VISTA — A new sign that was just celebrated in the city of Vista is now being criticized.
After more than 25 years of planning and two years of construction, the city recently unveiled the completion of the first phase of Paseo Santa Fe street improvements. The improvements, along Main Street to Ocean View Drive, were celebrated when the city added a sign earlier this month that reads: “Paseo Santa Fe.”
But some residents are denouncing the name on the sign, arguing that it should read “Vista.” More than 2,500 residents have signed an online petition on petitionsite.com demanding the city change the name on the sign.
“I think it was just a huge shock,” said Nicole Halle, a third generation resident of Vista. “It’s a really big, prominent sign that’s announcing an entrance and it doesn’t say ‘Vista.’ It’s a slap in the face.”
Halle, who said she visits the area at least once a week, said she has never heard of the name “Paseo Santa Fe.”
“All these cities like Carlsbad and Lemon Grove have signs that say the city’s name, but not Vista,” Halle said. “I feel the city is ashamed. Our leaders are living in the past. I think the city of Vista needs to have a sign that says its name to show the pride of the residents.”
Other residents who signed the online petition agreed with Halle.
“Paseo Santa Fe?!?! I lived in Vista area my whole life,” wrote Scott Gann. “Paseo Santa Fe means absolutely nothing to Vistonians!!”
Some residents also accused city leaders of failing to communicate what the sign would say to the public.
But Councilman John Aguilera said the planning for the Paseo Santa Fe project was all done in the public’s eye. In fact, the name was selected 10 years ago by members of the community. He also said city leaders didn’t receive any opposing thoughts before the sign was constructed.
“I’m sorry the residents feel this wasn’t publicized,” Aguilera said. “This was done in a very public process. It was in the newspapers over the years. We included it in the city’s quarterly magazine in December that goes out to all 36,000 households in Vista. But I understand that not everyone reads what we send.”
The massive opposition to the sign also drove the City Council to place a discussion item on the April 26 agenda. Aguilera said city leaders plan to hear how residents feel about the sign and discuss options moving forward.
“I think the whole point of putting it on the agenda is to discuss our options,” Aguilera said. “We’re not trying to do things in secret and it shows because we put this on the agenda right away.”
The Paseo Santa Fe improvements project began in an effort to revitalize the downtown area and reduce crime. The first phase of the project included street and sidewalk improvements totaling $10 million paid for by the city. The cost of the sign was $158,000.
“The good thing is that (the sign) is the only thing we’ve heard negativity on out of the whole project,” Aguilera said. “Everyone is in favor of the improvements and that’s a good thing.”
Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.