Claremont Insider: Claremont Conservative Covers Council Meeting

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Claremont Conservative Covers Council Meeting

Charles Johnson at the Claremont Conservative attended last night's Claremont City Council meeting after interviewing Nancy Lodolo, the owner of The Hair After, a salon Lodolo has owned in Claremont for over 20 years.

The Council passed an ordinance last night placing strict limits on new beauty salons in the Claremont Village. The ordinance places an outright ban on salons in first floor storefronts. The ordinance also bans existing salons from expanding into those same areas. Salons would still be allowed on second floors or in storefronts facing alleys - both limits that mean new salons wouldn't benefit from high foot traffic.

Johnson has a post on his interview with Lodolo and the Council action on the beauty shop ordinance:

Pomona's The Student Life have called Hair After's prices "unbeatable" and CGU's School of Religion describes it as "close to campus, a good price, and a good quality."

Nancy loves catering to students and senior citizens. She keeps her prices low -- $15 for a woman's cut compared to upwards of 35 and higher at some of the other places -- and treats her employees well. Some of them have worked with Nancy for about as long as she's had the shop!

"Claremont," she says in her cozy shop, "is a college town and college students don't always have a lot of money. You might think that this is an affluent town, but not everyone who lives here is. We want all this youth running and around and we don't cater to it. How many shops here could you afford to shop in?"

Nancy's right. Some of the high end clothing and restaurants offer services well beyond my means. Whenever I want to buy something on the cheap, I have to take a bus or borrow a ride from a friend.

If you happened to catch the streaming video of the meeting last night, Lodolo addressed the Council on the subject and raised the same points. [Update: We have posted video of Lodolo's remarks in a link HERE.]

The council went forward with the ban, so if you start seeing empty storefronts with "For Lease" signs in the windows, you'll know that by cherry picking businesses it wants, the City Council and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, which had lobbied for the ordinance, picked the wrong businesses to allow in their pool of possible tenants. For whatever reason, beauty salons seem to survive in town. Maybe it's all that inner ugliness we've seen on display from time-to-time at Council meetings in want of a makeover.

With the City in search of new sources of tax revenue in a time of either economic stagnation or contraction, does it really make a lot of sense to limit who can open a business in town? If there isn't a market in Claremont for other types of businesses, they either will fail or won't come here in the first place, and the result will be empty storefronts.

Besides being the City of Trees and Ph.D's, Claremont is also the city of unintended consequences, and we suspect that there will be plenty of those to come out of the sort of central planning the current council has embarked on.

A tip of the Insider hat to Johnson for taking the time to interview a local business person and for actually covering the council meeting, which we know can be a painful experience. Over the years, the local government reporting at the colleges has been spotty at best. Unless it's been something that grabs the students' passing interest - the proposal to put a trash transfer station in at the old gravel pit, the Landrum shooting, the purchase of Johnson's Pasture - student life and Claremont's civic life have rarely been seen to intersect.

Students' interest in town affairs has been notoriously fickle in the past and typically lasts about as long as a mayfly. So, it's great to see a student looking at something as seemingly arcane as a municipal business ordinance and trying to explain how that relates to students. We hope we see more of that in future at the colleges.