In the Nov. 29 issue of the Coastline Pilot, Mark Christy, one of
the owners of Hobie Sports, wrote an article titled “In defense of
Hobie.” In the article, Christy implied that anyone who wanted to
could contact me regarding what a “generous and courteous landlord”
he has been. Before my phone starts ringing off the hook, there are a
few comments made in the article that I would like to clarify.
I was never made aware that since 1987 Hobie’s intention was to
“occupy most, if not all of the building.” If this is true, it should
have been disclosed to me before I bought my business in 1991 and
poured my life and life savings into building Generations. If I had
known of these plans, I would have been looking the past 10 years for
an alternate location on Forest Avenue and then graciously vacated to
make room for Hobie’s expansion.
I signed two consecutive five-year lease agreements with Christy’s
management company, and have not been, as he stated, “on a
month-to-month rent basis for years at substantially below market
rates.” The month-to-month arrangement has been in effect since June
of 2001 when our lease expired. The lease rates I have been paying,
including annual increases, were established by Christy and I assumed
were in line with market conditions. I fully expected my rates to
increase with a new five-year lease in 2001, and would have made the
necessary adjustments to continue being Christy’s tenant. The fact
that he did not raise my rent after he essentially kicked me out was
“generous.” I also appreciate that he was “courteous” enough to grant
me an additional year to establish my new store in Laguna Niguel.
However, you should know that this extension was only granted after
the tragic events of Sept. 11, when the impending uncertainty of the
U.S. economy became apparent to all.
If Christy “routinely ignored other, much higher offers” for my
location, as he stated, he did so because we were engaged in a lease
contract, not because he was “supporting” of my family.
On the whole, Christy has been a great landlord the past 11 years.
And though the rent wasn’t always paid by the due date, I still feel
I was a good tenant. When this first started, I understood Hobie’s
desire for additional retail space, and after all, they do own their
own building. However, now that Christy has recently purchased the
Laguna Gander building, and the current owner wishes to retire, I
wish Christy would consider expanding Hobie Sports at that location
and allow McCalla’s Pharmacy and Generations to stay.
I truly believe Christy when he states “Hobie’s devotion to the
community is unwavering,” but I also believe McCalla’s Pharmacy and
Generations are part of this community and contribute to its charm.
Thank you, Matt Smith, for writing your article to the Coastline
on Nov. 22. Your support means the world to my mother and me during
this difficult time. I think Christy missed the point of Matt’s
article and the concern expressed by many. The issue is not whether
Christy is a good landlord or person, but whether his idea for
expansion is good for the city.
Those who sit on the City Council have rejected many a good man’s
vision for the city of Laguna Beach, and they will ultimately decide
this issue. From where I sit, Christy, with your planned expansion
and latest building acquisition, you alone are trying to change the
character of Downtown Laguna Beach.
* VICKY CHAMBERS is the owner of Generations in Laguna Beach and
a Dana Point resident.