Town Hall meetings needed to integrate future plans

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Well, the East County Performing Arts Center is coming back into the spotlight again after a winter break. With El Cajon’s City Council having closed session on land leasing and now placing out bids for completion of the approved architectural designs, it is well on its way to being prepared for submission to the council.

Well, the East County Performing Arts Center is coming back into the spotlight again after a winter break. With El Cajon’s City Council having closed session on land leasing and now placing out bids for completion of the approved architectural designs, it is well on its way to being prepared for submission to the council.

Though I have made my ideas on the leasing of the ECPAC center very clear, there are many out there who do support it. And honestly, I do not have a problem with a church conducting services there and do not believe that it is in violation of separation of church and state. Although I do question the legality of the length of time of this agreement and it might be scrutinized under the law. A 30 year lease, especially with so many days booked is a lot to consider.

El Cajon’s city council is one of the least accessible council’s in East County. I do not say that due to the people in office, this is just my interpretation due to the fact that it holds its council meetings during normal working hours. This triggers me to believe that they do not value the public’s input as much as being done earlier in the day. And they are not the only offenders, but it seems logical to hold council meetings at a time when the majority of the public can attend, and that would be in the evening.

I do not see this changing, and it has probably been going on forever, but there is a solution in getting more public input in whether or not the people of El Cajon see this potential partnership with Rock Church is really what they want. I see no reason why the council cannot flip its agenda to hold the Housing & Authority meeting first, then begin its normal council meeting in the evening after working hours. But again, it is not something I believe will happen in the near future.

But here is what can be done. La Mesa is another offender, beginning its council meetings at 4:00 p.m. Yet, they do show extreme concern over the people of La Mesa and their opinions. La Mesa is constantly holding open workshops and Town Hall meetings when dealing with large projects that affect the entire city. They do so in a manner, so that just about anyone who wishes to be part of the governmental process and voice their support and concerns, many times holding several at different hours to give as many people as possible to attend.

El Cajon needs to do the same. When the time comes and the Rock Church proposal is ready for the public, the city needs to hold a few Town Hall meetings to get as many people as possible the ability to share their thoughts on what this means for the future of El Cajon. Although there is strong support from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown El Cajon Business Partners as a whole, there are many in these groups that do not agree.

A meeting with public officials, lawyers, and Rock Church that would give the public the ability to speak its mind or ask questions that concern them is a good way to start a good relationship with such a controversial project.

Democracy is not always pretty, and there are some adamant voices on each side of the issue, but it is highly apparent that this partnership with Rock Church has a stronger chance of becoming a reality. And downtown El Cajon will never be the same again, good or bad.

Think about it. Wouldn’t you rather know that you have the support of the majority of the community before moving forward with such an extensive and in many ways invasive project? Town Hall meetings might clear up all of the unanswered questions and will demonstrate that the El Cajon council believes in its people, and is willing to confront the opposition with candor.

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