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Calendar >  The State of the Community In Vista is Vibrant & Transforming

The State of the Community In Vista is Vibrant & Transforming

By   /  January 23, 2024  /  No Comments


TR Robertson – Vista’s annual State of the Community Luncheon, held at the Vista Civic Center on Monday, included presentations by Mayor John Franklin, Vista Chamber Chairman of the Board Zeke Corley, Vista Unified Superintendent Dr. Matt Doyle and President of Dr. Bronner’s All-One Soaps Michael Bonner. The Civic Center Community Room was filled with business, governmental, dignitaries and community members who mingled and networked for a short period of time before the luncheon began. The event began with Vista Chamber CEO Rachel Beld leading those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance with the Vista High Junior ROTC Color Guard providing the colors.

The State of the City Address was delivered by Vista Mayor John Franklin. Mayor Franklin began by saying the city is going through a transformation in many areas. He listed a number of examples including the ridding of visual blight along Civic Center Drive and the opening of Pala Vista Neighborhood Park; continued repair of city sidewalks in the Safe Walkways program; and the continuance of the financial health of the city, a major priority. He said the city has a lot to be proud of and the fact that we are a low-income city that has accomplished so much only points to how “we do a lot with less” making this a great place to work and live. Over 300 new business licenses were issued last year. In the area of homelessness, the current approach is a move to compassionately address the issue. The soon to be opened 24-bedroom non-congregate Buena Creek Navigation Center, a $5 million project that will be able to house couples, families with pets and a separate women’s floor. The city is looking for more groups willing to assist in building permanent housing for the homeless families willing to get off the street and move to permanent living conditions.  The city has committed $12 million to Vista’s Homeless Plan. The Safe Parking Program at the Civic Center has also been a success and the city has dedicated 2 full time workers who pick-up mattresses and other items left in various encampment areas throughout the city. The Mayor said crime is down in the city and the current group of sheriff’s deputies are “the finest we’ve ever had”. There has been a 10% reduction of crimes against persons and 21% decrease in property crimes. An Anti-Retail Theft Task Force was developed to assist in the reduction of theft from businesses around the city. The firefighters have added 20 new Emergency Medical Techs to assist in different stations around the city. Last year the Vista Firefighters responded to 16,000 incidents. The Downtown Ambassador Program has assisted in a variety of ways and the Mayor hopes it can be continued. He congratulated the city in its celebration of our 60th year as an incorporated city and the Vista Chamber and the Vista Irrigation District for 100 years of service.

An informative and impressive video from Chris Ryan Video Productions showed a number of these details about the city. The Santa Fe Senior Development 54-unit development will soon open. The Vista Public Works Department responded to 6,800 graffiti incidents and repaired 7,000 feet of damaged sidewalks. Fifteen new Public Works vehicles and responded to cleaning-up 125 homeless encampments. The video also pointed out the new members of the City Management Team, which includes City Manager John Conley, Assistant City Manager Imelda Huerta, Fire Chief Gerard Washington, Communications Development Joe Vacca and Engineering Director Greg Mayer. The Mayor also thanked all of the business leaders in attendance as well as those that helped the city out in a variety of ways with all of the activities Vista sponsors. Mayor Franklin finished with a proclamation presentation to County Assessor Jordan Marks for setting up a program to assist homeowners in protecting their property from individuals attempting to illegally steal property.

Next on the agenda was a presentation by Vista Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Zeke Corley. On behalf of the Chamber Zeke thanked the Chamber team and members of the city for all of their help in the various joint projects the Chamber and the city work on. Some of the Chamber updates and 2023 projects he gave included the June Chamber 100th Birthday Party at the Vistonian, the successful Christmas Parade, the Chamber internship program partnership with Vista Unified School District, the Rising Stars of the Month Program, Workforce Development, collaboration with other chambers, the Velocity podcast, the Government Affairs Committee, Candidates Forums, the Strawberry Festival and Heroes of Vista. The 50th episode of the Velocity podcast will be next week featuring the Vista Fire Chief Gerard Washington. The Strawberry Festival will be May 26th and the Heroes of Vista will be March 22nd.

Vista Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Doyle spoke about Vista Unified’s bounce back after the COVID year and the successful collaboration with the Vista Chamber of Commerce and the City of Vista. This has led to the Vista Unified Framework for the Future. The Mission is listed as “the purpose of Vista Unified School District is to inspire each and every student to persevere as critical thinking individuals who collaborate to solve real world problems”. From this the Framework points to “Every student graduates from Vista Unified as a resilient, agile learner and creative problem solver who navigates the world with confidence and kindness and eagerly embraces local and global challenges”. The Framework is divided into The Learner Portrait, The Adult Portrait, The System Portrait and VUSD Core Values. Handouts were available to all in attendance concerning the Framework and the VUSD Year in Review 2022-2023. The Year in Review had sections discussing Budget and Fiscal Stability, Curriculum and Instructional Materials, various programs and projects, Arts and Athletics, Facility Improvements, and Career Building. Dr. Doyle introduced School Board President Martha Alvarado who spoke about Vista Unified students and staff working with various agencies in the city including the Chamber and governmental city departments. She commended the Internship program and stated the development of Global Communication Skills is a necessity in today’s world. Ms. Alvarado said the Multi-Lingual Education Department, Academic Achievement and Performance Framework all assist the development of individuals in preparing them for work beyond high school. She finished by saying the State of Vista Unified is strong.

The final speaker for the State of the Community was Michael Bonner, President of Dr. Bronner’s All-One Soaps. Michael gave a little background on the historical development of the Bronner products, dating back over 100 years beginning in Europe. Dr. Bronner’s products have been in America for 75 years and the company has been in Vista for 15 years. They are proud to be a Fair-Trade Business and extremely conscious of environmental, climate and safety concerns. Dr. Bronner’s is always developing new products and he was proud to say their chocolate bar is the best around. Dr. Bronner’s is very involved in and sponsors a number of city and chamber events, such as the Strawberry Festival, Heroes of Vista and much more. They donate over $8 million to a multitude of organizations and agencies, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego, Moonlight Theatre Productions, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum and man, many more. Michael was also proud to present that Dr. Bronner’s has a starting wage of $24.95 putting them 65% higher than the California average.

Another successful Chamber event drew to a close on a rainy Monday and everyone in attendance more aware of the various things that make Vista a great place to live.


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  • Published: 3 months ago on January 23, 2024
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  • Last Modified: January 23, 2024 @ 2:00 am
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