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Councilman: Vista Village Business Association has 'severe issues'

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A nonprofit group charged with promoting Vista’s historic downtown may soon be losing its city funding, and the City Councilman asked to be an official liaison with the Vista Village Business Association voiced negative sentiments about them.

News of the Vista Village Business Association being "in danger of losing ... city funding and its status as a California Main Street program," comes from Edward Sifuentes in the UTSanDiego. In the report he cites city officials as the source of news last week regarding the 28-year-old organization, which has an annual budget of roughly $250,000. This apparently includes "$60,000 in fees levied by the city on businesses inside the Central Vista Businesses Improvement District — an area that includes downtown and a few surrounding commercial centers — plus a $40,000 matching grant from the city."

One critical quote pulled from a 15-page letter cited in the UT story is from the California Main Street Alliance's Executive Director Laura Cole-Rowe:

“Direction from the board to the executive director is scattered and the board (and subsequently the executive director) is reactive instead of proactive."

But the VVBA's President Mario Carrillo also has stated:

“The Vista Village Business Association will keep going."

City-bashing, meetings 'driven' by ex-councilman Frank Lopez:

It seems a story worth watching this election year, as City Councilman Cody Campbell has already made public his issues with the group in December, when he listed reasons why he was refusing to attend meetings with the VVBA. This is from a previous Examiner report of the last city council meeting for 2013:

Commenting that he believed the Vista Village Business Association had "severe issues," Campbell said that he had actually informed City Manager Patrick Johnson that he would not be attending those meetings anymore because they "bash" the City of Vista and "are driven" by ex-councilman Frank Lopez who was a person which the Mayor "personally didn't agree with or get along with at all."

Mayor Ritter had noticed Campbell had only attended two of 11 meetings in 2013:

"You went to two," she told Campbell, "in February and March."

According to the Sifuentes story, the California Main Street Alliance previously warned VVBA it might lose its Main Street status "if it failed to meet several goals by March 31, including developing a funding plan and a policy manual."

Additionally, the UT news stated that the Main Street designation is "awarded to groups that reinvigorate historic downtown business districts by meeting a rigorous set of criteria." The VVBA usually promotes downtown business by "holding events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Smokin’ Q Classic barbecue competition, the annual Rod Run car show and St. Patrick’s Day Parade."

From the City of Vista website information: "The VVBA is a non-profit corporation governed by a 15-member Board of Directors representing all downtown businesses - merchants, professionals, services, and financial institutions."

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