Arcade thrift store annex doomed
By Jesse Phelps
Patrons of the St. Thomas Aquinas
Thrift Store need not be concerned that it will soon close.
Confusing reports over the last several weeks may have implied
that the shop is due for demolition, when, in fact, only the
annex portion, located in a shed on the western side of the walkway
adjacent to Bonnie Lu's restaurant, is due to come down.
Shop workers confirmed that the main store will stay where it
is, continue to do business and accept donations.
The shed, meanwhile, has been condemned by the city. Word was
sent Friday via an official letter to building owners Bill and
Marilyn Malloy of Ventura from Robert Casias, community development
director for the city of Ojai.
The city cited four specific violations of the Uniform Code for
Abatement of Dangerous Buildings in playing its trump card in
what has become a well-publicized controversy.
Television crews from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles have already
made trips to the unassuming little store.
Despite the vocal support of store shoppers for retaining the
annex, Casias said that the city has received numerous complaints.
Getting rid of the business, he said, has never been the point.
It's the auxiliary building that's got to go.
"We'd like to see the use continue," he said last week.
"But once it's deemed unsafe, we have an obligation. We're
trying to get rid of a dangerous building."
Among the city's complaints are a sagging roof, a missing portion
of a wall and the lack of an anchor to a foundation.
The letter states, "The subject building is manifestly unsafe
because it has no exit door, has inadequate lighting and un-approved
electrical wiring, has no foundation, is wracked and leaning
to the side and is not in compliance with any building codes."
The letter stipulates that the Malloys have 10 days to obtain
a demolition permit from the city and another 10 days to carry
out the process.
Casias said last week that in the event that the thrift store
can't or won't reopen the annex for any reason in a new building,
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.
However, Jenny Newell, co-owner of Bonnie Lu's, said that the
list can be narrowed down to one. She said she's been approached
in the past about a possible exterior seating addition in the
annex space but the red tape and expenditure involved make an
addition a non-starter. "It's a different owner and a lot
of money," said Newell.
Meanwhile, visitors to the annex continue to wonder if its removal
is the right solution. "Some elitists in this town feel
that everything has to look the same to be beautiful," said
one woman who wished not to be identified.
The shed, built before the time of permits in Ojai, is covered
in vines and, from the exterior, doesn't look dilapidated or
to be much of a hazard. Still, as the letter details, it remains
structurally unsound and an interior viewing tells a different
story than an exterior.
The Malloys were unavailable for contact and it remains to be
seen whether they'll comply with the ten-day window. In the meantime,
all items in the annex are available for only 10 cents each.
The Ojai Valley News
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