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Removal of Drive-in Screens First Step for the Re-established ‘Citizens for a Better Oceanside’

Oceanside CA— Without any fanfare, like it or not, the deteriorating iconic movie screens of the Valley Drive-in are now history due in large part to the efforts of the re-established group ‘Citizens for a Better Oceanside’ (CBO).

CBO was originally formed in the early 2000’s to pursue issues with the Oceanside Airport. After several years the group began to fall apart no longer filling out the required paperwork or paying taxes. In 2015, the groups current President, Joseph Webber, re-filed the paperwork to re-establish the group and keep the CBO name. “Our mission has now expanded to citywide issues.” said Mr. Webber.

One of the first items for the group was the removal of the dangerous and dilapidated movie screens at the Valley Drive-in, 3480 Mission Avenue. While the screens came down quickly, the process began in 2015.

“My first contact with the City of Oceanside regarding the unsafe and unsightly condition of the screens, was an impromptu visit with the Code Enforcement Division’s, Eileen Deptula in late November of 2015.” explained Mr. Webber, “Eileen’s initial comments to me was that there wasn’t much they could do. When I suggested that the property was diminishing the value of homes in the area, her response was. “there isn’t any way you could prove that. ” That didn’t sit well with me at all. So, on December 7th, 2015, I filed a formal complaint.”

Mr. Webber never heard back from the City nor did he receive any type of response to his complaint so he put in some detective work. “I had to start digging around. After digging around for a few months I located the current leaseholder, Thomas Enterprises in June and started talking with them. That was when I found out they had been recently cited by the City and were in the process of obtaining quotes on demolishing the Drive-in screens.”

The Notice and Order posted May 23, 2016 on a sign post at the Drive-in .west gate.

The Notice and Order posted May 23, 2016 on a sign post at the Drive-in .west gate.

Mr. Webber said the Drive-in was originally owned by a couple of brothers, Robert and John Siegel of Carlsbad. Both are deceased and the property is now in probate or possibly a family trust.

Thomas Enterprises, headquartered in Newnan, Georgia, holds a 100 year lease.  Vice President Mel Kuhnel has general oversight of the property. Direct oversight of the property is under the responsibility of Byrnes Lambert. Thomas enterprises had earlier intentions of developing the land with retail space. A lawsuit filed by the Westfield Corporation blocked that effort due to the owners lack of due diligence in entitling the property. Thomas Enterprises still holds the same intent for development in the near future.

The response to the screens being demolished has been mostly positive. “The major majority of the neighborhood [to the west of the property] is ecstatic about the screens being removed. It’s an obvious improvement and we’re very happy, as a community, that improvements to the land are in the near future.” said Mr. Webber. “There are a few people who were hoping the Drive-in would be restored to the glory days of drive-in theaters but that was extremely unlikely to ever happen.” continued Joe, “The return on investment would never ‘pencil out’.”

“We present ourselves as advocates for a better quality of life for citizens and business owners in Oceanside. We also present ourselves as a source for solutions providing, resources, collaboration and communication with stakeholders directly related to the problem at hand. We won’t present a problem without presenting a solution.” said Mr. Webber of the CBO’s goals.

With that in mind, Mr. Webber helped in finding a service to demolish the screens. “I did not present myself as the CBO, only as a neighbor wanting to help out if I can. I provided some contractor quotes to Byrnes, (Property manager). He ended up using one of my recommended contractors and the work began.”

valley_drive-in03_osidenews

Originally it was thought it would take a week per screen to complete the process but work went faster than anticipated and all four screens were removed in just a few days.

The CBO Board of Directors includes; Joe Webber, President, Frank Gonzalez, Treasurer/Secretary and Ron Stewart, Trustee a Member of the original and former CBO.

With the wider focus, the CBO group is looking at ways to be involved with the Coast Highway Corridor study, the renovation project adjacent to the pier and, “We are also  interested in finding solutions for the homeless situation.” said Mr. Webber.

To learn more about CBO, visit their Facebook page [Link].

If you are interested in joining Citizens for a Better Oceanside, contact Joe Webber: president@abetteroceanside.com