One of the only things in life that has an actual guarantee is change. So is it better to plan for the change or let it happen and hope for the best? We would all agree it is important to prepare for the evolution we want and not just watch as other interests steer the wheel. Manhattan Beach continues to change. In some instances the community has lead the change and in others they have sat by and watched it occur. Today some love what we are, while others do not. So what will we be saying five, ten and twenty years down the road about the city we all choose to live, work and play in?
Tuesday July 15, 2014 was a day the community stood up and said we should take a closer look at where we will be and not just wait and see. The City Council acted, the community spoke and the outcome was a proactive approach to laying out what our downtown will be. No one interest was put before another, no rash decisions made and the result is a period where we can take stock. The City implemented the Interim Zoning Ordinance to stem the tide on changes in building use, while planning for the future is underway. In essence, the ordinance allows businesses to come and go from any property but doesn’t allow change in the use of the building for the next 45 days. So if a restaurant closes another restaurant can fill that space and the same is true of retail, offices or any other existing use downtown.
Some argue this is unfair and eliminates a free market. The free market part might be true but that will be determined through the planning process. As for unfair, the only group who would have a claim would be the property owners. For the business community as a whole it is actually a win. Each faction of the business community maintains the same footprint they have today and cannot lose ground during this period. The other thing to keep in mind is that the initial ordinance period is for 45 days, so this is not a long term measure. It can be renewed and may be, but not until the public has their say.
August 19, 2014 will be another big day for the City of Manhattan Beach’s future, as City Council will hear public comment on whether to extend the ordinance for a longer period. It is imperative residents, business owners, and landlords all come and speak. It is also important all of these groups be open and honest with one another leading up to this important date. At the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce we are trying to work with each group to ensure their voice can be heard. Our struggle is with getting clean and concise information out there.
The ordinance means nothing can change between now and the end of the 45 day period, there will be time for every group and individual to have their say. This period is designed as a way to assess what we want, and if we do nothing we will get just that. I encourage each and every one of you to take a moment and picture what you like and dislike about the downtown district. Those are the thoughts your council, business community, neighbors, and Chamber need to hear. Please take the time to reach out to me personally at the Chamber (James@ManhattanBeachChamber.com) or anyone of your council members.
Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce