John Vigil


Concerns raised over merchants group's solvency and credibility during heated hearing

By Kristin Kjaero

August 3, 2015 (La Mesa) – Whether or not there will be an Oktoberfest 2015 is in the hands of the La Mesa Village Merchants Association (LMVMA).

On Tuesday, the Council voted 4-1 to grant conditional approval for this year’s Oktoberfest, with Council member Ruth Sterling voting against. The deal requires the LMVMA to pay all outstanding debt plus a 25% security deposit and meet a scheduled list of new requirements giving the City oversight of LMVMA’s outside contracts for the event, before an Oktoberfest permit will be issued.

If all deadlines are met, Oktoberfest 2015 will be smaller and shorter: two days instead of three, closing an hour earlier, and held only in the downtown area east side of Spring Street. However, if any deadline is not met, Oktoberfest will be automatically cancelled with no further Council action required--and no refunds.


No permit, no debt repayment plan yet, but the clock is ticking

By Kristin Kjaero

June 9, 2015 (La Mesa) – Although the City Council sent them back to the drawing board with a requirement that means they must come up with a repayment plan for $37,229 they owe the City before any new special event applications from them will be processed, the La Mesa Village Merchants Association yesterday evening sent e-mails to all 2014 Oktoberfest vendors soliciting applications and payments for booth rentals for a 2015 Oktoberfest.

The e-mail states, “Even though it was very hot during the day, the event was a great success. We hope that you feel the same way and will consider joining us again this year.”

The Merchants group owes the City $33,996 for Police, Fire and other support services provided for the 2014 Oktoberfest, and said at the last City Council meeting that they’d spent the revenue from it on Christmas in the Village instead of paying back the City’s General Fund.

The e-mail gives the vendors a date, time, fees for booth rental (ranging from $500 for crafters up to $2,100 for food vendors plus $100 cleaning deposit), and where to send their checks, but does not mention the debt issue or problems with their previous application which triggered a City Council policy change regarding special event applications and permits.