SOMETHING FISHY, ON MAIN STREET

What, you’re back on Main Street? Whatcha got against Main Street, Charles?

Absolutely nothing. I love it. I’m a 35-year Ocean Park guy. I walk there several times a week. At least, I try to love it, but it sure does change its face and personality often. Too many sad, blank window stares from empty insides these days. Old friends packed up and gone.

I related last time about the “impersonator” cell phone store on the west side of Main Street that is really, despite official logo signage, just a franchised operation that sells the international corporation’s services and products. Really sells, sells, sells, on commission. That doesn’t happen at the corporate stores, like at 2530 Wilshire.

Worst of all, they have one particular rogue there who will misrepresent, underinform, and outright lie (he did to me, and to my wife) to make a sale. Then look you in the eye and tell you what he said is true, and the corporate reps are the ones who are lying, to steal his election… uh, sale.

DON’T SAY IT – MORE CROOKS ON MAIN STREET?!

No, no, not at all! That dishonest dude and his manager are quite the exception. I’m talking about all of Main Street now. Good business citizens of Santa Monica and Ocean Park. Long-suffering and COVID-battered, they do need help.

But I tell you, there’s not a genuinely needy situation that can come up without someone trying to take advantage of it. Orphans, widows, amputees, doesn’t matter to the greed crowd. The day after the federal stimulus program to rescue small businesses crushed by the pandemic was passed, two LA couples and their friends and family got busy creating fake businesses with concocted tax returns and payroll schedules, and wound up stealing $18M of money that so many drowning businesses needed.

They spent it on $3.5M homes, diamonds, gold, fast cars, luxury travel. And now it looks like they may get away with it because a search of their cell phones may not have been done properly. Crime does pay, I guess, if you catch a lucky break. Oh, and lawyers as skilled as they are unprincipled.

Nothing so sordid going on on Main Street. (That I know of. Yet.) But, something is definitely fishy, in a back room Santa Monica-kinda familiar way. If you dig just a little into the way our city is run, you keep bumping into programs and policies that just don’t make sense. When I see something that doesn’t make sense, that has a rationale behind it that a fifth-grader could shoot holes in, I figure it does make sense, dollars and cents, to someone, who has an agenda that hasn’t yet seen daylight. Oftentimes, it’s a long range plan, done in stages.

LAST WEEKEND WE HAD MAIN STREET CLOSURE

The first of four. A very short stretch of Main Street south of Ocean Park, from Ashland to Kinney, was closed off to automobile traffic. In that area you could walk down the middle of Main Street, sit at picnic tables (in the sun), perhaps put there so the open area wouldn’t look so barren, participate in an exercise class (in the sun), listen to a lone violinist at noon Sunday, or a jazz band scheduled for later that afternoon. Big whoop.

And of course you could dine outdoors in the “parklets” that have been springing up for months now, in the street. (And, impinging on the sidewalks. And looking pretty shabby.) Nothing new there.

It seems this all required a lot of work on the part of six departments of City staff, funds from the Main Street Business Association (left over from COAST) and a $70,000 kick in from the City of SM, passed unanimously by City Council.

FOR WHAT PURPOSE?

Well, the stated purpose, of course, was to stimulate business on that street. (Or maybe just on that block?) But some business owners, and neighboring residents, just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see it, by any stretch of imagination, that the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks. Therefore, I suspect, hidden agenda, something fishy.

Business was starting to pick up anyway, said Susan , proprietor for 45 years, on Main Street, of the unique, whimsical “antiques” store jAdis. “Summer is here and people want to go to Santa Monica and the beach. This is when we would be doing better. But these barriers and the difficult parking situation made it harder.

“Also, I had to hire extra people, and I had a theft for the first time in many years. Our building was graffitied. The manager of the One West Bank told me they decided to not open on Saturday, for fear of an easy robbery getaway. So my fears of being isolated from police and fire protection because of the closures, seemed to play out.”

Across the street, south of the always-bustling Jamesons, at Spa de Rejuvenation, Edmund also expressed misgivings, that he also thought anyone could have predicted. “I’m happy to cooperate in anything that will help everyone,” he said, “but I don’t think this was very well thought out.” We were able to chat for some 20 minutes, nearly uninterrupted, because he had only one customer.

“AT HIS TIME OF YEAR”

He said, “with restrictions starting to ease and people starting to travel, we should have more business than this. It wasn’t well publicized, and not much is being offered to draw people here. I think these measures, especially parking, actually hurt us. It seems good for restaurants and bars, but even they don’t seem to be any more crowded than last weekend.”

A note sent out by the group Main Street Neighbors was titled, “An Event No-one Wanted.” Obviously, some wanted it, very badly. The question remains — why?

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com