By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Well, I, I think, first of all, the previous mayor certainly was unique in the fact that whether you liked his politics or not, he certainly made a major impact on the city. He certainly set out to make the city safe. Crime dropped 40 percent or so during his tenure. He set out to redo the school board. He made that impact. He changed the charter. When you look at the accomplishments, it took eight years to get there, but he had a clear agenda when he came in. And he stayed on the course. I don’t perceive that we have that same clear agenda, at least in the city at this time.What could be done to enhance the Leimert Park area?
You cannot be overcommercialized. People want to have a village effect. But something like, I’ve already talked to Trader Joe’s. Something that makes people come off the hill. But you need something on that corner that says, I’ll come there to Trader Joe’s. And while I’m there I’ll wander down the street and get a scented candle. The other thing you need is more variety of businesses in Leimert Park. You cannot have the same kind of businesses.Some people like a concentration of coffeehouses, cultural venues.
Well they, they like the concentration, but people have got to make money. And it’s not a hobby. They’ve got to make money there, and they’ve got to bring people there that will spend money. You want it like the walk-through kind of approach of Santa Monica. Or do you want the walk-through approach like Pasadena? People have to come there to buy something. [The previous landlord] gave people a break on their rent. But when he died, the world was going to change. And what they should have been prepared to do was buy that building. The new owner comes in and says, "I want fair market value." And again the only reason you invest in that property is fair market value. And it’s great to be a cultural center, but if you’re not selling enough of your product to pay the rent, is it a hobby?Does the council representative have a role in resolving that situation?
I think there’s things you can do. But part of it is to go and ensure that businesses are being productive. Can they afford to be in business? Again, I don’t think you can ignore the issue of why people invest in property. And I think the businesses there clearly had a several-year run of someone sympathetic to their product. But the issue is that at some point you have to make enough money to be in business.
Another thought I have over there is that because people like the village atmosphere, you have to think about maybe something like the Downtown Alley, or the Farmers Market on 57th and Crenshaw, where you promote people walking around the village.
The other problem with Crenshaw or the Leimert Park area is that business owners don’t necessarily get along with each other. So they have as many views of what should be in Leimert Park as there are businesses. And for some reason they don’t relate to the thousands of people that trade on Crenshaw Boulevard as part of Leimert Park. Leimert Park is just walking distance to Crenshaw Boulevard. Thousands of people drive and trade at Crenshaw businesses. Yet Leimert Park businesses don’t view them as part of their base of attractive customers. Or tie into the fact that, yes, several thousand people go to several beauty shops and barbershops on Crenshaw. You have to find a way to get them out of that chair, over to Leimert Park restaurants. But I don’t think the answer to Leimert Park is welfare on their rent.How do you feel about Wal-Mart coming into the community?
I think it’s a benefit. The fact that we have a shopping center, that the last store left in the middle of the night several years ago. And you have a choice of bringing a business that employs about 400 people versus leaving it vacant and possibly the whole shopping center collapses. I know all the issues people are talking about: nonunion and all those other things. But I think at some point you have to make a choice of what are the businesses willing to come into the community. And what is it that they’re gonna provide? And do you draw a line through the store and say "no business" versus 400 jobs? Or do you provide the opportunity that, hopefully, when people come into Wal-Mart, they also wander up to the second floor and buy other things from the shopping center? And it becomes the anchor. But I think you also have to be very sensitive to what the complaints are. Does Wal-Mart dry up all the other businesses on Crenshaw and they disappear? And then Wal-Mart disappears in five or six years? Those are the rumors that people have promoted about Wal-Mart.