14 October 2010

City gets up on its high horse

This morning I caught a story about a proposed jewelery/pawn shop trying to open in downtown Oceanside.
A plan to open an upscale pawn shop in the heart of downtown Oceanside ran into a wall of opposition from a citizens advisory group Wednesday whose members said a pawn shop wasn't what they had in mind for revitalizing the area.


The committee voted 5-0 to advise the City Council to reject a proposal to open a pawn shop in a vacant store at 205 N. Coast Highway.
This seemed like kind of a bummer to me. The last time my wife and I were in the downtown Oceanside area, we tried to go into a pawn shop. We thought it would be fun to look around. (The place was closed on the day that we were there, unfortunately.) And this place looks like it would be more of a jewelery than pawn shop, anyway.
The pawn shop ---- Coast Jewelry & More ---- would deal in "mostly high-end jewelry pieces and watches," said Jason Lambert, who would manage the store. "We want to fit in, and we want to make everyone happy."

Over time, the focus of the store would likely shift away from offering loans on pawned items to a more conventional retail operation, Lambert said, although he said it would continue offering collateral loans.
The advisory group sees it differently, though.
But committee members said a downtown pawn shop would harken back to a past the city is trying to leave behind, when downtown had a reputation for sleazy bars, strip joints and tattoo parlors.

"It's the wrong location, downtown, as we're trying to bring in more residential and tourists," said committee member Carolyn Krammer. "We don't want our tourists to be subject to people trying to pawn merchandise."
Is the committee afraid that people are going to begin trying to sell their wares to tourists right on the street (as if that weren't already possible)? Or do they just detest the "kind of people" who would patronize a pawn shop for a loan? One thing is clear; the group isn't actually interested in "redevelopment" or increased tax revenue.
[...] the owner of the proposed store, David Mueller, would remodel what has been a vacant space for more than four years and has been "kind of an area for people to hang out and maybe do things we're not crazy about."

Former Oceanside newspaper publisher Tom Missett, who presented the pawn shop plan to the committee, said Mueller would invest about $2 million on the pawn shop.
The committee would prefer that the building (already owned by Mr. Mueller!) remain vacant. His $2 million investment isn't the "kind of money" they want. But the insanity doesn't end with the committee.
Oceanside police also oppose the plan, fearing a new pawn shop would lead to more crime downtown and mean more work for a department already stretched thin, said Lt. Valencia Saadat.

According to police statistics, seven arrests have been made so far this year related to stolen property taken in by pawn shops and $21,000 in stolen property has been recovered.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it seems to me that stolen goods were recovered and the offenders arrested and taken off the streets because of pawn shops. Those crimes likely would have never been solved if those goods had simply been sold on the street. The police don't want the extra work (doing what they're paid to do!), though. They don't want it even though the shop manager is willing to jump through all sorts of hoops to make their jobs easier in order to get his store opened.
Besides installing security cameras throughout the store, Lambert said anyone pawning items would have to show identification, sign a slip saying the property belonged to them and have photographs taken of themselves and whatever they're pawning. He said the photographs and other information would be made available to police daily.
Apparently the insanity isn't limited to the city. Sign a slip saying the property isn't stolen? If he thinks that is going to work, then why submit information to the police on a daily basis? Why not just go all the way and take finger prints and a DNA swab? It's too bad. I wouldn't sell anything to a shop that treats its customers like common criminals in this way.

And finally, we have the government serving its own interest.
Bartlett said he'd be fine with the business if it was a jewelry store, but the very use of the term pawn shop is troubling.

"That's semantics but it bothers me," said Bartlett, who lives downtown."I will be strung up if my neighbors are told we are going to have a pawn shop in downtown."
We certainly wouldn't want Mr. Bartlett to lose his position of power, looking down on honest people and crushing their entrepreneurial spirit because he doesn't like the type of business they would open or the clientele it might draw. That empty building will be a much better symbol of his ability to direct the redevelopment of the downtown area.

1 comment:

  1. I think you should send this to your local paper as an opinion piece or letter to the editor.


Please be relevant, civil, and brief... in that order.