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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
February 1, 1999


Vista's Historic downtown, neglected for the sprawl of the Highway 78, is only now be paid the respect it so rightly deserves. And not a moment to soon. The city's much publicized Vision 2000 statement is coming to fruition, and to be honest I didn't think it would ever happen.

I have often vilified developers because of their destructive nature, and Vista is no stranger to bad development policy. Recently the City of Vista has started to channel those destructive urges in a more productive way, thereby ushering in a new era in North County. The era of the Redeveloper is upon us.

Redevelopment is nothing new to the City of Vista, Not long ago the city had the wisdom to purchase the blighted Avo Theater and, under the care of their Community Services department, restored the 50 year old theater to it's former glory. This time as a playhouse. Things were beginning to look up.

It's been five years, and after a little feet dragging by some idealist council members, the heart of downtown is currently being rehabilitated. Very much like a ailing human heart, circulation is being addressed with a by-pass that will take heavy traffic around the historic district, allowing it to regain some of it's lost charm.

Now that council members Cole and Cooke have stopped fighting the much needed East/west commuter rail, Vistans can begin to envision a day when they no longer need a car to enjoy an afternoon of shopping. Not only will this new development encourage pedestrians, it will also encourage families to spend their afternoons downtown. Let's be honest, how many cities feature a water park within walking distance of it's historic district?

I realize there has been concern about the commuter trains interrupting traffic. To that all I can say is "good." Perhaps if riding mass transit became less stressful than sitting in gridlock people will finally kick their auto addiction, and start making choices that benefit the environment.

One of the reasons Councilman Cole was holding out on the commuter rail is that an elevated light rail makes more sense. The problem, however, lies with the people of North County. Having been blinded by convenience, humans will always put their needs first. And locking themselves in their private shining metal boxes, means that they don't have to be present to the needs of others.

Now that Vista is turning it's attention to downtown, perhaps it would be wise to give credit to those who have endured. Even after years of neglect certain merchants have held their ground despite a fair weather city government. Sitting here racking my brain, I can only think of two business that have remained, one a hardware store the other a Mexican restaurant, the incredible Casa Linda.

Joe's Paint and Glass moved to it's present site in 1963, the year the city incorporated. Occupying what was once the Buy and Save Market, Joe's has survived the invasion of Home Depot while other mom and pop businesses have gone the way of the dinosaur. My sources tell me Bank of America wants to tear down Joe's Paint and Glass and put in a parking lot. Nostalgia isn't what it use to be.

As part of the redevelopment process, rediscovery should be included. The citizens of Vista should reward these last holdouts with renewed business. It would be a shame if the bulldozers of progress claimed these pieces of Vista's history.

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