SO LONG, POP

As in, Mom and Pop and their stores.

Gentrification.

Strolled Main Street lately?

We can try, through pressure on our “elected” officials, to put the brakes on the wholesale sale of Santa Monica to developers who don’t give a fat rat’s posterior about the future of our unique city, its history or its residents, but the root of it all is that nature and market forces have resulted in soaring land values here, and there’s not a lot we can do about that.

If you’re right on the ocean, especially where the sun shines gloriously almost every day, with no hurricanes, cyclones, snow or even a discouraging word (well, seldom), and all the world has listened to the Beach Boys sing seductively about your backyard — you’re sitting on a gold mine. Try convincing someone to keep their one-story building one story, open to sea breezes and sun, in character with our low-rise city, when they’re being offered literally millions to sell to a developer with six story dreams. A developer who has been assured our Planning Department will clear any pesky zoning or other regulations that might dash those dreams. And our City Council will declare it wonderful and approve it 6-1 because it will include low-flush toilets and three “affordable” units.

 

MIXED USE ABUSE

Those six stories will be “mixed use,” of course, retail on the bottom and five floors of very profitable condos or apartments above. Because the demand for housing in this sunny beach town bordering the megalopolis is close to insatiable.

That one story building may have been a long time home to one or more of those Mom and Pop businesses, who will now be replaced by specialty or chain businesses prepared to pay high rent. Those new upscale homeowners and renters will patronize those high-end businesses, but will soon realize they have to get in their car and try, I say try, to drive to Culver City or West LA to buy that doodad or get their shoes fixed. Not only are they part of our history and character, those Mom and Pops are needed. Vidiots and Alex’s Shoe Repair cannot be replaced.

In Washington we have Republicans and their orange Pitbull breaking all the rules for even more obscene profits for the upper one percent. Why can’t we have a City Council who just as passionately looks for ways to break or at least stretch the rules for the benefit of our community?

Could you landmark a business (not the building)? Could we have incentives for

new small businesses the way we do for really large ones? Let’s get a City Council and staff that’s creative and bold — for us.

 

OMBUDSMAN

How about some real transparency in local government that makes everyone feel they got a fair shake, even if a decision didn’t go their way? How about an ombudsman? How about negotiating more reasonable pension and benefit packages this year that will make for a more solvent future, instead of rewarding the unions for their political support of current City Councilmembers and hooking us into another 10-year plan requiring continued, bigger revenues to pay for it, from development projects?

Of course not every business should be local and small. I doubt even the good folks at Vidiots could have provided me with phone, cable TV and 100mbs Internet access. But shouldn’t the big corporations treat all customers fairly and with respect?

Ha!, you scoff. But I’m here to say Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) did give me a fair shake recently. My bill had more than doubled since 2014. “Give me what you are offering new customers!” I requested. And, they did, pretty close, anyway.

 

SPECTRUM — NOT SO BAD?

I was prepared. I had done my homework. I had in front of me all the offers from all the other companies. A long-time customer, I was ready to threaten leaving or even cutting the cord. I didn’t have to get very tough, though.

Ginger (in Billing) sent me right over to Retention. There Danny heard my plea, firm but good natured and not yet escalated, which argued that loyal customers have earned the best rates too. After some back-and-forth he wound up giving me nearly everything a much-desired FIOS refugee would get. I’m saving $61/month, and already received my brand new modem by mail.

Yes, I did tell him I would write of my experience in my column, good, bad or ugly, and suggested that if he didn’t think he could do right by me he should turn me over to a supervisor. He didn’t, so I assume anyone in Retention (with Danny’s knowledge and desire to keep a customer) could do the same.

At the end, when it seemed like he tacked on everything he could, I still asked that key last question: Is there anything else you can do for me and my account? “Well…” he paused, “I can tell you I hope you have a really nice weekend.”

Then I asked another important question: Would someone else from Santa Monica who called in with the same requests, who didn’t have a column in the local paper, get the same treatment and offer from you? Without hesitation he replied, “Absolutely.”

I’m the kind of guy who will ask for a supervisor after dealing with some corporate

customer rep if I’ve had exceptionally good service, same as if it was really bad. They’re usually really surprised to get a compliment.

So I figured I should tell you of my experience with Spectrum. For those of you

who think all I know how to do is complain.

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: If acclaimed author and ace music journalist Mikal Gilmore declared on his blog that his Rolling Stone cover story on Chuck Berry (out now) was perhaps his most thorough, in depth and taxing post mortem bio ever (recently: Bowie, Merle, Prince — tough assignments, to capture the essence of the larger-than-life), why wouldn’t you rush out and get a copy? (Disclosure: Gilmore was my first music editor, at the LA Weekly, when I moved here in 1980. But I was a fan before that.)

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “You have to persuade yourself that you absolutely don’t care what happens. If you don’t care, you’ve won. I absolutely promise you, in every serious negotiation, the man or woman who doesn’t care is going to win.” — Felix Dennis

 

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at

therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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