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Vista’s State of the City Looks Better than Ever

By   /  January 26, 2017  /  No Comments


TR Robertson

TR Robertson …On Monday, January 23rd, city leaders, businessmen and women, educators, visiting dignitaries, and interested citizens gathered at the Vista Civic Center to hear from Mayor Judy Ritter and other speakers concerning the annual State of the City, the State of the Vista Unified School District, the State of Businesses and other organizations in and around our community.

The State of the Community Luncheon is sponsored by the Vista Chamber of Commerce and presented by Tri-City Medical Center.

Bret Schanzenbach, CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce, opened the proceedings with the introduction of John Franklin, Deputy Mayor of Vista and Councilman, who led the large gathering in the flag salute, followed by an Invocation from Fr. Ruben Arceo, Pastor of St. Francis Church.

Photos by Dani Witkowski

Next on the program was Judy Ritter’s power point presentation on the State of the City. Mayor Ritter is in her seventh year as Mayor. Highlights from Mayor Ritter’s presentation concerning the accomplishments of 2016 the city and agencies have enjoyed include:

  • An increase of the City’s emergency reserves from 20 to 25%
  • Completion of Phase I of Paseo Santa Fe Street improvements
  • An investment of $9M in community park improvements and renovations over past 2 years
  • An investment of $14M to improve and repair streets, traffic signals and sidewalk infrastructure
  • Development of a city wide Traffic Congestion Management plan

Some of the statistical information the city accomplished in 2016 included:

  • A 2.2% job growth
  • A new low in the unemployment rate – 3.9%
  • A population increase of 1.4%
  • 2,236 building permits issued
  • 8,480 business licenses issued
  • A city budget of $125M
  • 3,049 Code Enforcement complaints addressed
  • 339,21 sq. ft. of graffiti removed
  • 2,685 potholes repaired, 37,700 sq. ft. asphalt repairs
  • 292 tons of green waste recycled
  • New bathrooms for Buena Vista and Brengle Terrace parks
  • Brengle Terrace nature trail completed
  • New synthetic turf installed in Raintree soccer arena
  • Currently 14 microbreweries/tasting rooms with 6 set to open in 2017
  • A lower fire and property loss in 2016
  • A $75,484 grant received to fund radio equipment, training, EOC development to respond to and mitigate acts of terrorism
  • The lowest crime rate in Vista in 20 years
  • FBI Crime rate, 20.6 crimes per 1000 people
  • $500,000 grant for funding proactive youth programs
  • 85,000 people used the Wave Waterpark
  • 120 volunteer youth basketball coaches coached 716 participants
  • 2,400 people attended the Movies in the Park
  • 7,000 attended the July 4th celebration in Brengle Terrace Park
  • 1,178 youth enrolled in Summer Day camp
  • 7,877 recipients of Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Days
  • 57,880 attended Moonlight’s summer season
  • Moonlight received 3 Craig Noel Awards
  • 522 attended the inaugural Moonlight Club M Cabaret season
  • 31,000 meals were provided to seniors
  • 1,799 seniors on trips with Culture Caravan
  • 15,000 volunteer hours donated for senior services
  • 8 sculptures installed for Kites Over Vista exhibit
  • Prima Vista sculpture by Michael Angelo Venturella installed in Paseo Santa Fe Avenue’s first roundabout.
  • Over 900 companies in Vista Business Park with 24,000 employees, 305 of these Vista residents

The statistical list goes on and on, all pointing to a growing Vista, a successful Vista and an ever changing Vista. Mayor Ritter said all of this progress is a result of and continued collective effort on the part of everyone that makes up the businesses and citizens of Vista. She pointed out the city is stronger and better prepared financially than ever before.

A first time announcement made by the Mayor was the introduction of Norm Reeves Honda Motor Company moving to Vista.

The Mayor also pointed out that there will be additional parking added to downtown historic Vista, the removal of “blight” from property the city is purchasing, and a number of new eateries soon to open. Mayor Judy also said citizens should look for more information on a “Walk With the Mayor” coming in Spring of 2017.


The Mayor next introduced the 2016 Person of the Year, given out each year at the State of the City Luncheon.

This year the award went to two individuals, Carl and Peggy Ramsing. Carl and Peggy are instrumental in the donation of public art to the city

and encouraging and sponsoring Vista art and artists. They also serve on the Friends of the Vista Library and on the Public Art Commission.

Mayor Judy introduced Ron Briseno, Chairman of the Board for the Vista Chamber of Commerce. Ron gave a number of Chamber updates including information about successful Chamber events.

The Strawberry Festival for 2016 had over 400 vendors, 6 entertainment stages and an estimated 100,000 people attended.

This year’s Strawberry Festival will be on Sunday, May 29, 2017. The Community Recognition Gala, Heroes of Vista, had over 275 attendees and will be held this year on April 21, 2017, at the Sheraton in Carlsbad. To nominate individuals or a business contact the Chamber or go to the article in TheVistaPress.com.  Ron also spoke about the Rising Star program honoring outstanding high school students each month and the Meet the Leaders program for young people. He said the Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Chamber, was bigger than ever and had a new route. They will also be sponsoring a golf tournament at the Shadowridge Country Club with proceeds helping the Boys and Girls Club.

Mr. Briseno introduced Dr. Devin Vodicka, Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District who gave an update on the success of the schools in Vista during 2016. He alluded to the Framework for the Future and the goals of Vision (educational excellence), Mission (solving real world problems) and Values (teaching respect, trust and collaboration) as keys for all staff and students.

All schools use the 8 strategies involving the whole child approach to teaching core curriculum with personalized learning.

Goals that were met last year included – 84.8% graduation rate (a new high), a 2.9% suspension rate (new low), .05% expulsion rate (new low), 9.67% chronic absenteeism rate (new low). In a survey the district conducted with parents and found that there is an upward trend in parent’s attitude toward education of their children. One successful venture a group of students were involved in from Mission Vista High School was winning the Hackathon technology competition beating out teams from colleges and technology companies. They were the only high school in the competition.

Vista High School was also awarded a $10M grant to change learning the model for students. Dr. Vodicka said the future is bright for the education of students in Vista.

Dr. Vodicka introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Jim Hamerly, Dean of the College of Business from Cal State San Marcos. Dr. Hamerly has 10 years of teaching experience and 30 years of business experience.

As he was speaking he pointed out that school was beginning again for some 15,000 students at Cal State San Marcos.

He also said next week some 30,000 students will begin studies at Palomar Jr. College. The School of Business at Cal State has some 2,500 undergrads and 100 graduate students. He said 55% of these students are first generation college students. The School of Business has 12 student clubs, 500 alumni, 33 faculty and 40 lecturers. One of the growing programs in the School of Business is Entrepreneurship.

He said 40% of the young people would like to start their own business.

The Senior Experience Program allows students a chance to look into the business world in further depth. Dr. Hamerly showed a number of Cal State graduates and students that are involved in highly successful business ventures. Kristin Elliott runs a business called PME Precision Measurement in Vista, Juliet Correnti began Radeus Labs in Poway, Nathan Leathers started Greenguard Services in San Marcos and Tre’ Johnson, who is still a student at Cal State, began Planet Positive, a custom dog leash company that sells what is called the “world’s best dog leash”.  Dr. Hamerly said the School of Business is a growing, successful, popular entity in the Cal State system.

The State of the Community Luncheon drew to a close with a general understanding that the City of Vista is in good hands and currently enjoying a successful growth with hopes that the future is looking bright for the city and citizens.


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