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Vacant storefronts in Westwood Village (near UCLA)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:33 am - December 12, 2012.
Filed under: California politics,Economy,Holidays,LA Stories

I began my holiday shopping yesterday in Westwood Village, the shopping/dining district immediately adjacent to UCLA; was struck by the amount of vacant retail space.  On Westwood Blvd itself, I counted five empty storefronts on each side of the street just on one block (between Kinross and Weyburn).  And that’s not counting the signs on the second floor.

And I could see signs advertising “Space available” on other buildings beyond this block.

When I mentioned this in one store where I bought some gifts, a clerk commented that someone had just said the same thing about Beverly Hills.  He noted that Westwood Blvd had been particularly hard hit, with a Mexican restaurant that had served the area for twenty-five years, recently vacating its Westwood premises.

I believe this the space that restaurant once occupied:


Note these two storefronts, immediately adjacent to one another:

A nice lot right at a busy intersection:

And a whole building vacant:

Do wonder what Governor Brown has planned to reduce the burdens the state places on small businesses and reduce the regulations which have made it difficult for entrepreneurs to stay in business in once bustling neighborhoods like this one.

You’d think that a university village wouldn’t have much difficulty keeping its shops open.



  1. This is the result of Obama’s stinking policies, which I am sure you know. He is systematically destroying  (“radically transforming”) America.
    BTW, I appreciate your commernts on twitter and follow you. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by DeafRanger — December 12, 2012 @ 3:54 am - December 12, 2012

  2. I think the leaders of cities in California and the state itself have absolutely the wrong approach.  If I were a city manager, I would be going door to door talking with the owners of the businesses in my city asking them what the biggest impediments are to operating a business in town and what can be done to make that easier.  I would see business as a partner with government, not as an adversary as it seems to be treated now.  Business is treated as something to be squeezed for every last dime that can be fleeced from it.  Ingenious new regulations are proposed that extract more fees, more permits, more regulations and I am not convinced that it makes our lives better.
    A city should approach things from the position that it is in competition with surrounding jurisdictions for businesses and if things get too onerous in my town for a business owner, they are likely to pull up stakes and move to the next town over.  Or, as Mitt Romney pointed out in his campaign, you get into a situation where people don’t feel comfortable starting a business.  That is the part that can not be measured.  How do you tell how many businesses did NOT get started this quarter because of your regulations?  How do you tell how many decided NOT to hire on an additional employee? 
    Businesses go under at about a fairly predictable rate.  You need a rate of new business starting up to replace them.  If the rate of new businesses starting falls below the normal attrition rate, you end up with an increased vacancy rate.  California in general and many cities in particular are doing nothing to make it easier to operate a small business in their jurisdictions.  In fact, they are treating business owners like they are the enemy.  Like everyone else in this country, an increasing number of business owners are nearing retirement.  I am hearing rumblings on twitter of older folks getting close to retirement age that are deciding to simply hang it up.  It just isn’t worth the trouble anymore to remain open.  One woman from the Pacific Northwest told me she knew of a bit under a dozen (around 10) who had decided to do just that after the first of this next year.
    California needs to get its head out of its ass when it comes to small business.  They need to stop creating a generally business hostile environment where they dole out special favors to high-profile businesses to keep them while everyone else goes broke.  So far around me we have lost a “Hometown Buffet” and a “Johnny Rockets” in just the past few months.  Both had been there for many years.  The restaurant business is very tight margin.  You need good traffic to make ends meet.  With higher costs imposed by government added on to fewer people eating out, it is practically impossible for some places to make a go of it.
    California is squeezing its golden goose to death.

    Comment by crosspatch — December 12, 2012 @ 3:55 am - December 12, 2012

  3. You know what would fix this? Higher taxes on the wealthy, more welfare, and open borders.

    Comment by Average Democrat — December 12, 2012 @ 8:56 am - December 12, 2012

  4. Guess what? In strong economy times small business failure is prevalent. Going from 40 hours a week working for someone else to 80 hours a week trying to make your dream work is not for the weak and many fail.
    Then we hit the rotten times and the “newbies” don’t even try and the weaker old timers give up and even some strong businesses look at the chaos and just check out.
    The unknown costs of Obamacare, the unknown tax codes about to form from out of the miasma of indecision and demagoguery, the strangling regulations and the imputed costs of meeting them are like going over Niagra Falls without the barrel.
    Meanwhile, Obama is going to Hawaii for 20 days, fiscal cliff or no.
    People are voting with their feet. How surprising is that?

    Comment by heliotrope — December 12, 2012 @ 10:39 am - December 12, 2012

  5. DFW has empty storefronts on every block. These include huge shopping centers and fast food restaurants. It’s mostly the suburbs while the liberal city center thrives. But the Design District is suffering….they are all Obama voters. We also have California and New York plates cluttering the roads. They ruin their own states and flee here. With our huge Latino population, Texas is turning blue. It’s over after that. The Democrats know it. I doubt the Republicans have a clue.

    Comment by exleftist — December 12, 2012 @ 12:31 pm - December 12, 2012

  6. same scene in san diego.  el cajon’s business district is a ghosttown.  looming over the empty storefronts is the county courthouse.  busy as a bee.

    Comment by victoria in san diego — December 12, 2012 @ 1:30 pm - December 12, 2012

  7. Good thing those greedy business owners are leaving. Now there’ll be more for The People. At least Big Bird has a job and the president recognizes same sex marriage…or something like that.

    Comment by Paul — December 12, 2012 @ 2:07 pm - December 12, 2012

  8. @exlefist:  What I find ironic as more tech moves to Texas and people migrate there from California (example being Apple adding another 3,000+ jobs in Austin to bring the total there over 7,000 Apple employees in that city) they end up voting for the same sort of government policies that destroyed California.   So if looked at in the abstract, they destroy the economy of a place, move, destroy that economy, move again, etc.  “Progressive” politics are just a creeping economic infestation.  Now the question becomes, how do we spray for it?

    Comment by crosspatch — December 12, 2012 @ 3:27 pm - December 12, 2012

  9. @crosspatch,

    I think it’s the belief that ‘something went wrong, that’s why we left. But we can get it right THIS TIME!’

    Comment by The_Livewire — December 12, 2012 @ 4:04 pm - December 12, 2012

  10. I think when Democrats leave California or New York for Texas or North Carolina, they tell themselves, “Well, things got a little out of hand there, but Democrats are *different* here.” Which is true, up to a point, but at the end of the day, all Democrats are Big Government socialists. That’s why they become Democrats.

    Comment by Average Democrat — December 12, 2012 @ 6:00 pm - December 12, 2012

  11. Ugh, I hate it when I forget to reset my sock. 🙁

    Comment by V the K — December 12, 2012 @ 6:01 pm - December 12, 2012

  12. And, Average Democrat ;-), California needs to pay its beleaguered state workers more… the poor things.


    Comment by SoCalRobert — December 12, 2012 @ 6:30 pm - December 12, 2012

  13. Long Beach, CA, was even worse until the city decided to loosen the rules so their immigrants and other poor people might try to start businesses.
    Now it has new start-ups ready to fail as soon as their subsidies end….usually after 12 months.
    I was recently in Utah.
    For about 15 miles on the south side of Salt Lake City there were only 4 empty store fronts and three of them had ”Opening Son” signs up!
    It is bustling!
    Remember, just like CA’s heat is a ”dry heat,” and therefore less oppressive, Utah’s cold is a dry cold most of the year.
    You don’t even feel cold!

    Comment by Nan G — December 12, 2012 @ 8:24 pm - December 12, 2012

  14. OOPS! “Opening SOON.’

    Comment by Nan G — December 12, 2012 @ 8:24 pm - December 12, 2012

  15. Why can’t the guvmint just regulate businesses to stay open and hire more people and raise their wages and provide mortgage payments along with health care and free vet service for the family pit bull?

    Where’s Levi when we need him most? I know. Its that damn Bush/Cheney group stealing everything that isn’t nailed down.

    Comment by heliotrope — December 12, 2012 @ 9:59 pm - December 12, 2012

  16. Helio, that’s brilliant. If the business closes, the owner has to pay a fine or risk going to jail!

    Comment by AZ Mo in NYC — December 12, 2012 @ 11:00 pm - December 12, 2012

  17. @NanG
    Yeah, Salt Lake is another destination for tech.  From a network standpoint, it is a great place to be.  The transcontinental fiber splits there into three branches.  One branch goes up to Boise where it again splits and one branch goes to Seattle and another to Portland.  Then there is a central branch that goes to the San Francisco Bay area then there is the Southern branch that goes to LA via Las Vegas.  It is a great location because you get direct reach into each of those areas.  If an EQ takes out the infrastructure in any of those areas, you don’t lose access to any of the others.  If I were planning a data center in the Western US to serve West Coast markets, I would be installing it in Salt Lake.

    Comment by crosspatch — December 12, 2012 @ 11:30 pm - December 12, 2012

  18. Funny how The Left (though, to be fair, it’s also some centrists and those right-of-center who feel the same way) love-love-LOVES to tout the “Support local businesses!” meme, yet in most liberal havens (eg, most of Calley-forn-ya), the burdens on business are so great that only large corporations (the Walmarts, the Home Depots) can afford to do business there.

    As a small-business owner (non-retail/restaurant), the Federal requirements alone are onerous enough; I can’t imagine the state requirements such as exist in CA.

    Comment by RSG — December 13, 2012 @ 12:41 am - December 13, 2012

  19. But, Salt Lake is no conservative haven. They haven’t elected a Republican mayor in a long time. Salt Lake has its own big city problems. It has a serious gang problem, for example.

    Comment by crosspatch — December 13, 2012 @ 12:59 am - December 13, 2012

  20. There is something about city life that attracts the liberal and stupid.

    Comment by V the K — December 13, 2012 @ 8:00 am - December 13, 2012

  21. There is something about city life that attracts the liberal and stupid.

    Think of a can of sardines. Half are laid in one way and half the other way. Each one has somebody’s tail in his face. They love soaking in oil and being packed in together, but half want to change their direction and the other half does too. No matter how much tolerance they have, each one is a sardine who needs sardines to be the happiest sardines packed together in the world.

    They think they are schooling and uniform and equal and delectable and they can’t understand why their cousin sardine fry don’t hang around the nets in the dirty ocean just so they can come be part of the canned in oil commune.

    Now the problem is one of whether they were that way before they were jammed into the can or if they got that way after soaking in oil with their interwoven neighbors. And remember, the sardines on the top of the can have the penthouse. They only have somebody’s tail on one side of their faces. They might just be the community organizers of the whole can.

    Whether being stupid makes them liberal or being liberal makes them stupid is a mystery. When put on a cracker, they all taste the same.

    Comment by heliotrope — December 13, 2012 @ 1:02 pm - December 13, 2012

  22. You should have been a poet.

    Comment by Aaron — December 13, 2012 @ 2:30 pm - December 13, 2012

  23. Get the perfect gift for your loved ones this Christmas, depreciated real estate!

    Comment by Drama — December 13, 2012 @ 11:15 pm - December 13, 2012

  24. The thing is that city people are completely dependent on the infrastructure. In the country if people lose power, they fire up the generator. They pretty much have to have one because without power, they have no water. Most folks out in the country have a well and a water pump. No power, no water. In the city you can’t have a generator unless you are in a single family home in the suburbs. Apartment dwellers are S.O.L. In the city you are completely dependent on “the government” for your survival. People in the countryside are used to the notion of having to fend for themselves for a while. The hospital might be 40 miles away, the police station might be just as far, as is the supermarket. A blizzard in the winter can cut you off for a week.

    If you look at most national regulations and laws, it becomes apparent that they are designed from the perspective of the city dweller. The whole notion of making operating cars more expensive in order to get people to use mass transit is one example. There’s no “mass transit” in the country but those people are not given a break on the regulations that are designed to encourage city people to give up their cars.

    In the country if someone gets hurt, you might have to rely on a neighbor for help because it might take a half an hour for medical personnel to get there. If there’s a fire, you might spend a half hour fighting it yourself before the fire dept. arrives (which is probably staffed by your neighbors who get paid exactly nothing for their service as a volunteer firefighter or paramedic).

    The city dweller’s entire world view is completely different than the country person or even the suburbanite who might have enough food stashed away to last a week or two, a generator, and maybe a propane heater and camp stove. The apartment dweller has no room to store any of that stuff and is completely dependent on the city infrastructure operating 24x7x365. Even if they are well to do they are basically living a hand-to-mouth existence due to their dependence on these services.

    Comment by crosspatch — December 13, 2012 @ 11:54 pm - December 13, 2012

  25. This is not because of Obama or California’s poor governance.

    This is partly the fault of the Westwood Neighborhood Council and surrounding old harpie HOA board members. They want nothing there because of “traffic” “parking” “noise” etc. Uh, you live in a city, people!

    But this is also partly due to the fact that the Village is not the only game in town as it was for a long time. 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica is much more attractive as place to hang out and dine and shop. Then Caruso built The Grove on Fairfax. Downtown Culver City has come back to life. Old Pasadena is hopping and much easier to get to. Westfield Century City had a huge makeover and expansion and has great shops and a movie theater and less than two miles away. No one has to go to Westwood Village for anything.

    If you look at Westwood Boulevard south of Wilshire you see something entirely different – only a handful of vacancies and most of the shops, restaurants, and markets cater to the Persian community.

    Comment by PatrickP — December 14, 2012 @ 1:04 pm - December 14, 2012

  26. Beverly Hills has similar problems. The high end stores are in many more places now. You can buy the same merchandise in more convenient places. Additionally, Las Vegas has hurt BH. All the high end retailers are in Vegas so rather than stopping to shop in BH the Asian tourists can fry straight to Vegas, which is where they were heading anyway.

    Comment by PatrickP — December 14, 2012 @ 1:12 pm - December 14, 2012

  27. Some of these comments are hilarious. I can’t believe you’re having a conversation about them there city folks.

    Comment by PatrickP — December 14, 2012 @ 1:16 pm - December 14, 2012

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