Blue Heron in flight

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Whose dream is this anyway?

I am a merchant on Main Avenue in Fallbrook, as is my wife. We own a building on Main Avenue and property nearby. I pay San Diego County property taxes on said building. 

But because I am not a member of my local Chamber of Commerce, and will never join due to my dissatisfaction with national policies, I apparently have no say on what happens in front of my property.

I found out yesterday that the two main downtown blocks of Fallbrook will now be shut down to vehicular traffic from midday Friday through Sunday per new edicts from the Chamber.

Although I am mostly open by appointment, I try to be open every Saturday morning. How will my clients load anything heavy out? Who decided to burden them with this draconian restriction? 

And why wasn't I ever asked how I felt about it? Neither was my wife at Caravan, or Dave at Mostly Windows across the street or the lady next door at the Yoga Studio or Ron Wylie at his gallery or any of the other merchants I have queried this morning, which includes Chamber members.

Who gives these people the power to act unilaterally without input from all the merchants and property owners? Was there a poll of some kind taken?

The street has now been shut down Friday and Saturdays for several weeks. My wife stayed open in the beginning, as did several other merchants but it quickly became apparent that people were there to eat, not to shop. Now I want to support our local restaurants as much as the next guy and do, but was any thought given to the impact on the rest of us?

Today, typically our busiest day of the week, the street is a ghost town. A customer just stopped in to the jewelry store and said he almost didn't come over today because of the street blockage.

Now we have a Farmers Market coming too. Bring non tax paying vendors in to compete with the local merchants, just like the Avo Festival. What is sad is that with Prohibition leaving, there is exactly one restaurant on our block, Smalltown, and as much as we love them, the rest of us will lose access to our business fronts so that they can participate.

I love Lila MacDonald. She is one of the nicest, most approachable people in town. She is trying her hardest to make things better. I get that. 

I just want a seat at the table and I don't want to have to join the Chamber or be online on Friends of Fallbrook to find out about things that impact me and my wife's and my business to this degree.

At the very least we should have been properly noticed about their intentions regarding the street shutdown and had an opportunity to speak our mind.

A merchant sent me this letter from Lila today:

Hello all!

I am emailing in regards to our community collaboration project to make downtown more pedestrian friendly that you requested. .   You all had asked to close the streets….so the pilot program has begun. The streets will be closed Friday through Sunday for continued outside dining and walkability.  A farmers market will be starting next Saturday from 10-2:00.  It will be on both blocks as originally discussed, with certified on one block and noncertified on the other.   Alvarado will remain open 😊

We are also planning other legal events that will hopefully bring more people into downtown.

I know how hard it is and I am working hard to help make your dream a reality

I would like to meet in a couple of weeks to discuss conceptual maps and ideas that you may all have.  Please send dates that will work for you the second and third week in October. Also better times.


I am excited about the Market and hope that it will bring new people to your doorsteps!


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

I am not going to belabor this or mark it up beyond a little bold emphasis but who requested? Who asked that the streets be closed? Who decides when this experiment ends? Do Chamber votes count more than other people's votes and do we property owners and non chamber merchants have any say in the matter whatsoever? Are we trumped by the restaurateurs? Or are we just petty, selfish people for wanting to access the front of our shops with our cars and our customers' vehicles three days a week?


Anonymous said...

That’s bullshit. I’d raise hell. Very wrong. The Avo Fest kills my tenants’ every year. When we say anything, we’re “the problem.”
F that.

Anonymous said...

I know. I love people who “know” what’s best for all of us.
So tiresome.


call me. always here to listen said...

I was asked by merchants to close the streets permanently. Create more things for people to come into town...including a Farmers Market. Your wife was at the table. I suggested a pilot program to see if it worked. Before something was done that was expensive and permanent and then the merchants decide they don't like. I am local. Cut me... I bleed this town. The Chamber does things that the community asks for (in this case the businesses owners on these two blocks) and to benefit the community. We are not making money on this. I now work 7 days a week. I am even trying to help you build your "dream" of a Flea Market. If it is does not work for you, then the pilot worked. We do not need to send more time on what has been asked for years.We can say we tried and it was not what we expected. (please be clear that this is not what the Chamber wants, it was the community has asked) However, giving people a false narrative, is not helpful. Whether you are a Chamber member or not, I have ALWAYS listened to your voice and others. This is everyone's town and I have worked hard for all voices to be heard.

Anonymous said...

So unfair.....so draconian....


Blue Heron said...

I had no idea until we talked the day before yesterday and it was already fait accompli. I still did not get the totality of it until this morning when I saw the streets blocked off. When you say you were "contacted by merchants" is where it throws me, which one's knew and which one's did not? Unfortunately my wife Leslie never told me. I don't think we should have to depend on word of mouth, even from one's spouse.

I think plans of this magnitude deserve greater transparency. I know you are not making money on this. But I think people will be losing money on this, walk outside right now at 1:31. High noon plus 91 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I’d move the stinking cones so you can load your items you sell . With such a good governor probably in a few more months there will be no business except for large box stores

Jon Harwood said...

Pardon the stupid idea, but perhaps you could work out a contract deal with Nessies to offer special Blue Heron Burgers on weekends?

Anonymous said...

I get it, Robert, but some of the people who commented on your post are clearly anti-Newsom folks who, I find, particularly distasteful. (i don't even want to go to Major Market anymore due to the recall petition tables there.) I’m hoping you call out at least that group and distance yourself.

Blue Heron said...

I am just feeling so horrible after my procedure yesterday that I am going to let the politics slide. It can wait for another day or never.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert, glad to hear of the good health news for you, keep that good news coming.

I couldn't agree with you more about the closing of Main Ave. It's a full blown travesty!! Like you I want to see the local food merchants survive, but not at the expense of the rest of the merchants. If you're up to getting a formal protest going, let me know as I'll join in!!


Blue Heron said...

I just want a place at the table M. Not their table, our table.

JeffN said...

I'm a local resident, not a business owner. But the idea that we need to close Fallbrook's main village streets to make them more walkable is laughable. The village is a ghost town most of the time, so closing the streets just reinforces that.

Spend what little money the Chamber has on advertising the businesses that are hanging in there on Main Street, and encourage people to drive and park right in front of their favorite store.

Anonymous said...

Sue the county and the chamber. It is a illegal taking of your property.

Anonymous said...

For one, I find the closed down streets discourage me from going there, but then I didn't do a lot of food on main in that area anyway, so maybe I don't count.