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Mini-Mall Problems

August 07, 1987

The herd instinct is alive and well in the city of Los Angeles in the current form of rabid anti-mini-mallism. Joining the herd with a fine example of me-tooism is The Times with its editorial.

The editorial notes mini-malls were "built on lots abandoned by gasoline stations during the oil crunch of the 1970s" and further comments that they "create traffic congestion, encourage loitering and sometimes crime, have high vacancy rates and have become community blights." I certainly prefer to have a mini-mall rather than an abandoned gasoline station, considering identical concerns.

The editorial furthermore identifies mini-malls as "small, local shopping centers." In my opinion they are the reincarnation of the traditional corner general store. As such, mini-malls decrease traffic congestion by encouraging consumers to walk or eliminate additional automobile trips because of their convenient locations. Mini-malls are often referred to as convenience centers and this is a fully appropriate reference.

Statements about mini-malls such as the "vast majority have been poorly built by developers more interested in quick profit than in community needs" or commenting about Los Angeles streets as "lined with aging, nondescript mini-malls" are simply gross assumptions without facts. If mini-malls did not serve "community needs," why then would they have "sprouted up over night?"

The Planning Department should consider mini-mall construction requirements that encourage development of these convenience centers which meet community needs and decrease traffic congestion. Developers want adequate parking spaces in an attractive design to encourage business for their tenants.

I'm simply unwilling to engage in mini-mall bashing as if these "small local shopping centers" are solely responsible for the problems relating to growth within our city. Let's work toward the responsible development of these true convenience centers.

MICHAEL A. ZUGSMITH

Studio City

(Zugsmith is chairman of the Government Affairs Committee of the Southern California Commercial Property Owners Assn.)

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