in San Diego.

The total cost for Sweetwater Park, including design and construction support, is just under $19.7 million, part of which will be funded through a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the National Parks Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The Board of Port Commissioners awarded a construction contract for Sweetwater Park to 3D Enterprises in April of 2023. Additional project partners include the County of San Diego and RIDA Chula Vista, LLC.

A partnership between the Port of San Diego and City of Chula Vista, the 535-acre Chula Vista Bayfront redevelopment envisions a world-class destination in the South Bay – a unique place for people to live, work and play. It is designed to create new public parks and recreational adventures, improve the natural habitat, offer new dining and shopping options, provide a world-class hotel and convention center, and more – all for residents and coastal visitors to enjoy. For more information about the Chula Vista Bayfront, visit

The City of Chula Vista is located at the center of one of the richest cultural, economic and environmentally diverse zones in the United States. It is the second-largest city in San Diego County, with a population of nearly 280,000. Chula Vista boasts more than 52 square miles of coastal landscape, rolling hills, 65 parks, a marina, and miles of trails. Chula Vista is a leader in conservation and renewable energy, has outstanding public schools, and has been named one of the safest cities in the country. Established neighborhoods, contemporary communities, corporations, a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site, and historic downtown all contribute to Chula Vista’s attraction for both families and businesses. A promising future includes implementing smart city technology citywide, developing the 535-acre Chula Vista Bayfront, and building higher education and employment opportunities at UniverCity at Chula Vista.

About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.

About Port of San Diego Waterfront Development

Port of San Diego Waterfront Development contributes to the continuous prosperity of the local economy.

From Real Estate to Aquaculture and Blue Tech, the Port invests in major redevelopment and community infrastructure, so businesses in our region have the opportunity to stay competitive in the global marketplace.