By- Lou Ochoa
Money from Measure X on the November ballot will build a much-needed new fire station downtown – and a lot of other things, Assistant City Manager Deanna Lorson said at the monthly Morning Meeting of MainStreet Oceanside Tuesday.
Lorson gave a power-point presentation on the measure, which would add a half-cent to the sales tax in Oceanside.
The City only gets one cent of the 7.75 cents paid now. The balance of the money goes to the state, with some to the county.
Lorson said the proposed increase would make the total tax paid $8.25 per $100 spent – less than the $8.50 average in the state and certainly below the $10.25 charged by some coastal cities like Long Beach and Santa Monica.
Lorson said the proposed additional sales tax here would generate about $11 million annually – to be spent on aging infrastructure, like the beach restrooms.
It also would be used to repair potholes and keep beaches clean. Lorson elicited the most interest when she talked about the downtown fire station built in the mid 1930s and just barely able to house today’s fire-fighting vehicles and not large enough for those to come – nor for the ladder truck already here to serve downtown’s tall buildings. It’s too big to be housed in the downtown station. Lorson explained that the city owns a complete block (where its Code Enforcement offices are) on Civic Center Drive that could accommodate a new fire station – but it doesn’t have the money to build it. The tax increase is limited to a seven-year period and could not be extended without another vote of the people. A citizens’ committee would provide oversight of expenditures.
Answering a question from Kathy Hamman, MainStreet Office Manager, Lorson said the tax increase, if approved by voters, would take effect April 1.
From the audience, downtown resident Brenda Batali asked “what gets funded?” and Lorson cited the capital improvements listed in the power-point presentation and she answered another audience question about possible use of the funds for employee pension benefits by saying city workers are picking up more of those expenses.
Later, Batali also asked about the progress of the long-proposed beachfront luxury hotel, the illegal use of the sidewalks by skateboarders and the number of homeless downtown.
Rick Wright, MainStreet Executive Director, said the hotel developers are well-capitalized, and Lorson said a meeting would be held the next day to talk about street closures, etc., to accommodate the project. Wright said it’s difficult to keep the skateboarders off the sidewalks – various things have been tried over the years with limited success. And, Lorson said the homeless are a problem in coastal cities everywhere.
In other business:
–Glenda Kimbrel from the Oceanside High School Foundation invited everyone to that group’s annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 in the school’s new Performing Arts Center. There are seven honorees this year in the fields of academics, arts. athletics, business, community service and public service. Kimbrel said the foundation has honored 75 graduates so far and raises funds for the school, giving scholarships to students and grants to faculty and aiding beautification projects. She said it has given more than $90,000 in the past 13 years. The foundation’s motto is “preserving the past, promoting the future.”
–Wright and Gumaro Escarcega, MainStreet Program Manager, talked about the annual Taste of Oceanside from 2 to 5 p.m. this Saturday. Escarcega said, with 47 food-tasting locations and a dozen places for beer or wine, this year’s event exceeds any others, like in Encinitas. This year, South Oceanside businesses are being included. Escarcega said two new trolleys will be here from Old Town Trolley to take attendees to the various sites. The cost is $30 for food alone and $40 if beer and wine tasting is added. It will be $5 more on the day of the event, if any tickets remain. Escarcega said 600 tickets have been sold already. Volunteers are needed, he said, and those who will be serving beer or wine could take advantage of a training session at 6 p.m. the next day. The ensuing certificate would be good for two years. More information is available on TasteOfOceanside.com.
–Wright and Escarcega also talked about the Shop Local program for the month of October. Anyone spending $50 and e-mailing a copy of the receipt(s) to MainStreet is eligible for a possible prize, like a telescope, surfboard or bicycle. The program is valid only in MainStreet’s downtown area, which stretches from Wisconsin Street to the harbor (but doesn’t include the harbor itself) and goes east to Interstate 5.
–Escarcega also mentioned the drive being conducted by Nrth County Food Bank for jars of peanut butter. The campaign will continue through the month of October.
–Wright showed a video shot by a Japanese television crew at the Sunset Market. The narrator focused on all the food available at the market, although there was a beach scene or two as well. She especially seemed to enjoy Mexican cuisine and what looked like a gyro, but she declared it a “sandwich.”
–Wright announced there will be a blood drive arranged by Kathy Hamman at 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, as part of the Farmer’s Market and a Senior Expo. The bloodmobile will be parked at 301 N. Ditmar St.
–Wright reminded that the Pride at the Beach festival of the North County LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) Resource Center will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Civic Center.
–Cathy Nykiel, in charge of the Sunset Market for MainStreet, said its Candidates Night went well, and the Haunted Market is upcoming (Oct. 25). Volunteers are needed to pass out goodies to the children attending the market that night.
–Nykiel also mentioned the Dia de las Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration Oct. 28 at Mission San Luis Rey. Nykiel said volunteers are needed here as well. She said a nonprofit organization has been formed to help with the event.
–Cerina De Souza, marketing and communications manager for Visit Oceanside, said there will be an open house at the California Welcome Center, 928 N. Coast Highway, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 23. Wright added that the center has a “really awesome” supply of Oceanside-themed products in its gift shop.
–Patrick Young, Special Events Coordinator for the city, said the US Adaptive Surf Championships will take place this weekend at the pier. He also talked about the Silkies Hike Saturday from Alamosa Park to the pier, as a suicide-prevention program for veterans. Young also mentioned a “charity (surf) event” (“Take Steps & Shred” for sufferers of Crohn’s disease and colitis ) Oct. 14 and a North County Autism Speaks Walk Nov. 11.
–Sue Otto, Territory Advertising Manager for the Coast News, cited its expanded coverage of the election this year but said all political opinions are kept to the editorial pages. Wright said copies of the newspaper are available in the MainStreet office, at the markets and at Visit Oceanside
–At the end of the meeting, Wright gave each of the candidates present one minute to speak.
1.Michelle Gomez, candidate for the county Board of Supervisors Fifth District (North County) said “I really want effective change.” and that local politicians need to address the homeless problem and lack of affordable housing.
2.Larry Kornit, candidate for Oceanside City Council, District 2, said the council needs to be more respectful to each other and communicate better. Also, he said, “this homelessness is a crisis.” “There is no one reason why people are homeless,” he said so there can not be a “one-size-fits-all solution”. He praised Vista’s Solutions for Change organization which works with the homeless.
3.Michael Odegaard, candidate for Oceanside City Council, District 1, said that with a background in community planning, he has planning skills that are missing on the council. He said a proposal to reduce Coast Highway to two lanes “should be shelved.”
4.Diane Harkey, a member of the State Board of Education and Republican candidate for the 49th Congressional District (the seat now held by the retiring Darrell Issa ) was represented by Sherry Hodges who said Diane can transfer her state board experience to the new job.
Wright adjourned the meeting, noting that MainStreet will hold its next monthly get-together on Election Day, Nov. 6 at 8:30 a.m.
UPDATE: The following update came from Lou Ochoa, Project Manager for the parking structure project after the meeting:
We are now framing the 5th level of the north end of the project and anticipate the roof level to be framed out by the end of this month. On the lower levels we are preparing for our rough inspections on our Mechanical, Plumbing , Electrical and Structural installations. We are working on installing our electrical switch and transformer to be set on the north end of the project within the next week or so. This electrical connection will require an outage by SDG&E which they will provide a notice to anyone who will be affected.
On the northwest corner of the building we have converted a lower rooftop area into our new amenity, “Sunset Lanai Deck”.