Q & A with Coronado Tourism Improvement District Director Todd Little

Meet the board’s executive director and learn more about the organization’s goals.

By Whitney Benzian

March 18, 2011

In 2010 the Coronado City Council unanimously approved the formation of the Coronado Tourism Improvement District (CTID).

The CTID is a nine-member board made up of the four largest hotels in town (Loews, Glorietta Bay Inn, the Hotel Del and the Marriott), a representative from MainStreet, the Coronado Historical Association, the Chamber of Commerce
and two at-large representatives from the business community. The two
at-large members, Mary Ann Berta and David Spatafore, are also Coronado
residents. 

The mission of the CTID is to boost tourism and put more feet on
the street and in the stores, which ultimately enhances the City’s
coffers.

The approval of the CTID also required hiring an executive director to manage the district’s day-to-day operations. The board chose Todd Little, whose background is in marketing and includes time with the Big Bear Lake Resort Association and the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. 

Little married a local girl, which is what brought him to the  island. He now lives in Coronado with his wife and new baby.

Coronado Patch: Can you please tell me a little bit about your background and what brought you to this position?

Todd Little: I’m very proud of my business background and
believe it benefits our goals with the Coronado Tourism Improvement
District. Through my career I’ve spent a great deal of time branding,
marketing and promoting products, services and destinations.  Most
recently, I worked with the Big Bear Lake Resort Association to better
position it as a four-season destination (not just for winter
activity). I led a team who worked closely with Snow Summit and Bear
Mountain to bring more skiers/snowboarders to their resorts.

My background also includes work in media, nonprofit organizations
and sports marketing. All of that pales in comparison to working and
living in Coronado.

Patch: How are thing going so far? What has surprised you the most about this job?

Little: Our nine-person board has accomplished a great deal
very quickly but knows there’s so much more to be done. In addition to
creating a brand that benefits Coronado businesses, the CTID has
invested wisely in marketing campaigns. These strategies come at no cost
to businesses, residents or the City of Coronado. The funding comes
from a .05 percent assessment on guests at the four CTID hotels (Hotel
del Coronado, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Glorietta Bay Inn and
Marriott’s Coronado Island Resort).

In this economy it was important to do something. Hoping and wishing
isn’t going to “move the needle” for our retail districts. The campaigns
are designed to bring visitors from across the bridge and across the
country. Our primary focus is the softer (slower) seasons such as fall
and winter.

Click below to read on for a status update on the CTID and a primer on its goals: 

http://coronado.patch.com/articles/q-a-with-coronado-tourism-improvement-district-director-todd-little

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Pate Brothers Chart Own Courses as Sports Entrepreneurs

An interview with Coronado sons Bryan and Doug Pate
By Whitney Benzian

Brothers Bryan and Doug Pate grew up in Coronado, attending local schools and playing competitive sports all along the way. Bryan, the older sibling, attended Stanford University before joining the military and eventually attending law school. Doug went to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. After graduating, Doug worked in business before he decided to chart his own course as an entrepreneur. A few years later, Bryan got the bug, too, and started his own firm with partner Brent Teal.

Both their businesses are focused on athletics. But if you knew these two growing up, you wouldn’t be surprised. All four of the Pate brothers (Bill, Bryan, Dave and Doug, respectively) were known for their love of sports and great skills on the field.

What makes their respective stories even more compelling is that they are part of something bigger, a region-wide growth in what is now being called, by influential economic development groups, “San Diego’s sports innovation cluster.” This cluster is deriving its momentum from San Diego’s bread and butter: surf and sun.

Calloway golf in Carlsbad has served as a catalyst for related spin-off companies, and Bryan’s ElliptiGO and Doug’s Isle Surf are all part of this spurt. 

Recently, the brothers and Coronado Patch’s Whitney Benzian sat down at the Brigantine for some fish tacos and an update on the Pate businesses.

Coronado Patch: I know most of the Pate boys were great sports competitors growing up, but where does the entrepreneurial spirit come from?

Bryan Pate: I’d have to say peewee soccer. 

Doug Pate: You’re right, peewee soccer!

Bryan: In fifth grade Jack Bowen and I started a peewee soccer camp that we ran for years. We started the idea and would create our posters at the Central Elementary School library. The camp was for 5- to 8-year-olds. We charged $33 for an eight-hour day and conducted them at Bradley Field. Jack is still running camps around the country, but for water polo.

Doug: That’s right! I recall you had campers like Cinda and Robbie McClelland and David Klinker.

Bryan: Doug and Jack’s younger brother Matt Bowen were our assistants. Eventually they took over the camps.

Doug: We ran them for almost six years. So, I guess you could say we set our entrepreneurial footing back then.

Patch: Where did the ideas for Isle Surf and ElliptiGO come from and what did it take to get started?

To read the rest of the article please visit http://coronado.patch.com/articles/elliptigo-isle-surf-owners-talk-about-their-businesses-becoming-sports-entrepreneurs

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Coronado Redevelopment Agency in Crosshairs of State Controller

John Chiang announces his plan to examine 18 redevelopment agencies, including Coronado’s.

Here is a taste of my latest article for Coronado Patch.  It’s regarding redevelopment challenges facing Coronado. You can read the whole thing on the link below.

Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed eliminating all 425 of California’s redevelopment agencies, it seems every city in the state is panicking. Now, State Controller John Chiang has entered the debate.

Chiang announced on Monday his intent to review 18 redevelopment agencies across the state, and Coronado’s Community Development Agency is on the list. Coronado is the only area in San Diego County that is being looked at.

Of primary concern for Coronado are the local redevelopment funds, estimated to be more than $30 million per year, that would have to be repaid to the general fund should the current laws change, according to city documents.

The review is part of an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of city redevelopment agencies. Looking for ways to balance the state budget, the governor recently said he wants to phase these agencies out so the money goes to the general funds of financially strapped local governments.     

“The heated debate over whether [redevelopment agencies] are the engines of local economic and job growth or are simply scams providing windfalls to political cronies at the expense of public services has largely been based on anecdotal evidence,” Chiang said.

You can read the rest of the article here

Thanks.

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Waves Made At Council Meeting, Undercurrent is Real Story

What do you get when you mix a proposed audit, a Coronado City Council meeting and the tunnel study? Answer: You get one of the more lively council debates in some time.

For those of you who followed the recent Coronado City Council meeting where Councilmember Denny agendized discussion for a potential audit of the Tunnel Commission topic you know by now the meeting quickly turned curious.

Audits, by nature, are rather dull; in this case, however, it quickly became pretty darn exciting.

The meeting jumped up a few decibels for a number of reasons. However, not because the council was trying to avoid an audit, as you might expect. Rather, it appears from the meeting that a majority of the members, to Denny’s surprise, were all for the audit originally proposed by Councilmember Denny, before she seemed to oppose it.

What followed was not really a deliberation on the merits of an audit on one of the hottest political issues in town since Prop. J, but a manifestation of a deeper sentiment of most council members and the Mayor vis a vis Denny.

The elephant in the island these days, if you will.

That elephant is the prominent chasm that has emerged between Councilmember Denny and the rest of the Council on a number of public policy issues.

Alright, let’s start to peel away at this political onion, shall we?

The heated audit discussion was in many ways misdirected frustration, simply a consequence of many of the council members and the mayor’s befuddlement towards Denny over her decision-making this past year.

They see her as a populist who demagogues on poll-proven political slogans like transparency and financial reform.

They seem baffled when she selects topics like removing Orange Avenue bus stops to galvanize the electorate to attend her regular town halls.

She champions off-island causes, and appears often at press conferences hosted by non-Coronado electeds, which is out of the norm for most Coronado politicians. They think she takes credit for decisions and changes that in reality the whole Council worked on and approved.

In short, she is too blatantly ambitious for their tastes. At least, that’s my take on it.

Coronado is known for our legacy of white-haired electeds who steadily move our town down the road preserving the status quo. (For the record, I think white hair is cool.)

For a long time that has worked. Arguably it still works. The status quo is a good thing if your parks are clean and safe and basic city services are met, right?

As former Councilmember Phil Monroe used to say, “I don’t think there is a better run city in California.”

While most Cities are on the brink of bankruptcy we are sitting pretty, by and large. I mean how many people trust government enough to donate $5 million to it? One generous Coronadoan recently did.

Denny aims to set herself apart from that political history.

If my above noted assumptions are correct, I wonder where her road map proposes to go? Notwithstanding the effectiveness of our past Councils, Denny has clearly tapped into a vein within our citizenry that is furious or frustated.

She counts many respected opinion leaders in town as allies and she has people engaged. So, for that she deserves credit. I’m just not sure what her end goals are.

Regularly being the lone no vote is symbolic and that may be her point. Former San Diego councilmember Donna Frye made a lot of waves doing that. No pun intended.

To be sure a healthy dose of skepticism is good government. I applaud that, however, I would like to see her try and create some coalitions with her colleagues to achieve her goals whatever they may be.

Let’s continue this discussion.

What does or doesn’t appeal to you about Denny? In particular, what is this vein of frustration she appears to have tapped into? What are the main issues she espouses that you support or don’t support?

Thanks.

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Do Americans Still Believe We Are Exceptional?

A few hours after two planes crashed into the World Trade Centers on Septemer 11, 2001 I unfurled an American flag out my college dorm window.  My Tudor-style dormitory sat serenely in the middle of my wooded campus at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.  I publically displayed my flag because my heart was broken, I was scared and I needed to rally around something.  That something was the most meaningful symbol I know: The American Flag.

The American Flag stirs up innumerable emotions for all sorts of people the world over.  To me it symbolizes the principles of our country but also energy, forward thinking, prosperity and glory.  Indeed, it was President Lincoln who said America was “the last best hope of earth.” I still believe that.

I wonder who else does?  After reading the news over the last year, pundits, politicians and pugnacious plutocrats continue to see and talk only negatively about America’s future.

Where is the wherewithal Americans have shown for over 300 hundred years?

I think we still have it. The media and self-serving elected officials just choose not to focus on it and it’s leading people to believe the hype. Like the great Chuck D said: “Don’t believe the hype.” I sure don’t.

I, for one, am not giving up our country’s powerful place in world affairs to China or India or Brazil.  Sure we are smack dab in the middle of a terrible recession and two wars.

Let’s not give up.  Let’s fire each other up. Let’s look to our ancestors who fought courageously in countless wars over the centuries for the inspiration to fight for, save and importantly move our great country forward.  They fought and won because they believed in what America is made of: guts and ingenuity.

America, no doubt, is in a troubled and difficult phase of her history.

Americans and our built-in entrepreunerial spirit will, no doubt, pull America back up to our sturdy position as the great “City Upon A Hill.” Yet, wherever one looks there is no unity of purpose, simply mindless bickering.

I’m done with it.

Let’s not let the media’s negative reporting bring us down.  Let’s do what we’ve been doing for hundreds of years.  Let’s rise to the challenge and persevere!

To the many politicians and talking heads who wear American flag pins on their lapels while berating our fine nation, I suggest you tilt your head down take a long hard look at your pin and remember what the flag stands for.

Rather than tear one another apart, as citizens, let’s all unfurl our flags and remember that we are American first.

Let me know, am I a ranting nut or are you with me on this?

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Just Over the Bridge, A New Economy Is Growing

Have you seen examples of the clean economy sprouting up in Barrio Logan?

While some groups are fighting against the clean economy and others are advocating for it many more entrepreneurs and businesspeople are cashing in on it.  More power to them!

Recently, I attended an informal dinner at Truluck’s in La Jolla. I was invited by Coronado local Rob Steiner.  The dinner was hosted by a national DC-based organization called the Clean Economy Network.  In a nutshell, this is their mission:

“CEN is a networking, educational, and advocacy organization shaping a new economy based on clean technology and innovation. Our members are professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers who connect to each other, learn information relevant to business and professional growth, and influence public policies that impact the clean economy.”

The dinner setting was intimate, tucked away in a private room.  Both Bachus and Socrates would’ve enjoyed themselves.  The dinner table was a mid-sized rectangle that allowed for an easy roundtable-style discussion. Wine was ample.  The topics of discussion were broad and current.

Most of the attendees were clean economy entrepreneurs and leaders. I snuck in the back door and made up a fancy title.

As  the conversations unfolded and pivoted off-topic and back again, the night’s themes were always roughly aimed at this question: Where is the new, clean or green or whatever-you-want-to-call-it economy going?

One of the most salient comments of the night centered on Proposition 23–the measure that aimed to essentially, depending on your viewpoint, derail or slow down Assembly Bill 32 , which failed election night.  Surprisingly, in San Diego County, a more conservative county, the measure failed by 55.8 per cent.

So what does that mean?  Are San Diegans ready to embrace a new framwork for the state’s economy?

By killing Proposition 23 California voters arguably endorsed Assembly Bill 32.  If that is indeed the case, I’m excited to see what the future has in store for San Diego and California’s economy.

Listening to the business people at this dinner I was inspired by their creativity and the innovative companies they started.  In this doom and gloom media atmosphere it was refreshing to see lots of energy, no pun intended, and tons of ideas that are being implemented now and creating jobs right here in San Diego. The animal spirits were roaring at this feast.

I saw a sneak peek of this entrepreneurial energy the other day when I went for a jog.

As I often do, I ran down Cesar Chavez Parkway in Barrio Logan toward the Bay.  Along my route,  was the fledgling business New Leaf Biofuel (a bio diesel processing plant started by a recent Pepperdine law grad), I was then compelled to wait at the intersection of Cesar Chavez Parkway and Harbor Drive because three trucks were maneuvering massive redwood sized wind turbines from the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal onto Harbor Drive.

The turbines were delivered from the other side of the Pacific Ocean on frigates that lock into the Port and are likely now powered by on-shore power (clean energy – ships no longer have to sit idly pumping diesel into the air before they dock).

Once I slipped passed the trucks and turbines I took a breather at the end of the pier at Cesar Chavez Park.  Looking north I saw the Convention Center poised for an expansion with a rooftop covered in solar panels.

When I looked south I saw the South Bay Power Plant that just weeks ago was decommissioned by a state agency.  It will soon be torn down, it’s energy no longer needed in the region.

That's me in the upper left hand corner looking out of place in a suit.

Whatever your views on the clean or green economy, whether you believe in climate change or not, the economy is changing and I am thrilled for this bold new economy. I am excited because it means new jobs, more economic opportunity for California’s creative business people and a healthier quality of life.

It’s happening right across the Coronado bridge in Barrio Logan and I think that is a good thing for San Diego, do you?

Thanks for checking in and reading.

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What is the most underutilized property in Coronado?

A week ago you may have said the Village Theatre. You can’t anymore because that project is finally moving forward.   Maybe the empty lot next to Il Fornaio? Both are topics I wrote about recently.

Well, what do you think is the most underutilized property in town?

I think it’s the Coronado Ferry Landing.  Those folks are sitting on an untapped gold mine.  Okay, wait.  It’s very likely already a gold mine.  But, couldn’t it be better? Better for us?

I don’t know many locals who head down there regularly to shop or eat.  Perhaps a bit more after Candelas and the pizza joint spruced things up? Still, not that often.

Alright, so hear me out. This is what I’m thinking.  Please let me know if you are with me or think I’m nuts.  Yes, I want a merry-go-round on the water, as I’ve mentioned.  People keep writing to me or stopping me on Orange to tell me they would love to see something like that go forward.  Frankly, I was surprised by the support for it.

This concept has moved some people to think even bigger.

A friend stopped me in front of 1134 on my way to Graham Memorial, and said “When are you going to put in the merry-go-round?” I laughed and she said “No. Seriously. It would be great.”

She elaborated on the idea: “What’s up with the Farmer’s Market down there? They need to spice it up.  It’s so dull and small.”  She is right.  Most Farmer’s Markets have face painting for kids, kettle corn, and more adventurous food options.

I know if the Farmer’s Market resembled the one down in Imperial Beach or even a bit like the Hillcrest one I’d head down to the Landing much more often.  Wouldn’t you?

We just need some more incentive to pull us in.  Burger King and Lifeguard On Duty shops won’t cut it. A few are fine, but not every shop.  What would you like to see down there?

Arguably, Coronado’s most precious and public shoreline is dedicated to tourism. Now, don’t get me wrong.  Coronado needs tourism for our general fund to thrive, but I think the folks at the Landing could strike a stronger balance and entice residents into their stores and restaurants with businesses more geared toward locals.

They are on their way. I dig the moves they’ve made so far.  Let’s just hope they nudge themselves a bit more.  Let me know what kind of changes you’d like to see down there?

If we show those guys down there we mean business, maybe they’ll change theirs for the better.

Thanks for listening.

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