CARDIFF BY THE SEA — In an effort to become a more inclusive, effective organization, Cardiff 101 MainStreet hosted an executive from the National Trust Main Street Center.
Lauren Adkins traveled from Washington, D.C., to talk about Main Street on a national and local level. Her June 10 presentation to Cardiff business owners, residents and stakeholders was both informative and interactive.
In December 2005, the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce’s general membership endorsed the board’s recommendation to pursue California Main Street Certification. The state program was established in 1985 as a means to help community organizations enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of historic and traditional commercial districts.
There are 31 certified Main Street associations in the state according to Coast Highway 101 Coordinator Peder Norby. However, because of the recent budget cuts and other factors, the state program has languished and made certification for communities difficult. “The local and national programs are much stronger,” Norby said.
The Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association is an example of the success that comes with implementing the Main Street method. The certification process started in 1987, just a year after the city incorporated. It officially began in 1988. In 2001, the downtown streetscape began — a process that the association was instrumental in shepherding.
The enhancement of the city’s downtown was such a transformation that in 2004, Encinitas won the Great American Main Street Award from a pool of 1,600 associations.
“It’s a community-driven approach,” Norby said. “The structure really is common sense.” The four-point approach has worked well in other areas of the country. “It’s systematic in a way — not membership-driven but rather district-based to include all of the downtown area and its issues, capabilities and concerns,” Tess Radmill, program manager at Cardiff 101 MainStreet, said.
“Encinitas has five communities, four of which have existed for about 100 years,” Norby said. “The Main Street program works the best when there is historic fiber in the community.”
Currently, Cardiff 101 functions more as a Main Street, as the organization deals with issues that encompass the entire district —
residential, commercial and historical. “Now they are shifting their intent to a structured Main Street,” Norby said.
For the past seven years, Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association has operated using the method. “It is a critical component in working through the streetscape process,” Norby said.
In Cardiff, the chamber has had a presence for several decades, but they are looking for a more dynamic approach. Communities are using the Main Street approach to revitalize their traditional commercial districts according to Adkins.
Patrick Edwards, a member of the North Park Main Street board of directors, recalled the organization’s growing pains. The San Diego neighborhood is now in a “Renaissance Era” Edwards said, but he remembered when it was a blighted community. “We used to sit around and say ‘Hey, that stop sign needs to be fixed,’ and then nothing would get done.”
However, after becoming a Main Street organization, the structure was in place to revitalize the area.
A crucial component to a fully functioning Main Street is open communication with the municipal government. The political will to support the implementation of a Main Street association in Cardiff is apparent on the part of all five council members. “The council wants to see a robust, active organization in Cardiff,” Norby said.
“Our goal is to become fully accredited,” Radmill said. Adkins’ visit was a boost to the current slate of activities on the association’s plate. “The main thing is she was able to take a look at our community,” Radmill said. “She can’t believe the kind of events we’re having and the sense of community there is. She was really impressed.”