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South Bay Plans to Lure a University to the Area

Times Staff Writer

Hoping to lure a four-year college or university to the rapidly growing South Bay, a group of public and private officials Monday offered to donate at least 150 acres in the Otay Lakes area to any institution interested in opening a campus.

Chula Vista Mayor Greg Cox, Assemblyman Steve Peace (D-Chula Vista) and City Councilman David Malcolm said they hoped to attract the new school to one of three Otay Lakes sites offered by EastLake Development Company, which is building a planned community that will bring 30,000 more residents to the city by the turn of the century.

“We believe that this is a project of statewide priority,” the three said in a joint announcement. “The campus would be located in the fastest growing corner of our state and in the middle of a young and ethnically diverse population.”

The officials said they hoped to attract a new University of California campus, a California State University campus or a prestigious private college--a school similar to Pepperdine University in Malibu or Claremont College in Claremont.

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The school would draw students from across the state and beyond, but a private school would have to make the added commitment of guaranteeing access to students from the South Bay area, Peace said.

But according to an official with the California Postsecondary Education Commission, which oversees the establishment of new state schools, there is no chance of approval for a new public university in the South Bay in the near future.

“I think their chances would be nil at the present time,” said William Storey, higher education specialist for the commission. “That’s not going to happen in the next 10 years. . . . If it happened anytime before the end of this century, I think it would be extremely surprising.”

Four sites, two in San Marcos and two in Carlsbad, are currently under consideration by California State University officials as the location for a new North County branch of San Diego State University.

But Storey said that because the funds needed to build a new public university are in short supply, the prospects for a new four-year campus in North County are uncertain. An additional school in the South Bay would be virtually impossible, he said.

Peace and Cox said that the South Bay proposal is not an effort to compete with the North County. Both said they believe that a continued population explosion in the South Bay would justify the construction of another university.

The number of homes in the South Bay is expected to increase by 10,000 each year through the end of the decade, said Robert Santos, senior vice president for EastLake. By 1990, more than 1.22 million people will live in the area south of California 94, he said.

“We deserve a full, four-year campus,” Malcolm said. “Not a branch, not a quarter-campus, not a half-campus, but a full, four-year campus.”

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A new campus would provide jobs, add prestige to the community and complement Chula Vista’s effort to attract high-tech industry to the city, Cox said.

“We can see no greater opportunity for business to work with government and government with business and for the people to be the beneficiaries,” the officials said. “Success in this effort will mean more jobs for our community, improved educational opportunities for our children and a more stable environment for our families.”

Peace and Malcolm promised to begin amassing a trust fund of cash and in-kind contributions to help speed the development of a campus, which they said would take at least five years and probably longer. The first step, Peace said, would be to bring a proposal before the Postsecondary Education Commission.

East Lake has offered three sites, all currently owned by the Western Salt Corp. One is on the proposed California 125, about five miles east of I-805. A second is on the western edge of Lower Otay Reservoir, and the third is on the a western edge of Upper Otay Reservoir.

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All three sites are currently controlled by the county but are expected to be annexed by Chula Vista in coming years, Cox said.


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