Inside Oceanside: How many Walmarts does it take?

Aim low. You’re sure to hit. 

That was how an acquaintance described one of his old friends who would always set his sites low when it came to connecting with women. By settling for the less desirable, as the saying implies, he was more certain to land a date.

Sounds crude, maybe. But boy does that seem appropriate in describing how Oceanside is handling its business image.

Carlsbad has no Walmarts. Now Oceanside is about to have its fourth.

Walmart, the ultimate badge of low wage/low price/low aspirations, is now going to make Oceanside one of the premier under performing cities in the country. I am told no other U.S. city has five or more Walmarts, so that means we are becoming one of the most Walmarted cities in America.

It’s been announced that the fourth Walmart is going to open at the former Office Depot site at the Mission Square shopping Center at the corner of Horne Street and Mission Avenue. Longtimers will remember this 31,000-square foot space housed a Vons supermarket in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Could you imagine Carlsbad allowing a Walmart less than one mile from the beach? Of course not. They don’t want any. But here at desperate-by-the-sea a.k.a. bargain basement retail ghetto, we will continue to kowtow to the low-end retail big box monster from Arkansas as they continue to dig their tentacles into our town.

This newest Walmart will saddle up right next to our other economic treasure, the 99-cent store.

Right in the heart of downtown, within walking distance of our brand new ocean view hotel, which is supposed to be a touchstone of our economic progression forward, we have the fourth Oceanside Walmart.

One step forward, two steps back.

Welcome to Oceanside, where apparently no one on the city staff, city council or chamber of commerce will seemingly even try to move us out of this rut where we continue to be known as the low-end mecca of the coast.

Walmart doesn’t even need Carlsbad when they have a nearby pushover like Oceanside.

Of course it was no good that this prominent space was setting vacant for over a year after Office Depot left. But I have heard nothing about anyone from the city making an attempt to get a Boney’s-style market in that spot.

And yes it is true that this Walmart will focus on groceries, but we already have a grocery supermarket serving the Posole neighborhood just a couple blocks away called El Super.

You could say that nothing says urban blight like big empty storefronts. But the fact is in the very same shopping center, there continues to be a big empty space that most recently housed a Goodwill second hand store (back in the day it was home to a Thrifty’s). That space has been empty much longer than Office Depot and it continues to be empty.

I want to know is there anybody at City Hall who has a big picture vision about what we could/should be doing with our business portfolio. What does our chamber of commerce do? Don’t even think of comparing it to Carlsbad’s unless you want to get embarrassed.

And what about these council-appointed economic development commissions? Do they come up with any ideas? And if they do, does the council listen (or even care?) Who on the city staff is the point person(s) for implementing any kind of visionary economic overview?

Am I hearing crickets?

Meanwhile, Oceanside keeps shooting low. And we keep hitting that target. We’re 4 for 4 with Walmart.

The threesome that have run our city for three years keep repeating the mantra: “Business!” “Business!” “Business!” But I’m seeing “Nothing!” “Nothing!” “Nothing!” Where’s the beef you-pro-business people? Or is it just empty talk? Where’s the quality, thriving business we have a right to expect.

A good example of our lazy inertia is exemplified by the state of our pier view amphitheater which locals have long called the “bandshell.” It seems like rock station FM 94/9 used to use the The Jenny Craig Pavilion (USD) and the RIMAC concert facility (UCSD) to host their twice-yearly multi-band concerts over the past 12 years.

But the station has found our venue by the sea much more desirable, and now that station and its sister station KIFM stage all their station-sponsored concerts at the pier. The last 94/9 show was in June was a sell-out. The next one, “Independence Jam” is Sept. 21.

The problem is that this beachfront concert facility, the only one left in Southern California, would be used even more if only the place was improved with a new stage, sound system infrastructure and dressing rooms.

But instead we are languishing with a depression-era stage that was great for its time but now represents such a wasted opportunity in 2013. All the city had to do was to find a casino or an auto manufacturer to invest in naming rights, and this diamond in the rough could have used the hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship money to build a state of the art facility.

No, we settled on naming it after Junior Seau. Not saying something in our town shouldn’t be named after Junior, but this was another opportunity missed. Just like Car Country Carlsbad. Just like the invasion of Walmart. Just like so many other unfulfilled possibilities and missed cues.

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  1. o_bserver says:

    I hope more people take notice of the opportunities squandered, and resources wasted, by our own elected officials.
    We’re all too busy putting bread on the table to notice or care that the store is being emptied right in front of our eyes.
    Your opinion piece is a glittering gem in the hopelessness many of us feel. We’re not alone after all. Let’s reverse this course before it’s too late.

  2. L. Walshaw says:

    Councilmen Kern, Feller & Felien may keep shouting “Business! Business! Business!,” but the translation is “Hotels! Developers! High-density Housing!” Maybe they think that tourists will come & stay in planned hotels to shop at all the Walmarts. (Hotel projects that hire construction workers from Arizona instead of jobless Oceanside residents.) Meanwhile, the Council Majority continue to IGNORE the voters who put them in office, their families’ futures and quality of life. DUMP Kern & Felien in 2014.

  3. Linda Sills says:

    The City of Oceanside’s government has been very dysfunctional for some time now. The council members are so divided that now the Mayor must run for Supervisor position to get away from these factions. Kern thinks he knows what is going on. All he cares about is his political position, and his friends who develop areas for quick money. Feliene is a RINO who loves Federal dollars and does not know his backside from a hole in the ground. None of these people have the slightest idea what is going on, or being done to them. They are useful idiots. The elites use them like pawns to move toward the NWO. Every single agenda in the planning of streets, “smart” growth, housing developments, transportation, water, & energy is being directed by foreign companies like ICLEI and they are following the Charter of Agenda 21 chapter and verse. Please wake up folks.

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