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Blog: Saving Altadena is Much Larger Than Stopping Walmart

Looking at the Walmart situation, I think there is more to the saving of Altadena than stopping them.

I, as I'm sure many others are, am at a loss as to what to make of the entire situation in our town. The hot-button issue is Walmart Neighborhood Market, and the proposed opening of their new store. Walmart - a giant, company, that does not pay the lower employees enough. We are all aware of this. Truth is, most companies don't. That's how we are separated. The upper-crust receives large paychecks and benefits, while the lower workers have to answer to why they were 21 seconds late clocking in from lunch and trying to negotiate a $0.50 raise. It's the way our world works, sadly. 

Seeing the activity in regards to Walmart is good. People are talking. There could be any market go in there. The building is going to look better than it has in years. I see the facts presented about job-loss, and I see that could happen. Or possibly not? The surrounding stores all have their loyal followings, and I would assume they will retain them. Maybe I'm wrong. Pontlician Meat Market has their audience, as well as specialties, and I doubt that Walmart is going to cater to the Hispanic market. The national markets tend not to carry "offals" and items that are specific culturally. When was the last time anyone found tripe, brain, or an entire cows head at Vons or Ralph's? Daikon radish or onion blossom at Vons? Highly unlikely. 

If the center of town is Lake Street, the great divide, how can more be done there? Parking is the problem. There is a church that has a whole open lot, that is chained off most of the time. El Patron has no parking, as well as the Rancho. The Websters land, there's parking, but for most of the spaces, there are signs posted for businesses. Erik has a lot at his property and its for his shops. 

With land ownership, every owner is entitled to their space and they have the right to post a no-parking sign. The problem with our local foot-traffic is that there is no parking, and everyone has a "no parking or we will tow sign."

I'm not sure what level of jobs will be created or lost. I see the objections, however most businesses are family legacy, and family-run. I love El Patron, and I think some of their success is that they are family. I believe that two employees are family-friends. Ezz Stop, is run by 3 brothers. There aren't jobs there. Everest Burger, same. Topps family, there was a rift, but they changed names, and still have the same food. Fox's, Park Bench, Amy's all close in the afternoon. But look at Fox's. Ken has to deal with the check-cashing that won't allow parking. Coffee Gallery, I don't know why the residents haven't rallied a battle-cry yet. It is rather annoying to have park two blocks away just to get into there.

So Walmart may be some competition for Ralph's and Super King, as well as Baja. But I think the family run businesses will still have their following. Saving Altadena means shaking up the property owners that leave vacant land and buildings sitting, un-maintained and un-used. Stop renting to churches and non profits because its a tax-break. Saving Altadena means becoming a city and getting the county out of the control.

In the past few years we've lost business after business. Ronnies, Blockbuster, O'Reily, Karen's Hallmark, Ben's GATEOW, Jean's Shoe Repair, Erlanders, etc. Not that the county ever had any influence on some of these establishments, and or property owners.

Walmart shmalmart, theyre not the answer, but saving Altadena, is much larger than that. 

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Dan Abendschein (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Thanks for the post Daron. It's true there is still a big picture here that everyone has to keep their focus on.
Angela Odom July 13, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Wonderful! Thank you.
terry Morris July 13, 2012 at 06:05 PM
"Walmart shmalmart, theyre not the answer, but saving Altadena, is much larger than that." Hear, hear !
Mike Roberts July 13, 2012 at 06:25 PM
So I'm clear, Saving Altadena (a rallying cry or a movement??) means "shaking up the property owners that leave vacant land and buildings sitting, un-maintained and un-used. Stop renting to churches and non profits because its a tax-break. Saving Altadena means becoming a city and getting the county out of the control."?? Cool! Sounds easy...... only 2 things to do and all will be fine! The cityhood discussion is pie in the sky. Ask Mr.Lamb. My gut tells me you can't run a city on property taxes and a VERY small sales tax base. You wanna ding idiot property owners? Write it into the CSDs. Make it so that any building more than 10,000 sq.ft needs to present before ATC or needs some kinda permit. LA City Council tried to do something last minute w/ the Chinatown Wal Mart. Revising CSD's will be key to a decent future up here. It is time to rally the troops. That first steps were taken at the visioning meetings. Keep the passion going! Civic groups need to start working together
terry Morris July 13, 2012 at 06:51 PM
EXACTLY ! That is what Save Altadena means. The most positive thing that has come out of all of this is that people have been shaken out of their complacency and can maybe organize to put Altadna back together again. It may be Pie In The Sky, it may ultimately fail, but at least people are energized and talking about both problems and solutions!
Mike Roberts July 13, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Point of clarification..... the author said "shaking up the property owners". You noted "people have been shaken out of their complacency.....". Which is it? FWIW, I more agree w/ your thoughts regarding shaking the people vs. shaking property owners.
Angela Odom July 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I'm all for Save Altadena. Admittedly, when I first moved here it wasn't because I saw it as a great place to live. I actually took over my brother's house (who used to manage the place up at Trak Auto before it became Kragen). I hated the place because of the critters -- skunks, possums, the bob cat I saw late one night cruising Lincoln, and coyote. I came from a nice, trendy community with a health food store and gym right in the building to no man's land. In 2004/2005, while laid up recuperating, I decided to discover Altadena and was pleasantly surprised. Never did it before -- well didn't care actually -- but what I discovered were nice little gems. Steve's Pets sells Evangers, oh joy. Websters had a little shopping center going on there. Wow. Since then I've found Oh Happy Day, The Dutch Oven Bakery, The Little Red Hen (to satisfy my occasional desire for soul food), Fair Oaks Burger for breakfast, the Pueblo Pollo and the Pueblo taco place, my favorite "answer man" at Ace Hardware and more. Now I do shop Altadena. I just wish I could shop local for good fruits, veggies and fish. I know that will be a stretch even with Walmart's Neighborhood Market. So, yeah, I'll still have to travel the scenic route down Altadena Drive into Sierra Madre for those items which isn't so bad. I'm fully on-board for Save Altadena.
Daron Anderson July 13, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Thank you all for the responses. To clarify about shaking up people and owners, I'm looking at it as a way to make changes. The Rite Aid property is dismal. The vacant lot below Ralph's, there's no reason for that. The former Altadena Nursery, what if Coffee Gallery moved there? There is space for parking, a theater "backstage" could easily be built, as well as an outdoor seating and intimate patio. Blockbuster is gone, but it could be a restaurant or small retail. If I had the financial means like Caruso (Americana at Brand), I would take the Rite Aid complex down, and rebuild with a mixed use complex like the Americana. Residential on top, underground parking, and shops with access to Pine and Altadena. Rite Aid, would be a new anchor, Bulgarini would have a storefront with foot traffic, as would Pastries by Nancy. The center would feature landscaped grounds and fountains, as well a serve as a central place in town, where events could be held. There is a lot that can be done. Walmart, so they don't pay their employees enough. Most retail doesn't. If I need a miyako pen, or a prisma color, or Cross or Mont Blanc, pen, I'll still check Webster's first. Need a 250 or 500 watt lightbulb? Altadena Hardware has them. The money is here. Filling vacancies with new business might help the town more than anything. (So will parking)
mikeW July 13, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I agree with all here. I'm glad walmart is coming in. I hope other large businesses follow, and fill up the other vacancies on Lincoln with something respectable. Driving my kids by Liquor stores bums me out. We can do better!!
Carol Potter July 14, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Looking at the big picture, anything that goes into Altadena also will attract those of us from NW Pasadena too. I grew up in Altadena and watched many businesses disintegrate over the years. I remember when the restaurant property at Lake and Altadena was one of two Headliner Coffee Shops. I was overjoyed to see El Patron go in and actually offer something the area wanted. That's been part of the problem with businesses in Altadena over the years. I doubt that Walmart would have even considered the Lincoln site if a major supermarket had gone into the Lincoln Crossing site.
Leslie Aitken July 16, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Nuts don't fall far from the tree -- good job Daron ( my son) -- good points. Your next task -- rally the people in your age group (25 - 35) to get involved in Altadena's present and future! Go YOU!
Theresa Snedden July 19, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Really, think again, it's planning on taking Ralph's on Lake, duh.
SteveB July 19, 2012 at 04:48 AM
The Ralph's on Lake hardly qualifies as a major supermarket. It is the runt of the local Ralph's litter, and only gets the scraps.

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