ARTESIA, CA – The plans for beautification of Pioneer Blvd here by the City of Artesia, to bring more shoppers to the area specifically to the ‘Little India’ market, seem to have backfired with unhappy merchants complaining that it has had a negative impact on their business and infact has proved a hindrance to customers who have cut...
Dhiraj Vitha, one of the conveners of the meeting pointed out that the Fire Department too had voiced concerns about the median. Representatives of the Fire Department had wanted to attend the meeting but due to protocol could not be present. According to Vitha the City did not take into account objections made by the officials of the Fire Dept to the median and the City went ahead with the construction with the Fire Dept signing off on it. Vitha asked the sub-committee if there was a chance to remove the median and have a two-way street again.
The sub-committee was asked to find out if the median was approved by CAL-OSHA - the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The merchants unanimously decried the fact that the City instead of helping them was hurting them. Calling for transparency by the City, Gurpal Singh, also a convener of the meeting, lamented the poor planning by the City , which went ahead with the median, without getting feedback from the merchants and calling for a meeting with them to discuss the plan.
The merchants also pointed out that with the launch of the parking meters they lost 30 percent of their business and now the median is taking away another 20 percent! Based on customer feedback, they pointed out that once a customer gets a parking ticket they are highly unlikely to return to shop in the area. Customers also found the parking enforcers to be rude and unfriendly.
Weekends, which earlier were the busiest days for merchants , have seen a marked decline of shoppers. Traffic congestion is keeping shoppers away, the merchants said. The drive from the 91 Fwy exit to 183rd street takes almost 30 minutes. Then once the shopper gets to the main drag he is faced with the narrow one way street and parking hassles. It was pointed out that the parking lot behind Frontier Heritage and Farm Fresh which used to be full on weekends, now lies almost empty, a witness to the fact that shoppers have stopped visiting the market.
A merchant who sells tickets for shows, brought to the sub-committee’s notice that he has lost almost 45 percent of his business to online sales and Ticketmaster, as customers have stopped visiting his store to purchase tickets. Earlier, customers from far flung areas like the San Fernando Valley, Diamond Bar and the Inland Empire would make the trip to buy tickets, which would help boost not only his business but that of other merchants as well .
One of the Chinese merchants pointed out that business was so bad, she could not pay her employees this month and that robberies and burglaries in the area were on the increase. All merchants present, including the converners of the meeting - Dhiraj Vitha, Gurpal Singh, Ronish Vashisth, Mahesh Goel and Sunil Shah - made it clear to the sub-committee, that the main aim was to urge the City to hold a town hall meeting to address the problems put forth and to remove the median, before it is too late and Pioneer Blvd becomes like the dead, empty downtown Bellflower drag.