City order thrift store demolition
By Jesse Phelps
Ojai Community Development Director
Robert Casias said he sent word to St. Thomas Aquinas Thrift
Store owners Richard and Marilyn Malloy of Ventura on Thursday,
ordering the demolition of their little building, located at
the eastern end of the Arcade.
In issuing the order, the city played its trump card in what
has become a well-publicized controversy.
The thrift store, which has stood in the same place since former
St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners Chris Bickler and Heddi MacIntosh
opened it on April 22 of 1971 with the proceeds from a rummage
sale, is one of two in the town and has a dedicated staff and
Some community members have expressed their desire not to see
a change while others consider the building at best an eyesore,
at worst a danger.
The Malloys and the workers at the shop were unavailable for
comment. It is unclear if any support exists to either sue for
time or reopen the store in a new building, should demolition
proceed on schedule.
Casias said that the city has received numerous complaints. Getting
rid of the business, he said, has never been the point. It's
the building that's got to go.
"We'd like to see the use continue," he said. "But
once it's deemed unsafe, we have an obligation. We're trying
to get rid of a dangerous building."
Casias said that in the event that the business goes under, the
city has two other uses in mind. The site could become a small
park or an exterior addition to Bonnie Lu's restaurant, if the
owners are amenable.
The thrift store building isn't alone, however, in the crosshairs
of the city.
The El Camino Motel, the site of an expansive and time-consuming
remodel, has been ordered to clean up, said Casias. The effort
is already underway. "It's about, I think, 75 percent better
than last week," he said. "That's the good news. It's
taking awhile, though. Hopefully, the finished project will turn
Also targeted is the home on the 400 block of Willow Street,
which Casias characterized as "probably the worst residence
in Ojai." A number of permanently parked cars were being
removed, he said, but the property remains "full of debris."
Also slotted for code enforcement is a partially constructed
property on Montgomery Street. Casias said neighbors have been
complaining about the presence of rats.
"I know this all sounds like heavy-handed staff," said
Casias, speaking to city planners Wednesday night. "It's
what we're doing to benefit the community."
In a meeting that took less than 45 minutes to complete, the
planners unanimously approved three agenda items.
All three items concerned residences and the waiver of setback
requirements. In two cases, the applicants were looking to install
pools and associated equipment. In the third case, the applicant
wished to add a detached garage.
Staff found mitigating circumstances in each case, which allowed
for the granting of the variances. All three lots come in below
the minimum size requirements for their zones and in each case,
the additions were found to be consistent with their neighborhoods.
The Ojai Valley News
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