Editor—Even since Ed Gallo “retired” from the city council I have been working on him to get him to write us a column. I finally broke him down, and here is the first example:
You are correct. This is a new column premier edition. Hopefully it won’t be a one and done. Today’s topic in the historic Escondido Times Advocate, our hometown newspaper will deal with an issue I presented to the City Council on June 5 this year.
As we all know, Escondido is heavily reliant on sales tax revenue to provide for the necessary public services such as police, fire and recreation.
More so than other cities in San Diego County due to the property tax formula that has scr–– uh, shortchanged Escondido for over 40 years. The bulk of our sales tax revenue is generated in the retail sector led by North County Faire as most longtime residents refer to Westfield North County and the Auto Park. Grand Avenue has been an integral part in revenue generation for 131 years.
For over 50 years Escondido has invested millions of dollars improving the appearance of Grand Avenue beginning in the late ‘60’s adding the center median after the Village Mall (first enclosed mall in California) drew businesses from Grand Ave.
The ‘70’s saw the addition of free public parking lots. In the ‘80’s after North County Faire opened and usurped retail from downtown the pop-outs and pedestrian lights were added. And the parking meters were removed from Grand Ave “because the mall has free parking and downtown should offer the same.” Last year the center median was additionally enhanced with the removal of the dying eucalyptus trees and replaced with new trees and colorful flowering plants. In the near future plans are set to reconfigure the parking situation downtown adding more parking. All of these investments were initiated to preserve the viability of the only true ‘Main Street’ in North County.
However, I believe the most productive investment in downtown has been the advent of the Façade and Property Improvement Program. According to our Management Analyst, the return on investment of the FPIP has been 10 to 1. A $10 return for every $1 dollar invested on image and appearance which has been one of my bi-lines since I was on the East Valley Association Board in the ‘90’s. That’s the 1990’s.
When I was in retail some decades ago my motto was “eye appeal is buy appeal.” If it looks good people will buy it. Anyone who remembers the pet rock craze will know what I am talking about. The same goes for our downtown. We have not had any funding for the FPIP the past few years but I think it is time now to again fund this program. This fits in nicely with what the Mayor has stated before and after the election about rejuvenating Grand Avenue and when added to what the new street scene will look like it makes prudent sense to kick start the FPIP.
I told the business owner with whom I spoke that I would do what I can to get funding for his plans on an exterior remodel of his building. If we take the Mayor’s words seriously then we should once again offer an incentive for existing businesses to improve their properties, and there are still storefronts that could use improvement, and also for prospective business and property owners. Thank you for not calling the grammar police on any inadvertent errors.