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The Alphabet Series: U is for Urban Renewal

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 16, 2000


"In dreams begins responsibility" — W.B. Yeats

I often have dished out a healthy dose of negativity in regards to the City of Oceanside's handling of it's downtown redevelopment efforts. An early critic of plans to place a multiplex blocks away from the struggling, historic Star Theatre, it was my belief the OceanPlace complex was a misguided attempt at gentrification. I was only half right. Far from misguided, the OceanPlace project is proving to be just what downtown Oceanside needed to jump start in revitalization efforts.

Sitting in the courtyard in front of the Regal Cinema, having already purchased movie tickets, while dining with friends we watched a cross section of Oceanside swirl about us. Yes, there were the ever present Marines milling about, doing their best not to look like the fresh recruits they were. But there were also high school kids strategically perched, couples of all ages, races, and socioeconomic situations, bringing life to an area that even I would describe as blighted a year ago.

To say the least, my companions and I were very impressed. Dinner at Daphnes, a quick cocktail across the street, we were preparing ourselves to see Coyote Ugly. No parking, no problems redevelopment in this case was working very well. I say this because as we were having adult beverages, and drinking and driving do not mix. We even had time to press our collective nose against the glass of a soon to open nightclub half a block away on Tremont.

The Club taking form is a three storied affair to be known as Atlantis. Probably not the best name considering the fabled city of Atlantis was claimed by the ocean, a more fitting moniker would be The Phoenix because downtown Oceanside is definitely on the rise. This ladies and gentlemen is how redevelopment should be. No huge temple to the destructive nature of tourism, as is the planned resort a two blocks away, an incremental reworking of what already exists benefits existing residents, while improving the economic outlook of an area who thought it's glory days were behind it.

No longer the victim of the sprawl of suburbia, downtown Oceanside may actually turn out to be a key entertainment destination for North County residents. This is not to say there have not been casualties, nor will there cease to be so. With change comes challenge, and with a commitment from citizens no challenge should be too great. Case in point is the loss of the Star theatre which is expected to stop showing films sometimes this year. Which is not necessarily the end of the road.

  In a city known for it's commitment to the performing arts, the city of Vista had the vision, not to mention the talented Kathy Brombacher, to rescue that abandoned movie house from obscurity. Anchoring revitalization in the downtown redevelopment district, the Avo Playhouse is now a thriving addition to the Moonlight Empire. Continuing the trend started in Vista, the City of Oceanside's commitment to the renovated Sunshine Brooks Theatre, now under the guidance of the Pacific Coast Players, is proving to be a wise choice as well.

As is being proven time and time again, urban renewal does not have to mean urban removal, such as the case being made for the monstrosity known as Manchester Resorts. Erasing historical landmarks is easy, finding ways to make them relevant in a modern world is a challenge that protects community character from those whose vision extends only to the bottom line.

For those of you who have yet to hear, I, Robert T. Nanninga will be running for a seat on the Encinitas City Council. To do this  I have agreed, with the powers that be here at the Coast News, not to mention Encinitas issues during the campaign. The catalyst behind my decision to run is a direct result of a challenge made by "pagemate" Mike Andreen when he said environmentalists would never be taken seriously until they "stepped up to the plate" Batter up.

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