Chula Vista’s University Innovation District is envisioned as a regional hub for higher education, research, arts, and culture. The remarkable cliff-top site, strategically located just two miles north of the US-Mexico border, has the potential to become an intellectual and economic anchor for the CaliBaja region.
To plan the 375-acre district, the City of Chula Vista engaged a consulting team led by Ayers Saint Gross. Patrick Siegman led the parking and transportation planning effort for the project, while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting. Work on the plan included setting transportation goals and policies; preparing network designs for each mode, from bicycle, pedestrian and transit routes to emergency vehicle and freight access; and crafting street standards and parking requirements.
The district is conceived of as an urban, mixed-use setting. Rather than a gated precinct set aside from its surroundings, the university district will offer a dense, lively, mixed-use neighborhood, nestled alongside a compact academic core.
To accomplish this, the plan establishes a fine-grained urban grid that fosters walking and bicycling, and eases transit access. The district’s retail, office, and residential core is centered on a north-south axis formed by the South Bay Rapid line, a 26-mile-long bus rapid transit route from downtown San Diego to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry at the US-Mexico border. An east-west transit, bicycle, and pedestrian mall provides a transportation spine for the district’s academic blocks, connecting classrooms, labs, and student residences to shops, offices, and regional transit.
The plan’s parking and transportation demand management strategy capitalizes on the district’s two rapid bus stations, by defining a coherent set of policies for maximizing transit ridership, while minimizing vehicle trips, pollution, and parking demand.
The plan was unanimously adopted by the City Council in November 2018, and the first institution, the University of Saint Katherine, has agreed to relocate to the site.