Commentary

LH needs a plan for future businesses

If you have a chance, you should head to the La Habra Historical Museum and take a look at the current exhibit on the businesses of La Habra.  There are artifacts from former iconic places like Trapper’s Inn and Burch Ford as well as historic photos that show La Habra streets lined with businesses that are no longer there.
While it’s good to reminisce about all the great times and great businesses that have been in the city, it’s also a little disheartening. As you drive through La Habra you can see a number of closed businesses, empty buildings and vacant lots. Times have indeed changed.
If you drive down Imperial Highway you might not see what I’m talking about.  Yes, there are some spots like the old Contractor’s Warehouse property and the lot that used to be home to the gentleman’s club that was closed and leveled. But there is a great deal of growth at the southern entry points to the city including the Imperial Promenade to the west and the new CVS to the east. However, as you move north, things change.
Empty buildings and lots dot the landscape along Harbor Boulevard.  Former gas stations, Burch Ford, the former Big Lots are some examples of the need for new development. Try to drive north on Harbor any day from 3-6 p.m. and you’ll find it packed with commuters cutting over the hill to get to the 60 Freeway.  What an impression they must have of La Habra as they see the shuttered properties. (Fullerton doesn’t help by letting the old Beckman property stay undeveloped and having Albertsons leave.)
Drive down Whittier Boulevard and you’ll see a similar empty landscape. From the empty lot that used to be Graham’s Chevron to the old Hughes Market shopping center and the land that used to be home to Big Deal Car Wash.
The city is ripe for greater economic development. Both Whittier and Harbor Boulevards are high traffic points for the city and with the right type of businesses will allow for more people to stop and shop in our community.
As I said, the right type of business is needed. Commercial developers and city officials in our community need to take heed and encourage new businesses to come to our city.  We don’t need another discount store or a second or third version of a current business. We need businesses that are unique.  Maybe businesses that La Habra residents currently travel to other cities to visit (like a Trader Joes).  Let’s look to attract new stores and businesses and develop some of these empty or abandoned properties.
The city, the Chamber of Commerce and the commercial real estate and developers should work together to develop a strategy on helping grow La Habra’s economic development through greater incentives for these businesses.  They also should work with the current businesses to see how they might be able to grow or remodel.
Current residents and visitors should see a thriving La Habra and not fenced up properties with “For Lease” signs.
Otherwise, when residents visit the La Habra Museum’s exhibit on the history of local businesses in 50 years, they will see more photos of empty lots and empty buildings.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.