VISTA — In a lucky draw of available state funding, two of the city’s unfunded capital improvement projects are getting a slightly faster construction schedule.
Last month, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) announced $3 million in state funding for a recreation center and electric vehicle charging stations in Vista.
While little can be said about the upcoming projects — the city has yet to receive the dollars pending further instruction from the state — the city has confirmed that $1.6 million is set aside for the overhaul and relocation of the Sheriff’s Department substation into a community center at Luz Duran Park and $1.4 million for additional charging stations.
The wish-list projects originated from within a larger group of unfunded capital improvement projects, or CIP. The city’s CIP budget funds the acquisition, construction and maintenance of all major capital assets and public infrastructure.
Andrea McCullough, communications officer for Vista, explained the city’s 5-year CIP plan generally breaks down significant projects in the city into what can be funded and when. Often, the unfunded “wishlist” can be reconsidered with the availability of grants — or Assembly members.
McCullough said Horvath reaches out to her district regularly, inquiring about potential projects city’s may want or need.
“We defend our kind of our ‘unfunded wishlist’… and what we could do with that [funding], and then she does what she does, and we get a notice that it’s been funded.”
Horvath’s office could not be reached regarding how these projects will be funded or why Vista was chosen.
This is not the city’s first funding from the state for unfunded projects. In 2021, the city received from the state $5 million to replace the Old Taylor Street Fire Station, $3.5 million for the Civic Center solar project and $600,000 for Brengle Terrace Park.
However, according to McCullough, funding doesn’t necessarily mean movement on a project.
“It takes a while,” McCullough said. “We just have to wait for the state as it goes through [the] process. When we receive the funds … then we can go out with the RFP.”
The city awaits further direction from the state on how it may move forward, which could take several months.
City staff decided to submit the electric vehicle and community center proposals because of their practicality and alignment with city goals.
As the state shifts toward electric vehicles, McCullough said the need for additional charging stations is inevitable.
“We have state regulations we need to follow, and we need more electric vehicle charging stations in the city,” she said. “So this would be great if we could build them in different areas.”
The relocation and revamp of the Sheriff’s substation was a project that seemingly made good civic sense. Currently, families that enjoy Luz Duran Park face a law enforcement building housing a team not readily accessible to the public. The state monies will fund the overhaul of a city-owned building at 986 Vista Village Drive.
In its place, an open-to-the-public center will be erected at the Luz Duran Park location. This project is part of the city’s aim to enhance quality of life through diverse parks and recreation.
“That’s one of the [Vista City Council’s] goals is parks,” McCullough said, “and they were looking at the different parks, and they realized that maybe …something open to the public would be better in that area.”