Business in Bird Rock’s commercial strip along La Jolla Boulevard is the worst it’s ever been.
“It’s completely dead,” noted Anita Wood, who’s owned La Jolla Mailbox Rentals at 5666 La Jolla Blvd. for the past 21 years. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve had some slow periods, but nothing like this.”
The good news is, progress continues on replacement of sewer lines and the addition of three new roundabouts to complete the community’s long-term traffic-calming project. When it’s all done, it will look great. The question is, will it be worth it?
For many Bird Rock businessowners - the departed, the soon-to-be-departed and those hanging on for dear life until the construction work is done - the answer to that question might very well be no.
The bad news is, the downtown business sector looks like Berlin after World War II. Access is difficult to near-impossible in places, and the staging area for heavy equipment is out on the street itself.
Local businesses, literally, have Bobcats and earthmovers, with all the attemdant noise and dust they produce, camped on their doorstep.
Meanwhile, the vacant green-fenced lot owned by developer Michael Krambs, which was used for equipment staging during the first phase of roundabout construction, remains vacant, even though Krambs is more than willing to allow it to be used, as long as he is reasonably compensated.
When roundabout construction began at the end of last year, the Light implored the powers to be to do everything possible to help Bird Rock merchants get through this trying time until work is completed in June. Some measures were taken. Open for business signage was put up, Hard Hat Communications was hired to be the liaison between the city and the community. Was it too little, too late?
Sadly, for a couple merchants who’ve closed their doors for good or moved on to greener pastures, the answer to that question is yes. Unfortunately, the situation has played out as something of a worst-case scenario for some merchants.
But there’s still time for the cavalry to come over the hill to save the mom-and-pops in town who’ve got their wagons circled. There are still some things that can - and should - be done to help Bird Rock’s businessowners.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Whatever it takes, negotiate to establish a staging area so that heavy equipment is taken off the street.
- Create some well-defined and easily recognizable cross paths through the construction area so that access is possible and noticeable from one side of La Jolla Boulevard to the other.
- Street signs on corners which have been taken down due to construction need to be put back up immediately so out-of-towners will be able to find the goods and services they’re seeking in Bird Rock.
- There’s not enough communication going on between merchants, contractors and the city. Host a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meeting to allow for direct contact between city officials and the community.
- Do more to minimize dust and noise from construction activities.
- Create and widely distribute a map showing where parking is possible in and around Bird Rock’s La Jolla Boulevard commercial strip.
Each and every one of these suggestions is achievable. Let’s get them done. Bird Rock’s businessowners need our help. Let’s not let them down in their hour of real need.