One of the best connected people in Coronado, Bill Sandke moved here in 1966 when his family bought a home in the country club area. Starting in middle school, his father’s Navy career took the family to England and then back East. He returned for his senior year and still knew half his class, and to this day has friends here from elementary school. He also developed a love of politics, travelling, boating, and photography along the way.
Since his family moved around with the Navy, he and his wife Tami decided they wanted to live in Coronado to put roots down for their children. But he acknowledges that it’s getting harder for multi-generational families to stay here. He opened Crown City Photography in 1989 in the Crown Shops at 10th Street and C Avenue. In 1999, he moved his business to The Del, where he has nostalgic memories and especially enjoys taking generational family photos.
Walking down nostalgia lane in the city he loves, fond memories include sitting on the end of runway 29 with his buddies to watch their dads do touch and go landings. He vividly recalls the multi-tiered water fountain that was deluged with pigeons, before the bandstand was built. He and his friends had the best of times riding on the bike trails near the Ferry Landing, and he enjoyed playing baseball at the fields where Il Fornaio now sits.
He remembers when Coronado had a car dealership, department store, and even a customized Volkswagen dune buggy shop. Back in the day, the 800 block of Orange Avenue was where all the action was, and he enjoyed shopping at the Avenue, which carried everything from candy to skateboard wheels, and frequenting Coramart, along with the hardware store and Village Theatre. He fondly remembers the vegetable truck that drove around town, affectionately named the “ding ding man” because of his bell. The moms bought produce from him, while the dads gathered round to place sports bets.
Sandke has been an active member of the community for decades and an advocate for keeping the quintessential community feel in Coronado, while promoting progress when needed. After eight years of helping to make a difference on the Coronado City Council, he shared some thoughts about his time in city government and what the future holds.
What was the most meaningful part of being a Council member?
I believe serving my community with the single minded focus of doing what is best for our town was the most meaningful part of serving. Additionally, I cherished interacting with our wonderful residents and regional colleagues as well as staff members from both our City Hall and agencies across the bridge. Government is about people!
In a practical sense, working with NASNI on the Zuniga Jetty Anchorage issue and clearly, with a team effort, stemming the negative impacts of abandoned vessels grounding on the local beaches was indeed meaningful.
Are there any projects that you did not get accomplished that you wish you had?
Both the Suicide Barrier and the upgrades to the Border Sewage Treatment Plant are not finished but they are certainly pointed in the right direction, and I am confident I played an important role (however small), on behalf of our residents for these. I wish I, and our region, had made more progress on transforming our current “novelty” ferry service to a legitimate part of our regional transit system. Ferry service back to NASNI is the only option available to ease the impact of Navy commuters on our town. Hopefully, the development of the Chula Vista waterfront will move things along and that is great long-term.
Are there any city-related things you will pursue in a different role after leaving City Council?
State law has significant restrictions on my participating in a paid role on a great deal of city business for the next year but my passion for our community has not diminished and I will find ways to contribute.
Can you name the biggest challenges the city is facing currently and will in the future?
Navigating the conflict between Coronado and the CA Department of Housing and Community Development will I believe be the biggest challenge short term. I expect the necessity of major zoning and land use amendments for our community as well as a complicated negotiation with the Coastal Commission as we, by necessity, amend our Local Coastal Plan to conform with the state mandates.
Looking out further, keeping Coronado a tight-knit community who looks out for each other and cares about true connections is a longer term issue. With so many part time residents, who will play Little League, who will coach soccer, who will participate in all those activities that knit the fabric of our community together? Additionally, Coronado is in no way immune from the larger social, religious, and political divisions that tear at our national fabric which serve to exacerbate the growing challenges to our community. Issues that get a lot of attention like the number of tourists who visit or the size and bulk of residential construction pale in comparison to the possibility of Coronado’s historic character of personal connections disappearing.
What do your future plans include?
My passion for our community and proven commitment to service has not diminished and at 59, I will find additional venues, and maybe even an elected position, to be of service to our community as well as defend and advance Coronado’s position in our region.