Liquor stores are a problem insomuch as the alcohol, cigarettes and junk food that they sell are a problem; yet, our community continues to consume these items and cast our dollar votes for this type of vendor in our neighborhood. I am always careful to remind those who would point a finger that, the proprietor of All-Star, didn’t bring a liquor store to our area, nor did they bring the loiterers, gang members and truants; those are our neighbors, sons and grandsons, and they were here long before he bought the store. In fact, that corner has been blighted and plagued with problems since I was a youngster riding my bicycle to what was then Miller’s Liquor to buy Pop-rocks, Susie Qs and Orange Crush. And so, I’d like to clarify my position as quoted in the Patch article “,” on one critical point: I identify the corner of Lincoln and Figueroa as a problem, rather than All-Star Liquor.
Having identified the problem, allow me to take it a little further… Looking a step beyond a problem/no problem comparison, let’s imagine Lincoln and Figueroa at its very best. The North-East corner would have attractive landscaping under the billboard (or perhaps the billboard would be gone;) the South-East corner would be a painted and maintained occupied facility; the eyesore auto storage on the North-West corner would be replaced with a business or well-lit parking for the businesses on Lincoln; the three homes immediately West of All-Star would be renovated and occupied by new tenants/owners; AND, the liquor store would be replaced by a Starbucks or Coffee Bean!
An “ideal” Lincoln and Figueroa isn’t a pipedream—it’s a goal! …and an attainable goal at that!
To achieve our goal of trading a nightmare for a dream at our now infamous corner, we have to understand all the issues. The homes adjacent to All-Star on the West are difficult to rent or sell to the type of productive and responsible residents that we would like to see, because they are next to a Liquor store and the other three corners are terribly neglected. The county seems to have given up on maintaining the sidewalks and parkways. Chewing gum and bird droppings appear to have been collecting for years without any attention whatsoever. The owners of the properties on the South-East and North-West are not motivated nor required to maintain their frontage. With such neglect in the area, the space on the South-West is unsuitable for much more than a corner liquor store… To their credit the owners of All-Star maintain their frontage, post “No Loitering” signs, provide trash receptacles and even hire a local resident to sweep and maintain the County’s sidewalk and street in front of the store.
So, how do we fix all of this? The ownership of all three corner businesses has changed, and both the owners and tenants have changed in the homes adjacent to the liquor store; yet the problem persists. The greatest impediment to meaningful change in the past has been the lack of a cooperative plan around a mutual vision. All of the stakeholders must be committed to achieving a common goal. The stakeholders in this vision include, the owners of the properties/businesses/homes on and adjacent to the intersection, the County of Los Angeles and residents of West Altadena; each has a role to play in the rebuilding of this corner and each will benefit from our success!
Under this plan, property/business owners will beautify and maintain their frontage. The liquor store will become a coffee shop (think Starbucks or Coffee Bean.) The homes immediately to the West of All-Star will be renovated (chain-link fences and block walls removed, new lawns, fresh paint, etc.) for new owners or tenants. The county will do a major cleanup (cleaning sidewalks, de-weeding paved areas, repairing chipped/cracked concrete, and re-landscaping the parkways) AND enforcing maintenance standards on public and private property (especially on the remaining two corners and down Lincoln.) The community should feel responsible to patronize the new coffee shop, keep our gum in our mouths (not on the sidewalk) and actively maintain the new standard, notifying the Sheriff’s Department at the first sign of nefarious behavior.
Everybody wins: the community adopts a new paradigm; property owners see marked increase in property values; the corner space realizes higher profitability and decreased business and safety risk.
We can and will achieve a solution that everybody desires, but only if we keep our eye on the ball. If you have any questions or are willing to help execute this plan, please contact me directly at CouncilmanMusson@Gmail.com.