Santa Paula Times

New way of doing business to attract business suggested to City Council

January 28, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

A new way of doing business to attract business was among suggestions to the City Council by the head of the Santa Paula Economic Advisory Committee.

Duane Ashby told the council at the January 18 meeting that the council-appointed SPEAC and the Santa Paula Downtown Merchants Association worked together with input from the Chamber of Commerce on crafting a resolution targeting existing and new business, as well as city policy and practices. The united group, he added, “wishes to express its concern to the City Council that it must quickly and decisively act to protect the interests of the citizens, and to encourage appropriate economic and business development of Santa Paula.”

The groups jointly identified Downtown Main Street as the area from 7th to 12th streets and a secondary area that includes portions of East Santa Barbara Street, Railroad Avenue, 8th and 9th streets, Mill, 10th and Ojai streets and Yale Street.

Ashby showed slides of two retail buildings, noting that although separated by only a short distance they have a completely different appearance that subsequently would attract or repel the shopper whether local or out of town. The proposed resolution urges the council to direct city employees to “properly and adequately enforce the existing requirements of the codes and regulations pertaining to businesses and buildings, licenses and Conditional Use Permits” in the defined Downtown Main Street area.

Ashby said “existing codes and permit requirements, because of budget constraints,” are not being adhered to, and there is “also confusion on business licenses” that have in at least one case allowed a business to open without a required Conditional Use Permit. New businesses should be inspected to ensure compliance with the CUP and regulatory requirements and restrictions and, noted Ashby, business “diversity” would be encouraged by limiting the number of “multiples on certain types of businesses” that Ashby said would be subject to CUP review. A 90-day moratorium should be implemented in the defined Downtown Main Street area while policy is studied and, said Ashby, certain businesses should be restricted if not prohibited outright.

The business types or services noted in the resolution are “smoke shop” tobacco and smoking device retailers, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, fortune teller/palm reader, pawn shops, healthcare providers, “discount” stores, thrift shops, automotive retail and/or repair facilities, and homeless shelters. Ashby said zoning modifications and legal remedies, licensing requirements and fee structures, as well as other measures, “would assist in this endeavor.”

Mayor Fred Robinson asked City Manager Jaime Fontes to prepare a future agenda item, and thanked Ashby and committee members for their work, noting, “We certainly need economic development in these times.”

Later, Chamber President Chris Sayer told the council he wanted to “commend” the joint effort that resulted in the recommendations supported by the Chamber. “We believe the downtown is a part of what makes Santa Paula a wonderful place” and “deserves all the respect and nurturing” possible.