ESCONDIDO — In his Feb. 27 State of the City address, Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara acknowledged the importance of the city’s agriculture community.
During his speech at the California Center for the Arts, McNamara pointed to the farming industry and its roots in Escondido as something that has united residents in a common cause.
It is that sense of unity, said McNamara, that he would like to bring back to Escondido and its sprawling suburban population of 150,000.
“We are a city that is based in the values of agriculture and that is who we are,” McNamara said. “Agriculture doesn’t produce headlines that say, Farmer indicted for ‘fill in the blank.’ Agriculture creates community, it makes you talk to your neighbor. It makes us an extended family with different opinions, where members remain family at the end of the day.”
The agricultural community, far removed from its heyday, still holds a valuable footprint in Escondido.
“Escondido’s agricultural roots run deep. Ag is an important economic driver, as well as a source of identity for our city,” said McNamara, who also lauded the company’s membership in the group Escondido Growers for Agricultural Preservation. “Henry Avocado is an institution in the Escondido agriculture world, and I am proud to present Phil Henry with this year’s Mayor’s Award.”
Henry’s corporate offices and a major distribution center are located in the industrial park area of the city. But Henry Avocado does not farm in Escondido and the closest the company gets is in the area of farm management.
McNamara said the city’s agricultural history should serve as a source of civic pride for its residents.
“(A)ll you have to do is look around and see our parks, our Center for the Arts, Daley Ranch, the quality of life we offer, the innovation and accomplishments of our schools, the history we cherish, even our location as a gateway to agriculture and the backcountry,” McNamara said. “Couple that to the richness of our diversity, and we have more to offer than any of the coastal cities or even our neighbors. But somehow, there are those that think we are something less … But this city is far from undesirable, and if you bought into that narrative, you need to stop.”
Beyond agriculture, McNamara said he will launch a number of citizen-led commissions with regular meetings about some of the major issues facing Escondido. The commissions will report back on progress to the City Council.
“No city has the money or the staff to do everything, that’s why we need and have community initiatives,” he said. “We need partnerships between organizations that work on challenges like music and art but also homelessness, food insecurity and youth sports. And partnerships between those organizations and the city, so that we work together efficiently, with harmony and toward common purpose.”
The Escondido City Council will convene again in its official capacity on March 13 from at the Mitchell Room at Escondido City Hall from 12:30 to 6 p.m. to discuss its City Council Action Plan. The city of Escondido Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. March 12 in City
Steve Horn is a San Diego, CA-based reporter covering Escondido and San Marcos. He works in a full-time capacity for The Real News Network, an online broadcast news ouetlet, covering climate change. He has worked as a staff investigative reporter for the publications Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News and as an investigative reporter for the climate news website DeSmog.com.
A native of Wisconsin and graduate of University of Wisconsin, Steve is a competitive distance runner, with a personal best time in the marathon of 2:43:04 and nine marathons under his belt. He also has served on the film screening committee for the San Diego International Film Festival.