RUBEN SAYS HELLO
And to tell all his friends and customers in Santa Monica that he and his family are doing fine and building their business at their new location in Long Beach, but that they miss Santa Monica. A lot.
“It’s a nice neighborhood where we are,” he told me by phone last week. “Very nice people. Small homes, no parking meters, no homeless people.”
He kept the name, Lincoln Auto Electric, and by coincidence is just east of the Long Beach area called Lincoln. He’s at 719 Redondo Avenue, just south of 10th Street — (562) 434-8469. He used to be walking distance from me, so convenient, but I remember several Santa Monicans posting that they would still take their cars to him. “I’ve got a 49-year-old car I wouldn’t trust to anyone else,” one person wrote.
It’s sad to lose a reliable, reasonably priced, honest mechanic who can work on literally any car, so needed in any community, and who has engendered such loyalty. Ruben, of Peru and his wife Anna, of Argentina, first opened their auto repair business in Santa Monica in 1981, at 7th and Arizona, when he was just 25. He had never had such a business before. He moved for more space and then outgrew that and moved to the Lincoln address, just north of Ocean Park, in 1984. He has been in the process of turning it over to his sons Alex and Nick, so Lincoln Auto Electric may continue for another 40 years. But not here. I miss Nick’s affection for the Muir Woods mural, right across the street; every time I stopped by he never failed to ask me how the rescue effort was going.
“But I don’t think I’ll ever retire completely, Carlito,” Ruben told me. His grandfather was Sicilian. “You know what they say, you stop working and then you die.”
Raised the rent by so much that he knew Ruben couldn’t stay. But because he didn’t tell him until just a month before, it left little time to find a suitable new location. “If I had more notice, I might’ve found something closer to Santa Monica,” he told me. “I tried.”
No doubt that property, including the self car wash next door, will be sold to a developer, and we’ll bet yet another mixed-use retail condo apartment project. So let’s see, wait for it, how will Charles blame this on our City Council, City Manager and staff?
Gentrification. Drives up the price of desirable land, such as on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Supply and demand does NOT apply here. Can a city government stop it? Of course not, but you can either act on behalf of your residents to try to slow it down. Some seaside city governments actually do that.
Or, you can give the green light to developers, cut them deals and exceptions for including a handful of not-really-affordable “affordable housing units,” or other “community benefits” that… aren’t. You could lobby in Sacramento… but, hey, wait! AGAINST more density, please, in visitor-jammed, “already built out” Santa Monica (declared Council member and recent Mayor Gleam Davis, during the 2016 campaign), not rolling over for more.
You could fight the specious non-binding pronouncements from SCAG (Southern CA Association of Governments) — that Santa Monica NEEDS to build more than 9000 more housing units in the next 10 years — fight it like Long Beach and some other coastal cities, or you can immediately surrender like City Council member Terry O’Day and declare, well, we obviously need to change our zoning. (There are no reports as to whether or not he was drooling when he said it. But this is a gift from heaven/Sacramento for a city government hell-bent on developing us into oblivion, which is just south of Miami Beach… oh, I’m sorry, I meant, into affordability.)
Note: you can’t do that. Ask any local real estate agent who will tell you the truth. The more you build, the more the market for all housing rises to the new levels. It’s actually a good plan — for making us Beverly Hills and squeezing out what diverse population we have left.
AFFORDABILITY – WHAT A NICE CONCEPT
“We know the [SCAG] numbers will be contested by other cities, and by some in our own community,” said then-Mayor Kevin McKeown. “The Council, rather than argue about the numbers at this point, is choosing to advocate for affordability.” What a wise choice, with every chance of success.
Except — SCAG declared that 6700 of our 9000 units must be “affordable.” Good luck with that. And — if other cities are successful in pushing back on these unfair numbers, guess what? The rest of the cities have to make up the difference. So, 10,000, not 9? We’re on the wrong side of the gamble.
HERE’S WHAT’S NOT AFFORDABLE
For most: a 1956 Chevy Nomad. Yes, that old station wagon now sells for between $35,000 and $175,000, and Ruben told me he’s working on one now, also a ‘64 Corvair (much more affordable, but it could kill you). Still lots of Prii (Priuses, for you Latin non-scholars), for which he was a very early adaptor. But his big score is recently becoming an authorized repair facility for Uber and Lyft. All drivers need at least an annual certification of safety. And I think there are a few of them.
Ruben and Anna have one daughter who is a doctor and another who is close, but I think with the Uber-Lyft contract, all five kids of this hard-working, longtime Santa Monica mechanic could now consider advanced degrees.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org