September 23, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Means Business: The Local Impact of May 1

The Mirror this week surveyed Santa Monica employers and providers of goods and services concerning the impact of the May 1 strike/boycott on their operations that day:

The City of Santa Monica reported business as usual at City Hall and other locations serving its citizens.  Judy Franz, Community Relations Assistant to the City Manager, said there was “normal traffic flow” at the city’s service facilities and a normal level of absenteeism – “nothing out of the ordinary.”  City Manager P. Lamont Ewell had written city employees on April 27 and stated, “While respecting individuals’ rights to express their political beliefs outside of work hours, I am nonetheless calling on each of us to provide our community full and uninterrupted service on May 1 in recognition of our commitment to excellent government service.”

Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican Restaurant on Pico Blvd. was closed for the day.  Ricardo Luna said that it was the first time that the restaurant had closed (other than Thanksgiving and Christmas) in the 25 years he had worked there.

Ye Olde King’s Head on Santa Monica Blvd. was “busier than normal” for a Monday, said manager Lynne “Dusty” Kerr that afternoon.  She reported that only one employee was out; the employee had notified management the previous Saturday of expected difficulty with bus transportation.

The Big Blue Bus conducted regular operations “with minimal disruption,” according to General Manager Stephanie Negriff.  The municipal bus line experienced no absenteeism and diverted only one trip (one bus in each direction) on its line 10 in downtown Los Angeles at about noon because of the demonstration there.  The next morning, Ms. Negriff reported that preliminary information showed passenger traffic was down 11 percent (about 6,000 riders) on May 1, and that the biggest impact was on the routes running outside Santa Monica on Pico and Santa Monica Blvds. and the freeway flyer to Los Angeles.

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel at Ocean Ave. and Wilshire Blvd. said that it experienced no disruption of its operations and no impact on its sales for the day.  Several employees approached management a week or so before May 1, General Manager Desmond Acheson told the Mirror, and said they wanted to attend demonstrations that day; with management’s approval, about 20 took vacation time, and others worked an early shift to have afternoon time off, but responsibilities were allocated so that service was not effected.

The Ambrose hotel at Arizona Ave. and 20th St. saw no effect on business volume and no employees off work, according to General Manager Daniel Howery, although one employee, a hospitality management student at Cal Poly Pomona, could not work his other job at the Gaucho Grill in Brentwood because that restaurant was closed on May 1.  Mr. Howery added that The Ambrose does out-source its laundry, which was behind that day.

Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District had a 15 percent increase over normal student absences according to preliminary next-day estimates, said the Superintendent’s staff, although there was no indication as to the reasons for this figure.  The district had some expectation of teacher absences, but arrangements were made for substitutes in that regard.  No further information was available at press time.

Fr. Michael Gutierrez, pastor of St. Anne’s Catholic Church at 20th St. and Colorado Ave., actively participated in the organization and conduct of the demonstration at Wilshire Blvd. and La Brea Ave. on May 1.  St. Anne’s, he said, joined the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in supporting the walk but not the boycott that day.  The parish school was “fully attended,” and Fr. Gutierrez taught there in the morning; later, about 100 people bussed to the demonstration and another 200 went in private cars from the church.

All of the employees came to work at Santa Monica Seafood.  General Manager and Director of Retail Ezequiel Rocha said that although he thought the company might see some impact, the May 1 action “did not affect us in any way” insofar as retail sales were concerned.  The wholesale business was “off a little” inasmuch as some restaurants were closed and others in downtown Los Angeles were inaccessible because of the demonstrations.

Bourget Bros. Building Materials on 11th St. near Colorado Ave. said that the day laborers who gather outside were virtually non-existent on May 1 – two or three in the morning and none in the afternoon, as compared to the normal crowd of 70 to 80.  Of the company’s own 100 employees, only two yard workers were absent without notice, although some employees took the day off within company guidelines.  President John Bourget said on May 2 that business was “definitely” down on May 1, and that “it cost us a lot” to stay open for the customers that the company knew would need goods and services that day, but “we’re making it up today.”

The 99 Cent Only Store on Pico Blvd. at Stewart St. is a tough nut to crack, information-wise.  The gentleman with whom this reporter was connected after asking to speak to the manager said that only the corporate office could comment, although he did allow as how sales had been “terrible” on May 1.   A call to the corporate office number supplied by the Santa Monica store led to many transfers; along the way, only company president Jeff Gold was authorized to comment (and he was unavailable), and ultimately the company was “not able to comment on that [May 1 sales volume] because we’re a public company.”

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