The request for ideas for revitalizing downtown Fallbrook elicited almost 20 responses through both email and online comments. Some residents support the proposed improvements while others offered their own suggestions for developing the downtown area and attracting more visitors.
Mona Castro would like a letter to be sent to each property owner in downtown Fallbrook, requesting that they spend a small amount to update their exterior. She wrote, “Something as little as the correct paint colors to match existing roofing/rock/brick can turn a property around. Also removing old signage and replacing with something smaller. It sounds a little bold, but if even if a third of the owners respond, that would be an improvement.”
Castro and a few others like the idea of vertical parking which would help slow traffic, but a few respondents would prefer to close a section of Main Avenue to all vehicle traffic. Greg Grajek wrote that, “Fallbrook could easily condemn a large section of Main Street or Elder and create a Mall like atmosphere void of auto congestion – just for seniors. The downtown eateries, shops and art centers would thrive as seniors have the largest amount of disposable income and the willingness to spend.”
Grajek also proposed a plan that includes attracting “a large scale or possibly several national chains in the senior care industry to build a full service senior living facility. A town within a town could be constructed offering all three levels of senior care. If we get enough scale, the construction of a new, small-town 24 hour clinic/hospital would be possible. Remember Fallbrook is served by the pre-existing Fallbrook Hospital district and has some start up funding available.”
On-line comments included ideas for outdoor cafes, a pedestrian-friendly downtown, and holding the car show downtown. Other respondents would like to see the buildings cleaned up and better restaurants brought in to downtown, as well as a stronger sheriff’s presence after dark.
One resident recommended an online campaign publicizing what Fallbrook has to offer, “Car shows, Avo Fests, Art Center, Mineral Museum, Farmers Markets, Historical Society, Restaurants, etc.” He advised using “a competent writer: sell the sizzle, not just the steak.”
On the other hand, Fallbrook native Kathleen Dunning-Torbett would rather see a project that improves the lives of residents rather than one that brings in visitors. “I have watched this village grow – and not always wisely – over nearly 70 years, and think making downtown more user friendly for those who call it home would be a better starting point,” she wrote.
Dunning-Torbett added, “As someone who has limited mobility, I would like to see more options for those of us in this position. I have tried shopping downtown only to have people honk at and/or flip me off because of my impairment. Shop Fallbrook first? I say put Fallbrook residents of all abilities first, and then branch out to attract tourists.”
A few other respondents also support beautifying downtown but would rather not have more traffic coming into town. They came here because Fallbrook is a small town, not a city with lots of traffic.
Allen Morris wrote, “We need to make it apparent that this is not a shortcut – it’s our hometown and its a great place to be…I agree that it should be our goal to encourage them [visitors] to stay for a while by taking our restaurants and shopping up a notch and creating new venues for relaxing and for community events just as has been suggested.”
Besides improving the quality of life for residents and making Fallbrook appealing to visitors, Morris continued, “we need to help established businesses, too. Upgrading and modernizing of existing businesses needs to be encouraged by making it easy, less time consuming and less costly to do so. Let’s make the process of revitalizing an existing business or starting up a new and profitable business in Fallbrook the envy of San Diego County!”
Thomas Rondeau, who has been in downtown since 1979, responded with “If Fallbrook is seriously interested in revitalizing, the chamber of commerce should be open on weekends. The Village Square should have music and art every Saturday to draw people to downtown. Every Saturday should be a fiesta while the merchants are open, and not just Summer Nights.”
On the Village News website, Fallbrook Village Association president Roy Moosa wrote, “Appreciate all the comments and suggestions. It’s a tough and hard battle having to deal with county regulations and some building owners that just don’t care. But we are making slow steady progress and you will see things come together a little at a time. Anyone that would like to get involved shaping our town and its future is welcome to contact me at [email protected]”