Courtesy graphic


For Santa Monicans. As they backed out the door –

But that’s not fair, really. “Trademark” signifies something exclusive, and Vons was only acting like the corporation they are.

Well… this Vons, formerly at Lincoln and Broadway, was a bit less friendly than even corporate policies would require. Some employees were indifferent, edging right up on rude. Years ago they seemed to be hiring some “challenged” people, but not for some time. (Ralph’s, their low cost competitor, still does, and nearly all their employees seem to be not only pleasant but upbeat. If you spend an hour or so shopping, as I do, you notice the difference.) Ralph’s carries higher quality products too, in my experience. (I can only compare the departed Vons with the Ralph’s on Olympic. I have occasionally shopped the Pavilions on Montana, same company as Vons, a few times and found it neat but cramped, and not as “friendly” as Ralph’s) And then, there are all the reasons we came to call the now-shuttered store the “crime” Vons.

So what was that final slap in the face? I showed up on Feb. 2 and joined another incredulous shopper being told by an employee at the door that the store was now closed. As I was holding the ad published the day before declaring that they would be closing Feb. 25. Oh, there was an asterisk and fine print warning they might be closing earlier due to lack of inventory. Please. You can’t predict a week or less before you distribute that ad that you won’t have enough inventory to even open the doors? I was perfectly willing to shop for what they had on hand, without complaint.

I proceeded to the Pavilions on Montana because there are certain items only Vons stores carry. There I was told by an employee that Vons had actually closed a week earlier. You have to remember –


Not community interests. You may think I’m being obvious or naive, but I believe a lot of people still expect corporations to act responsibly. No, people literally die for corporate profits. Anytime you see a corporation “doing the right thing,” it’s because they have made the calculation that it is worth more in good will and publicity.

Kroger and Safeway (Vons) have been working on a $25B merger for a while but still have hurdles, including the strong opposition of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who contend that this will raise grocery prices at a time when consumers are being overwhelmed by the spiraling cost of feeding their families. The largest supermarket chains are Walmart, Costco and Amazon. But we don’t have them in Santa Monica, except the high-priced Amazon-owned Whole Foods. If price is not a consideration you can also shop at Gelson’s or Bob’s. But for those with smaller bank accounts, it’s Ralph’s or Vons. I have always perused their flyers every week and shopped wisely – salmon at Ralph’s for $10/lb, or Vons for half that? I literally save thousands of dollars a year that way, for only two people. So the Vons closing will affect a lot of Santa Monica residents, especially in the south and west part of town.


Of course, for years, at least since the property was designated an “opportunity site” (love the irony) for essentially unrestricted development, by approval of our City Council. If you want to be reminded of what that lot is going to look like, at an already congested corner of the Great Wall of Lincoln, see my CURIOUS CITY column of a month ago. Now, with more pro-overdevelopment candidates having been elected to our current City Council, and with the aid of those forces getting bills passed in Sacramento restricting cities’ control over their own zoning, you can expect nearly every parking lot in town to be developed many stories (they are on the books now, one at 15 stories, a couple at 12, 11…)

OK Charles, that’s a pretty depressing picture for those of us who don’t own stock in huge REITs or construction companies but do love what has always been special about Santa Monica. What can we do?

For those of you who have despaired of politicians ever making things better, you won’t like my answer. But – corrupt politcians got us into this mess, and ones who will put the interests of residents first will get us out.

If you think that’s a mythical beast, it isn’t. For all their other shortcomings, I will cite the previously mentioned Sens. Warren and Sanders (oh quit groaning and take a look at their records), our Reps. Henry Waxman and now Ted Lieu. and Councilmember Phil Brock. More groans, probably louder. I do not agree with everything he’s done but if you are fair, and really aware of all he has taken on, you have to admit that more often than not he has worked and voted to put residents first, his campaign promise. Too bad he has so little help in that area from other Councilmembers, including some who also ran on that promise. “Slate” cohort Christine Parra has been good, but Oscar de la Torre has disappointed some lately, including me. But appointed member Lana Negrete has been an unexpected ally for residents, God bless her. She sure has taken a lot of abuse for it, but always seems to come up swinging.


To fight the political machine here that is so well organized and funded. What do “we” have? Numbers. There are a whole lot of voters who are distraught at what is being done to our once-great city. They need to be educated, and they need to show up to vote. It’s that simple, and that difficult. You got anything better?

It’s not too late. For many years after moving here from New Mexico, I resisted the idea of visiting Hawai’i. Friends back home who lived there many years said forget it, it’s been ruined, overrun by tourists and development. Finally I did go visit friends who lived on Kauai, and fell in love with it. My recent visit to the island of Hawai’i was equally ecstatic. Neither island may be as idyllic as it once was, but through the efforts of residents both retain many of their original values.

Santa Monica can too, but we will have to work for it. The next election has already begun.

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