Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Saving Coates

So according to John at M-M-M-My Pomona, the proposed YMCA project is back burner, but the demolition at Foothill and Towne is now front and center. For reasons that make sense only on a sinister level, the City still proposes to eminent domain three successful Pomona businesses. All in the name of yet another corporate drug store. Huh?

Coates Bicycle Shop is one of the oldest businesses in Pomona and is considered a local landmark and a community service. According to John, the City's plan will force the tuxedo shop to move to Covina, and will force Coates out of business.

Reader Maribel wrote me awhile back with this letter and idea:

"Hi Goddess of Pomona!
I think I'll start by introducing myself.
I am a sophomore at Pomona College as well as a Pomona, CA resident.
I have lived in Pomona my entire life, and am very grateful to have
found your blog. It keeps me well informed.

I recently read on your blog that
the city is looking to buy the property on which
Coates sits on, and I, much like you,
am disappointed by this.

My intention is not to complain to you, but is rather,
to share something with you. One recent Saturday night,
while my boyfriend and I were walking around the dorms,
we ran into beautiful new bike in his hallway. The
freshman who happens to now own the bike, told us
her parents had just given it to her as a delayed
Christmas present. When asked where her parents bought
it, she answered "Coates." She mentioned that the
people at Coates are really nice, and, perhaps best
of all, offered to store her bike for the summer. In
addition, they gave her a U-lock for her new bicycle.

Storing bikes on campus for the summer is a real pain. Space is
usually given as first come, first serve, so, many bikes (including
my boyfriend's) are left out in the open locked to the bike racks
on campus. They have to bear the extreme heat of a Southern
California summer and can at times be stolen or damaged.

Coates is providing students (I'm assuming that this is a regular
service of theirs) with an amazing service and giving Pomona a
better name just by being in the city.

I thought this would be a good story to share with you, and perhaps
you can ask others on your blog to share their own stories
regarding Coates?

I think it would be a great thing to collect and share with others,
and perhaps Mayor Torres?

If not, I think it would be a great entry for the blog."

GoP: Unfortunately, this sounds like an idea whose time has come. If you have a story about Coates, please write it below. If we get enough stories, I'll make sure they get to people in the City. Pssst, there's a rumor that some of the City's public servants even read the blog. I'm sure it's just a rumor, tho. :) As with all issues, you can email, write or call City Council.

Thank you to Maribel, who says there are two other current students at Pomona College -all women- who were organically grown here in Pomona. That makes three Godesses of Pomona at Pomona College. Now that's team spirit!



me said...

Here's my experience with Coates:

For his 4th birthday, Mr. Big received a bicycle from Grandma. The bike came with the usual cheap training wheels. We went to Coates, received helpful service and purchased dependable training wheels. A year and a half later - after almost daily use - the training wheels are still going strong. Mr. Big is so attached to them that he will not even think of taking them off.

I wouldn't dream of buying biking supplies from anywhere but Coates. I am happy to support a Pomona business that sells something other than motor oil, drugs or foot massage.

G of P

Anonymous said...

I love my city. The people that are running it make me sick!

Why don't they fill up some of the weed filled vacant lots they have already created before they continue tearing down precious buildings and destroying long time businesses in my city?

Once again, someone waves a dollar bill under their noses and away they go...they can't control themselves!

Don't we have enough giant drugstores in this city already?

John Clifford said...

First, a clarification. City redevelopment is trying to facilitate a move by Giovanni's back to Covina. They aren't trying to force them out of town, just helping them find another location (albeit out of town).

Next, this WILL be coming before the city council for a vote after the 30-day review period. This gives us all an opportunity to let the city council know how we feel about this. PLEASE write to the mayor and council, regardless of which side you're on, and let them know what you think.

Anyone who has environmental concerns (traffic, noise, pollution, hydrology, etc.) can get a copy of the MND (Mitigated Negative Declaration) and respond to it. This is extremely important as latter, should you wish to take any of these issues to court, you will have needed to have responded to them during this period. The MND is available from the city's redevelopment agency and goes into detail on all of these issue. It also includes site maps and layouts of the proposed new construction.

Anonymous said...

I think redeveloping that corner is a great idea. There's a lot of vacant space (read: huge lots full of weeds and broken concrete) on a Pomona corner that receives a lot of traffic and could potentially pull in some of those Claremont consumer dollars. That said, I'm having a hard time seeing how redevelopment of that corner and keeping Coates alive are incompatible goals. Seems to be Coates would make a fabulous addition to the redevelopment of that corner. The 7-11, on the other hand, can go. Can't we all just get along?

me said...

Sounds like you don't have all the information tho. Please read John's article on the other blog, which says that Coates will reportedly be offered a space in the new development...at 3 times what they pay now. That's not do-able, especially in today's economy.

Pomona should build businesses for Pomonans, not for Claremonters. There is both a need AND spending power in Pomona to support worthwhile Pomona businesses. As it is now, Pomonans are forced to go to other cities to purchase needed supplies. To use Pomona money to build a shopping center for Claremonters makes no sense.

As for empty lots, there are plenty of them, all over central Garey (including corner lots). A central Garey location would be convenient for all Pomonans, and would not involve tearing down any more buildings. A Walgreen's built on Central Garey makes more sense anyway, given it's proximity to the hospital and medical offices. If the City Government would listen to input on this, rather than follow someone's misguided dream, well perhaps we could all get along.

G of P

Garrett Sawyer said...

My parents have bought nearly all mine and my siblings bikes there (so my mom said this morning), I think we've only gotten one from Incycle in Chino. I don't think I've ever been there or even remember seeing the building before, If I have...I don't remember or I was too young to remember. I'm sure I may have seen it while going down foothill before but just didn't notice, the sign vaguely seems familiar.

Building something new up there the city thinks will bring more traffic into the city, but what will all those new people see when they get into the heart of Pomona, not very much... I think the city needs to focus on the important parts of the city, not the outskirts (with a few exceptions). Perhaps the city should cut Coates a break on the mortgage or rent or whatever is that isn't doable for Coates. Or even better, help relocate them somewhere within the city that is more affordable.

There ought to be a bike store/repair downtown if the city is even going to try to consider itself as a transit oriented city, not the other way around. Enough with the car culture, yeesh. I think Coates would be a valuable asset to keep in Pomona if the city could advertise in the annual newsletter the benifits of using bikes and created some bike lanes for once. That would create MORE business for Coates and they'd be able to afford where the city wants them.

Anonymous said...

Another problem I have with losing Coates is losing that distinctiive sign out on Foothill.
I already can see the boring beige thing that would be put in it's place. It will look like every other corner that one sees everywhere.
Also, F--- Walgreens. You can't spit in this town without hitting a CVS, Walgreens or Savons or for that matter an Autozone.
Jesus, city council, open up your eyes to something, anything else.

John Clifford said...


While I appreciate what you're saying, it's a common misconception that the city can "cut a deal." in one of these developments. Again, this is part of the problem with using eminent domain here. This is not for the city, but for a private developer. Once the city "assembles" the land, they sell it to the developer who builds the project and reaps all the benefits, including lease moneys. The city can't force the developer to lease to anyone at a "bargain" price.

So while it's an interesting idea, I doubt that anyone's going to be able to do it. However, there was a case recently in Hollywood (this one included a historic building) where, if memory serves, the city purchased the property for the development, but the previous owner maintained certain "air rights" which were then leased back to the developer, thus making it economically viable for the former owner to relocate in the new project.

Citys need to think "outside the box" to come up with solutions.

Anduhrew said...

I got an Idea. There are a number of cycling groups in Los Angeles, but seems like there isn't one in Pomona, I know that there are cyclists who live in Pomona. These groups do monthly rides. Why not form a group that does monthly rides that meets at Coates and Ends at Coates. in a sense it could be a "demonstration" I've already mapped out a route for Pomona, I'm going to drive it in a day or two to see what the "towne and Holt" section would be like

I'm going to ask some students in Pomona to see if they'd be interested.

Anduhrew said...

I'll also need to speak with the Coates owners to see if they'd want to be involved

Anonymous said...

[From same Anon who supports redevelopment of that corner]

Excellent point that Pomona has plenty of barren corners and plenty of consumer dollars to spend in our own community. I totally agree with this.

My mention of the Claremont consumer dollars was intended to highlight the fact that this very corner serves as a major gateway into our town. Lots of people from lots of towns pass this corner daily; why not create something there that will invite them to stop and spend some money. Surely our tax base could use a little help from a lucrative commercial corner. I love Coates and I want to see it stay put. That said, how often do people really buy bikes? Why not find a way to meld the retro-fabulousness of Coates with other interesting businesses? The lack of interest on that corner (not withstanding Coates) is an opportunity missed to say something about Pomona other than "dive town." (And, to be clear, I don't think a drug counts as interesting!)

Garrett Sawyer said...

Surely there must be a way for the city to aid in the preservation of Coates' chances of still being located there in the future. I don't see why the city couldn't help supplement the lease by the amount they wouldn't be able to afford, at least until they can find a way to afford the lease on their own. If they were to remain there (If given the chance, not at their total expense)once the propossed developement is completed, they might bring in more money than they are now.

That's not right, there ought to be a law, that's historical route 66, there must be something someone can muster up that would prevent them from getting the boot. I'm not liking this, I'm so tired of all these chains moving in, all the city is doing is creating a Ghetto of the future. New Suburbia= Future slums of America. In 20-30 years from now the propossed development will be just another graffiti-laden, faux-stuccoed, 2nd (or 3rd) owner business, with crumbling/dented EIFS, broken irrigation, food wrapper mulch, dead poorly planned and outdated landscaping EVERYWHERE! Lest Pomona cleans up it's act that is.

John Clifford said...

To Anonymous who favors . . .

So you think we need to move Walgreens across the street to attract Claremont money? Do you really think that's the key to economic revitalization, kick out going businesses (7-11, Giovanni's, Coates) to move Walgreens across the street?

As long as the Northwest corner is as ugly as it is (CVS, Staples, etc.) I can't imagine anyone thinking that this is a great entrance to the city. The entrance is from the east, so you see the north side of the street mostly. You're exiting Pomona traveling from the west, when you're focused on the south side.

Yes, we need to see something done with the vacant land between Coates and the former Brasserie Astuce, but why do we need to take out thriving businesses? Again, I don't see that as economic development, especially if we don't replace them with something a step up. I just don't see anything in the plans that shouts "quality." I only see "strip mall." which has never said quality to me.

John Clifford said...

Just posted some photos of the corner in question along with the plot plan from the city on M-M-M-My Pomona.

me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anduhrew said...

I e-mailed the city council, mayor and manager about Coates. unfortunately my girlfriend has issues with privacy so invitations to the secret garden would be exclusive. don't worry, Goddess you're on the list. and I am in good relationships with John. He is going to leave much of the garden here as long as i'm here.

me said...

I've been careful to never disclose the location of the garden on here. I'd feel the same way as your girlfriend. I am happy to hear that it will remain in tact for now. So John really exists then? LOL

G of P

Anduhrew said...

i i've noticed you've been wonderful about keeping the secret. John does exist. I'll have to let you know the next time he's in town so that you can meet him. He'll talk your ear off though. you'll never get a word in.

Garrett Sawyer said...

So that's what the deleted comment was! Google Reader is very helpful when it comes to seeing comments that have been deleted. lol. I already knew anyways, I only live down the street, only on my end... it's something else *wink* lol.

Ed said...

To answer Anon's question about how many bikes are sold at Coates--in the ballpark of 1000 each year. According to my source, they might average about 50 a month, with December being a huge month. And these bikes aren't exactly the Wal-Mart quality (or price). Maybe I can come up with the gross sales figures for a post at M-M-M-My Pomona.

Coates does have a bike club/team. Look for blue/black/white or blue/red/white jerseys and shorts around town and you'll see the Coates name. If anyone is interested, they do have weekly rides on Sunday, but check at the shop to confirm the time and distance. I doubt Corey (the owner) would be against other rides if someone wants to organize them.

I hope everyone follows Anduhrew and contacts the mayor and council members to express their opinion. Do we really need yet another strip mall? Other than Raymond Fong, possibly Norma Torres, and definitely the developer (Lewis?) who really benefits? How many years will it take just to recover the redevelopment dollars? And if Coates hops to the next block (in Claremont) which city will look the wiser? I'm guessing it won't be the city that kicked out a "green" business with an existing client-base just to provide a new home for the pharmacy that is already across the street.

John Clifford said...

Well stated Ed. It will be interesting to see which council people decide to back eminent domain for a project with no real net gain. Will Norma want to back it when she's running for Assembly (and/or possibly Mayor?)? Will Paula Lantz, Stephen Atchley, and George Hunter, all whose districts have elections this year, support it? And, while I've heard some early rumors about who, will new mayorial and or council candidates stand up on this issue?

It will be an interesting year.

me said...

Garrett - Yep, you caught it. LOL. Of course I only discovered it once I started patting myself on the back.

Anduhrew - as I said in the deleted comment, I think the bicycle ride is a great idea.

John and Ed - Do you think it would be helpful to complile a list of all the empty/ deserted lots in Pomona? Now I know this would be quite an undertaking, but it seems that alone would be an argument against using eminent domain on breathing businesses.

G of P

Garrett Sawyer said...

G of P- You know those nice crime maps that are being created on google maps? Perhaps someone is willing to make one of the empty, demoslished lots (including lots with vacant buildings). The easy part will be marking the empty lots that are clearly empty from an aerial view. The hard part will be getting all the addresses put together in a list. I found this handy website the other month called zillow.com ...It lists estimates of each property, it's address and it outlines the property line. I hope this is helpful to anyone that wants to list these empty lots.

Garrett Sawyer said...

I think the website even lists the number of properties for sale too, but I think it's only for homes, which doesn't help. lol. I haven't really investigated what all the website can tell though.

Anduhrew said...

If anyone knows how to use GIS, that information could probably be pulled, I've only tapped the surface of GIS so i'm not the guy yet. if those database files don't exist I'm sure i could find someone at school who specializes in GIS to be interested in finding that information. (though finding that person would take more effort than i'm able to do currently)

Ed said...

I'm tapped out with the current maps. Pomona is a huge city, so you may find the effort to be herculean.

For me, I just don't think this project makes sense. It's so ill-conceived that I'm really beginning to question the redevelopment agency. Perhaps we need to look more critically at the agency and their current and past projects to evaluate whether the current leadership is making wise choices with OUR money.

me said...

Or just the lots on major streets. I'll start jotting down lots as I see them. I'll make a post to serve as a repository for vacant lots spotted by any of us, noting if there is a corner lot involved. This is the sort of thing you can do as you are out and about anyway. Just involves paying attention.

G of P

Garrett Sawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
calwatch said...

Remember that Google Street View covers all of Pomona now. Based on the gardening at my house and the placement of the cars it looks like it drove around our neighborhood early in the morning (like before noon) in October or early November, on a day that I stayed home from work (because all cars are parked on the property). They are auto-blanking license plates though, but most other text on vehicles parked on the street should be readable.

REN said...

i like to see it back where coates use to be,before it went up to foothill.so it would be alot closer at least for me.