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Amanda Rigby: former paralegal brings passion for people, projects to Vista CA

Councilmember Amanda Rigby: “I see this as an issue of local control.”
Carla Miles

Amanda Rigby, elected to the Vista City Council in 2012, finds herself leading interested persons of late around the city on tours designed to give them "some of the flavor."

Rigby says in a recent interview that people who are not familiar with the city are surprised when they learn that the current population of Vista CA is nearly 100,000. “They think it is a very small town, and we are not a small town. We are a small city. And they are very surprised, not only at the population that we have, but the amenities that we have and the size of it. I mean the physical layout, because it is rather large.”

The Surfrider Foundation members she took around Downtown Vista in a walk-through assessment of best locations for ashcan installations last May are an example of what she might normally emphasize to visitors. Says Rigby:

“So I showed them downtown, shared the public art. I brought them to City Hall campus and shared the public art here ..., and then we swung by some of the ballfields and the parks to show them that. We went over to Krikorian, and we looked at the shopping center, and we actually drove all the way out to warmlands so I could show them Prohibition [Brewing Company 2004 E. Vista Way, Vista, CA 92084 (760) 295-3525]."

Downtown charm

Her purpose was simply to give them all a better idea "... of the different aspects and dimensions that we have to Vista. You know … how big the city is and all the things we have to offer in Vista."

The art is important to her, however.

"I like to show the charm of downtown," said the councilwoman.,"... and the artwork of downtown, as I think Vista does a great job with our public art. I would actually like to see that branch out to more parts of Vista besides Downtown.”

That tour and the ashcan project is important to Rigby, since Vista is part of the Carlsbad watershed and cigarette butts are better put in an ashcan than left polluting the environment. She also said this about the ashcans:

"They are maybe 15 inches in size, cylindrical, held up by steel bands These are put in places where you see cigarette butts on the ground. The gentleman who makes them for all of San Diego County is here in Vista."

Cigarette butts leach toxins, according to the Surfrider website, and the ashcans are presented as a good idea. Installing outdoor ashcans throughout San Diego County they state brings "an approximate 65% reduction in cigarette butt litter in those areas." Since butts are littered on sidewalks and streets, and eventually can end up in storm drains flowing eventually into the ocean, it seems a small way to nudge smokers into properly disposing of them perhaps.

Nevertheless, in this ashcan approach, Rigby differs from a colleague. Councilman Cody Campbell, according to a previous story in the Examiner, believes the ashcans will send a bad message to smokers, and he would rather just issue citations to them if they litter on city streets.

The Surfrider group identified about 20 places in Vista that would benefit from the ashcans, Rigby said. She believes this will help the problem. And for the future, as Paseo Point is built, Rigby says "We hope to branch it out there."

Upcoming challenges, opportunities

Rigby is also keeping an eye on future issues as a representative on other committees. She keeps up-to-date on regional energy as well as public safety for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and is serving on a revenue and taxation policy committee for the League of California Cities. Of the extra work Rigby says:

"And so [with] those I see a lot of state things coming at us that are going to affect us, including increases in taxes and fees. And they'll make a difference to the city, ... because some of these things are directed at the city." She adds also that "some of the things are directed at people."

As an example Rigby said:

"Like they're talking about the vehicle-miles-travelled tax. And that's one of those things that, as a person, as a resident, I would really encourage the people to pay attention to." The councilwoman adds that it is not her understanding that it is going to be "... in lieu of the gas tax." It seems to be in addition to, she states, and they are calling it a "fee" so it doesn't have to be voted on.

She intends to watch the situation and listen to the conversations from Sacramento, because, simply speaking as a resident, she says "... you know what, I don't think this is right."Another point she makes is regarding the return of SB 7:

"We're working on fighting SB 7, which people might recognize was the Legislature's answer to Vista ... winning in a Calif Supreme Court case against the state."

The LeagueOfCaliforniaCities website mentions the 2012 decision of the California Supreme Court and State Bill 7:

"In the 2012 decision of the California Supreme Court in State Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO v. City of Vista, the California Supreme Court firmly determined that only charter cities can decide how they will spend city tax funds. SB 7 attempts to indirectly nullify that decision by imposing unconstitutional conditions on state public works grants that the voters in these cities help fund with their own state tax payments."

It all comes down to control, Rigby states. She mentions HR 29 which is described by the LeagueofCAcities website as a resolution that "aims at restricting local ability to contract out for services." Says Rigby:

"Because in addition to what we are talking about with HR 29, ... it goes to city control and the autonomy of the city. And the city knows best for the city, Sacramento doesn't know best for Vista. And just me speaking personally, Sacramento doesn't know what's best for the State of California. Sorry. They have things so messed up in California. I have known so many people and so many businesses who have fled California because of the corporate and the business taxes. It is just incredible what Calif is trying to do on so many levels and in so many things. So there are a lot of things at the State level that are coming at us both citywise and personally that we need to be aware of."

BMX and business efforts

She says she has not given up on finding ways to connect interested people with the city's potential and amenities. One thing that surprised "the BMX people" as well as the "Surfrider" folks, says Rigby, is the fact that Vista has both a Hyatt [ 2645 South Melrose Drive, Vista, CA 92081 - 1.866.460.7456 ] and a Marriott [ 2201 South Melrose Drive, Vista, CA 92081 - 760. 216.6010 ].

She was happy to respond in the affirmative to them. "We do!" They were really excited, Rigby says, adding:

"We have a Marriott and a Hyatt, and then the BMX fellow said there was the potential to do international tournements here." Rigby further says that people will, of course, need to stay in town a few days for the tournement competition. If they are going to be having these championships, they will need lodging and they will be buying food, and shopping." Of course it will be great for the kids in BMX, but it will be just as good for city businesses. she believes.

"So I am still working on it, I have not given up."

Mobile SmartApps for city information

With plans to redo the city website, Rigby also is working with staff and wants to make information "more accessible" to people, perhaps for visitors or those residents who just have a smart phone and no computer.

Her vision of 21st century technology for Vista CA includes an app for anyone to download and use immediately to find City information on businesses, restaurants, entertainment, bike paths, walking trails. Or even to send an alert about downed power lines, potholes, or trash dumped.

“One of those things that I brought with me [when elected] and started talking about almost immediately was a mobile app, because smart phones and Ipads are huge; devices of everyday life, and I know a lot of people who are not on a computer very much anymore. Some of the websites don’t translate to mobile devices anymore. And so I wanted to have the City do a mobile app. "

She began with a bit of research, she states. "I got a map out and I picked out cities." Rigby looked at city apps and one for Hurricane, Virginia caught her eye. She picked out a few more and showed them to the city staff. Some she did not like and showed them those as well. It has to be “user friendly” and visually appealing. Rigby is excited about the project, saying:

“My understanding is that the company that is doing the website re-design is going to also do a mobile app. And they will be interconnected.” When it is auto-linked any change on the website is made to the application for the mobile device as well.

So in the future if someone needs to find a walking trail, bike path, pet-friendly park, or is in need of food, beverages, lodging or another local event link, there will be an app for that.

In the meantime, she "took a page" from Poway councilman Steve Vaus, after reading an article by Logan Jenkins on his "secret service" idea.

Secret Service

Rigby envisions people able to become proactive and talk to each other, with the app, instead of "having to look up the phone number" first and then find the right department or office and make a call about hazards in the roadway, for example. But in the meantime, the Vaus idea is an opt-in text message program which she describes:

"Sometimes there are things that need to be done in the community and public works isn’t just going to run out and do it. Or there isn’t anybody to take care of it right a way. So Steve Vaus started a program ... [and] it’s a text. It’s an opt-in text that you want to be part of it, and if something needs to be done, like an abandoned shopping cart, or trash all over, you text to everybody and maybe one person will come back with “Ok I got it.”
And then when you’re done with it, it’s done- you text it. So no one has to wait for anyone to get it done.

Rigby's website idea is called VistaSecretService.

In addition to a degree in Social Science, Councilwoman Rigby has a Paralegal certificate from the University of San Diego. Feel free to contact her at her office number and extension:

760.639.6130 extension 1434.

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