TR Robertson –The 2022 State of the Community Program and luncheon, held at the Vista Civic Center on Monday, included an update on Vista Chamber of Commerce activities, a Vista Unified School District Update, and Healthcare Update and closing remarks by Lev Gershman from Tideline Partners. It was also the final State of the City Address from the City of Vista Mayor Judy Ritter. Rachel Beld, CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce opened the program with the introduction of Mayor Ritter.
Mayor Ritter has been involved in Vista politics since her election to the City Council in 1998 and election to Mayor in 2010. She discussed her involvement and love for Vista in her remarks saying she had the pleasure of working on and with twelve different councils. One funny remembrance was a campaign slogan she had when she ran for city council, No More Litter, Vote for Ritter. Mayor Ritter said she remembers when the Downtown Vista lights would go off at 7 pm, now the downtown is a vibrant and active area each evening. She said she was proud that, since Mayor, the city’s emergency reserves have risen from 10% to now 35%. The Mayor listed a number of additions Vista will be seeing in the future such as two additional hotels being built, a Business Park that will continue to grow from the nine hundred businesses and 21,000 jobs to many more. She highlighted the success of the Vista breweries and Hops Highway and the Vista Economic Development Strategy as key to the city’s business success. With help during the COVID pandemic, from the America Rescue Plan Act 2021 and the Vista is Open program, many businesses navigated the challenging economic time over the last two years. A Youth Scholarship Program and the Community Grant Program have also been successful accomplishments during this time. The Mayor pointed out that not only the commercial growth, but the cities infrastructure, such as the continued addition of parks in a variety of locations, has not stopped. The completion of the Inland Rail Trail through North County now allows a coast to inland route for bikers, walkers, and runners. The cities Strategic Homeless Plan and Emergency Rent Assistance Program are examples of the cities continued concern with dealing with the homeless issue. As growth continues, facilities like The Grove for seniors and the Paseo Artists Village are facilities that are set-up to provide affordable housing. She feels the Vista City Council has been responsive to small businesses and public safety highlighted by hiring an additional deputy, adding additional fire stations and additional streetlights in many areas. The Mayor presented a short video highlighting many of these accomplishments.
Adam Brooks, Chair of the Board for the Vista Chamber of Commerce spoke about the positive relationship the Chamber has with the Vista governmental agencies. He alluded to a number of activities the Chamber participates in, such as the distribution of $2.7 million in grants for small businesses in the city. One highlight Adam spoke about was the monthly Rising Stars program honoring students in the cities high school programs for the outstanding work and accomplishments they have shown.
Dr. Matt Doyle, Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District was next on the program. Dr. Doyle said the school district continues to provide quality education for 19,000+ students in the classical school program and 500 students in the virtual learning program. He said even during this trying time the school district has seen a 6% increase in the overall g.p.a.. Students continue to excel in athletics, music, and extra-curricular programs at all the schools. He said 998 students have taken part in the Trauma Sensitive Schools counseling sessions. As for the Health Training & Safety of staff, students, and the public, four community hubs were set-up and administered 50,000 COVID tests, 37,000 vaccinations to staff, students and community members and handed out over 10,000 masks. The school district has continued to maintain a quality child Nutrition Services and they serve 16,700 meals daily. The district continues to upgrade technology and provide the technological education available. Measure LL Project has allowed the district to continue to build and upgrade school facilities. Two multi-level classroom projects are underway on the Vista High School campus, one a two-story building and one a three-story building replacing old and out of date portables. At Rancho Buena Vista High School, a $13 million CTE Complex will be built to provide instruction in construction and metal working and other job applications. The district has one of the largest early childhood education programs and is continuing to expand the program. All school air filtration systems are being upgraded, electric buses are being purchased, free Wi Fi network is being set-up as the district re-evaluates its vision and all aspects of the education program.
Aaron Byzak, Chief External Affairs Officer, Tri-City Medical Center, next spoke about many of the changes and advances underway at Tri-City. He said as of Monday, only thirty-three patients were hospitalized due to COVID. Aaron reported that the Medical Center had administered 40,000 vaccine doses for COVID, both to those at the hospital, homebound seniors and in their community outreach program. He reported once again that Tri-City Medical Centers Big Reveal included changing the name of their three towers to the names of Carlsbad, Vista, and Oceanside, as well as the addition of what will be one hundred photographic artwork pieces throughout the Medical Center and a History Wall of six panels. Aaron said the Medical Center has participated in supplying twenty-one of the job’s videos for the SoCal (Student Opportunities for Career Awareness & Learning) project. This series of videos will eventually number one hundred various jobs where students can learn about numerous occupations, each in a 3–4-minute video that will also include links to other sites. Go to www.socalworkforce.org. Another Tri-City Medical Center announcement was that the hospital now has a Kaiser Permanente Partnership. Two new facility and remodels which are underway or will soon be underway are the remodeling of the Emergency Room and the building of a Psychiatric Health Facility, this in partnership with the County of San Diego.
Closing Remarks were provided by Lev Gershman, Founder and Managing Partner, Tideline Partners. Lev spoke about growing up in Odessa and coming to the United States with his parents. Lev referred to the struggles Ukraine is currently involved with as they fight to remain a free nation. He said he wanted to find a place, as he became older, that had an inclusive diversity and he felt that Vista is a prime example of such a place. A place where anyone can become a success with hard work and drive and where the city officials support these growing businesses. Lev said he felt Mayor Ritter is the driving force that has led Downtown Historic Vista’s development in making the businesses successful, even during a trying time like the COVID pandemic. He asked everyone to stand to thank Mayor Judy Ritter, in this her final State of the Community Program.
The State of the Community Program is sponsored by The Vista Chamber of Commerce, Tri-City Medical Center, the City of Vista, Dr. Bronner’s, Local 4107 Association, EDCO, AT&T, and California State University San Marcos. Also provided for each of the attendees was a “2021 At a Glance” pamphlet listing highlights of a variety of categories during 2021, such as Fiscal Sustainability, Traffic Flow, Economic Development, Parks and Community Services, Public Safety, Public Safety (Fire & Emergency and Law Enforcement), and Removing Blight & Homelessness with Shelter, support & Housing. Copies of this pamphlet are available at City Center.
A reminder – Heroes of Vista Presentation will be March 18th, contact the Vista Chamber of Commerce for information.