Target Greeted With Another Full House in Opposition at Ocean Beach Town Council Meeting

by on August 24, 2017 · 20 comments

in Ocean Beach

All photos by South OB Girl.

By Frank Gormlie

Once again, Target representatives were greeted with another full house of OBceans in opposition to their potential move onto Newport Avenue at Wednesday’s, Aug. 23rd, OB Town Council meeting. They faced the same wall of “no’s” at the August 2nd OB Planning Board meeting.

And once again, Target brought to the meeting about a dozen of its employees who took up several rows in the front – this is the same thing they did on August 2nd. Target had two representatives who spoke – despite an inexplicable email to the OB Rag the day before from Kristy Welker, a member of Target’s PR team, which stated:

We will not have a spokesperson at the meeting, so please use the following statement from Target within your stories. [Ed.:A short paragraph statement was included which we have declined to post as the company had spokespeople there.]

By time President Gretchen Newsom swung breezily through the standard reports on the agenda, there was standing room only inside the community hall of the Masonic Temple on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. I personally counted 100 people in the room, not including the dozen or so Board members or the uniformed officers off to the side, or the media reps. Many residents held “No to Target” signs and posters, including a row of locals standing at the back. A table off to the side had sign-up sheets, petitions and more signs, thanks to the new group that has formed to oppose Target.

OBTC President Gretchen Newsom – standing, flanked by Jon Carr to her right and VP Marcus Turner to her left.

Newsom explained the purpose of the community forum as an opportunity for residents and businessowners to voice their concerns about Target Express – and be able to address a wider set of issues than the OB Planning Board was able to (OBPB had to focus only on the off-site sales of alcohol by jurisdiction).

“We’ve received lots of concerns from the community and business owners,” Gretchen said, and tonight was a chance to sound off with ideas she urged the audience, “and maybe the landowner will listen to you.”

Kim of Target.

Kim from Target was introduced and she rose to give her spiel. She read from a script – as this was her first OB community meeting and was a different spokesperson than the Planning Board meeting 3 weeks earlier. She was the Target real estate director and she had met with District 2 staff and members of community organizations. “Tonight,” she said, “is our time to listen.”

It was the same basic script read at the August 2nd meeting. Target has found gaps in OB’s Newport Avenue consumer wares, and Kim rattled off the same list as the other spokesperson did, “home decor, home and school supplies, towels, men’s and children’s clothing, etc”.

She did say a little more about Target Expresses around the country. There’s 36 of them, only one other in San Diego – the South Park store. Target Expresses cater to residents who don’t want to leave their community, she said. This comment brought some snickering from the back of the room.

Jon and Carolyn Winn

A Target Express is much smaller, Kim went on, than the full-sized stores – such as the one on Sports Arena –  which are commonly 160,000 square feet, whereas the Antique Center building only is 18,000 square feet.

Kim continued: Target has had discussions with the owner to lease the space – but nothing has been signed – she admitted. (Actually her words: “there are no completed documents.”) Later in the evening, she was unable to say how many years of lease Target was looking at – although usually the company signs long term leases of ten years.

And like the Coronet, the Five and Dime Store of  yesteryear in the same building, “a Target Express will activate this end of Newport.” No height will be added to the building, as Target will use the space as is, with a “brush up of the exterior”.

The script reader continued: Target Express expects to hire 40 to 60 part-time employees, with the goal to hire a majority from Ocean Beach. She didn’t mention that the jobs would be without benefits.

“The small format is not a regional draw,” Kim said, meaning people from around the region will not be coming to the OB Target to shop. Is the Peninsula the “region”? If so, I’d expect residents of Point Loma to drop down into OB rather than drive over to the busier Sports Arena area.

Kim claimed the 33 available parking stalls were sufficient. Later, she admitted that 5 of those would be for employees. The store would have two deliveries a day and the trucks wouldn’t hang around once the delivery is made.

Rio Metza giving a very impassioned speech on saving OB’s character; she wondered with so much ugliness going on in the world, whether she could attend an anti-Target meeting; she accused Target reps of trying to buffalo the community with their ‘commitment to be good’ for OB while only caring about profits and the shareholders.

Targets are usually open from 7am to 11pm she said, but the company is willing “to tailor” the operational hours to fit the community; for instance, the South Park store is open from 8am to 10pm.

And once again, the phrasing: the small format of Target Express allows “a tailoring to the needs and wants of the community.”

Then the pledge: “Target is prepared to open the store without alcohol.” But later under questioning, the same wavering as seem on Aug. 2nd – Target cannot commit to never selling alcohol. And the company is not prepared to put ‘no alcohol sales’ in its lease, as it was asked to by a Board member.

More questions from the Board were about the parking issue, the part-time jobs, having access to someone at the store from corporate.

12 year old Alexander Ashe gave one of the best speeches during the meeting. (Photo published with permission from parent.)

Finally, a little exasperated with the tenor of the questioning, Kim, the Target rep, blurted out, “In all due respect, there’s a lot more people in the community besides the people in this room.” This brought howls of protest from the room.

Finally, Newsom opened up the floor for comments and questions from the audience. The very first person to go was 12 year old Alexander Ashe, who said:

“… We’re not corporate America. … Corporations are destroying communities. Target will destroy local businesses.”

This wisdom from someone so young brought instant applause and cheers.

John Ambert, the chair of the Planning Board, was up next, and he launched into a quick economic and social impact spiel of the negative consequences of a Target in OB. There will be a “total net loss of residents, a loss of community character …” he said, and cited studies of Big Box stores adverse impacts on local communities. Target spends $100 million lobbying Congress, Ambert said, as they’re the second largest retailer behind Walmart.

OB Planning Board chair, John Ambert, outlined his ideas about forming a REIT and purchasing the property and creating a mixed-use building with housing on top.

He said he stands opposed to Target moving in and noted that he was “especially disappointed in the OB Mainstreet Association in putting Target’s interests ahead of the community’s.”

Ambert then turned and pushed for something positive in the community’s response. He advocated the formation of a real estate investment trust (REIT) to raise capital that could then purchase property in OB. That would allow the community to buy the building at issue. “Cooperative ownership of property is always better,” he said.

The community could purchase the building and turn it into a mixed-use space, with housing above, Ambert concluded. This brought a hearty round of applause.

Many hands went up with questions – and Gretchen meticulously went through the crowd allowing everyone a chance to say or ask something. (It’s beyond the scope of this post to report on each of them.)

Kimmy McGinley listing the reasons people are opposed to Target Express.

Kimmy McGinley was called on – and she gave a quick report on the organizing of a ‘No to Target’ group; it had an organizing meeting last week attended by 22 people; she read off 5 top reasons the group is against Target (threat to community character, violations of OB Community Plan, threat to tourism, loss of local businesses, etc.). She announced there is a rally against Target on Wednesday, August 30th at 5:30pm at the foot of Newport.

After most of the questions and comments had been voiced, Gretchen then called on those in the audience to show where they stood. Those who want to see Target in OB, she said, raise your hands – a few did – maybe 3 or 4; then those opposed, raise your hands she repeated – and for all intents and purposes, the entire room rose up – except for the rows of Target employees. She asked again, those sitting on the fence – and not quite half a dozen waved their hands.

Finally, Newsom walked the room through making of two lists, one for other ideas on how to use the building, and a second one outlining “community benefits” from Target if they moved in (see photos).

There were chants of “No Target in OB!” and “Boycott! Boycott!” that capped the meeting as Newsom closed it up.The couple of TV cameras remaining found people to interview and board members began collecting and folding up the chairs and tables.

Denine Hunt being interviewed by Channel 8CBS

The second community forum on Target was over and the result was the same – another full house of opposition. OB by far is against the corporate behemoth setting up a gigantic storefront on the busy Newport Avenue. As John Ambert asked, “Do we really want the second largest retailer in OB?”

OBceans opposed to Target: L to R: unknown woman, Denine, Rick, Colleen, Rio, Dave and Jim.

 

 

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Colin Purdy August 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm

“She didn’t mention that they are without benefits.”

Is this confirmed true of those 40-60 part time jobs?

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Avatar lyle August 25, 2017 at 10:05 am

Also, what level of benefits do the existing OB businesses (including big and small ) provide to their various employees ? Are you comparing Target to local reality, or to an ideal ?

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Avatar Colin Purdy August 25, 2017 at 10:50 am

I asked because Target’s corporate website includes a few pages describing or indicating benefits with retail positions.

And since one of these pages (https://corporate.target.com/careers/benefits/health-benefits) states that medical insurance “Eligibility is based on average hours worked, length of service and position,” I had wondered about Target’s plan for these 40-60 part time positions, if the author of this article was certain of his statement “that they are without benefits.”

And if they are in fact without benefits, I further wondered if that is not some part of the reason why Target plans to offer these 40-60 positions only as part time, to avoid paying medical.

I am not comparing Target to a local reality or an ideal, but noting that Target is a $70 billion corporation (2016 revenue; net income $2.737) making a local proposal to extract revenue in exchange for consumer convenience and 40-60 part time jobs that only might go to local residents, and, which if the author is correct, don’t include medical insurance.

Yes, it’s true, many, probably most, small businesses everywhere in the U.S. do not provide employer subsidized health insurance for employees to buy into, but I would say that Target at $70 billion is not worthy of that lowest common denominator.

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Avatar Oldob August 24, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Form a REIT…..ahah ahaha…..that is hilarious!!!!yes, let’s have all the destitute hippie holdovers and jobless pot smoking surfers gather together the quarters from between their sofa cushions, pool their funds and buy a multi million dollar piece of real estate. Brilliant!! How about instead of that you just don’t shop there?! If the store isn’t profitable then it will close. Although, How much you want to bet that after everyone is done bitching and moaning this store ends up being a huge success.

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Avatar Donna August 24, 2017 at 11:56 pm

We collectively raised money to purchase the building for People’s food co-op in the old days. We can do it again. Will we? Time will tell.

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Avatar lyle August 25, 2017 at 10:42 am

What she said :)

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Avatar Chris August 26, 2017 at 6:29 am

What about the pot smoking surfers and hippies who DO have jobs?

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Avatar South OB Girl August 25, 2017 at 12:17 pm

I’ve kept pretty quiet but one idea I have is a UCSD Extension satellite campus. Or National University or Phoenix University. Or SDSU satellite campus. If parking were a problem — how can parking be resolved?? Rooftop parking (similar to Whole Foods on University). Perhaps a parking agreement with CVS (and all that parking over there) for students of potential university as well as local businesses? A parking structure at the CVS parking lot, (don’t know details if that would be allowed in that zone so close to the beach)? Parking structure could be used by CVS, beach goers, and local businesses. Work in shared parking options to the community benefits package that was previously put in place with CVS?

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Avatar South OB Girl August 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm

A lot of Department of Defense affiliated companies provide funding for employees and veterans to attend school. Lots of former military attend National and Phoenix. There are many DOD employees seeking MBA’s and certificates funded by their employers. There are lots of non-military locals pursuing education opportunities. And — There are lots of veterans seeking education opportunities, certificates, and degrees (often on the GI Bill). There would be no shortage of students.

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Avatar Jon Carr August 25, 2017 at 12:53 pm

The best idea I’ve heard so far is that the space should be redesigned to resemble a meadow, except made entirely out of candy. The centerpiece of the store could be a chocolate waterfall and is how the chocolate gets stirred before it’s made into CBD-infused OBie bars. If only the owners would listen to what the community truly needs… do Oompa Loompas require full-time with benefits?

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Avatar obDaDa August 27, 2017 at 11:50 am

don’T BogarT thaT Joint, My Friend…

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Avatar hOBie August 25, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Where are the local business owners? From an earlier post: “…it appears that Ocean Beach residents and business owners are overwhelmingly opposed to the presence of Target Express on Newport Avenue…”

But the OBMA, which is funded by local merchants, is not opposed (assuming this is fact based on Ambert’s comment above). I get that the OBMA may not speak for all of its paying members. I also get that James Gang capitalized on printing shirts. But were they or any other business owners at this or the previous meeting and willing to speak in opposition? (maybe they were – just asking)

Are there any local business owners reading this that can articulate how Target will have a negative impact on your business? Or, are there any business owners willing to state they are NOT opposed to Target?

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Avatar South OB Girl August 25, 2017 at 2:32 pm

The owner of Olive Tree market, a Culture Brewing employee, James Gang, former Lola Luna employee Rio, Peoples Coop members have all spoken (some at the planning board meeting and some this past Wed).

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Avatar Debbie August 25, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Need “business owners” to speak up.

Publish a list as to what side of the fence each business is on the issue. That way people who are protesting Target can support those local businesses that also oppose Target and those that want Target can by boycotted.

Just a thought.

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Avatar obDaDa August 27, 2017 at 11:51 am

LiKe this idea^^^
UniTy!!

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Avatar South OB Girl August 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Google “Measure R” in Malibu. Quite interesting.

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Avatar South OB Girl August 26, 2017 at 4:08 pm

A holistic medicine school, a beauty school, an ITT Tech location… lots of possibilities. So many other options which could benefit the community.

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Avatar Debbie August 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

All ITT Tech campuses were closed as of September 6, 2016, and on September 16, 2016, ITT Tech filed for bankruptcy.

City College is the most affordable program to become a licensed cosmetologist.

Thank you for your efforts. Keep bringing ideas and a buyer for the building :-)

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Avatar South OB Girl August 27, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Sad about ITT Tech… was out of the loop on that news. General idea is that there are heaps of educational institutions that operate in facilities other than large college campuses. PLNU satellite campus in Mission Valley… I think I’ve seen a Pepperdine satellite campus in Long Beach… the City College Extension campus on Midway offers mainly computer and arts classes (ceramics, dance, etc). National U, Ashford, Phoenix?

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Avatar OBKid August 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Stop just Stop. You all will be buying school supplies, clothes, and diapers at Target Express. Just like you all shop at CVS and Rite Aid.

If there was another company willing to fill that space, I would be all for it but it doesn’t seem like that is the case. All of the suggestions are not feasible from a business stand point.

“Say No to Corporations, Say Yes to a REIT” – give me a break – ludicrous thinking here!

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