VISTA — Potholes are being fixed, parks are vibrant and revenue is rising — that was the news Vista Mayor Judy Ritter delivered at the annual State of the Community luncheon.
Ritter told a crowd of 175 business and community members that the city of Vista had a “really good year” in 2015, giving the North County Inland city a bright future. She delivered the yearly speech at a luncheon hosted by the Vista Chamber of Commerce and attended by her colleagues on the City Council, as well as, Carlsbad and Escondido mayors Matt Hall and Sam Abed, respectively.
“We accomplished big things in 2015, making life better for you and your family, the business community, and all Vista residents, right now — and for the future,” Ritter, who has served on the City Council since 1998 before becoming mayor in 2010, said. “The Vista community should take great pride in the accomplishments of 2015. The Vista we have today is more dynamic, enterprising, fiscally leaner, and is stronger and more strategically prepared to meet the challenges of the future.”
Ritter, a realtor with Coldwell Banker and former owner of four fitness-focused businesses, said the population of more than 96,000 people saw a low unemployment rate in 2015. Vista’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent compared to 4.6 percent in California and 5.5 percent in the U.S.
She credited the high employment numbers to the dynamic and entrepreneurial spirit of the business community, noting the number of new companies opening in Vista.
The booming business industry has resulted in higher revenues for the city of Vista and an increase in the city’s emergency reserve. The city’s emergency reserve is at 18 percent and leaders hope to increase it to 20 percent, Ritter said.
Despite the positive economy, Ritter said the city is “cautiously optimistic” about the New Year.
“Not to rain on our parade, but economists have cautioned economic headwinds may be expected from the slowing of economic growth globally,” Ritter said. “Therefore we will remain vigilant in our dedication to sound financial planning in order to meet the challenges that may lie ahead for our community.”
The city also invested heavily into road repairs and the parks. About $18 million was invested into road and intersection projects, 3,054 potholes were repaired, 283 miles of sewer pipes were cleaned, 3,000 street light lamps were replaced and the city created 15 new bike lanes in 2015.
When it comes to parks, Vista residents saw the city’s 13 parks renovated with an $8 million investment. Two new skateparks will also open in the fall on North Santa Fe Avenue. A portion of the park investments came from fees the city of Vista collected from developers.
The investment into recreation has proven to pay off. In 2015, about 51,000 people attended the Moonlight Amphitheatre’s summer season, 125,000 people used the Wave Waterpark and more than 10,000 youths were registered in recreation and summer camps.
Ritter also said city officials will work with education leaders on developing the region’s students.
“Investing in the economic future of Vista and making North County the choice destination for economic development is imperative not only to our city, but to the other 78 Corridor cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, and San Marcos,” Ritter said. “During this year we will work with our education leaders to ensure the talent and skills are available in our graduating students in order to meet the needs of the industries along the 78 corridor.”
Her remarks were made in front of Vista Unified School Board Trustees Carol Weise Herrera and Elizabeth Jaka, and Superintendent Devin Vodicka, who were at the luncheon.
Ritter also named Danny Villasenor, owner of Peppertree Frosty, as Vista’s 2015 Person of the Year. He is the chair of the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club.
“I am confident the results of our work over the past year will serve as a solid foundation for building a stronger, prosperous future for Vista,” Ritter said.