Friday, December 21, 2012

Los Angeles Regulates Burger Joint to Death

Becket Adams reports on how the city of Los Angeles killed a locally owned hamburger joint by over-regulating:

Was the place actually targeted by criminals, because of its location, or for some other reason? Maybe--but the owner doesn't mention any actual problems.

Memories come to mind...When my husband and I settled in Hyattsville, Maryland, we stopped at a Chinese restaurant. No surprise--everyone who worked there was speaking Chinese. As we left he said, "The trouble with Chinese immigrants is that they give nothing back to the community. All the profits from that restaurant will go back to China. You didn't see any Americans in there and you'll never see those people trading in an American-owned business either."

I wondered whether all of them would have had a real language problem, or whether they were speaking Chinese out of respect to the owner or the owner's parents. Anyway I said, "Well, we should talk! Every time we buy anything, you go to Columbia, and I go to Bethesda. We've been living in Hyattsville for six months, and do we buy anything but gas, groceries, or train tickets in Hyattsville?"

We didn't actually buy a great deal of things other than gas, groceries, and train tickets, but after that we started consciously checking out the stores and restaurants in Hyattsville. We liked what we found. At that time Hyattsville was a bargain hunter's happy hunting ground. We found quirky little independent bookstores, boutiques, and restaurants, as well as something that was still new to me--the full-sized department stores operated on behalf of various charities. We found stores that still made things to order or delivered to your door, stores that let people sell their crafts or crops or catches in the parking lot, stores where it was still possible to haggle. We actually encouraged visitors to shop in Hyattsville while they were there, for the fun of it.

Then, during the last summer before my husband died, we received a glossy brochure notifying us that Prince Georges County had become infested with "planners" who wanted to pack in more people, build more slums, and, very specifically--I don't remember the exact words, but the brochure spelled this out--get rid of the independent stores and bring in more big chains. Ick. There's no fun in shopping in big-chain stores. We certainly didn't want to invest in a business in Prince Georges County any more. I wouldn't take a house there as a gift any more. Who wants to live, shop, or work in a slum full of all-alike big-chain businesses and high-rise apartment buildings. There's no charm, no beauty, no novelty about places like that.

I was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, but have no memories of that city. I'm told the last pockets of charm, beauty, or novelty were smothered in smog around the time I was born, which was why my parents never went back.

But here's this burger man, whose business doesn't look as if it contributed much beauty to his neighborhood but does at least have a bit of novelty, and apparently tradition, to offer...and the city's railroading him out of business. To make way for another McDonald's, no doubt.

Do they realize that I, personally, can go without solid food for three days before I get hungry enough to eat anything sold at McDonald's?