So the Fortuna Beacon is dead. The Times Standard is shrinking. Greystone Jewelers is closing, along with several other Old Town stores which have closed over the past year or two.
Now Hometown Buffet is closing – which has provided a meal at relatively low expense especially for seniors. A couple of weeks ago I received a telephone call from someone who went to the Bay Shore Mall for a haircut. He noticed that many of the spaces were empty, and the building was run down in places. He took a few photographs before he was approached by a security person who instructed him to stop taking photographs. He complied and put away his camera. Several minutes later he was approached by another security employee, obviously someone with a little more authority. The employee asked the individual for his name. The individual declined to provide the name, and then the employee instructed him to leave the mall. The individual said that he was waiting to get a haircut, but the employee was firm. The individual had broken the rules. Not that such a prohibition is posted or anything, but that was irrelevant.
As reported earlier, it appears that WalMart has found a back door into the community, and I suspect the ultimate goal is to take over the mall, maybe leaving a space or two for PetCo and such.
Unless something is done to bring in some employing investors, I suspect Humboldt County is in for a long period of decline towards a retirement community, with fewer and fewer families – even beyond this particular recession. This is the only time I will comment on the subject as it could be seen as self-serving, but we really need to ask whether spending millions of dollars on lawsuits instead of conferring with potential employers to invest in local infrastructure accordingly. And yes, environmentalist groups really do need to ease up a bit and let something happen every once in a while. While the accusations against environmentalists with regard to economic impacts are overblown, there is an intransigence which does have an economic effect, and which will eventually generate a backlash which could undo crucial environmental regulations.
Not that the other side of the political equation is much better with their constant pushes for more housing and retail development without any kind of plan for an economic base to fuel it all. Of course, the ideological thrust behind this side is that you don’t “plan” anything. You just sort of let it all happen, because the economy isn’t a system, it’s organic, yada, yada, yada.
But we do need planning. And we need community leadership, in office and out, which can venture outside its milieus of ideological comfort and take a holistic look at the situation – and generate a plan. The plan can change, evolve, etc. But right now we’re in trouble, and even the better aspects of the leadership are focused on the short term (which is admittedly daunting). We need a comprehensive vision, anchored in short term reality, but also with a long term economic plan in mind.
I sincerely hope that discussion is the primary theme of the upcoming Supervisor races, because really, none of the smaller stuff is going to matter if we’re headed towards becoming another Trinity County where you see only a handful of people under 40 years old and hardly any kids.