Downtown Comments on Stories, posted by Matt Skinner, a resident of the Val Vista neighborhood, on Feb 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm
I read the article a couple of weeks back discussing the state of OUR downtown. I agree that something has to be done immediately. It is getting worse and worse every weekend I take our family downtown. After reading the article, I felt good that OUR elected officials finally recognize the problem; however I see nothing being done.
If we want people to shop downtown lets give them some incentive. For every $500.00 they spend with our downtown shops in receipts, the town gives the shopper a $ 50.00 gift certificate to all participating stores.
The stores could pay into it and the city could subsidize a good portion of it.
Posted by Perplexed, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 16, 2009 at 1:47 pm
That's one idea. I'm stumped though. I was driving down College Ave. in Oakland/Berkeley on Friday, and even though it was bad weather, the place was bustling with cars and foot traffic around all of the small, unique shops and restaurants. I didn't see a single storefront papered over nor one "For Lease" sign. I know the editor had said a while back to look at Burlingame (I think) as a model, but also look at the Temescal, the Piedmont Ave. area and the College Ave. shops in Oakland and Berkeley as a model.
Posted by Jon, a member of the Lydiksen Elementary School community, on Feb 17, 2009 at 1:49 am
Gotta agree with cholo on a few of those factors. prostitution and medical marijuana are a bit far fetched due to the federal laws surrounding them and the small nature of our town. simply put we are not diverse enough to make a decision like that. sure there are plenty of people that smoke pot but surely not enough who do it legally.
p.s. does the word YOUTH mean anything to this town. not EVERYTHING should revolve around old people
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2009 at 4:28 am
For Jon -- I agree that there are many options not yet taken that might appeal to younger people. However, have you ever tried to get a seat at the plaza outside of Tully's when the kids get out of school? Or ever even tried to get into any of the businesses they block with their yelling, skateboarding and throwing of food? It is so bad that the police are out there regularly since the kids are out of control and the parents use that area as a temporary day care without supervision. When adults see that how motivated will they be to do anything at all to benefit kids? The poor business owners have had it, the landlord does nothing, the police have real crime to handle not a bunch of spoiled brats. So where is the motivation to create something new for kids when they behave so badly with what they already have? And parents -- what are you thinking letting your ill-mannered children act like that? Oh yeah, a parcel tax will fix that won't it?
Posted by Claudette McDermott, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2009 at 10:24 am
I've been there on Fridays in the Tully's patio after school with my kids for ice cream, and yes the teens there are loud and silly, but very normal for the age. They need a Teen Center, or a place like City Beach where there are actual things for them to do and gather without being judged. Growing up myself in various neighborhoods there was always a Teen Center in the downtown. Pool tables, ping pong, TVs, Music room, a pool......patio and snacks will keep them happily busy and a place to gather of their own. We want their money but not their voices... not fair. "Seen but not heard" be real. "Build it and they will Come" :)
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2009 at 10:32 am
To be fair to the merchants, the only one getting business from the kids is the ice cream store. No one else is asking for, or getting, their money. The problem is that the kids take up every table, they are loud, they throw their food, they climb on the furniture and they chase away customers who have no place to sit nor any reasonable way to get past the kids and into the businesses. The tables are for CUSTOMERS not loiterers with no place to go. A teen center would be a benefit for the kids and those people who want a place to sit and enjoy some peace.
Posted by Claudette McDermott, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2009 at 10:33 am
We need more gift style stores downtown with a range of items and prices that the average person can afford. Most are high end or foodie places.... I suppose you can't control who is willing to spend money on investing in opening a business, but when I used to have a storefront in a mall, there were Representatives of other malls shopping for businesses. We need a rep to shop for businesses downtown and perhaps the city can help negotiate a lease with building owners to present a Reasonable Lease Agreement, as most are Not. A Candle shop, Candy Shop, Chain Store....Hallmark
Posted by Scott Walsh, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm
Domus could make a great teen center with some imagination. Parking, food nearby, no noise issues within reason. Cindy McGovern talks and gets re-elected on youth platform, now may be the time. Just an idea with no attack on anybody.
Posted by Mom, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm
I would love the stores to open earlier. I drop my kids at school but there is nothing open so instead of buying my toys at Doodlebugs, I head to Target or to Borders for books instead of the wonderful Towne Center. Even 1 or 2 mornings a week would make a difference!
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 8:03 am
Scott -- Are you willing to pay the rent for Domus to be used as a kid hangout? Last I heard they want $25,000 per month for that space. It would be nice to have a place for kids, even if only to allow the quiet enjoyment of other places by the adults. But to expect a landlord to give up rent merely to provide a place for unsupervised children to wreak havok would be asking for too much, as well as the probability of frivolous lawsuits from the parents. I can see it now -- "you let my kid play for free in your building, my kid behaved in an ir-responsible manner, my kid got hurt, now I am going to sue you". If the parents of these children want a place for them, they need to create that place and find a way to fund it. Failure of the rest of us to foot that bill does NOT give those parents the right to allow unrestrained abuse of those places currently available for others to enjoy. This is a parent and a landlord problem at Tully's plaza. Currently neither are willing to step up and fix it, therefore, the police are continually involved. And the ones who ultimately suffer are the merchants. Is it such a wonder that merchants are reluctant to open up shop in a place where parents do not control their kids and people seem only to spend money in the nail salons and day spas?
Posted by Timothy T, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 8:23 am
Serve great food and have great shops and people will come, no stimulus needed.
If you think any food in downtown Pleasanton is great, then you've been eating in downtown Pleasanton too long. Same for the shops.
The simple fact is that there's just nothing that's that compelling about downtown right now. Farmer's Market is really the only draw to get people that come from out of town and to get locals down there too.
If your store or restaurant is in decline, don't blame it on (just) the economy. People will shop and dine if you give them a reason to, end of story.
Posted by No Plan, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 8:29 am
I've said it before and I'll say it again. UNTIL the City of Pleasanton develops and funds a downtown specific plan with money and support behind it NOTHING will change downtown. Building owners cannot be forced to rent to anyone specific without market based subsidy. Too many building owners own properties at a very low basis cost and can in fact afford to keep them empty for extended periods of time. $25,000 a month for the Domus building is a joke, but that is in fact what the owner "expects".
Posted by Jim Coughlin, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 8:42 am
The Pleasanton Downtown Association's charter - as well as the mission of the Pleasanton Chammber of Commerce - is to support the downtown businesses. Both organizations do a fine job with this and are committed to a thriving downtown business community. In fact, once the new Firehouse Arts Center is complete we'll see even more activity downtown.
This is a global economic crisis - not just a local one.
True, the challenges for local businesses operating on Main street are many. Some of these include: High rents, competition from global chains, strip malls, multiple street closings throughout the year, and seemingly never ending construction projects (i.e., the old Kolln Hardware Building), which disrupt downtown traffic patterns and parking. I know these challenges personally, as my wife and I have operated Downtown Yoga at Division and Main since 2002.
However, Main street in Pleasanton is the BEST! Think about it - where else could you spend time in a local book shop (Towne Center Books) where the owner has READ the new releases? Where else could you go buy tack for your horse (Christensen's)? Where else could you spend time looking at GREAT 2nd-hand jeans (Savvy Seconds)? Where else could you get a breafast served on a plate the size of a pizza platter (Vic's All-Star Cafe')?, Where else can you take a cooking class with your friends (Pan's on Fire)? Where else can you stretch your body and expand your mind (Downtown Yoga)?
Downtown Main Street still has alot to offer businesses and the local community. The most important thing Main Street offers Pleasanton is a glimpse into the eternal spark of the American Entreprenuerial Spirit. Support your local businesses. Shop Main Street - Pleasanton!
Posted by Claudette McDermott, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:05 am
As much as I'd like to join the Band Wagon you're on Yoga, The Downtown "Aint what it used to be," and is not the draw that many other downtowns are. If it were "The Best" we would be a thriving downtown. As it is, stores are closing even now!
Posted by JIm Coughlin, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:19 am
Thanks for your post Claudette -
Nothing's ever what it used to be - and that's not a bad thing. As I recall it used to be antique stores and bars (thank god the Union Jack was demolished - what a cesspool that place was!)
Downtown Pleasanton has "draw" - but not as much as we'd like right? I don't think we should re-design downtown Pleasnton to mimic Walnut Creek. Yet, obviously it's going through a metamorphoses - as process of change. Look at the businesses that HAVE come downtown - Redcoats is another fine example - and there'a s great looking yogurt shop coming in the old Kolln Hardware store next to us.
I'm not saying we don't have work to do - what I am saying is that there are positive aspects of our downtown we need to continue to build upon.
And - this is a tough time globally which has an impact on ANY business either starting or thinking to expand.
Posted by Gelidonut, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 10:30 am
Thanks for the discussion - but part of the current problem with our Downtown is that no one seems to spend their money there. The perception seems to be that all the independent stores are too pricey. Have you really looked? Sure, we've got our share of stores offering elite brands that are frequented by the spendier trendier crowd, but there's something for everyone in most of the retail spots. If you're gift shopping, and only have $20 to spend, you can find perfectly wonderful things at Murphy's Paw, Gourmet Works or Pans on Fire, just to name a few.
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm
Thanks Gelidonut and Jim, you two have the right idea and have outlined much of the problem. The town needs a first floor retail ordinance which the landlords hve fought at every attempt. Too many old time landlords do not need the rent money and will leave the buildings vacant and in disrepair rather than pay for upgrades and get new tenants. The city has enough rules to make nearly any business reconsider operating here but they do not enforce building or safety codes on vacant buildings. If landlords were forced to bring the buildings into compliance with or without tenants, and if the city implemented a "vacancy tax", we would have few if any boarded up storefronts.
Bonde Ranch Mom wants early hours. Nice concept if you want to BUY things but a total loss to the merchant if you only want to be the ugly "B-word" -- and that stands for BROWSER.
Val Vista Bel clearly has not been downtown in years. We have not one but three consignment stores here.
People who do not like any of the restaurants are just too darned hard to please. I have my favorites and some I will never visit again. The one place where service and food have never been lacking is Oasis. Others have their good qualities and sometimes their bad but to make a statment that there is no good place to eat in this town is wrong.
This town is not Los Gatos, Walnut Creek or even Burlingame but if people would start supporting the struggling merchants it could become better than any of those three.
Posted by another resident, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm
Cindy McGovern talks and gets re-elected on youth platform, now may be the time. AMEN!!!! Get going, Girl!!!
I happen to love the teens hanging out downtown! If you smile and acknowledge them as you go into the ice cream store, they are very receptive and often quite helpful! What I hate more are the ex druggies and alcoholics who are now coffeeholics hanging out there with their smelly bodies and clouds of cigartette smoke!!! THEY are the offensive ones!
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Val Vista neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:29 pm
I'm concerned! If you care about your community, then you need to spend money in that community. Tax dollars are generated by purchases made in a city. Those dollars help pay for parks, police, street maintenance and so on. I understand that we are all hurting financially, but we have to keep spending money. The Pleasanton Downtown is a historic district. It definitely could use some fixing up and some new development would be great, but we can't get rid of the downtown charm. The Pleasanton Downtown attracts new people to our city including major corporations, new home owners and people on vacation. It also helps bring in great attractions to our Alameda County Fairgrounds, another tax generator for the city.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Winston Churchill
Posted by More Concerned, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:05 am
Days of lavish income and spending are behind us now. It's time to realign out lifestyle with reality. Historical is old school and will not bring in new revenue. Get rid of that downtown charm that no one wants anymore and take this town into the next generation. You are NOT going to attract patrons keeping things same ole, same ole.
Opportunity is there in these difficult times to tear down the old and bring in the new. New money will then follow.
Posted by More Concerned, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:10 am
P.S. Don't feel guilty for not spending. You have the right and the obligation to take care of your own finances before worrying about the greater economy. We have enough democrats in the congress and an obsessive spender as our president, so let Uncle Sam do the spending while you do the saving. Cash is king in this upcoming economy.
Posted by Jim, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:13 am
People will do what they do. I invite Cholo to come to a yoga class - then we'll go have a cup of tea after at Cafe on Main. Two things you can't get online ever.
Maybe he/she will say he could by a "video" of a yoga class online - but watching someone from your TV is very different than having someone LOOK AT YOU and correcting your postures.
Extremes are never the answer - bullodzing downtown would leave you with a dirt lot. Trying to change everything at once or doing nothing is lethargic thinking.
I'd be glad to take any of the "let Downtown Rot" crowd for a walk downtown and introduce you to the business owners I know and have come to respect. All hard working people wanting to offer people in this commmunity great service and products at a fair and competitive prices. Some struggle, some are doing well - many have been here for years.
Downtown can and will flourish again - it just takes people willing to care for it and not throw the baby out with the bath water.
The invitation is open - call me and we'll see who is really working to make Downtown a place of community.
Posted by another resident, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Feb 19, 2009 at 2:39 pm
I agree with the person who said they are more offended by the adults who hang out and smoke in front of Tully's than the teenagers. My 5 yr old has asthma and I can't tell you how many times we have NOT been able to enjoy an ice cream cone outside on a sunny day because of these rude people. The teenagers can be loud, but in general I find them more respectful than the smokers!
Given that the Tully's area is so popular, wouldn't it be a logical assumption that more places like this would be a successful addition to downtown? Why is it that we don't have a Starbucks or Pete's on main street?? The problem with people loitering can easily be solved by 'fencing' off an area just for patrons (like the restaurants do).
And I think a Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn in the old Domus location would provide an incentive for more people to come downtown instead of going to the mall. Another MAJOR gripe of mine is that we lack a high-end grocery store such as Whole Foods.
Come on Pleasanton, if you want your residents to spend their hard earned money here, you need to give us an incentive!!
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:23 am
Hey Scott Walsh of Pleasanton Valley - excellent idea of Domus being a teen center! Does anyone know the owner? Can we suggest this idea to appropriate people (who are the apporpriate people?) to give this idea momentum?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood, on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:30 am
I love the idea of getting a Starbucks/Peets downtown (I heard it wasn't "allowed" because it would drive the other business down)...try Cafe Main; I always go there instead of Tully's. Also would love a Whole Foods downtown. I hate having to drive to San Ramon. If there were businesses downtown that I actually NEED, then I'd shop there more. I go to the Farmer's Market, Cafe Main, and sometimes Quizno's. Other than that, I've been cutting back on "nonessentials" like fancy restaurants.
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm
Citizens who would like to get involved in what is happening downtown, email email@example.com. This is a newly formed citizen group. Once you are on the email list, you will find out about meetings or issues that concern downtown, including City Council meetings.
Posted by Perplexed, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2009 at 9:54 pm
The editors may, rightly or not, remove this post for "repetitiveness"... HOWEVER, look to Piedmont Ave., College Ave. and even more importantly, the Temescal district in Oakland. The latter has a MUCH lower per capita income than Pleasanton does, yet the shops on that re-vitalized avenue are THRIVING.
So what I am saying is that it isn't a matter of income, it isn't a matter of rents, it isn't a matter of competition, it's more a matter of choice of shops and attracting foot traffic. Enough with the excuses and platitudes about how people in Pleasanton need to make a conscious sacrifice to opt to shop downtown and spend more money out-of-pocket! Just give people some FUN, cool stores to shop in AND THEY WILL.
Please, go check out these districts and get some ideas, folks. Stop beating old dead horses and get some inspiration.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:55 am
There's so much passion in this discussion thread - and certainly lots of opinions about what will and won't work downtown. What is the consensus about the Firehouse Arts Center and how its opening will affect the Railroad Ave part of town? Any thoughts on what sort of businesses need to emerge in the surrounding blocks for that area to take off?
Posted by Perplexed, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 11:26 am
(Sorry, I have to keep posting under this moniker since that's the way I started, according to the PW rules) Re. ideas about what might work? Sure, I've got some, from looking around at the other town's foot shopping areas:
1) Noah's Bagels is always a popular bet. Have a bit more indoor/outdoor seating than the one next to Safeway and people will definitely come! (yes, it's a chain, but it's a good, thriving one that isn't too big and impersonal)
2) A quilting/fabric/handcraft store -- there's really only Joanne's Fabrics in the area, as far as I know. The knitting shop in town is nice, but it's tucked away in the shopping area behind Vic's. Often overlooked.
3) Another really good breakfast place. Vic's is often WAY too noisy to have a conversation with clatter and screaming babies, Rising Loafer is good but often overheated and claustrophobic, Dean's is so-so quality wise. A place with quality coffee and great-fluffy-not-greasy omelettes and fresh pastries would be much welcomed. I haven't tried Amelia's yet now that it's on the side street, so maybe they're already fitting the bill in this area?
4) A small shop with religious (all denominations and faiths) books, gifts and articles, such as this one:
5) A shop with international items, many handmade. Not along the lines of Clover Creek and the other candles/artificial flowers/home decor shops, *not* something really expensive like Studio One, but something "green", globally-oriented (not just "made in China") and unique, such as the Global Exchange Fair Trade store on College Avenue in Berkeley:
6) A good shoe store, such as The Walk Shop, carrying quality comfortable shoes for men and women, maybe kids as well.
7) A music store/cafe -- acoustic guitars, sheet music AND some new and used vinyl and CDs, and a small cafe area. I know, bucking the trend because record stores are going out of business, but people still like to fill in their collections and browse. Buy and sell.
Posted by Claudette McDermott, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm
There are lots of great stores out there, but what is their incentive if our downtown does not have much walking traffic and stores are closing.... Those chain stores are looking for areas that have good parking as that will make for $$ as more patrons will be able to park and shop. Parking is a real problem even though there is new parking along the creek now... I think our downtown also has a very historical/old look about it that does not attract the new cool stores that most people go to and spend their money.