Solvang considers disbanding Tourism Advisory Committee

To keep its marketing arm from being in limbo, Solvang is temporarily halting meetings of its Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), while city officials consider restructuring the group. 

click to enlarge Solvang considers disbanding Tourism Advisory Committee
TOURIST TRAP: At its April 10 meeting, the Solvang City Council directed staff to schedule a joint meeting between the council and the city’s Tourism Advisory Committee to discuss possibly restructuring the group, or disbanding it to start a new ad hoc committee.

During the Solvang City Council’s April 10 meeting, Councilmember Robert Clarke initially argued to disband the committee, following the departure of the city’s marketing agency, The Abbi Agency—which resigned in mid-March.

“We don’t have a marketing agency, we don’t have a marketing manager, and I think we should stop and disband the TAC and start this whole thing from scratch,” Clarke said at the April 10 meeting. “I think there’s enough qualified people in this town to get together, that care enough about this town to really make the TAC something a step, two steps, three steps above where it has been. I want to wipe the entire slate clean.”

The week before, at its April 6 meeting, the TAC was working on preparing advice for the City Council on how to move forward marketing-wise, with recommendations for potential future marketing consultants to consider, a report the City Council had requested. By the end of that meeting, the group had one less committee member.

After accusing committee member Kim Jensen of “combative, aggressive behavior” during a discussion on potential hires, which escalated into an argument, TAC Chair Vashti Wilson left the dais. 

“I’m going to leave you guys exactly as I found you. I know what I bring to the table, and I don’t have to stay in a place in which I’m experiencing this,” Wilson said. “I wish you well.”

Other committee members were quiet while Wilson packed up and left the room. Interim City Manager Brad Vidro broke the silence with a comment to committee member Alexander Grenier.

“So, Alex is the vice chair,” Vidro said. “He will now take over the meeting.”

“I just ask that through the course of the rest of this meeting that, while we can all disagree with each other on specific issues, we try to remain united—especially in regards to all the press going on,” Grenier said. “If we don’t have a civil discourse here, or if we don’t have some level of a united front, people are going to take this and construe this as a further abdication of our responsibilities. 

“We need to work together on this, and I don’t want a further twisted media narrative.”

Before the end of its April 10 meeting, the Solvang City Council unanimously agreed to postpone future TAC meetings until staff can coordinate a special joint meeting between the City Council and the TAC to discuss the group’s future in a public forum setting.

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