Do you see what I see?


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Jeff Adams, the man on the ground for DDR (Developers Diversified Realty, aka, Mega Mall at the old Masonite site) resurfaced recently.  In a January 13, 2009 letter he informed the Governor that DDR intended to create a project that we could be proud of.  Looks like DDR isn’t going away any time soon.  I wonder why not when I contemplate what’s happening locally and on the national scene.  Why doesn’t DDR see what I see?

I see:  Lead article in the New York Times Sunday (2/1/09) Business Section, entitled Our Love Affair With Malls Is on the Rocks.  In the article, the reporter points to the nation’s bad habit of overspending as one of two causes of the economic crisis, the other cause being “mortgage-related financial insanity.”  But, the reporter informs us, because “personal consumption” accounts for 70 percent of the American economy, if we don’t spend, we don’t recover.  The reporter analogizes thusly:  “[T]he mall we married has become the toxic spouse we can’t quit . . ..”  So, why marry the mall?  If we can make DDR go away, we wouldn’t have to marry it and we wouldn’t end up paying alimony if things didn’t work out.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

I see:  Windsor Town Green, a mixed retail/housing development between Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, isn’t doing well.  When that development first opened, Laura Fogg and I visited it, describing what we saw  in an article published in the Ukiah Daily Journal (December 11, 2005).  Three years later, I revisited the area to see how it was faring in the face of the current economic downturn, depression, recession, whatever you want to call it.  I found lots of empty storefronts.  Why would DDR’s project, Mendocino Crossings, be different?

I see:  The localization movement is growing.  More and more people don’t like the idea of the money they spend going to distant corporate headquarters, never to be reinvested in Mendocino County.  Local shops reported good holiday sales while big chain stores mostly reported their sales were poor to awful.  We could continue our personal consumption without acquiring Mendocino Crossings, a toxic spouse.  So far as I know, it’s not even immoral to spend money locally . . .

So:  DDR’s matchmakers urge us to get married.  I say the odds are so against such a marriage working out that we should call off the romance.  Jeff Adams seems like a nice guy.  We could remain friends.


3 Comments

Jeff Adams? Nice guy? More like the lover that promises you the moon, and after the marriage you see stars when he hits you upside the head with the frying pan of reality. No one has held Walmart to their promises. I doubt anyone will for DDR either. They couldn’t even tear down the place like we wanted them too, what makes anyone think they will build it the way they promise? Will we see some vision from this “new and improved” board of sups? I foresee desperate moves in this new year of financial uncertainty. Keep a close eye on all the players.

When will our sups show some vision to make Ukiah a showcase of sustainability? Picture eco-tourists traveling up from the city on rail to taste world class brandy and wines, eat fresh local food, stay in straw bale and cob houses powered by solar while working on organic farms and taking workshops on sustainable living, soak in our local hot springs, walk in our forests, swim in our lakes, listen to local music and see our local art while shopping in a mercado style market or farmers markets, and then take the train to enjoy our pristine coast (free of off shore oil rigs so far) to surf or witness a mycoremediation project.

Or you could just shop at another mall and buy some junk you could buy in Anywhere USA, only to be thrown out 6mos later.

Sean–

I am not a fan of DDR. Hardly.

I like your vision, and I would also like to see a more local economy where we make the stuff that we buy.

Janie

JS

Sorry. Didn’t mean to imply so. I had the displeasure of sitting next to Jeff at one of the zoning forums. He was very keen to listen to what we wanted so that next time we saw him he had it spun into DDR’s list of empty promises. I just wanted to drive the point home that he’s a snake. Didn’t mean to imply you had any affection for him.

It’s interesting how the topic of “isolationism” keeps coming up in the lamestream media now. This may be the battle cry to steal the thunder of localism. It seems Obama is being very careful not to give the world the impression that we’re not going to continue to be the voracious consumers that we have been, or that we’re even thinking of making our own stuff.

Still waiting for change.

SR

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