MainStreet Oceanside reviews downtown ambassador program

OCEANSIDE — MainStreet Oceanside shared a look back at the summer downtown ambassador program during its first MainStreet Morning Meeting of the year Jan. 6.

The goal of the downtown ambassador program is to utilize volunteers to provide a welcoming atmosphere for visitors during the heavy tourist months of May through September.

A temporary kiosk is set up and staffed in the downtown beach area Tuesdays through Saturdays where volunteer ambassadors answer visitors’ questions, and point out city shops, restaurants and attractions. Ambassadors provide information about questions that range from kids’ activities, to restroom locations, transportation and local things to do.

They also hand out a Find Food Brochure that maps out Oceanside restaurants and pass out restaurant and merchant coupons.

“We handed out a lot of stuff,” Mary Ann Thier, volunteer ambassador, said.

Another task of ambassadors is to keep an informal log of what visitors ask about. Collected data is helpful to city staff and promoters to find out what people like most about their stay, and what can be improved.

Among the highlights shared by visitors were they had a “wow” experience, were pleased with the changes to the beachfront downtown and were considering moving to Oceanside.

A few people at the meeting pointed out there were few complaints about parking.

“If you come from L.A. this (parking) is heaven,” Thier said.

Some lowlights logged in by ambassadors were reports of street skateboarding tricks interfering with pedestrians, observations of public drug and alcohol consumption and reports of unclean public use areas.

MainStreet Program Manager Guamaro Escarcega said the positive comments outweigh the complaints.

Visitors’ comments prompted discussion about addressing some downtown issues. Suggestions included posting additional signage to point out parking, and equipping ambassadors with more visuals and information on downtown development to share with visitors.

Downtown police officers said they would like to see the program continue, and added it would be beneficial to get regular feedback on safety issues ambassadors observe and hear about from visitors, so incidents can be quickly resolved.

MainStreet Oceanside partnered with the city, Visit Oceanside and local businesses to hold the pilot downtown ambassador program.

Continuing the program a second year will depend on securing continuing partnerships.

MainStreet Oceanside holds MainStreet Morning Meetings the first Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. at its office at 701 Mission Ave.

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