Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Chain Stores Dominate Council Meeting

At the Ojai City Council meeting on Tuesday night Council members and attendants discussed the issue of chain stores opening in Ojai. City Manager Jere Kersnar launched the discussion with a presentation that outlined some of the complexities involved in keeping chain stores out of the city.
City staff, Council members and a handful of local residents agreed that a proliferation of chain stores downtown would have a detrimental effect on Ojai's tourist economy as well as ruin the "small town" atmosphere.
The problem at hand was creating an appropriate ordinance that would effectively keep out unwanted chains without hindering the success of local business owners.
Kersnar said that though he did not believe it was possible to ban chain stores from the city outright, it would be in the city's power to put restrictions on where certain businesses could open, put limitations on their appearance, or on the type of business that is allowed. Chain stores could be banned from the Arcade, he suggested, because it is in the historic downtown area.
Some suggestions from the public included researching the policies of other cities such as Calistoga and Coronado that have applied ordinances to prevent the development of chains in their downtown areas.
While the majority of speakers urged the council to act as quickly as possible to put an ordinance in place to protect Ojai from turning into a cookie-cutter town, one local business owner who had thought about turning her small pet shop into what might be considered a chain, pleaded the council be careful of making an ordinance that would be too exclusive.
Councilman Joe DeVito suggested organizing a joint meeting of the Planning Commission, City Council and members of the public to discuss the implementation of an effective ordinance that would discourage chain stores.

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Anonymous said...

What if city council put as much dedication into preventing chain franchises and protecting small town feel from over-development
and big buildout,developer interests, as they did on the gravel truck increse? Same
quality of life issues, environmental protection that can galvonize community quickly.
If the city were serious about
addressing these issues, that would be effective. It took a citizen lawsuit and a court battle to put them on the table for discussion,
only after the elections, at that.PL

Anonymous said...

Needing input from many different perspectives- coming from what has always been a creative and thoughtful locale, drawing energies and talented minds from distant places to share their
lives here. It would seem this is the resource that will manage Ojai's growing pains, not the demi-Gods of market forces but collective efforts by those who have a real sense of place and a mind and commitment to keep the traditions and faith in this valley.