Not everyone agreed with me about my concern that Oceanside will soon have four Walmarts.
No other U.S. city will have more Walmarts than us.
Ruth Lindemann Lanno wrote: “We can’t compete with La Jolla or even Carlsbad and should be satisfied with being Oceanside, the affordable beach town in the North County of San Diego…Oceanside is home to many low income families, seniors on limited incomes and military families because it is a low-end mecca. These folks need a place to live and shop in areas that offer them affordable products.”
To that I will say, yes Oceanside’s average per capita income will probably always be lower than Carlsbad’s. But does that mean we shouldn’t even try to upgrade?
Just to show my heart is in the right place, I am now going to point out the ways in which Oceanside is better than Carlsbad.
There are some obvious topographical pluses. Oceanside has a river and a valley. Our beaches have historically been sandier.
Twenty years ago the most famous structure in Carlsbad was a hideous art installation called “Split Pavilion,” a horrible metal bar menagerie overlooking the sea. I can proudly say we never signed off on such a civic joke (Carlsbad immediately tore it down). Oceanside, on the other hand, can boast the centuries-old San Luis Rey Mission.
All North County cities have tons of Mexican fast food joints. Some are better than others. Some are a lot better. Show me a Roberto’s in Carlsbad. You can’t do it. Higher up on the food chain, is there anything as quality as the Flying Pig in Carlsbad? Don’t think so.
It seems to me like the Oceanside Police Department has recently done a very good job of catching alleged murderers who fled the scene. I’m not saying our crime level is something to boast about (although it is getting better in some areas), but after speaking to many business owners in Carlsbad, please let me tell you what I have found: Our cops are tough but they aren’t bad for business. Carlsbad cops, I am told by people who pay sales tax, are so oppressive that they actually keep some customers from going to Carlsbad at night.
Does size matter? If it does, our pier is bigger than your smokestack. But seriously, our pier says New England. Your smokestack says New Jersey.
When Carlsbad’s mall opened in the late ‘60s Oceansiders wrung their hands complaining that here we lost another economic plum to Carlsbad just as we had with Car Country a few years earlier.
But the tables have turned on this white elephant mall hasn’t it? Meanwhile our 50-year-old harbor still thrives. And although we are not charging fair market prices for the slips while there is huge waiting list, and although too many people are using the harbor as a floating trailer park so they can live there cheaply year round, at least we have a beautiful marina that one day may be utilized to its best possible potential.
Oh, and although it’s not exactly a tourist mecca like Disneyland, Oceanside is the home to the California Surf Museum. No other San Diego County city can say that.
And as under utilized as it may be, Oceanside has the only beachfront concert venue in Southern California. Our pier amphitheater needs improvements. But at least it’s there. And one day we may get a city council that will see fit to obtain the naming rights sponsorship money to upgrade it. But like the harbor, at least it’s there.
And speaking of our city council, yes our elected leaders have a reputation for being contentious (or as columnist Logan Jenkins parrots over and over and over, “Politics in Oceanside is a blood sport”… OK Logan. We get it).
But I maintain it is healthy for our council not to agree on everything.
For decades the Carlsbad City Hall has reminded me of the Stepford Wives.
Carlsbad council members and city staff traditionally never deviate from the directives handed down by the city manager.
Except for the Split Pavilion in 1991-92, there was never any controversy or woe in the Village by the Sea. The Carlsbad city manager was a very strong force, and all his staff and even his council (who he was supposed to report to) acted and voted in lockstep with what the figurehead said.
I must admit much of what the city manager orchestrated led to positive things for Carlsbad. But that is not a healthy way to run a city if you ask me. Even Carlsbad citizens seem intimidated.
We may fight, but at least we all speak up and get involved.
One recent development really blows me away. The Carlsbad Unified School District recently opened a new high school even in the face of declining enrollment. It was supposed to start with a freshman and a sophomore class, but there were not enough sophomores so that means an entire high school is open and serving just 300 freshmen.
And maybe an omen that this school really is doomed is its name — Sage Creek High. Here’s a newsflash Carlsbad: before this school opened, there was nothing in Carlsbad called “Sage Creek.”
A Sage Creek simply does not exist. Why would you make up a name about a let’s pretend creek, when there are so many other topographical points, or historical figures that have Carlsbad relevance.
Why a fictional name? If you’re going that route why not Unicorn High? The school colors could be the rainbow spectrum. And this is the city that supposedly has it all together?