The days may be numbered for the Calaveras Visitors Center in downtown Angels Camp.
The Calaveras Visitors Bureau, whose office is in the Visitors Center on South Main Street, faces the end of its lease in October. If the bureau chooses to stay, it may face a monthly bill of more than $2,000 from its landlord, the City of Angels Camp.
It is a price bureau officials say they cannot afford.
"The board needs to determine if operating a visitors center, at an
increased cost, fits the overall future of the CVB," said Darrell
Slocum, bureau president. "It appears likely the Calaveras Visitors
Bureau will be relocating prior to Oct. 1 as a result of a significant
increase in cost from the City of Angels."
That cost increase would come if the city follows through in asking
for $2,000 in rent plus janitorial and supply costs when a 10-year
lease, now granting the Visitors Bureau the space as an in-kind
Tourism officials estimate paying these costs would increase the bureau's annual operating expenses from $35,000 to $85,000.
The city has not made its demand for rent official, noted Mayor
Jack Lynch, but it is one of many options that will be considered to
close an estimated $1 million city budget shortfall. Budget meetings
will take place after the city finishes ongoing labor negotiations with
A substantial number of department heads have been terminated or
retired without being replaced, including the police and fire chiefs,
Funding for community involvement endeavors like the Angels Camp
Business Association, the Angels branch library and the Visitors Bureau
are among many items the city will have to explore in making further
cuts, he said.
"We have to close that gap that we have. Things that have been
normal and routine in the past have to considered," the mayor said.
"The Visitors Center doesn't want to be affected and neither does
anybody else. We feel so badly about it because tourism is so important
to creating employment and revenue activities. We applaud them for all
their activities. We just love them."
The CVB contends that the "Agreement for Promotion of Tourism"
signed by the city in 2003 secures both funding for the visitors bureau
and the rent-free use of the visitors center.
"The CVB will not pursue any legal action at this time. However,
the option remains open especially if our designated share of the TOT
(transient occupancy tax) comes into question," Slocum said.
The Visitors Bureau helped campaign for a successful 2003 county
ballot measure that enacted a 4 percentage-point increase in the TOT,
charged to hotel and motel visitors in the city. Under the measure's
terms, one-third of the increased tax revenues goes to the Visitors
If the CVB indeed moves its offices in the fall, a new location
"remains to be determined," said Office Manager Ginger Malatesta.
"We're entertaining ideas at this point."
Slocum adds that "some of our very supportive members have
suggested several locations, in various areas of the county, and we are
appreciative of the support. It's nice to have options, however, moving
is very disruptive and our preference would be to stay at our current
A visitors center might not be a part of the CVB's efforts if it moves.
"While the Visitors Center is a very visible component of the CVB's
operation, the reality is that it is just one small part of what we do.
The primary charter of the CVB is to market Calaveras County outside
our area," Slocum said. "The board needs to determine if operating a
visitors center, at an increased cost, fits the overall future of the
Tourism officials suggest the city may be cutting off its nose to
spite its face in looking to close its budget gap by charging the CVB
"The Calaveras Visitors Bureau has seen 13,000-plus visitors in
2008 and 2009," Malatesta said. "To date, we've seen over 9,000
visitors this year so we're on track to increase our traffic this year."
In addition, the CVB has received "feedback from downtown-area
businesses regarding the favorable impact that traffic has on their
business" and has actively showcased Angels Camp as a tourist
destination, Slocum said.
If the Visitors Center closes its doors, the Highway 49 rest stop
it operates, a Caltrans requirement, will not close with it but instead
become a responsibility of the city to maintain, Lynch said.
Contact Sean Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4531.