Oceanside Budget Workshop lists possible priorities for year ahead

Oceanside Budget Workshop lists possible priorities for year ahead
Mark Buckman, board member of Oceanside Aquatic Program Association, speaks about the need for the aquatics center. It is unclear where the City Council sits on funding the project. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — No dollar amounts were mentioned, no ranking of importance was established, but the budget workshop on Feb. 11 did draft a long list of priorities that will be discussed further by the City Council in spring.

Among the items that received the most discussion were the $12 million aquatic center, maintaining commercial zones, beefing up policing, and improving city government transparency and community involvement.

Residents asked that city council put funds towards plans and development of the aquatic center. Some pushed for earmarking enough money to build the competition length pool within the complex, and have the second pool constructed later.

It is unclear where the council sits on funding the project. Councilman Jack Feller said the aquatic center is a priority.

Mayor Jim Wood said the multi-million-dollar swim complex is not on the top of his list.

Speakers also asked that current zoning be maintained, and revenue producing commercial property not be rezoned for residential development.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said it is important to uphold current zoning, and increase the city’s jobs to housing ratio.

Public safety remains a city priority, even with crime down 9.6 percent. Feller and Councilman Jerry Kern said they would like to see more police on the streets to address the downtown homeless population.

“We need it to be safe where tourists are,” Kern said. “We’re really a tourist community.”

Sanchez stressed the need for neighborhood safety. She gave the police department kudos for ranking top in safety, and added those efforts need to continue.

“We’re No. 1 in the county and have to be, we have the highest number of gangs, and have to look out for public safety,” Sanchez said.

Government transparency and community involvement were seen as areas that need improvement. Residents asked that council members do a better job of representing them.

Council members called on residents to get more involved in city government, and said they want to pursue means to motivate wider participation. They also criticized the city website for being difficult to navigate and stay informed.

“The home page is a crazy mix of lots of topics,” Councilman Chuck Lowery said.

As an additional consideration Wood and Sanchez said they would like to hire more city staff to fill in some of the 100 positions that were laid off during the recession.

As the workshop wound down Feller said a lot of capital improvements had not been discussed.

City capital funds will be determined in spring. The City Council will meet then to review its priorities and decide where to allocate funds.

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