Route 66 Rendezvous volunteers got the bad news on Thursday: The classic car show, along with the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau that produced it for 22 years, is going the way of the horse-and-carriage.
The CVB had been funded since 1988 by a 2 percent surcharge on hotel stays.
But when the city hit hard times, it had the redevelopment agency take over funding the visitors bureau.
Of course, when Gov. Jerry Brown decided redevelopment must end in California, the city of San Bernardino had inadvertently left the CVB up a creek without a paddle.
CVB Special Events Director Shelly McNaul had put off announcing the demise to her Route 66 volunteers until she was sure no other organization was going to step forward to produce the event.
“The SBCVB Board of Directors and staff… have explored numerous options to make the SBCVB self-sufficient to no avail,” McNaul wrote.
“Therefore, the SBCVB Board voted to begin the process of closing the SBCVB, relinquish(ing) the franchise of the California Welcome Center and eliminat(ing) production of the 2013 Route 66 Rendezvous.”
The Welcome Center, opened just in 2007, handed out maps, brochures and tourist information at a pit stop off Interstate 10. The state only allows a handpicked few, and now San Bernardino will lose its center.
In a letter to the mayor, SBCVB Chairman Jim Gerstenslager reviewed the bureau’s accomplishments since 1988: publishing an annual visitor guide, hosting the Rendezvous, forming a Youth Sports Alliance to bring soccer and Little League tournaments to the city.
Losing the funding for the bureau puts one more nail in the bankrupt city’s coffin.
– By Cassie Macduff