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Car Show To Pay 100 Percent Of City Costs
LA MESA – The City Council approved an application for the Downtown Merchants Association to host the Thursday night car shows this summer, but this deal came at a cost.
Instead of paying 50 percent of the cost for security, the merchants will be covering the full $16,000 expense as the city continues to pursue its policy of 100 percent cost recovery for special events.
“We didn’t expect to have to pay the full 100 percent,’’ Deena While, the Merchants Association treasurer said after the meeting. “We thought maybe they’d propose 75 percent, but we have to pick our battles and we decided not to fight this.’’
Deena While and fellow merchants were gathered outside City Hall trying to calculate how they could raise more money to cover the cost of the events the organization hosts as a way of promoting downtown La Mesa.
The battle over city subsidy of some portion of these events is likely now to move to Oktoberfest, the signature downtown promotion device that brings thousands to La Mesa for the weekend-long autumn event.
Traditionally, Oktoberfest is so profitable for the merchants that money raised through that event will help subsidize Christmas in the Village, the summer car shows and the annual Antique Faire. But if the city requires the merchants to pay the full cost of all the city services expended in support of Oktoberfest, the Merchants Association has said there may not be enough profits to support the other downtown events.
The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, the merchants’ partner in Oktoberfest, has already said it would support the city’s move to 100 percent cost recovery and has applied for its own permit for the October event.
Deena While, who owns the children’s book store Readers Inc., said the merchants are still hoping to negotiate something less than 100 percent recovery for the Oktoberfest event.
“The city has always said it sees the great benefit Oktoberfest brings to the city,’’ she said. “We’ll see.’’
Mayor Art Madrid said the move to 100 percent on the car show events was keeping with the city’s plan. But Councilman Ernest Ewin said he wasn’t ready to say whether he would push for 100 percent on Oktoberfest.
“There’s a lot going on with this and the Chamber of Commerce,’’ Ewin said. “I have some questions I want to answer first.’’
Ewin said the Chamber’s decision to seek its own permit for Oktoberfest and the role of some of the Chamber leadership in the effort to establish a Property-based Improvement District downtown is making the future funding of downtown public events a complex issue.
“I’m not ready yet to say how this should go,’’ Ewin said. “If there’s a PBID there should be some money for promotion.’’ Finances aside, a number of merchants addressed the council Tuesday night to describe new efforts to improve the 13 Thursday events this year.
Jonathan Baron, the proprietor of The Regal bar is this year's chairman and said the organizers will be creating a car club corral on 3rd Avenue to feature a specific car club each week. There will also be more food and merchandise vendors gathered in a closed section of Palm Avenue.
Signs are also being added to La Mesa Boulevard each week prohibiting car show parking before 5 p.m.
The council meeting started with a series of promotional appearances and awards, including a special proclamation in honor of three La Mesa Middle School students who came to the aid of an injured pedestrian, winners of student safety patrol awards and a special honor for veterans of the more recent military actions in U.S. history. Photos of these presentations appear below.