Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

La Mesa Oktoberfest report

Less teenagers, less cost, and less business = mixed reviews

Before the project was started, shop owners expressed the importance of maintaining public accessibility.
Before the project was started, shop owners expressed the importance of maintaining public accessibility.

The La Mesa Village Merchants Association threw their first Oktoberfest 42 years ago. Their website states “over 100,000 attendees” now flock to the annual gathering. With the disruption from the La Mesa Streetscape Project and change in format, dates, and times, how did Oktoberfest 2015 unfold?

This year’s event was in doubt up until July 28, when the city council approved the association’s application over some objections, in part due to money owed the city for two prior events. The council also required the event to close at 10 p.m., rather than 11 p.m.

The association assumed responsibility for the event after a seven-year partnership with the chamber of commerce. Whereas Oktoberfest formerly took place on La Mesa Boulevard and on both the east and west sides of Spring Street, for 2015 it was limited to the east side. And while in previous years it took place over three days, this year it was reduced to two.

With the smaller footprint and reduced schedule, the cost recovery due the city for staff time went from $85,673 in 2014 to $63,504 this year, according to Greg Humora, director of public works/city engineer for the City of La Mesa. The roughly 26 percent reduction in cost recovery seems disproportionate to some, in view of the event being one-third shorter (two days instead of three) and over a 40 precent smaller area (three blocks instead of five blocks along La Mesa Boulevard).

Even with this cost reduction, Oktoberfest 2015 was not considered a success by everyone. Jessica Sinado at the Lather Hair Salon described sales during the event as pretty much “a dead weekend,” from about 3 p.m. Friday onward. “People came to party,” not shop, she said. Neither regular customers, let alone walk-ins, came by, in large part due to the lack of parking caused by the street being closed down, she speculated.

Sinado described a change in the event’s theme from its typical emphasis on arts and crafts; this was a complaint echoed by Sherri Buck, owner of Handful of Wildflowers, another of the small businesses closing down in La Mesa. The movement away from arts and crafts is “killing it more and more each year,” said Buck. Commercial vendors, she said, have taken the place of arts and crafts.

As Rayanna Young at the Regal Bar observed, it was the “wrong mix” of vendors; she said one was selling garage doors and another attempted to sell her a shower. She likened the collection of vendors to “those pesky kiosk” salespeople encountered in malls, where they follow you while making their sales pitch.

Even though the regulars still came in, Young indicated business was down during Oktoberfest. From her place behind the bar, she has a good view out the front window onto La Mesa Boulevard. By her estimate, the crowds were down quite a bit, compared to years past, particularly during the daytime. In the absence of more reliable estimates on this year’s attendance, others echoed Young’s guesstimate. She also commented that there were noticeably fewer high-school-aged people in the crowds.

According to Frank Dittmer, owner of What a Dish and member of the merchants’ association, “The main beer garden did well; however, the event as a whole was not successful, losing money.”

Reportedly, the cost of vendor booths, at $700 each, made it difficult to sell them all. Says Dittmer, “A majority of the cost recovery and also a majority of the expenses due the city was for the police! Which in my personal opinion was completely unnecessary and overkill. La Mesa is a very paranoid and conservative area.”

The latter comment may refer to security problems in prior years, when fights broke out between groups of young people. As a small-business owner, Dittmer was not pleased with the 2015 results, saying, “As for sales, I can't speak for other businesses, but have the event stop at Spring [Street]. And cutting off the west end was a huge mistake. Oktoberfest 2014, my sales were approximately $2300 over the three days; this year I made $500.”

His dissatisfaction parallels that of David Chiodo of Trattoria Tiramisu, located on the east side of Spring Street, where the event was held. In Chiodo’s view, it would be fine if Oktoberfest went away because street closure eliminated customer parking, and access for his deliveries was adversely impacted. In the end, he says he did less business than normal. “It may be good for the bars, but not for the restaurants,” he said.

Another merchant, Mike Moore of the Park Estate Company, provided a more positive view of Oktoberfest 2015: it was “best in the last five years,” with “the crowds a thousand times better,” he said. Even as a smaller (less area) and shorter (hours and days) event, it was far better, in his view. In specific, he commented on the fewer number of teenagers, likely due to the change in format not being as attractive to them. In the past, he had experienced rowdy teenagers roaming through his shop (in at least one instance, setting off “stink bombs"). Such was not the case this year, as the crowds were “nice and friendly.” He also reported doing more business than in years past.

Looking at law-enforcement activity during Oktoberfest over the past three years, information provided by the La Mesa Police Department indicates downward trends, even when accounting for fewer days and shortened hours. Calls for service were 60 in 2013, 42 in 2014, and 22 in 2015; arrests totaled 7 in 2013, 8 in 2014, and 2 in 2015. Of the 17 arrests over the three years, the predominant cause (7, or 41 percent) was for public intoxication. One interpretation of this information supports Moore’s characterization that the 2015 event was calmer than in previous years.

Moore was not alone in describing increased police presence, joining Dittmer, Sinado, and Young in observing there were many more uniformed officers visible during this year’s event. Moore stated he observed one time when a group of eight officers was walking down the street together, rather than being more broadly deployed throughout the event. Obviously pleased with the tone of the crowds this year, Moore nevertheless expressed concern for the cost of all the police being paid at “time and a half.”

Though there are many indications that the Streetscape improvement project is coming to an end, Moore, along with other merchants on La Mesa Boulevard, feel the project hasn’t been wrapped up soon enough. Standing outside his store on a recent Monday afternoon, he pointed out spray-painted marks on the new asphalt — the kind of marks made by workers indicating something is going to be dug up. Further west on the street, crews were in the process of digging up other sections of recently redone asphalt, such as at the intersection of La Mesa Boulevard and Acacia.

Shaking his head, Moore complained that he does not see members of the city council walking in this area of town.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

North River Farms foes face lawsuit heat

If activists take Measure L off ballot, they would no longer face mounting legal fees
Next Article

Ocean Beach trash altruist

Cameron Reid covers Niagara and Narragansett, Sunset Cliffs to Abbott.
Before the project was started, shop owners expressed the importance of maintaining public accessibility.
Before the project was started, shop owners expressed the importance of maintaining public accessibility.

The La Mesa Village Merchants Association threw their first Oktoberfest 42 years ago. Their website states “over 100,000 attendees” now flock to the annual gathering. With the disruption from the La Mesa Streetscape Project and change in format, dates, and times, how did Oktoberfest 2015 unfold?

This year’s event was in doubt up until July 28, when the city council approved the association’s application over some objections, in part due to money owed the city for two prior events. The council also required the event to close at 10 p.m., rather than 11 p.m.

The association assumed responsibility for the event after a seven-year partnership with the chamber of commerce. Whereas Oktoberfest formerly took place on La Mesa Boulevard and on both the east and west sides of Spring Street, for 2015 it was limited to the east side. And while in previous years it took place over three days, this year it was reduced to two.

With the smaller footprint and reduced schedule, the cost recovery due the city for staff time went from $85,673 in 2014 to $63,504 this year, according to Greg Humora, director of public works/city engineer for the City of La Mesa. The roughly 26 percent reduction in cost recovery seems disproportionate to some, in view of the event being one-third shorter (two days instead of three) and over a 40 precent smaller area (three blocks instead of five blocks along La Mesa Boulevard).

Even with this cost reduction, Oktoberfest 2015 was not considered a success by everyone. Jessica Sinado at the Lather Hair Salon described sales during the event as pretty much “a dead weekend,” from about 3 p.m. Friday onward. “People came to party,” not shop, she said. Neither regular customers, let alone walk-ins, came by, in large part due to the lack of parking caused by the street being closed down, she speculated.

Sinado described a change in the event’s theme from its typical emphasis on arts and crafts; this was a complaint echoed by Sherri Buck, owner of Handful of Wildflowers, another of the small businesses closing down in La Mesa. The movement away from arts and crafts is “killing it more and more each year,” said Buck. Commercial vendors, she said, have taken the place of arts and crafts.

As Rayanna Young at the Regal Bar observed, it was the “wrong mix” of vendors; she said one was selling garage doors and another attempted to sell her a shower. She likened the collection of vendors to “those pesky kiosk” salespeople encountered in malls, where they follow you while making their sales pitch.

Even though the regulars still came in, Young indicated business was down during Oktoberfest. From her place behind the bar, she has a good view out the front window onto La Mesa Boulevard. By her estimate, the crowds were down quite a bit, compared to years past, particularly during the daytime. In the absence of more reliable estimates on this year’s attendance, others echoed Young’s guesstimate. She also commented that there were noticeably fewer high-school-aged people in the crowds.

According to Frank Dittmer, owner of What a Dish and member of the merchants’ association, “The main beer garden did well; however, the event as a whole was not successful, losing money.”

Reportedly, the cost of vendor booths, at $700 each, made it difficult to sell them all. Says Dittmer, “A majority of the cost recovery and also a majority of the expenses due the city was for the police! Which in my personal opinion was completely unnecessary and overkill. La Mesa is a very paranoid and conservative area.”

The latter comment may refer to security problems in prior years, when fights broke out between groups of young people. As a small-business owner, Dittmer was not pleased with the 2015 results, saying, “As for sales, I can't speak for other businesses, but have the event stop at Spring [Street]. And cutting off the west end was a huge mistake. Oktoberfest 2014, my sales were approximately $2300 over the three days; this year I made $500.”

His dissatisfaction parallels that of David Chiodo of Trattoria Tiramisu, located on the east side of Spring Street, where the event was held. In Chiodo’s view, it would be fine if Oktoberfest went away because street closure eliminated customer parking, and access for his deliveries was adversely impacted. In the end, he says he did less business than normal. “It may be good for the bars, but not for the restaurants,” he said.

Another merchant, Mike Moore of the Park Estate Company, provided a more positive view of Oktoberfest 2015: it was “best in the last five years,” with “the crowds a thousand times better,” he said. Even as a smaller (less area) and shorter (hours and days) event, it was far better, in his view. In specific, he commented on the fewer number of teenagers, likely due to the change in format not being as attractive to them. In the past, he had experienced rowdy teenagers roaming through his shop (in at least one instance, setting off “stink bombs"). Such was not the case this year, as the crowds were “nice and friendly.” He also reported doing more business than in years past.

Looking at law-enforcement activity during Oktoberfest over the past three years, information provided by the La Mesa Police Department indicates downward trends, even when accounting for fewer days and shortened hours. Calls for service were 60 in 2013, 42 in 2014, and 22 in 2015; arrests totaled 7 in 2013, 8 in 2014, and 2 in 2015. Of the 17 arrests over the three years, the predominant cause (7, or 41 percent) was for public intoxication. One interpretation of this information supports Moore’s characterization that the 2015 event was calmer than in previous years.

Moore was not alone in describing increased police presence, joining Dittmer, Sinado, and Young in observing there were many more uniformed officers visible during this year’s event. Moore stated he observed one time when a group of eight officers was walking down the street together, rather than being more broadly deployed throughout the event. Obviously pleased with the tone of the crowds this year, Moore nevertheless expressed concern for the cost of all the police being paid at “time and a half.”

Though there are many indications that the Streetscape improvement project is coming to an end, Moore, along with other merchants on La Mesa Boulevard, feel the project hasn’t been wrapped up soon enough. Standing outside his store on a recent Monday afternoon, he pointed out spray-painted marks on the new asphalt — the kind of marks made by workers indicating something is going to be dug up. Further west on the street, crews were in the process of digging up other sections of recently redone asphalt, such as at the intersection of La Mesa Boulevard and Acacia.

Shaking his head, Moore complained that he does not see members of the city council walking in this area of town.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

North River Farms foes face lawsuit heat

If activists take Measure L off ballot, they would no longer face mounting legal fees
Next Article

The Brigantine and The Embarcadero: A tale of two happy hours

This could be the best experience on the waterfront.
Comments
2

So what role does the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce has in this event? Nothing? They don't seem to be supporting the local small businesses at all. It seems like the chamber is dead.

Nov. 27, 2015

This event was put on by the La Mesa Village Merchants Association which as I understand it, is made up of the La Mesa Village merchants so any failures are the fault of the merchants themselves. The Association is the one that determined what part of the "Village" would be left out (west of Spring) and what type of vendors would be allowed in. They also determined the level of police involvement and the length of the event. It appears to me that either not enough input by the merchants or a few powerful people made the decisions. It is up to the merchants to come together and decide what kind of event they want and how much they want to spend. Don't blame the City or the Chamber blame yourselves for the failure of the event.

Nov. 28, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close