Category Archives: Features

Spin Cycle?

Today, I received a call from an El Cajon city official (higher up on the food chain) who wished to remain unnamed, but was concerned on the direction of the so-called “ECPAC Foundation” and their constant public aspersions against the City Council, such as the suggestion that the City Council “blindsided” anyone with their decision to begin talks with the hotel developer. This person said to me that the City of El Cajon never intended for things to go in the direction they eventually did, ending up with a City Council decision to explore tearing the troubled 33-year old theater down.  This person said that it was originally in the city plans to renovate the theater while the new downtown police center was being developed and built.  The plans were actually in place to utilize the same construction contractors and suppliers, but the plans went by the wayside when it was decided that having the two buildings being under construction would place too much of a burden on the limited parking available in the area.

Several El Cajon City Officials have openly mentioned that any prospect of reopening would be temporary, and that they envisioned that demolition of the theater within the next five-to-ten years because of its age “was inevitable.”  “Any money we put into it would be for the short term,” it has been said. “We have to look at whether any investment of monies and resources into the long term viability of the theater as a structure into the next decade or two.”



El Cajon city officials tried to get the a group of community members excited over their plans for the kickoff of their centennial celebration on November 12th.  But what they also got was an earful about how the almost three-year shuttered East County Performing Arts Center is likely to be dark come November 12th.

In a four minute oration after a presentation about the city’s celebration plans, local community activist Ray Lutz harshly lashed out and criticized the City of El Cajon’s Public Information Officer, Monica Zech, and other members of the city staff who organized the presentation for excluding the shuttered theater in its plans. He reminded and lambasted the group of community activists the irony that the original promoters of the event, the El Cajon City Council, announced plans in late March to demolish the theater and actively work with a local developer to develop a hotel on the site of the present theater, yet is using arts and music as a focal point of its celebration plans. “This is a real black eye to the city to leave this asset….this jewel…that everyone knows about….excluded from the events,” he said. “You should be mentioning the East County Performing Arts Center as a significant part of this valley. It is a whole part of the structure of downtown,” Lutz continued.

Hear it here:

Ben Kalasho, El Cajon City Council Candidate


Ben Kalasho, an El Cajon City Council candidate, has been a valuable member of the Save ECPAC/ECPAC Foundation Citizen’s Task Force.  He offers his comment at the news conference on June 21st in front of the theater.

An Excellent article about our efforts from the East County Magazine.


An excellent article about our efforts published by the East County Magazine.

Water, water, everywhere…not a drop anywhere to drink


One of the major issues facing the East County Performing Arts Center is its roof.  While we learned a couple of weeks ago that the firewall was compromised with a “permanent installation” by a former management tenant above and near the stage, this leak on the right side of the theater (house right) will have to be addressed.  Different things have been suggested about this leak, including that the source of it has been caused by an accumulation of dead pine needles in a key drainage pipe.  It has also been suggested that with an installation of a drainage scupper on this parapet wall that this could be one solution of what will eventually be an expensive complete roof job.

How things were allowed to get this far I’ll never understand (although some “theorycasts” are entirely plausible).

More on today’s developments at the El Cajon City Hall….


As Ray Lutz commented in an e-mail to members of the SaveECPAC/ECPAC Foundation group, we were scheduled to meet with El Cajon City Manager Doug Williford for 15 minutes.  We ended up talking to him and discussing our proposal in a proactive and positive tone for 1.5 hours. Says Lutz, “I noticed the city manager said he was not hearing very many people who were interested in saving the theater except for the inner circle.”

Please send your letters (e-mail or snail mail) and phone calls of support of the ECPAC Foundation directly to the City Manager, Douglas Williford.

His contact information:

Mr. Douglas Williford, City Manager

El Cajon City Hall

200 Civic Center Way

El Cajon, CA 92020

(619) 441-1716



We would appreciate if you would please send a copy of your communication to or FAX it to (413) 771-7762.


10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…We have ignition…Blastoff!


In front of the dusty, shuttered box office windows, core members of the ECPAC Foundation led a press conference announcing their handoff of a proposal to the El Cajon City Manager, Doug Williford, to reopen and manage the East County Performing Arts Center.

The press conference was attended by local journalists including veteran ABC10 reporter Jen Chatsfield and KUSI ch. 9/51, and East County Magazine. Ray Lutz, co-founder of the ECPAC Foundation, expressed his desire that the City of El Cajon put the same effort and energy into negotiating with the ECPAC Foundation, that it put into a six-month agreement with local developer Neal Arthur to discuss razing the the 33-year old theater. In late May, the City of El Cajon rescinded its earlier vote allowing discussion of plans to demolish the theater. Instead, City Council member, Tony Ambrose, invited the ECPAC Foundation to submit a theater management proposal.

After the press conference, the group walked into the second floor conference room of the City Manager where the principals of the group discussed the main points of the proposal. 

The group will reconvene in the near future to continue discussions.

“Saving Our Stage”


After some ten weeks of meetings by a local citizens task force, the ECPAC Foundation will be holding a press conference prior to submitting its proposal for its management of the East County Performing Arts Center. The press conference will be held at 3 p.m. in front of the El Cajon City Hall.  Ray Lutz and Paul Kruze will then meet with El Cajon’s City Manager, Doug Williford, at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the main points of the proposal.

“Back To The Future”

Some ten years ago, the Arts Center Foundation (ACF), the second management entity to run the theater from 1999-2005, solicited a local architect to come up with a rendering that would show how the theater would look with its entrance moved to Main Street.  In retrospect, this reimagined concept of a new entrance looks very dated and archaic some ten years later.  Thank goodness the ACF couldn’t get the money to change the front of the theater to this design and concept.

This design would have clashed with the clean lines of the other buildings which were built as a part of this “superblock” (including City Hall and the Courthouse) in 1977.