Opposition to Target Express in Ocean Beach Deepens

by on August 11, 2017 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

It is clear to one with their ear close to the pavement, opposition to a Target Express store opening on Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach is deepening, hardening, and developing.

The opposition campaign thus far has consisted of a “No Target” T-shirt, a petition against the store moving in, and a large, boisterous show-down of opponents at the last OB Planning Board meeting with the property owners and Target representatives, with plenty of TV stations interviewing OBceans on the street.

Up to now, the most visible organized group has been the local young people who showed up with signs and posters at the planning forum.

Now, the opposition is developing at different levels.

The activist core at the Ocean Beach Green Center wants to formalize an opposition group and is sponsoring an organizing meeting to set up an “anti-Target” group, on Tuesday, August 15th at 7:00 p.m. at the Green Center, 4843B Voltaire Street.

In addition, the OB Town Council is hosting “a community dialogue” on the issue. They’ve invited representatives of Target as well as the property owners to provide more information to OB on their proposed Target storefront and to receive community feedback and concerns.  This will be on Wednesday, August 23rd at 7pm at the Masonic Hall.

And on another plane, independent groups of Ocean Beach businesspeople are discussing among themselves about coming up with alternatives to Target for the large space inside the Antique Center.

While the activists at the Green Center will be focusing on “strategies that can be used to keep Target out of OB,” as many of them are veterans of other grassroots campaigns in OB – including the ‘boycott Starbucks” one, the board members of the Town Council are taking another tack. In a statement on the OBTC facebook addressed to OBceans, the Council stated:

“Although, it appears that Ocean Beach residents and business owners are overwhelmingly opposed to the presence of Target Express on Newport Avenue (our neighborhood’s primary shopping district), we deem it necessary to receive additional community input on this development.  We want to hear your concerns and share them with Target and the property owners.

It’s not just “concerns” that the Town Council wants to hear. They are inviting community members and business owners to share “viable solutions for how this space could be better utilized in our community.”

Plus, the OBTC is “seeking community demands or requests of Target …” and asks the community –

” … if Target was to locate in OB, what do you want from this company – specific products or locally sourced products? A promise to pay better wages and provide healthcare and full-time employment? A storefront with a diminished corporate identity and Target branding? “

This last point on the OBTC statement might raise a few eyebrows, as it – in some ways – seems to suggest that Target will be coming into OB, and it’s hopeless to try to stop them. Yet, the OBTC points to the “community benefits” package negotiated with CVS when it moved into OB as a model for OB and Target. Hiring of locals was at the top of that package. However, there has never been – to our knowledge – any public acknowledgement or proof by CVS that the corporation did indeed hire locals.

But, in another view of things, asserting community demands on Target could set a high bar – a strong set of standards could be established, such as pledges of  higher wages, full-time employees and decent benefits. Higher percentage of local crafts. With the implication that if the corporation agreed to such, the Town Council would support their move. This high bar may never actually be agreed to by Target management, and thus the implication on that is that the OBTC would thrown their mighty weight against the store on Newport.

Wherever the sand falls when the wind blows, signs that opposition to Target is deepening are obvious.

Another thought. Many point to the success of the Target Express which moved into South Park a few years ago in the face of  initial community opposition, as a parallel to the OB situation. But South Park – a section of Golden Hill – even though  it is home to many progressives and itself is suffering from a spat of gentrification – never had such a grassroots anti-development or boycott movement like OB did and has.

The challenges to South Park residents and businesses are different than those faced by their OB counterparts. There, the Target Express store replaced an active market that barely met neighborhood needs. Here, Target is not replacing a market, but an antique mall. In general, this particular South Park neighborhood does not have the numbers of residents with the income levels OB residents have.

There in South Park, the kinds and numbers of business storefronts near Target are quite different than those that will be threatened by its opening on Newport.

The parallel is limited and breaks down with any stretching.

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar Jack August 11, 2017 at 4:57 pm

The last section of this piece is mystifying.
What does “and itself is suffering from a spat of gentrification” mean? “Itself”? A “spat of”?
South Park neighborhoods are much, much nicer than much of OB, and have been since about 1910. The density, commercial grunge, and alcohol-saturated people on the streets in OB have no parallel in SP. Absentee landlords don’t tear down homes and build rentals for tourists in SP.

And this: “Here, Target is not replacing a market, but an antique mall. In general, this particular South Park neighborhood does not have the numbers of residents with the income levels OB residents have.” What???

Is the inference that OBecians can only afford junk, not new Target goods? Homeowners live in their homes in SP, and incomes are pretty high. They have to be, to afford and care for $800K->$1 Mill homes. Not many rentals exist in the neighborhoods, and try as they might, the local business group hasn’t been able to drum up a whole lot of tourism.

Target Express is a great asset to SP residents. Why not support some improvement for grungy OB?

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