Photos: Steve Marcotte / OsideNews
Oceanside CA- The Mission Ave Improvement Project has entered its next phase with construction activities moving west to the two block area between Ditmar Street and Coast Highway. This phase is bringing more irritation to already frustrated business owners and store employees on Mission and adjoining streets.
Amanda Metscher, a stylist at ‘Stud Cuts’ 210 N. Freeman St., looked around the empty shop at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon and said, “This construction is hurting us bad. Business is down 50 percent at Stud Cuts. By this time of day, I would have had six clients by now. The whole shop has had only two. There is no parking and we are cut off from Mission.”
The construction has blocked northbound access to streets from Clementine and West, to Coast Highway from Mission Avenue. Visibility of store fronts on Mission has been obscured by a green mesh fabric on a chain link fence lining the construction zone and that has business owners flustered too.
“Nobody can see my shop. I can’t put anything outside. The City limits what I can do for signs showing people that I’m still here,” said Michelle Colon. Michelle is the owner of Michelle’s Vintage Attic, 604 Mission Ave. and has been there six years. “We sell everything here but business is down seventy percent since they began this construction. On top of that, my landlord raised my rent the same day they started this phase,” Michelle said. Colon has tried lights around the store sign, balloons and burning potpourri to attract customers by scent. Colon stated she has attended all the meetings pertaining to the improvement project but didn’t know the big green fence was part of the deal. “I feel like I’m in old East Berlin and the City does not want my business here,” continued Colon, “I don’t see any way they can compensate us for what is happening to our businesses. I am a fighter and I will not go down without a fight.”
The sentiment that the City doesn’t want some of the businesses to survive the improvement project was echoed by several business owners impacted by the work. Aly Uglow, owner of Plethora Galleria, 609 Mission Ave, is glad that the City covered the awnings on business store fronts with plastic but doesn’t believe they have done much else. “The sidewalk is a mess, they have taken away parking and it really feels like they want some of the businesses to fail,” said Uglow, “Maybe they could stop charging for water and sewer during construction. It’s not a lot but right now, anything would help.” Aly is cutting the store hours of the Galleria, “It doesn’t make sense to pay for utilities when no one is visiting your store,” continued Uglow, “In the end, it will probably be worth it but right now, it hurts.”
Donnette Corona, manager of Swamis Café at 608 Mission Ave. believes it will be worth it too, in the end. “Our business was down about fifty percent in the beginning but it’s starting to build back up,” said Corona. “We warned our customers ahead of time and told them where the parking will be. The people that walk to the cafe are still coming to the restaurant, it’s the people that drive and would stop by in the morning that have a difficult time getting here anymore,” Corona continued. The restaurant is no longer open for dinner and closes at 3:00 instead of 8:30PM. Corona believes the City and the construction company have been very accommodating considering the scope of the project. “Nathan Mertz (project coordinator for the City) and a representive for the contractor, West Coast General, have been really good to us through this,” said Corona.
Nathan Mertz and a representative from the general contractor, West Coast General, have been attending the monthly meetings of ‘MainStreet Oceanside’, a gathering of Oceanside business owners and residents, with progress reports, addressing problems and getting input from those with concerns about the project. Mertz warned, during a meeting of MainStreet in September that there would be pain involved with the project but the City and contractor would do their best to minimize the impact. The contractor has installed ADA ramps for the sidewalk detours and continually waters down the construction area to abate dust problems associated with the earth movers and jack hammers.
The Farmers Market will be temporarily moving part of the event to the West side of Coast Highway so businesses on Freeman won’t become completely isolated on Thursday mornings.
The Mission Avenue Improvement Project is currently on schedule for completion in May of this year with the current phase slated to wrap up in March.