OCEANSIDE — Some called it, “old school.”
At the July 30 MainStreet Oceanside Association stakeholder meeting, all of the business owners and city representatives agreed that downtown needs an upgrade and fast to help the area reach its full potential as a thriving, trendy destination.
“I can go on and on about the stories of the vagrants and the complaints (in downtown Oceanside),” said MainStreet Oceanside member Dick Bartlett. “I look at it from an economic restructuring point of view and say, ‘A lot of this has to end.’”
“Coming from the freeway, (downtown) is the first impression people have of the city,” said Oceanside Deputy Mayor Jerry Kern. “The downtown needs to be exciting, vibrant, and safe.”
Established in 2009, MainStreet Oceanside has been striving to revitalize the downtown area by focusing on promotion, design, economic restructuring, and organization.
To do so, the association sponsors major events downtown to attract economic growth and has been working to connect business owners with city officials and local residents.
“We want to be the face of downtown Oceanside,” said Gumaro Escarcega, MainStreet Oceanside’s program manager.
He explained that a collaborative business association is necessary for downtown Oceanside, since the area is the most visible part of the city.
MainStreet Oceanside already sponsors the city’s booming farmers market and sunset market and has a number of business mixers in the works.
At its stakeholder meeting, the association prompted a discussion with business owners, city police officers, and city staff to identify concerns and cultivate ideas to improve the area.
Attendees complained about the run down buildings, vagrants, and skateboarders pervading downtown and chasing away (or in the case of the skateboarders, running over) potential customers.
Oceanside Police Department Resource Officer Steve Peppard emphasized to attendees that the department has beefed up its bicycle patrol units downtown and that safety in the area is a big focus.
“You’ll be seeing a lot more of us downtown,” he said.
Kern also said the city is hopeful that the Mission Avenue improvement project will provide a needed aesthetic and economic boost.
The project, which will begin this fall, will widen Mission Avenue’s sidewalks by converting the street into a two-lane westbound only street. Seagaze Drive will be converted to a one-way eastbound street.
The city will be planting trees and placing chairs on the new sidewalks to encourage more pedestrians in the area, said Kern.