Can the City Afford to Let the Residents Take Back Their Home Town?
An article from the San Diego Union Tribune titled "Coronado's got a year's worth of cash on hand - and then some" from over two years ago describes Coronado's strong financial position and cash reserves. Even today, Coronado has a substantial surplus of funds and from what I can see, added another $9+ million to our rainy day fund last year...(total revenue $80,162,894... expenses $71,748,817)... this is all great news. Even with the current downturn of events in 2020, our #1 source of income, property tax revenue, has increased, and Coronado should maintain a hefty reserve. Obviously, the hotels and businesses in town have not had a stellar year, and the city has done everything they could possibly do to cushion that blow.
I would like the residents to take a look at the power tourism wields over our local economy. Is a tourist based economy sustainable for a town and population of our size? Is it time to find an economic equilibrium? What percentage of our businesses are owned by residents? How few family businesses still exist? Among other things, the tourist driven economy has attracted commercial developers and vacation rental investors, changing Coronado in drastic measures. Is it possible and desirable to continue this pace without destroying Coronado as a home town?
Tourism is a charming element of Coronado. It is flattering, that our town has long been the envy of many who don't live here. Over the years, It's been great fun to pridefully share Coronado with visitors. As the Assistant Director at CHA, I managed the Visitors Center, established the Hotel Del tours, shared the magic of our town, and welcomed all who came to Coronado. It was low key, home grown, staffed mostly by senior volunteers who had grown up or raised their families here. They had stories of Coronado to share and a pride in their town. We shared Coronado, we didn't promote Coronado.
The Visitors Center is now under the umbrella of our tourism and promotional CTID (i.e., Coronado Tourism Improvement District - now called Discover Coronado). The Visitors Center website is beautiful, professional and will likely attract more people to visit Coronado, all designed by Discover Coronado. All will likely be very effective to continue growing tourism in Coronado. The growth in the # of tourists over the past 10 years, has largely been in response to the allocated millions of dollars dedicated to promoting Coronado. Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is the second largest unrestricted revenue source for the city behind property tax revenue. Oddly, TOT revenue appears to pretty much stay right around 21-24% of our general fund income. We are not limited to using all of the assessment on growing tourism. The Business and Parking Development laws on which our assessment is based, have been implemented in very broad terms in other cities.
When is enough enough? Is Coronado willing to go through the transition to get our city back? Has the growth in the # of tourists been a positive thing for Coronado residents? Is it too late? If not, how do we turn it around?
submitted by Dot Harms
Resident letters submitted to Coronado Electorate News & Commentary (CEN&C) are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CEN&C. Submit letters to CoronadoElectorate@gmail.com