A Sign for Our Times!
Hall of Fame golfer Arnold Palmer once said, “The road to success is always under construction.” I have a feeling that he might have been specifically talking about Vista’s newly minted district entitled Paseo Santa Fe when he made that comment.
If you live in the city of Vista, it would be almost impossible to be unaware of the controversy surrounding Vista’s newest sign that demarks the Paseo Santa Fe district. It shines with all the beauty that those involved in the process could have ever hoped, and it is the most controversial flash point in our community since the removal of the Muffler Man.
But just in case you have been out of town for the past five weeks, let me recap. About 15 years ago, the city of Vista embarked on a plan to redevelop Vista’s biggest eyesore – the stretch of S. Santa Fe running south from Vista Village Drive (or E. Vista Way, as it was known back then) to Civic Center Drive (formerly Escondido Ave). Besides going to Casa Linda for dinner, or getting your car fixed at one of the auto shops, S. Santa Fe was just a stretch to blitz through as quickly as possible – no reason to stop – no desire to stop – pray you don’t find yourself walking through the corridor alone after dark.
The plan to change this area of blight went through a public process where residents were invited to participate. As usual, very few showed up to these various meetings to voice their ideas or concerns. Those that did, however, embraced the idea of rebranding the corridor, narrowing the streets, making it more pedestrian-friendly, and making it a destination-driven district. I know this first hand because I was there. I took the chance to attend the public meetings, and by being involved in the Chamber, I have been privy to direct dialog we have had with the City about this redevelopment for over a decade. The district they have begun is exactly what many of us sat back and dreamed and schemed about.
But that brings us to the unveiling of the “sign” on April 5. Somehow, many residents were caught unaware that the sign was going to bear the name of the district and they assumed it was going to bear the name of our city. My only guess as to where that thought came from is the media attention that was paid last year to Carlsbad reestablishing their “Carlsbad” arch sign. However, it has been a pretty well documented plan that Vista was creating a “Paseo Santa Fe” sign, and not a “City of Vista” sign. It was mentioned in city council meetings, in a UT newspaper article (that talked about the “Carlsbad” sign), and more. At the Chamber, we have been talking about the redevelopment of “Paseo Santa Fe” for almost 10 years at our Chamber Member Orientation meetings.
As a lifelong Vistan, the thing that bothered me about the public outrage that ensued following the unveiling wasn’t that people were mad. I love that people felt passionately about their community. It was sad though to see people use social media to spew venom and show themselves to be haters when those who have been working for years on this project were celebrating Vista’s newest crown jewel. This was not the way I wanted to see Vista featured on Fox 5 news.
Should the sign have said “City of Vista” as a subtext? Maybe….Probably. Will the sign be better if that gets added? Possibly…..Probably. Will that satisfy naysayers? NOT!
The Chamber is all about community engagement. Perhaps Paseo Santa Fe will encourage people to get involved in their community (did you know there are openings on several “commissions” at the city right now?). But it probably won’t. The real sign of the times is that it is easier to criticize through Facebook than it is to get involved and make a tangible difference.
I hope I’m wrong. Time will tell.
Vista Chamber of Commerce