VISTA — More than 20 years ago, the Vista City Council focused up on revitalizing and cleaning up Paseo Santa Fe, more commonly known as downtown.
Riddled with crime and prostitution, the city was aggressive in its pursuit to change the image and began a long process of doing so. Four years ago, with much of those goals met, the city unveiled its gateway arch, but the reaction was mixed.
The sign read “Paseo Santa Fe,” leaving some residents and those residing outside the city a bit confused. But on Aug. 25, the council approved a name change to the sign and its companion along Santa Fe Avenue between Vista Village and Civic Center drives.
Both signs will read “Vista” with “Paseo Santa Fe” tucked below. The decision came after a spirited discussion among councilmembers.
“We’re going to be building another sign, have another unveiling … and 3,000 people signed a petition to change the wording because Vista wasn’t on there,” said Councilman Joe Green, who brought the issue to the council. “All I wanted to do was put it out there one last time.”
Green conducted his own unofficial survey through Facebook and the response was overwhelming, 81% of his Vista followers wanted “Vista” as the header.
The cost to change the old sign is estimated at $35,500, while the new arch is nearly built and will be installed in the coming months as the city completes Phase III of the Paseo Santa Fe Streetscape project.
The project is reducing lanes, adding roundabouts, seating and landscaping, extending sidewalks and including diagonal parking to increase pedestrian traffic along the corridor. One goal is to extend the retail and restaurant offerings along Santa Fe Avenue.
At first, Mayor Judy Ritter was on the fence, noting how Paseo Santa Fe was core to the project. She noted how businesses in the late ’90s rarely included their location during discussions due to the reputation of the area and wanted to change the perception.
After Ritter finished, Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said the name change is because of the work Ritter and previous councils, city staff and others have done to change the reputation of downtown.
“The only reason we’re bringing this forward is because of your leadership and people are proud to live in Vista,” Contreras said. “We’re having this conversation about changing it to Vista because of the work from you and other councils did to make Vista just a better place.”
Councilman John Franklin admitted when he saw the unveiling four years ago, he was confused as to why it didn’t read Vista. Franklin said he understands both sides of the debate but ultimately voted for the name change.
The new sign will also include a hummingbird, the official bird of the city.