Shenanigans on the Boulevard

by Dennis Evanosky

After much ado that included an impressive array of city, state and county officials at the site, little has changed at the "car repair shop" at Loma Vista and MacArthur. Is this another case of the neighborhood having to remind city, state and county officials that the job includes follow-through? Shouldn't someone be responsible for seeing to it that the "repair shop" is brought up to code and the zoning ordinances are enforced?

This is not the first time that attention has been focused on the site. Almost two years ago, the City passed an ordinance allowing code and zoning violators to be taken to court and to be held personally responsible for flouting the law and the code.

Well, the City showed up in front of an administrative law judge ill-prepared to see the case through. All that came of the case was that the judge forced the owner to pay some back licensing fees. City officials told me that they would be back in court soon. Nothing happened.

Are we in the same situation today? We likely are. The neighborhood unfortunately has to step in and make sure that the job is done.

Shawn Stark of Councilmember Spees' office spoke to me about the possibility of the curb cut on MacArthur being removed. This would prevent the owner from working on cars in the small lot on the property. Ray Duranea of CEDA already brought this possibility up at the last Interdepartmental Working Group meeting in June. The curb cut remains.

The City passed a law on March 24 that might help things along. Among the solutions is the paragraph that says, "commercial or industrial activities using or storing unsightly equipment or materials, which have a detrimental aesthetic or economic impact on the neighboring properties, must be adequately screened from the public street."

Doesn't this at least mean that the owner should put a fence around the place that screens out the mess on his lot on MacArthur? Should he be forced to do more than just slosh some white paint over the graffiti that was on his walls?

I'm a bit hungry for a "project," and I think I'll make this "garage" my next one. Just who is responsible to follow through on this comprehensive inspection? Maybe I'll discover things are getting done. I doubt it.

I'm also beginning to scratch my head over the Windsor Group's involvement at the sites at each end of our shopping district. I hear a lot about letters of intent, yet I see little action. If Ladyfingers and Mailboxes, Etc. are really coming, are they going to set up shop in tents at 35th Avenue, or is Mr. Hammond going to put up a building for them?

What else can the City do for Mr. Hammond and company at High Street and MacArthur? After 15 meetings with PG&E, Dick Spees was able to get the company to come down substantially in price for leasing its part of the property. So who has the next move? Mr. Hammond? Hello.

Things are also too quiet on two other fronts. What exactly is going on with all the vacant storefronts on the Boulevard? There are just too many of them; I can't mention them all. We even have one where the real estate person's number in the window is a nonworking number. It's a shame what the City allows landlords to do.

Finally, I question the "nonpaving" of the Boulevard. At the Interdepartmental Working Group meeting, a City official told us point-blank that MacArthur Boulevard would never be repaved. Why? Well, back in the 1950s, we were told, concrete blocks were laid down. After some untold amount of bureaucrat-babble, which included the fact that paving over the concrete blocks was too expensive, the official ended his story with, "It's never going to be done." Oh really.