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Home / Opinion / Monrovia Old Town report: Double meat, double cheese, double traffic?

Monrovia Old Town report: Double meat, double cheese, double traffic?

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By Shawn Spencer

I see a lot of chatter about how the city should be aggressively trying to bring new businesses to Monrovia. Why is Applebee’s still empty? Round Table? Bed Bath & Beyond? Granted, these locations have been uninhabited for quite some time, but I can’t help but wonder what business the community would approve of in their place. 

Thus far, the majority does not approve of Chick-fil-A, they do not approve of Raising Cane’s or Starbucks and In-n-Out is apparently a big no-no. Oddly, there does seem to be a freakishly large amount of support for Cracker Barrel. 

Clearly, we don’t want empty businesses, but we also don’t want anyone to move in. Sure, traffic will increase on Huntington Drive. But how bad can it be? The city does extensive traffic studies prior to approving these businesses. In my experience, the only thing annoying about any In-n-Out drive-thru line is being in it at all. Driving by has never been an inconvenience. 

Refresh my memory; did people complain when McDonald’s was built on Mayflower and Huntington? Taco Bell? Sprouts? Let’s flip the script for a sec. What would be ok? What if Amazon wanted to build a distribution center here? What if Nestle Water wanted to move to Monrovia? Maybe JPL could open a satellite office.

Bringing businesses to Monrovia strengthens our community. New jobs would be created. Local businesses pay local taxes, which would bolster our city’s revenue for improvements to our community. There is still going to be an increase in traffic. And where will these employees live? [Insert large housing developments]. No one seems to want those at all. 

I admit I’m not fond of them. A few here and there are ok but you’ll never catch me in Old Town Pasadena because I can’t stand all of the development. It feels like you’re surrounded by newfangled projects or college dorms. But people must live somewhere. Will they want to drink water? Because there isn’t any. Ok, that makes me giggle a bit. I’m all for saving water. I catch extra water in the shower and save cooking water for watering. I fully understand that we are in a drought and need to conserve. 

Adding new housing is not the same as creating new humans. These people are already currently using water. If I move to the Avalon, I’m still going to use the same water I’ve been using. So are the million-ish people that get their water from the San Gabriel Basin. When it comes to the drought, we’re basically all up sh*t’s [dry] creek, whether we live in a single-family home or an apartment building.

According to The Google, there are five ways to bring new business to your community: 

  • 1. Be a city where young people live and play. Check! We have that covered. 
  • 2. Good data tells a compelling story. Check! Our City Manager and his staff are quite exceptional, especially with giving good data. 
  • 3. Position yourself as an international location. Well, we’ll skip #3. 
  • 4. Elect and appoint visionary leaders. Intriguing. I’m excited to see what our newly remodeled City Council will do, once they get their sea legs. 
  • 5. Identify and exploit your cachet. We’ll skip this one, too, unless there really is gold in them there hills.

The trick is to keep our city charming and quaint. I’m not too worried about Old Town, but the Huntington Corridor seems to be up for grabs. I’ve always thought that you can tell you’ve left Los Angeles County once you start seeing nothing but shopping centers with all the usual suspects: Lowes, Verizon, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Ross, Subway, etc. Where do we draw the line at maximum occupancy? When will we say “ok, this is good?”

I would think that strict guidelines should be put in place, but what do I know. I just live and work here. The thing is, once we cross the line, there are no do-overs. I know we all agree that Monrovia is a special place to live and work. I hope it stays that way forever.

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