ESCONDIDO, CA—A vacant business at the corner of North Broadway and Mission Avenue is available for lease. This was once Budget Used Car dealership in Escondido, but tough economic times shut it down. Budget isn't alone trying to survive a downturn economy.
Mark Mariani owns Escondido Car Wash next door to the abandoned site.
"It potentially lowers some of our traffic here. We would prefer to see anything that goes in there, than opposed to nothing," Mariani said.
But a new ordinance requires businesses that take over the abandoned dealership to spruce it up with new landscaping, trees and nicer fencing. Mayor Lori Pfeiler said the city isn't trying to make it difficult for new merchants. It just makes business sense.
"You want to add the trees back. You want the site to look like the rest of the site down the street, so you want a bit of upgrades," Mayor Pfeiler said.
Budget, Witt Lincoln- Mercury, Del Norte, you can add them to the list to 8 car dealerships, new and used, that shut down over the past few months. With the closures, means a loss of revenues to the city.
Syrus Bozorgi is taking the leap of faith and opening up The Car Zone at the closed site of former Lincoln-Mercury. As co-owner and investor, he's in favor of the new ordinance even though it doesn't apply to him. But he fears it may send the wrong message to potential merchants.
"If you put too much restrictions on the businesses to start up in this economy, they would be resisting to open up," Bozorgi said.
But Mariani is glad the city is taking a pro-active approach and making sure the empty sites get a facelift. He said the rules would improve community aesthetics without making life extremely difficult for the owners of abandoned dealerships.
"It does make the community look nicer. We are in a redevelopment corridor here on Broadway," Mariani said.
City officials said the goal was to prevent abandoned dealerships from being split into multiple uses or transformed into something that doesn't fit with neighboring businesses. The adopted rules don't allow city staff to control the type of business that takes over a dealership, just the aesthetics of the new business.