Q: City of Coronado sales tax revenues are either flat or down from previous levels, depending on the comparison used. What steps, if any, should the City Council take to help local businesses and by extension, increase the city’s sales tax revenue?
A: It is undeniable that a vibrant and dynamic business district is vital to our community. Residential property values as well as our Moody’s Bond Rating are directly connected to the state of our business district, I mean both in its physical state as well as level of commerce. And our business community must cater to the needs of both residents as well as our visitors.
Fundamentally this has been a challenge over the years to create the proper mix of professional and retail business but the existing Orange Avenue Specific Plan has gone a long way help guide the process. We chose not to enter into a “Little Italy” style Business Improvement District in the early 90s yet our business community grew to thrive just the same.
That said, new economic realities like the rise of Amazon and other on-line retailers has resulted in changes in our resident’s shopping patterns and the Specific Plan could use a review to be sure it is meeting our current community needs.
I was first introduced to the City’s role of planning for our business district in the late 1980s as a member of the Business Areas Advisory Committee. It was through community workshops and meetings that the foundation of what became the Specific plan was built. Later as those community guided precepts were put into city code and became official planning guidance I watched as our vision came together.
Starting from an era of empty store fronts, our vibrant business district took roughly a decade to mature as the Spreckels Building was purchased and remodeled to the gem it is today. Sidewalk infrastructure improvements were implemented in the 1100, 1000 and 900 blocks of Orange and the Rotary Park and Adella/Orange pedestrian park were built, the look and feel of the area improved.
Going forward, completion of the sidewalk improvement in the 800 block should be prioritized as well as additional “parklettes” along the lines of our Second and Orange project. Relinquishment should allow additional pedestrian scale improvements without CALTRANS encroachment permits and I would love to see MainStreet become a force for downtown historic preservation perhaps in partnership with our Chamber or our Historical Association.
We have tremendous opportunities that come with the challenges of changes in property ownership - lets all work together to keep Coronado, Coronado.