Thursday, May 21, 2009

Santa Cruz Blues

Alright, it seems that Good Times article I mentioned a couple of blogs ago and John's comment has me going. I don't even live in Santa Cruz any more, it shouldn't matter, but all the reasons I gave up on the place are coming bubbling up to the surface with a roar! I loved Santa Cruz! And hated it, too.

What I hated most was the knee jerk bleeding heart "progressive" values that deemed a group of people's so-called right to turn the peaceful beautiful vibrant downtown shopping district into skid row as more important than the rights of the shopkeepers who pay exorbitant rents in that district to stay alive. Since when does it make sense to charge some of the highest rents in the country for a property and allow some bum reeking of alcohol or out of his mind on drugs to camp in front, harassing people and panhandling for change?

Yes, I used the word "bum"! That's forbidden territory in Santa Cruz. I've never seen a larger skid row population outside of Seattle or Vancouver but even in those places, they're not allowed in the main downtown shopping districts! At least, not to the extent you see it in Santa Cruz.

And one more thing, about those exorbitant rents: in the local paper here articles have been written encouraging struggling shopkeepers to negotiate temporarily lower rents if they need to. After all, in today's economy it's far far better for landowners to keep their properties full than to allow them to be vacant and collect no money at all.

What happened in Santa Cruz after the downtown was rebuilt after the earthquake? Landlords jacked up the rent. I remember one business in particular, a clothing store that was popular and had been there for years. They couldn't afford the huge increase demanded when their lease was up. I think it tripled but I'm not sure about that. I do remember they put a sign in their window explaining why they were shutting down. And then that storefront stayed vacant for more than two years! It's a restaurant now and an over-priced one at that. The costs were passed on to the consumer...but with the recession making people eat at home more often, how is that place doing now? Oh yeah, a lot of bums sit in front of their lovely outdoor seating area, too. How would you like to pay extra high prices for a pizza and have your dinner ruined by that wonderful view?

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