For decades, one of Vista’s major road traffic arteries has been called … Escondido Avenue?
This used to make sense. Back when Vista was just a collection of avocado groves in the middle of North County, Escondido Avenue was the primary thoroughfare between Oceanside and Escondido. But as Vista has become a city in its own right, the avenue’s name has become more and more of a perplexing relic.
The Vista City Council at long last decided to end this situation with a 4-0 vote Sept. 16 to change the venerable street’s name to Civic Center Drive. Councilman Robert Campbell abstained because he owns property along the street.
“A number of other cities have used Civic Center Drive as the name of the street,” City Management Analyst Tony Winney said. He explained that the move puts the focus back on Vista where it belongs and gives commuters a better idea of where they are, something he expects will be good for business.
This is not the first time City Council has tried to pass this resolution, but in each prior instance, resistance from residents and business owners was strong enough to prevent the change. This time, the change went largely uncontested despite the estimated cost of $2,000 to $2,500 for each of the 75 businesses along the street to redo their signs and cards. Each of the 10 Highway 78 signs will cost $20,000 to change as well.
Timing is part of the reason for the lack of opposition. The $50 million Civic Center, after which the street is now named, should be finished by next summer, and there is little doubt it will significantly change the Vista landscape. Also, Vista staffers are looking to take advantage of the proposed Caltrans highway rehabilitation project, which would foot the bill for the freeway signage.
Finally, with the new 760/442 area code split planned for this October, it seemed a golden opportunity because businesses were going to have to change their stationery anyway, although now it looks as if North County will keep its 760 prefix.
Regardless, Vista Chamber of Commerce’s new CEO Paul O’Neill reports that his organization is wholeheartedly for the street name change.
“We feel the name will lend a more professional air and be less confusing to people entering Vista,” he said. “Our sense is that it will become kind of an eastern portal to the city and it’s not really appropriate for it to be Escondido Avenue.”
O’Neill noted that many people coming to Vista for the first time have made the mistake of looking for Escondido Avenue in the city of Escondido — himself included. He said that the name change will stop this kind of confusion.
“The fact is, it just seems wrong to have a street named Escondido Avenue that goes past the Vista City Hall,” Mayor Morris Vance said.