The Shadowridge Country Club was the site of a sort of mid-year State of the City address Sept. 18, as invited guest Mayor Morris Vance responded to questions from residents at the fall meeting of South Vista Communities, or SVC, a community activist group for Vista neighborhoods south of Highway 78.
Vance began by thanking the audience of about 20 for having supported Proposition L, the half-cent sales tax that is funding the construction of two fire stations, an amphitheater and a city hall. The mayor reported that the planned 32-acre sports park, scheduled to be dual-graded with a neighboring subdivision, is suffering delays now that the latter project has been shelved due to the bad economy.
The mayor was happy to report that sales tax revenue had not suffered in line with the country’s fiscal woes. He noted that people who had threatened to pay a dollar’s gas to leave town and save 50 cents in sales taxes had not made good on their threats. Vance also said that the current budget proposal before the state government would not raid the city’s general fund and would only take $675,000 from redevelopment.
Vance went on to announce the completion of an economic analysis of the Shadowridge business park, which will inform the city’s plans. The recommendation was that the 1,600-acre complex change its mix of businesses to keep up with the times.
“They’ve suggested that what we need to do is … more office space,” Vance said. “Shift away from the heavy manufacturing and storage and maybe have an office park with ancillary manufacturing and warehousing.” More parking and perhaps a shuttle from the Sprinter light rail system were also recommended.
This was good news for Planning Commissioner and SVC President Stephanie Jackel. “We would love to have the zoning changed so we don’t even have asphalt plants and concrete plants as a possibility.”
Toward the end of the mayor’s presentation, the discussion became heated as several attendees raised the issue of illegal immigration.
“Since much of north Vista has basically been surrendered to illegal aliens with loyalty only to Mexico, can we expect south Vista to be the next victim of the City Council’s illegal alien sanctuary policies?” Jeff Mundt asked.
“My wife and I used to shop at the Vons shopping center,” Ron Pierce said. “When I go down there now, I see people scattered out all over. Who are those strange people? We carefully avoid that area because of that.”
Vance cited the Townsite area as an example of the city reclaiming some of its more blighted areas in what he termed Vista’s “barrio.” In response to the allegation that the Hispanic day-laborers congregating at the Vons off South Sante Fe Avenue were all illegal aliens, Vance countered that the Border Patrol sweeps had shown the majority to be legal. He also explained that Vista has no vagrancy or loitering laws, and that it is up to federal law enforcement to handle illegal immigrants.
The mayor pointed out that 44 percent of Vista’s population is Hispanic, and that issues involving large family homes and day laborers are a result of the Hispanic community being a new one.
“Just like any other new group that’s moving into a country, our new immigrants are at the low end of the economic scale,” Vance said. “Then as they buy into the American dream, (they move up) and another group comes in … Right now, it’s the Hispanics.”
With both sides of the debate agreeing to disagree, the mayor concluded his comments and remained afterward to answer individual questions.