SAN MARCOS — San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones’ first state of the city address on Feb. 26 was upstaged by an unrelated student protest on the campus of Cal State San Marcos.
Students were protesting a Feb. 22 incident involving campus police and a student forcibly removed from their classroom.
As Jones was delivering her speech in the University Student Union ballroom, the students filled the hallway outside ballroom and began chanting, which could be clearly heard in the ballroom.
Jones finished her speech, but shortly thereafter the protesters briefly entered the ballroom before going back into the hallway, then upstairs to continue their demonstration.
One of the members of the group, Students for Justice Coalition, said that the demonstration was unrelated to the state of the city address, and aimed to draw attention to the incident and treatment of minorities by the university police force.
“There was a student that was brutalized by police officers, there was no recognition to the students and we are protesting it right now,” said Sunni Bates, a senior majoring in business and global studies.
The Coast News reached out to CSUSM Police Chief Scott Ybarrondo, who said he would issue a statement. The Coast News will update the story with his statement as soon as it becomes available.
Jones gave her speech in front of a nearly capacity crowd in the University Student Union ballroom, which included elected officials, local business owners and officials from other local agencies.
She touted the city’s strong financial outlook and its efforts in business attraction, budget management, economic development, public safety and several new projects and initiatives.
Among the upcoming projects, Jones said that the city would break ground on two long-awaited bridges over the San Marcos Creek in the fall. The bridges would span Bent Avenue and Via Vera Cruz and are part of a multi-faceted effort to improve the San Marcos creek district.
“You know those annoying road closures every time in rains at Bent Avenue and Via Vera Cruz?” Jones said. “Once this project is complete, no more flooding issues.”
She also unveiled the planned launch of a city app that will allow residents to report graffiti, streetlight outages and potholes to the city via smartphone.
Jones also highlighted the work of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the city’s contract law enforcement agency, which she credited with lowering the city’s crime rate by 19 percent over the past five years.
And she updated the audience on several projects that she said would continue the momentum of transforming San Marcos from a bedroom community to a destination.
North City, the city’s university district, continues to expand and combine residential, retail, entertainment and educational attractions. My Yard Live, a proposed family dining and entertainment center, is coming to the old Hometown Buffet building on Rancheros Drive, and Karl Strauss’ latest brewery is breaking ground this year.
And the city continues to move forward with its partnership with an Orange County developer to transform nine acres of vacant land off of Grand Avenue and Linda Vista drive into a thriving village of arts, makers, craft brewers and distillers, schools and an interactive park at its core, Jones said.
“San Marcos’ emerging urban core is transforming the city from a ‘drive-through’ community to a ‘drive-to’ destination,” Jones said.
Jones, who served on the City Council since 2007, is the first woman to serve as mayor in city history. She said she was humbled by that designation.
“I am humbled to be standing here as your first female mayor,” Jones said. “It’s about time.”