A discussion on whether it will be feasible to improve the grocery store on Lake Avenue that took place Tuesday night was missing one important component: a representative from the store.
The item was one of three on the Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Associations monthly meeting that took place on Tuesday.
The discussion was led by Ericka Lozano-Buhl, an Altadena resident who started a --the petition, which can be viewed at the right, describes the store as "cramped" with a "poor selection of produce and items."
Also joining the discussion was Ed Meyers of the Altadena Chamber of Commerce, and Lori Webster, who owns and is also active with the Chamber and other civic events.
Elliot Gold, the organizer of ACONA, said he invited the store manager of Ralphs and had expected someone from the organization to show up. He said he believes that local representatives of the store likely had trouble getting corporate approval for the event. Gold said he listed a Ralphs representative on the agenda thinking the manager would get approval to show up.
Improving the Ralphs has been discussed on Altadena Patch in several articles as well as on the Altadenablog.
Attendees at Tuesday's meetings raised some of the familiar issues discussed in the past--lack of selection and the absence of features like a deli, coffee bar and florist.
Lozano-Buhl noted that she has spoken with the management of Ralphs, and they feel the same way about the store.
"I talked to the manager about the petition, and he said, 'I wish you the best of luck,'" Lozano-Buhl said. "He said he had been telling corporate that for a long time."
Some on the site have asked why the store does not expand on to the vacant lot on the property immediately south of Ralphs. Meyers, of the Chamber of Commerce, noted that Ralphs does not own the lot and would have to work out a deal with the owner.
Meyers also raised the issue of whether an expanded Ralphs could hurt local businesses by adding services like a pharmacy, bakery or floral service that are currently available at small businesses nearby the store.
Webster, a local business owner herself, said that while local businesses are generally not doing that well right now in Altadena, expanding retail of any kind would only help local businesses, in her opinion.
"The more retail the better," Webster said. "It gets more people up here, more people shopping around. Success follows success."
Several people also brought up the upcoming Altadena Community Visioning workshops and the need to address larger issues with the town's retail options during that process. The links below have more on those workshops: