After last week’s column I realized there were a few more big-time assets for Escondido not reported. The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is one of only a few children’s museums in the county. This outstanding facility of enlightenment draws visitors from all over San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties. Past Executive Director Javier Guerrero had the vision and passion to expand and enlarge what was begun as the Escondido Children’s Museum in a 1500 square foot space on Grand Avenue in 2001 after two years of operation as a traveling educational program.
When Katie Ragazzi opened the permanent facility, I became a founding member after visiting my son and two adorable granddaughters in the Bay Area. We visited the San Jose Children’s Museum and after spending four hours pushing, touching and pulling everything in the building upon my return to Escondido I told Katie “count me in.” I became a big supporter since I enjoyed everything as much as the kids. The SDCDM is another crown jewel for our town.
Something that most people are probably not aware is that Escondido is what is referred to as a full service city. Let me explain. We have our own police department, fire department, ambulance service, water department, wastewater department, public works department, library, and parks and recreation. There are only two other cities in the county like us; they are Carlsbad and Oceanside. San Diego City is close but they employ a private ambulance service. All other incorporated cities have outside service providers such as the Sheriff’s Department, county library and in many cases separate water districts who supply multiple jurisdictions. We like to be in control of ourselves with the exception of the State’s unfunded mandates and overregulation but I won’t go there.
Speaking of regulations, when Escondido Building Department head Joe Russo retired he came to his last Council meeting with a copy of the State Building Codes from the 1930’s, a smallish book which contained ALL the required codes. Then he rolled up a carrier holding about ten large books that contained the current building codes. It is no wonder then that building anything is nothing short of a Herculean feat. Have you ever wondered what the building codes were when our State Capitol was built over 140 years ago or when our historic buildings and homes were built over 100 years ago? I have. And they’re all still standing. Yes, I am aware of the earthquake issue we have in California—which necessitates certain additional requirements.
Escondido City Hall received numerous architectural awards when opened in 1988. Some years ago, a councilmember from another city in the county referred to the building as the Taj Mahal. For once, our city leaders built something with the future in mind even though many in the community were aghast at the cost. Think about this. This building is 31 years old and has the original carpet throughout and the seat covers in the Council Chambers. You have to admit, our City Hall is quite impressive. So, as Mr. Castorini, the plumber in the movie “Moonstruck” told a young couple, “Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.”
Our public safety facility on Centre City Parkway is another building to crow about. First class, top shelf that everyone should get to see. As a visitor, OK? Our first responders, police and fire departments, have the best training facilities anywhere with Station #1 housing firefighter training and the police range for first class facilities. This affords us all the best in protection. Other jurisdictions send their personnel to Escondido for top notch training.
And with the Street Faire—I mean Grand Avenue Festival—coming for the 31st year on Sunday, October 20, let me remind you all that Escondido hosts the second largest one day street fair in the state. Sixty thousand people converge on Grand Avenue two times every year. Something else to be proud of.