EL CAJON “WITHIN WEEKS OF SEEING SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT HAPPENING” WITH THE EAST COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

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By Jonathan Goetz

Photo, left:  Robert Clark

July 22, 2017 (El Cajon) - Last week’s City Council meetings saw a new City Clerk, discussion of the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC), approval of a disposition and development agreement for the old police station on Highway 67 and approval of an adult daycare.

At the 3 p.m. meeting during public comments, three speakers discussed ECPAC, including Robert Clark, who said the ECPAC re-opening was promised for 2014.

Mayor Bill Wells said a major development is coming very soon, telling Clark, “I think we’re within weeks of seeing something significant happening with the ECPAC.”

Clark noted, “That’s a song we’ve been hearing year after year after year.”

Mayor Wells elaborated, “We’re in negotiations right now with Live Nation. We’ve got the money set aside. We’re ready to open.”

He added that an earlier proposal to partner with The Rock Church was scuttled due to opposition/ “We talked about possibly partnering with the Rock Church so that they could come in and bring enough revenue in to make this happen. We got a lot of resistance. I think you were one of the people who was very resistant to that. And so we listened to you.”

El Cajon is in negotiations with Live Nation to manage the ECPAC. Live Nation is a publicly traded company that formed as a spin-off from Clear Channel and subsequently merged with Ticketmaster to form Live Nation Entertainment.

Clark voiced approval of the concept, stating, “Live Nation is apparently an excellent organization and I have a list of some of their concerts this summer in 8 or 9 different venues. They include familiar names like Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg and Metallica. It would be nice if they could come to the ECPAC once it’s open.”

Bonnie Price announced her pleasure with Live Nation and pressed for details of an agreement with the global entertainment company and an update on theater repairs. “Five years ago we had over a hundred people working on a report that we gave to the City Council with citizen recommendations on how it should be run and I am very pleased that Live Nation is being negotiated with. Do we have any idea how close we are to getting an agreement? Is it true that they have to give us a list of renovations before any work to repair the theater can be done?”

Photo, right: Bonnie Price

Wells thanked Price then responded, “The answer is very close. It’s happening very quickly at this point. And by the way we do appreciate your input from your citizens group; that report has been helpful in the past and we appreciate the effort you put into it.”

Richard Graydon asked the City to task the homeless with cleaning up downtown, along the same lines as Councilman Ben Kalasho’s proposal to hire homeless people to do the work, saying, “All around town there are things that are dirty; we can have these people pick these things up, help restore it and they can be paid and as they’re being trained…”

 

Photo, left: Richard Graydon

Graydon also testified about the ECPAC, stating, “I had two friends come that used to live in El Cajon and they asked me about getting in to see plays in it and I told them it’s not possible because nothing’s been done. And I constantly say this and am told it will happen, it will happen, but it doesn’t happen.”

Wells didn’t address Graydon’s concerns about tasking the homeless with cleaning up downtown, but did talk about the ECPAC, saying, “I do want to point out that there is a lot happening with the East County Performing Arts Center. We’ve got $3.5 million set aside to fix the place up. We’re in negotiations with Live Nation to take over. If you give us a little bit of time we’ll get there. I appreciate your patience.”

At the meeting, Council approved new contracts for police and fire. They were listed as part of the consent calendar but pulled by Bonnie Price, who asked if they were good for the employees and were comparable to other cities.

City Manager Doug Williford replied, “These agreements bring both of these bargaining units very close to the county average.”

Price pressed, “Will that keep people on the force at the management level and in the firefighting level?”

Wells replied affirmatively, saying, “These are agreements that are worked out through a series of negotiations through the City and through the unions, so the union had to agree that this was something that they wanted in order for us to get to the point where we are at today. So I would have to say yes, because they are looking out for their best interests and they decided that this particular agreement was in their best interest.”

The city also levied administrative fees for substandard abatement against a building owner who had rented to someone found with 78 chihuahuas.

The meeting was also the debut for El Cajon’s new City Clerk, Daryl Betancur, who led the Pledge of Allegiance and announced the speaker cards.

Photo, right: Daryl Betancur, El Cajon’s new City Clerk

There was a video and Proclamation for July as Parks and Recreation Month, part of which read, “Parks and recreation programs build healthy active communities that aid in the prevention of chronic disease, provide inclusion recreation services for those who are mentally or physically disabled, and also improve the mental and emotional health of all residents. The public works and recreation departments call upon all El Cajon residents to fully utilize and enjoy their local park, trails, open space facilities and recreation opportunities. And whereas each month over 100,000 patrons visit local parks and recreation facilities in El Cajon. Our parks team assures a clean, beautiful and safe setting for you and your family to enjoy.”

At the 7 p.m. meeting the City Council authorized a disposition and development agreement for the old police station site at 100 Fletcher Parkway, next to Highway 67, with Brixton Fletcher, LLC to build a Hampton Hotel, In-N-Out Burger and a sit-down restaurant on the lot.

There is an In-N-Out Burger one exit north on Highway 67 but the representative from In-N-Out said there is trouble with renewing their lease because they’re widening Bradley and will probably have to tear down their current location.

The City also approved an adult daycare for a building on Magnolia near Madison. There is an existing social club there but only in the evenings; now they will be able to utilize it during the day. It was a hotly contested item, with four speakers opposed and two speakers in support.

Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine, “As the baby boomers grow older there is going to be more demand for adult daycare. This type of facility gives family caregivers a break during the day.”

The Council also revoked a conditional use permit for a tow yard on Marshall that was operating an illegal auction business and illegal car sales and had some building code violations. As of the time of the meeting, some code violations were still outstanding and the Council refused to grant another extension.

All votes at the day’s two Council meetings were unanimous for those present, with Councilman Bob McClellan absent, his second absence in a row.

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