At the Saturday night lighting ceremony at the Escondido Creek Walk, I realized something that had escaped me: the Creek Walk is a major thoroughfare for people who get around on foot or by bike. Not as a recreational activity but as a mode of transportation, the way to get from here to there for everyday activities. And that’s why the lighting of the walk is the important first step toward making this pathway even busier. Combined with a clearing away of overgrown vegetation, it makes the walk safer and easier for many residents of the City.
I took a long walk today and decided to come back at least a little bit along the Creek Walk. I started right there at Evans Tire and walked about three blocks, heading home when I got to Juniper. I had expected to feel kind of isolated, but the trail is visually open to the properties around it even if they are separated by fences so you can see other activities and people. For some reason it reminded me of walking out in the trails at Kit Carson Park though obviously the landscape was very different.
If you don’t know much about the Creek Walk, I encourage you to take a look at the Escondido Creek Trail Master Plan Report that was published January of 2012. It clarified to me how in the midst of so much traffic on busy streets like Valley Parkway and Washington we have this pathway through the City that already exists and is used by lots of people. Cities around the country are looking for ways to carve out this kind of trail within their urban centers. We already have it. I applaud the City, REveal Escondido Creek and the Escondido Creek Conservancy for their work, and look forward to landscaping along the walk coupled with pathways that provide more access to the walk from the neighborhoods that surround it. And that will be just the start.
I know not everybody is interested in politics and governance in Escondido. In fact, most people aren’t. That was never made clearer to me than on Saturday night at the lighting of the Creek Walk. Mayor Abed had given his speech and Deputy Mayor Diaz had just begun hers when a grey-haired man tapped me on the shoulder and said “Who is that woman in red?”
For those wondering why the Deputy Mayor was so dressed up, she was going for a belated-birthday dinner after the event.
“That’s Olga Diaz,” I said, “Deputy Mayor of Escondido.” He gave me a slightly surprised look so I went on to explain that she was running against Mayor Abed in the November election. I asked the man if he lived in Escondido.
“Yes, for a long time,” he answered “but I don’t get involved in politics.” (I later learned that this man was a highly educated professional and business man.)
I tell this story to remind everyone that most people, in Escondido are focused on their own lives — their work, their education, their kids, their families, their dreams. They have little time left for something that can seem so contentious — and sometimes obscure — as Escondido politics. What doe this mean for our upcoming election?
As I posted back in September, only 60% of registered voters in Escondido turned out to vote in the 2012 election; Mayor Abed won the mayoral race with 37% of those voters. That means if all the registered non-voters had turned out and they’d all voted for one of the other candidates, that person would now be Mayor of Escondido.
Newly-registered voters and registered but non-voters (who national studies show to more often be poor, uneducated, minority and female) will only come out to vote if they feel a candidate will make their lives better. And that means making the issues that matter to them clear and understandable. That is the job of the candidates and all those who support them. If you are one of those people who really cares about particular candidates, you need to talk to folks and let them know where candidates stand on the issues. You need to make it relevant by explaining that how the City Council votes does affect their lives. My recent post Why local politics really matter might provide some starting points for a conversation but we each need to decide for ourselves how we are going to help our candidates win in November. And for those who say their vote doesn’t matter, remember that in 2010 Councilman Gallo defeated ex-Mayor Lori Pfeiler by just 43 votes and in 2012 City Treasurer Huggins defeated newcomer Michelle Fawcett by a mere 27 votes.
We really couldn’t have asked for a prettier evening for the celebration of the new lights along the Escondido Creek. Mayor Abed gave a gracious speech, crediting the work of Deputy Mayor Diaz. She thanked all those involved, including a life-size photograph of Katie Ragazzi, Director of Reveal Escondido Creek, who had a wedding to attend. Councilmen Gallo and Morasco (Masson was absent) held a length of red ribbon which Mayor and Deputy Mayor cut together — no one was injured during the event.
If you drive by Evans Tire you will see this mural facing Broadway, noting that this is the Plaza del Arroyo. That area will be a small park with benches and landscaping. There will be a second mural facing the Creek Walk (you can see an image of it above) along with a nice pocket park — I will post the plans for the park as soon as I get them. Funds for the park were provided by the Escondido Charitable Foundation and the space was provided by the gentleman who owns the Evans Tire building. (I apologize for not being able to supply his name. I met him but did not write down his name.)
There was a nice crowd, at least 100 with a good number of dogs who all got along. All in all, a very nice gathering. I hope it bodes well for future efforts along the Creek rather than just everyone playing nice in an election year. (I had some interesting conversations about this whole Reveal the Creek project and will be writing more about it as soon as I get the information together.)
You’re looking at one of the 88 lights recently installed along the Escondido Creek Walk. The funding, as reported in the UT , was a combination of $410,000 of federal funds the city receives to bolster low-income areas, and $156,000 from the County. The City kicked in $10,000 from the city’s utilities fund. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is at 6 pm today at the new pocket park Evans Tire and Reveal the Creek created. Get more details on that at their Facebook page. I applaud all those who have worked so hard on this and especially want to recognize Deputy Mayor Diaz for having the vision and dogged determination to keep this project moving forward.
Just got back from the market which was pretty busy. It is not a Farmers’ Market though there are some fruit and vegetable stands, it is more a little bit of everything, homemade soaps, Home Depot (nice little project kits with helpers). Prime Angus beef, jewelry, pillows and food stand — Gyro, Thai, Italian and more. I would recommend this as a great spot for a stroll and a nice in-hand lunch. Ran into Joyce Wells, who is the organizer, and she said if there are things people would like at the Saturday Market to please get in touch at JoyceGWells@yahoo.com. If you are a potential vendor you can contact the managers at firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow morning at 8:45 am with the market opening at 9. It will be there every Saturday from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon on Kalmia Street at Grand Avenue. I’ll be there tomorrow and encourage you to come and support the Market.
When I saw the agenda for next week’s Special Meeting of the Economic Development Subcommittee (Thursday March 20, 2014 2:00 PM, City Manager’s Conference Room), my heart began to pitter patter when I saw the address of the building under discussion. It’s this one, the one that’s been a blight on Grand for too many years, the one that I’ve been writing about in the hopes that it might become a permanent Farmers’ Market. Well I hear from City Hall that this is a possibility, and there are others. I look forward to hearing from Tom D’Agosta what the plans are and hope Mayor Abed and Councilman Masson recognize what an opportunity this could be. Here’s the exact agenda item:
Discussion and Consideration of presentation by Tom D’Agosta regarding his ideas for a building located at 224-228 E. Grand Avenue, including his request for potential City financial support in the amount of $200,000 for exterior improvements.
$200,000 is a lot of money, but transforming that half-a-block-long eyesore could well be a catalyst for more and better retailers coming onto Grand. I believe we need destinations that people can depend on, rather than periodic special events, to keep our downtown busy throughout the week. I look forward to hearing about Mr. D’Agosta’s plans and can’t wait to see what he plans to do to that exterior. It certainly needs a lot of help.