Help Thy Neighbor's Store!

LA MESA -- As soon as I finish writing this article I am going to close my store for 30 minutes,  grab a little cash and walk up across Spring Street and go buy something in the Street Scape Zone.  I don't really need anything, but I'm sure by just walking into one of the stores affected by the growing pains it will convey my sympathy for what each store is going through up there.  

It occurs to me that for the next several months, it will be important that I as a citizen make an effort to do something positive for a store that is caught in between the future fantastic view of La Mesa Boulevard and the current orange barricade zone, complete with no trees and lots of dirt, in which they are stuck.

I'm looking at this as one of those old fashioned barn-raising things where all the neighbors help out the one person who needs a barn and can't build it alone.

Maybe I can put a smile on the face of someone who won't see too many customers today. I would hate to think that by my ignoring my shop neighbors I would contribute to additional suffering that can have real and long lasting consequences. After all, we're pretty much in this together...

Additionally I would like to say something to the Parking Commission folks.  I am not sure what the official recommendation to the City Council will be or has been regarding the temporary cessation of parking meters along the boulevard here in the ZONE.  I suppose if you are not a store owner, it won't sound all that important to do this.  But it seems to me that allowing free one or two hour parking in front of these stores would be a tremendous boost to shoppers who might otherwise just drive on by. "Dirt AND a parking meter fee?  Pass.  I'll go to the mall."  How seriously could it possibly hurt the parking fund to discontinue collection until after this chaos and mess is over?  The people doing the work are great and working hard.  The store owners are more or less trapped but are nevertheless faithfully turning around their OPEN signs daily as if there were nothing so game-changing going on. That takes patience and grace to do.

Wouldn't it be a great gesture to the all those affected if both the Parking Commission and the City Council would say, 'Here's an idea.  Let's turn off the meters!  Let's show the shop keepers as well as the shoppers that while we can only imagine the disruption this upheaval is causing them, we can make a small contribution to ease at least the parking meter portion of the pain.'

 This can be your contribution, Parking Commissioners and City Council,  to what is going to be a glorious, and laborious rebirth of the Village we all adore.  This is your opportunity to show you are willing to lend a hand...

Chris Shea is the proprietor of Lifesighs Cards, a shop on La Mesa Boulevard.

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Tags: Chris Shea, La Mesa Today, La Mesa Village Merchants Association, La Mesa newspaper, On La Mesa


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Comment by Barry Jantz on August 31, 2014 at 11:12am
The question on changing the sign... to a message that may better inform folks as to the situation. Perhaps so.
Comment by chris shea on August 31, 2014 at 8:43am
I'm guessing that the thoughtful comments made here will be read by most of the council members and can ably represent the feelings of an ever greater number of people.
While referring the meter matter to the commission might be part of a normal protocol, I think that when people need pretty urgent relief, the last thing they want is more delay.

As for your question about the sign, I'm not certain what that has to do with this particular discussion.
Comment by Ernest Ewin on August 30, 2014 at 8:30pm

Chris thank you for the message.

Please note however that Commissions do not tilt the opinion of the council.Their information and actions add to the body of information on a topic. It is not binding on the Council. We have protocols and it was appropriate to refer the matter to the Parking Commission...the same commission we looked to to review funding for a portion of StreetScape project.

We also look to the planning Commission ; the Youth Commission etc. to hold public meetings and advise the Council.

Instead of listing names of volunteers, citizens should attend the commission meetings. Please go to the city website for meeting days and times...agenda's too. 

Do you think it is time to change the message board at the Village EAST entrance near Grant Street, Allison Blvd and La Mesa Blvd from the 7/7 14 StreetScape Start Date to....what do you suggest???

Finally, as Council Member Alessio noted, the matter is coming back to the Council on 9/9/14 at 4:00pm. The returning agenda item will reflect a summary up date from staff.....any interested citizen may address the Council on the agenda item before a vote is taken....that may "tilt" some members of the council. Please remember it takes 3 of the 5 council votes to pass a motion. No one council member, which includes the mayor can do it alone....period.


Ernie Ewin

La Mesa City Council

Comment by chris shea on August 30, 2014 at 6:28pm
Good idea! It's important to share the feelings of the people.
Pain of any kind observed from afar is not a particularly valid means of measuring what others are going through.
Comment by Barbara Stevens on August 30, 2014 at 6:22pm

Does anyone have any idea why the Parking Commission chose not to turn the meters off? Maybe we should list their names and email addresses so people could contact them with their viewpoints.

Comment by chris shea on August 30, 2014 at 6:05pm
Superbly said! I'm sure there are places some people don't even know exist.
One year a while back I did 100% of my Christmas shopping in the village. It was so fun and everything I bought was unique. Thanks for your splendid comments.
Comment by Suzanne Shea Reed on August 30, 2014 at 5:50pm

  I've been working hard letting  all my La Mesa neighbors (and others)  know to shop in the Village for their needs FIRST,  before driving someplace else. Walk in to town, or if you are further away,  drive in but  park a few blocks away,  wear your walking shoes and enjoy seeing everything we have in the Village.   Try onto one of our small hair salons!  Have a drink and appetizer or dinner at one of the great  restaurants, or nice glass of wine at the wine bar. Looking  for a special gift?  Find a cool scarf or hat or outfit, or some great greeting cards or kitchen items, jewelry,  incense, or decorative item for you home.  How about a gift certificate  to one of our restaurants?   Stop  in to each establishment  and introduce yourself to the shop owners,  Really take a look at each business here; some people don't even know they can get their shoes repaired or clothes tailored right here, knives sharpened and keys made.  Maybe make a fun day of it and invite 10 of your friends to meet for a coffee,   then set out on foot and peek into the various shops and restaurants and  businesses we have on the main street and the side streets too,   Every single dime we spend in the Village will keep those shops keep going. Some owners may be holding on by a thread so YOUR "dime" will make a difference!

 Don't let those ugly construction barriers keep you away!  (Why can't we have some colorful temporary  paintings on those barriers?  or "faux" shop store fronts put up  during the remodel? sigh. It's  a money thing I guess..  Anyway, I'm spending my dollars right here first.. so if you live here and love the Village I urge you to do the same, shop and eat here first before heading elsewhere if you can!   

Comment by Frank Robert Dittmer on August 30, 2014 at 4:40pm

Chris,  thank you for this dialog and bring this up.  As most of you know, I too am a small shop owner on La Mesa Blvd., and I am also feeling the pinch.  With that, the construction is not even down this far  yet ! OUCH!!!!!  I literally had a $168.00 in sales last week!  I wrote an article for La Mesa Today a few months back highlighting the importance of shopping small and shopping in one's neighborhood.  I can not express, AGAIN, how important this is to everyone.  With every dollar spent in the local community 70% stays in that community.  This is huge.    

So what do local, small shops have to offer the consumer- everything.  I can literally buy and order anything anyone wants, try that at Macy's or any other Big Box store.  Not going to happen. 

As for the landlord comment-Chris!  You are correct in assuming that they are not going toget any help.  We, shop owners, are on our own.  I actually asked my landlord last week for a rent deferment.  I was told to "Get A Loan!"  thanks for the help.  

If everyone within the sound of my voice spent a few dollars in my shop, I would be successful.  Please, everyone,  help us out-we need it.  To my faithful customers who purchase products from me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You are the heroes here.   

Comment by chris shea on August 30, 2014 at 2:25pm
Thank you Kristine. I find it somewhat disheartening that an appointed commission can tilt the opinion of the city council on a matter that is as unusual as this. If at your store you only had one $30.00 sale because of the disruption caused by the Streetscape, what are you supposed to do? It's not like the Landlords are going to let you slide on rent. Although I do wish that there were more heart involved in all these decisions. Again we all have to share the pain.
Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on August 30, 2014 at 2:12pm

Chris, I agendized this exact subject for our last Council meeting.  Councilman Ewin joined me in bringing it forward.  The Council voted 5-0 to send it to the Parking Commission, who unfortunately, voted 4-1 to NOT turn off the meters.  The Council will review the Parking Commission's findings and make decision on turning off the meters during the streetscape at our next meeting.  I would urge everyone in favor of the item to send a note to the Council.

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