FOR RESIDENTS?: The Vons at Lincoln and Broadway will be redeveloped. Courtesy image


As different from our other Vons and Pavilions. You know which one I’m talkin’ about. I didn’t call it that as a matter of course, but when someone else here did, I knew what they were referring to.

On Lincoln, at Broadway. Decades ago a fine supermarket. The father of one of our daughter’s classmates at SMASH was the manager. After he left it experienced a decline, but at some point it dropped off a cliff.

It became the market of choice, it seemed, for the indigent, the unwashed and the mentally ill. Indigent, doesn’t bother me, unwashed, maybe, if extreme. But the mentally ill who might scream and threaten, often weren’t even shopping there. I witnessed it, and heard lots of stories from others. One friend was so shaken and angered by a loud confrontation while he was with his young son, that he decided to run for City Council. “We don’t have to live like this, ” he told me.

I shopped there pretty much weekly for years, and rarely experienced such incidents. Even so, it was disturbing. But then you have to ask yourself, what kind of life does this person have, and what kind of society doesn’t help those who can’t help themselves? (I could make a bad joke here, about how they did help themselves, so the store had to lock up the liquor and painkillers.)


Last week I read a social media post that said it was already closed (not true), so I drove over to check it out, and maybe one last shopping trip. When I entered and saw so many completely empty shelves just inside the entrance, my first thought was that the grab-and-go contingent had scored big. Then I realized the store was indeed prepping for an imminent closure, dumping inventory. Maybe some bargains? No such luck. I carted off maybe my skimpiest supermarket haul ever, about six items.

A clerk had told me cheerfully, “Oh, we’re just moving the store up toward Lincoln…” With 250 apartments and condos on top, I added. “Well, yeah, but there will be parking, you can still enter from Lincoln.” Asked if she would be able to keep her job she answered yes, which is good. But –

A manager replied, unsmiling, that the store would close Feb. 1 and not reopen for two or three years. Right. Hard to maintain a supermarket, with all the supply trucks coming in and out, while you build a behemoth on the roof. So for those of us in Ocean Park and Sunset Park, who don’t have the burnable bucks to buy our food at Gelson’s (also soon gone, of course) or Whole Foods or Bob’s (love Bob’s, sorta, but their prices are scary), we’re down to Ralph’s now. In the neighborhood. And what usually happens when there is only one game in town? The prices rise dramatically.

That was probably coming anyway because Kroger (Ralph’s) and Albertson’s (Vons) have been camping out in DC trying to convince lawmakers that their pending $25B merger will not harm consumers. Right. Of course it will, it always has resulted in higher prices and/or less service in every case like this. That’s why we passed anti-trust laws in 1890.

But of course corporations will always try to find a way around it. It’s hardly been enforced since the mid 20th century. Bell Telephone was broken up in 1982. (And now we have all those baby monopolies.) This century, almost nothing except a slap on the wrist to Microsoft, then Apple. Let’s face it, America has a long tradition of corporate greed and domination of government. Monopoly = Money, obscene amounts of it.

Does this really have anything to do with Santa Monica? I think –


And none of it is very hidden or subtle. A dozen years ago when City Council approved a new master plan for development, some of us noticed that there were some half a dozen “Opportunity Sites” that were excluded from restriction. Opportunity for whom, we wondered, but knew the answer. The Vons property was one of them.

250 condos and apartments will now top a smaller Vons, when the construction dust settles. By that time it will become part of the Great Wall of Lincoln. I like to pose the question, Who does this benefit? I’m trying to recall if the answer has ever been, current residents of Santa Monica. For years the ridiculous rationale has been, we have to give developers big projects, so they can allocate a (small) number of “affordable” units. But, the increase in traffic. Where will the water come from? At Gelson’s we will get fewer than 50, at the cost of a multi-building monster of more than 500 new units, most of them market rate (luxury). There, we will lose a supermarket, at least for a few years, replaced by a much smaller one, as is the case with Vons. And all the community-serving businesses on that lot will disappear. The cleaners, UPS, hair cutter, Japanese restaurant, key making kiosk… Up Lincoln, across from the new Vons mega-apartment building, we will lose many local businesses. This makes great financial sense to certain entities, but does it make sense to you as a resident of Santa Monica? “Crime” Vons: a blight and danger now, but worse after “improvements.”

Santa Monica does have a master plan, for many years. You see it manifest, slowly but surely. I don’t care for it.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at