Eastlake is a neighborhood, but also an area colloquially known to cover The Woods, Rolling Hills Ranch and parts of Otay Ranch. Filled with mostly suburban homes, this area has been built up since the 1980’s and continues to expand. It’s poised to become a hopping destination center for tourists and locals alike. The Millenia Project, a new downtown for eastern Chula Vista, along with plans for a University make this region up-and-coming. There are even hopes on the near horizon for three hotels.
Chula Vista is set to become a future “green belt” and Eastlake is coming to be known for hiking trails, parks, golf clubs, the Olympic Training Center and a bevy of other entertainments.
A Brief History
Steven Schoenherr has written probably the most well-researched history of Chula Vista, published for the Chula Vista Centennial celebration. In the book, he provides some fascinating history of this area in eastern Chula Vista:
Eastlake was a totally new kind of project, a complete, planned community. It rose from the barley fields of Rancho Janal after Henry Fenton’s heirs, daughter Emily Fenton Hunte and her son Henry Hunte, president of Western Salt, decided the land was better used for housing. In 1979 the Huntes signed an agreement with a large Canadian company, Cadillac-Fairview Homes, to develop the Ranch in phases over a twenty-year period. J.G. Boswell Company took over the project in the early 1980s in partnership with David Kuhn, Jr., and Ron Lane. Bob Santos led the planning for the Eastlake Development Company to create a self-contained “destination” community for 30,000 people in 10,000 homes. There were to be industrial parks, shopping centers, schools, offices, and at least 20 percent of the ranch dedicated to open space.
In August 1982, after five years of planning, the City Council approved the Eastlake Policy Plan designating Eastlake as a planned community. Annexation of the first 1,268 acres took place a year later and the first subdivision map was filed in December 1985. Eastlake Hills was designed with single-family detached homes and Eastlake Shores as multi-family units and apartments built around a 15-acre lake. Will Hyde opposed the plan when he was mayor in 1979, calling it “leap-frogging” that went too far, too fast. In 1985 he was a member of Crossroads and still believed it was too ambitious. The City Council unanimously approved the project. The Council considered its distant location: 5 miles from I-805 as a positive factor — there were no neighboring residents to complain. It met the thresholds for a new development and was comprehensive in its planning.
The grand opening of Eastlake I was celebrated April 19, 1986. Seven builders completed two separate construction projects, the 34-acre Eastlake Village Center and the 145-acre Eastlake Business Center. The city annexed Eastlake Greens in August 1989 for the next phase, and construction began on an eighteen-hold golf course in the center of the 830-acre community. The elementary and high schools were in the planning stage. (pgs. 166-167)
Centennial Trail. This goes through “The Woods” which used to hold Tours De Elegance. Walking along this trail, you’ll see large and lavish homes.
The Fire Station. At one time the Old Goose fire truck was stored here. Purchased in 1923 after a new fire department was created in Chula Vista, it was restored in the 1980’s and brought out for parades and civic functions. Attempts at restoration, however, have failed and the fire truck is in bad condition. However, the Fire Station within this area is worth a look due to its elegant architecture.
Proctor Valley Natural Resource Area. This trail is newly opened in April 2016. In the background you can see the large homes and there’s also a lake. This is a newly restored area, which Joe Little from Channel Ten said looked like a cemetery in the middle of nowhere. In fact, the River Partners used empty cartons of juice and milk to protect 26,000 new plants, trees and bushes. The cartons are lined up over 50 acres.
The placard explains what you might see: Sensitive species in the park include plants such as the Otay tar plant, Orcutt’s bird-beak, San Diego barrel cactus and Otay Mesa mint, animals like the arroyo toad, orange-throated whiptail lizard and Southwestern pond turtle, and birds like the Southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell’s vireo and the California gnatcatcher.
Mother Miguel Trailhead. The trail head is located at the end of Paseo Los Gatos & Paseo Veracruz. According to the placard, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Diego National Wildlife Refuge has partnered with San Diego Mountain Biking Association and Earth Discovery Institute on a successful grant to restore the Mother Miguel/Rockhouse Trail.
Here you’ll enjoy remarkable views that expand all the way to downtown San Diego.
Make sure to keep on the trails, though. As they explain, “Directional signs will be placed to guide users to the legal trail route — a tort that will reduce the existing severe impacts to native habitats that support rare native plants and including the endangered or threatened Mexican flannel bush, California gnatcatcher, Quino checkerspot butterfly, and San Diego barrel cactus.”
Otay Lakes County Park. This is a great place to have a picnic, go fishing or hike to the historic Upper and Lower Otay Dams. Yep — there are two. One is spray painted, the other pristine. Both are walled off, so you can only see them from a distance. You can hike the Upper Otay Reservoir or the Lower Otay Lake.
The Olympic Training Center. Adjacent to the Otay Lakes County Park, you can take a tour of this center or roam around to watch the athletes. They have a BMX track and their archery classes are particularly popular.
If you want a place for kids to run around and play, three large parks offer all sorts of amenities from ping-pong tables to soccer fields and skate parks:
Montevalle Park, and
There’s also a pretty place to walk around a lake, appropriately called Eastlake I Lake.
Two Golf Clubs
Eastlake Country Club. They serve Breakfast (including “Hole In One”) and Lunch all day (including a Philly Cheese Steak and the Classic Burger).
Salt Creek Golf Course also has an 18-hole golf course and a place where you can eat both breakfast and lunch.
Otay Ranch Town Center. This outdoor mall includes all sorts of goodies, including The Hub Community Room and a branch of the Chula Vista Public Library. They have an AMC, a Barnes & Noble and a Farmer’s Market every Thursday. There’s plenty of shopping and also restaurants. They are also located across from Millenia, which will soon become this area’s bustling downtown district.
There’s also a fun activity center at Showroom place where you can find some of the following:
Skyzone — the Indoor Trampoline Park,
Lazer Journey: Lazer Tag & Arcade
Eastlake Tavern & Bowl
And Don’t Forget, Eastlake Has Beer
Novo Brazil just won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup.
***Note: San Miguel Mountain is off limits for hikers. Although it exists in guidebooks, the area is located within a Nature Preserve and no humans are allowed there.