Thursday, September 4, 2008

Planners Open To Curb Appeal

Merchant sidewalk displays focus for commissioners

By Nao Braverman
With a weakening economy nationwide, and a number of visible commercial vacancies downtown, planning commissioners agreed that Ojai’s small businesses need as much help as they can get.
That could mean re-examining the city’s regulations regarding the outdoor display of goods.
“One thing that downtown Ojai is lacking is the sight of festivities,” said local resident and developer Ron Polito at Wednesday night’s Planning Commission meeting. “Our local merchants need everything including hooks to draw people into their stores.”
Introducing himself as a representative of the local business community, Polito pleaded with commissioners to consider easing up on their regulations of outdoor displays in town. He cited Westridge Market’s colorful fresh fruit and vegetable stand as one exemplary display that is aesthetically pleasing and entices people to come to the store.
Historically the city has entirely prohibited local businesses from putting anything out onto their storefront sidewalks. However, a recent amendment allows them to do so, provided that the business owner obtains a conditional use permit.
But since it is so recent, the city still does not have a defined policy in place to process such requests. Planning commis-sioners discussed various options, primarily a tiered approach which would allow businesses to get a permit to display some items, such as flowers and fruit at the first tier, without having to plead their case in front of the Planning Commission. The second tier would be for other items such as mannequins and apparel, and would require Planning Commission approval. The third tier would prohibit certain items from outdoor display that are not aesthetically pleasing and clutter walkways, such as pallets of water and bags of pet food.
A number of local merchants asked commissioners to allow struggling local stores some forms of outdoor display.
City manager Jere Kersnar even suggested the possibility of creating an additional sidewalk alongside the Arcade Plaza to allow for outdoor seating and displays in Ojai’s central walkway, currently too cramped for such use.
Commissioners acknowledged that a portion of the chain store ordinance would also have to be re-examined regarding the use of vending machines. As dispensers of pre-made “junk food,” they would probably be prohibited under the recently passed ordinance regulating formula retail.
Most commissioners agreed that they were not particularly concerned about soda machines, but would not want to lose water dispensers.
Commissioners were collectively displeased with the look of a proposed design for a six-unit condominium project at 601 Pearl St. Currently a single-family home near the Ojai Valley Trail, the new development would turn into six two-story structures facing a central circular garden.
“It is in a nice small neighborhood and I would like to see more interaction with the community,” said Planning Commissioner Tucker Adams. “Right now this design makes it seem like they are cutting themselves off from the rest of the neighborhood.”
Fortunately at the design review stage, the project was the exact antithesis of what Ojai’s planning commissioners generally like. With driveways facing the street, a rigid design that was more auto-centric than pedestrian friendly and essentially excluded the rest of the neighborhood, planning commissioners didn’t think the design fit in Ojai.
Planning Vice Chair Susan Weaver asked the applicant to return with a design that was more innovative and aesthetically pleasing, more pedestrian friendly and energy efficient, and had better access to the bike trail.
Commissioners also voted to consider implementing a form-based planning policy. Form-based planning is intended to create the antithesis of suburban sprawl, explained Katrina Schmidt, city planner. Instead of emphasizing the use of buildings, form-based codes focus on the facade, features, type and dimensions of structures. Overall they are intended to improve an area’s quality of life by structuring neighborhoods to encourage community involvement, pedestrian activity, and decrease the need for people to commute to work.
Commissioners said they would welcome a consultant on form-based planning to educate the commission in the future. The ideas seem to provide a framework for the concepts that Ojai’s planning commissioners are constantly trying to present to applicants, said Weaver.
“I wish the man who presented the concept for the Pearl Street condominiums were here for this discussion,” she said.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

“One thing that downtown Ojai is lacking is the sight of festivities”

Maybe that's because the Oncelers chased away Earth Friend Jen. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's because the Oncelers chased away Earth Friend Jen. ;-)

Well, hey there; just take off your own clothes and run around naked if that's what you really, really believe in. Don't just be one of those spineless cowards who believe that all things ballsy (or boobsy, in this case) are someone else's responsibility.

DIY, True Believer.

Anonymous said...

This all brings to my mind the mess at the Y Shopping Center in front of Vons. The sidewalk directly in front of the store has been rendered basically impassable to foot traffic due to the rows of shopping carts, pallets of plastic bags of garden mulch, the water machine and racks of dying or dead houseplants. The sidewalk is not usable to people in wheelchairs and people with kids in strollers as there is not enough room to navigate them between the rows of parked shopping carts. People in wheelchairs and with strollers coming from the Ben Franklin area across the crosswalk on Carillo have to navigate on the parking lot instead of the more safe sidewalk. Sounds like an accident waiting to happen to me. Also, does Vons not have a break area for their workers? Makes me puke to walk from Ben Franklin side to Vons and have to pass through clouds of smoke where their cigarette-smoking people hang out next to the water machine.

The Y Shopping Center and the Ben Franklin area are pretty much an eyesore. Looks like something you'd see in a big city. I understand they are owned by the guy whose kids run True Value and Ben Franklin. Seems to me he'd want to keep that area clean. The sidewalk alongside Vons where the covered bench is could use a SERIOUS power wash at least once a month. There is always trash on the sidewalk there and over in front of the bakery place by the dry cleaners, mostly because the trash cans are always full to the brim. And, in the winter, the covered walkway roof in front of Rexall and Dexters leaks. The whole place is pretty ghetto.

Could not be a financial thing. I see the landlord rolling his Cadillac SUV in grand style.

Anonymous said...

I guess you people have not been reading the news. Tiny Boobies has changed her name to Gennifer, making her now Earth Friend Gen.

Anonymous said...

"Makes me puke to walk from Ben Franklin side to Vons and have to pass through clouds of smoke where their cigarette-smoking people hang out next to the water machine."

There's always Starr, or some of the boutique markets. Vote with your dollars.

Anonymous said...

Funny you say that, because that is exactly what I do! I only go to Ojai Vons for the emergency mid-week purchases. I do the biggest part of my shopping at Trader Joe's...and see other Ojai people there every visit. And my Vons of choice is the spiffy new one on Thompson in Ventura. Starr is ok, but very limited selection.

Anonymous said...

I like the funk and the grunge. I can deal with any amount of it as long as it annoys the L.A. and Santa Barbara transplants who think that the main purpose of Ojai is to make them happy.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you were born here? I am guessing you are originally from the east coast.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you were born here? I am guessing you are originally from the east coast.

You're a bad guesser. I'm from here. How about you?

Anonymous said...

Born and raised, baby. Probably went to kindergarten with you.


I still say the Y is an embarrassing welcome to our town.

Anonymous said...

Smoking grocery clerks on breaks not limited to just outside of Vons. Starr Market has made a cozy little area by their west entrance complete with a table for theirs to sit and suck on coffin nails. So much for shopping at "boutique" markets.

Anonymous said...

I still say the Y is an embarrassing welcome to our town.

So are whiners.

Anonymous said...

YOU are the whiner. I just take pride in the place I am lucky enough to call home.

Anonymous said...

"YOU are the whiner. I just take pride in the place I am lucky enough to call home."

What have I whined about? If we were all to come over to your house and take a look, would we find it as well maintained as you expect everyone else to keep their property?

Store watcher at the Y said...

THE EMPLOYEES HAVE TO SMOKE SOMEWHERE. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD NOT GET BREAKS. IT MUST BE REALLY HARD TO LOOK AT THEM RIGHT. IF YOU ARE SO ABOVE THEM AS IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE. WHY DON'T YOU SEND YOUR MAID OR PERSONAL ASSISIANT TO DO YOUR SHOPPING FOR YOU. LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE THEY ARE HUMANS TOO.

Anonymous said...

To 9/7, 5:34 pm...You bet your buns. My house is the one on my street with the well-tweezered look. I am on a first name basis with the nursery store owner. I take my trash cans out the morning of pick-up, not two days before for all the dogs in the neighborhood to come and raid, and the cans are in before dark the day of pick-up, not two days later. And, in anticipation of your next insult, it is all self-done. No undocumented or otherwise gardeners involved!

Anonymous said...

Well, then you have the solution to what bothers you about the Y. Buy it and run it as you see fit. Failing that, I guess you're stuck bashing the owner anonymously here on this blog.

Anonymous said...

No pun intended, but smokers are a dying breed.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like more than one person is bothered by the Y. Save your breath. Maybe we can all pitch in and buy it and plant another park.

Anonymous said...

Calm down, calm down. No one has a problem with employees taking breaks, or about having a break area at the entrance to the store (believe me, I wouldn't want to take my break in the sour milk smelling back area of the stores either!). It's all about the cigarette smoke. It simply puts you off the experience of buying fresh food to first have to walk through a cloud of carcinogenic smoke. That's all.

James Hatch said...

Let's face it, the real problem here are the thankless customers whose very existence depend on those hard working smokers taking their government given work break.

The latest studies in fact show that smoking is a safe and therapuetic form of stress relief.

Anonymous said...

The wisdom of James Hatch. James Hatch for Mayor of Ojai. "Smoking is a safe and therapuetic from of stress relief" Maybe we should smoke in front of our kids too .. maybe that will calm them down ,, relieve their stress.

Anonymous said...

Leaving this forum will relieve my stress.

live free or die said...

" Maybe we should smoke in front of our kids too .. maybe that will calm them down ,, relieve their stress."

September 9, 2008 7:12 PM
or we can all go and hide so you and your children can breath the pollution in peace.shield them from life. keep secrets from your kids and they will do the same to you intolerant a$$
"No pun intended, but smokers are a dying breed."

September 8, 2008 11:31 AM
cheer up u can still bi@#! about Lott's of other stuff
"Makes me puke to walk from Ben Franklin side to Vons and have to pass through clouds of smoke where their cigarette-smoking people hang out next to the water machine" well now that you Mencken it i will see you there I will be the one smokin my brains out just to see you puke!!!!! Store watcher at the Y said...
THE EMPLOYEES HAVE TO SMOKE SOMEWHERE. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
September 8, 2008 8:33 AM i see more customers smoking than the 4 employees i am one of many thax sw at the y.

Anonymous said...

Live Free or Die Smoking!!!!
Hi!! I don't really care if you smoke at Vons. I shop at Starr so please be my guest and puff your lungs out!
Have a nice day Mr. Whateverthehell!!

live free or die said...

Anonymous said...
Live Free or Die Smoking!!!!
Hi!! I don't really care if you smoke at Vons. I shop at Starr so please be my guest and puff your lungs out!
Have a nice day Mr. Whateverthehell!!

September 12, 2008 7:07 PM
Thax for altering my name I did not ask you to but you did. Oh and thanx for your permission although I don't need it to smoke. If you don't care why did you write? I noticed you don't have a name mr wateverthehell. I have also noticed you green movement people like to just change things without the owners permission. So busy trying to change people your life passes you by and that pisses you off. happy trails to you pal! [__}}______] :)

live free or die said...

[__))______] :)

Anonymous said...

Does it look like I am trying to change you, Live Free or die? I hope you keep doing what your doing because you aren't helping anywhere else. You can do your part for society if you just keep doing what your doing. Adios @$$()e!

Anonymous said...

I happened to walk from Rabobank to Ojai Valley Card and Gift the other day and I too noticed what a mess the whole area is. Trash everywhere. Cigarette butts everywhere. The covered area that shelters the bus/trolley waiting area stinks. The sidewalk is sticky. And yes, what about the shopping carts in front of Vons on the sidewalk making it impassable to people in wheelchairs? Pretty disgusting.

live free or die said...

Anonymous said...
Does it look like I am trying to change you, Live Free or die? I hope you keep doing what your doing because you aren't helping anywhere else. You can do your part for society if you just keep doing what your doing. Adios @$$()e!

September 13, 2008 6:01 PM

yes you did >> Live Free or Die Smoking!!!! What are you doing for society???Besides spreading ignorance. If the last part of your opinion is true why are you opening that big mouth of yours???Thanx 4 ur support