Last year I asked the City's Economic Development Department what was it going to take to attract the retail businesses and services we were told would be coming to Beaumont when we bought our homes. Their official response was that Beaumont needs more homes and about another 20,000 residents before businesses such as Trader Joes, Costco, and Krikorian would move here. This would put Beaumont at the size of Redlands today. Good thing for the citizens of Redlands their city planners had a different strategy. Actually, since we drive to Redlands for many of our shopping and entertainment needs, it's a good thing for the rest of us too.
At their last meeting, the city council held a workshop on future projects. They presented an artist’s rendering of a revitalized downtown business plaza with fountains and shops. Above the shops they were talking about town homes. They revisited the outdoor Victoria Gardens style mall in San Timoteo Canyon, something they've been talking about for 10 years. There were no specific plans or details but the council members were all very excited about the possibilities. Where was their excitement last year when I asked them to consider forming a citizens’ committee to work on attracting retail and service businesses? All of a sudden we have an artist’s rendering.
As one who follows the elections in Beaumont, I’m not surprised. Four years ago the city published articles where Brian DeForge and Roger Berg talked about all the businesses coming to Beaumont in spite of the economic downturn which had begun two years earlier. As they did four years ago, the Council authorized the City Manager to use our funds to create PR material to help incumbents get re-elected. Am I the only one who sees a problem with the City Manager instructing his staff to use tax payers' money to help re-elect the council he works for?
On the bright side, at least for the time being, my opponents agree with my primary campaign goal of a new economic development strategy that doesn’t include warehouses. If the election season is what it takes to get this council and city manager to address citizens’ concerns, I hope next month we’ll see a workshop on how the city can be more cooperative with the Beaumont Cherry Valley Water district to bring recycled water to the purple pipes. Or, how about a workshop on addressing the police officers concerns about leadership and morale. I'm not holding my breath.
It's time for a citizen's perspective and common sense solutions. I will bring both.