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The Gift Horse, and Other Mythical Creatures.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
September 3, 1998


Recently I have been ruminating on the Manchester Resort project and the tourism dollars it is designed to attract. Doug Manchester and the Oceanside City Council are convinced that people are willing to spend lots of money to enjoy an ocean view within walking distance of downtown. Proponents of The Manchester Beach Resort call these people tourists, I call them residents.

Considering that the call for property rights is the current trend, it seems it only fair that the residents who will loose their view to the four towers proposed by Manchester be concerned about their property value.

One would hope that property taxes paid year after year would have been enough to secure their ocean view. Obviously they were only renting. Sort of like a retroactive time share.

Other Oceanside residents who enjoy public access to the beach and bandshell, should also ask where their tax dollars are going, not to mention their access.  Downtown business owners should ask if their needs are going to be met. Manchester envisions a future long term bonanza, my question deals with the short term. Who will ensure the prosperity of the small businesses who will have to endure the three years of chaos that such an monumental undertaking will generate? Huge trucks, earthmovers and support vehicles will be needed to accomplish this task. Traffic alone should be enough to alarm business owners.

I know I will avoid the area like the plague during construction. And what about all the dust that will be kicked up as they remove the bluff? I'm sure customers of Johnny Manana's are just going to love the dust that will accompany their burritos. Can small businesses such as Action Beach and Apollo Depot survive the short term?

Now before I come off as anti-tourist dollar, let me assure you that this is not the case. All I am suggesting is that maybe the City has not explored all of their options to the fullest. First of all I'm sure Mr. Manchester could be more than happy with land east of Pacific Street. Second, the space currently being planned for an ice-skating rink could be utilized for the swimming pool if the project was to be scaled back. Both of these options would prevent the destruction of the bandshell currently planned.

I am also aware that Oceanside is looking at ways to bring tourists to town while protecting the environment, or at least Oceanside's Director of Tourism is. Recently I spoke with Phyllis Hall who highlighted for me her ongoing efforts to promote "carless tri-nation vacations."  Phyllis wants to encourage Europeans, who already know how to use public transit, to plan their West Coast vacations around train travel. Imagine being able to go from Vancouver, to Oceanside, to Tijuana with out ever having to stop for gas, bad roadside food, or traffic gridlock. Regional tourism is also high on her priorities, as is promoting bike trails and other low impact amenities. Needless to say I like Phyllis.

One more thing. Does it make sense to promote a beach resort, when local municipalities are having enough trouble trying to holding on to their beaches? Let's face it folks we are trading trash for sand. Does anyone else see this as a desperate measure?

What happens when Manchester has no sandy beaches to promote? Doesn't this commit city staff to a constant quest outside sources for sand?  Is there a future sand tax in Oceanside's future?

Case in point is Encinitas's Proposition R, a clear example of asking for money without showing how you are going to use it. Like Encinitas, Oceanside refuses to address the root causes of sand loss, instead choosing to rely of expensive placebos that will be exposed faster than cobbles on South Carlsbad Beach.

O.K. so where does that leave us? It leaves Oceanside residents with a decision to make. Are they going to allow a big fish, new to the pond, to literally overshadow the smaller fish who call Oceanside home? Or are they going to demand that their elected officials treat all businesses, regardless of their size, equally?

The vote in November will decide who gets the short end of the stick. I see it is a choice between greed and restraint. How about you?

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