Downtown business plan

Dear Editor:The downtown area could use a business plan. A business plan conceived by and researched by business people and property owners that would help our city officials see and hear a real and overlooked side of what they are trying to achieve there. I have heard many times that running a municipality is like running a business. This usually comes from politicians that don't run their own businesses. I'm not saying our elected officials aren't business savvy, however, I am saying that if the decisions they choose affected how they provide for their families they might not be so cavalier and one-dimensional in the approach to revitalizing the downtown area. This is the third time in 30 years that the city has put forward a consolidated movement to make Downtown Downey better. I'm sorry to say that it probably won't be the last. I was a first-hand witness to the last effort and I would like to list a few "changes" that were probably not well thought out. Sidewalk access ramps for handicap use were poured and changed three times at a substantial cost to the city until they were satisfied. I spoke with the contractor each time and was told that the size was not right and the city told him to cut them out and do them over. Most now look like driveways. The concrete bumps for benches (that are mainly used as sleeping quarters for some residents) are so large that our Downey Street Faire had to be moved for lack of access. They will tell you it is because the street fair became too large. That is not the truth. Trees that drop copious amounts of leaves must be maintained by property owners even though those same trees block their business signs and clog roof drains. Sprinkler systems don't function and flower beds are not maintained. I suggested metal surrounds so that flowers would not get stepped on and was told there was not enough money in the budget for that. Lack of street lamps on 2nd and 3rd Streets that would encourage guests at the Embassy Suites to stroll to the downtown and Krikorian. Lack of parking enforcement. Cars are parked in two-hour areas for eight hours at a time, not encouraging shopping during the day for lack of convenience. Lack of police presence to encourage foot traffic and discourage loitering and skateboarding (along with sleeping residents). The farmers market was suggested and rejected many times over the past eight years because city officials thought it would be too expensive to maintain (we needed Downey police to close off traffic was one excuse). What the city has finally come up with is inadequate and they wonder why attendance has dropped off. Maybe if the vendors were Downey citizens or Downey business owners then the business community would get the word out and we would see the real side of how proud and supportive the citizens of Downey really are. Yes, a city employee would have to take care of managing that but from what I have read lately there is room for growth in City Hall. These are a few of the mistakes I've seen first hand and it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. I get the feeling that if the problems that exist are not addressed, then problems that arise in the future will also be handled in the same manner. I encourage and support our city officials and realize that things sound easier than they usually are. There is a great deal of wealth and knowledge that is overlooked, along with a great deal of tradition and pride that our city officials could extract from the small business community and property owners. Downey residents need to tell the city what they want and why it would benefit Downey. - Paul Granata, Owner, Granta's Italian Villa ********** Published: January 9, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 38