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Development: Controversy Over Naval Hospital Site

January 13, 1994

The comments by Lakewood Mayor Larry Van Nostran (Times, Dec. 30) were so out of whack that I was moved for the first time ever to write a letter to the editor.

Mayor Van Nostran states that the proposed shopping center on the Naval Hospital site will be a "business killer" for surrounding businesses. If the proposed Long Beach retail development draws retail spending from Lakewood businesses, it's because the Long Beach shopping center provides a more convenient, lower-priced, better service for the customer.

That is what the free market system is all about. Let the consumers choose where they want to shop. Not politicians who stop competition by creating political barriers to entry. If the mayor is right, then conversely, by not building the center, consumers are being forced to pay higher prices, endure more inconvenience, travel a further distance, burn more gasoline, create more smog and probably consume more aspirin.

Why should consumers subsidize the owners? Barriers to trade have come down all over the world. Countries and cities must learn to compete in a free market system. Competition creates more business, which in turn benefits consumers.

The city of Long Beach has an obligation to its residents to maximize the tax revenue it can generate from retail sales so that it can provide sufficient police, fire, library and other services to its residents. Would Lakewood like to contribute to Long Beach the sales tax revenue lost by not building the center?

For many years, this plot of Long Beach land has served the men and women of our armed forces. The city of Long Beach never screamed that it wanted its land back so that it could build a shopping center and gain sales tax revenue. Now that the federal government no longer has a need for the property, the city of Long Beach should benefit for having done its part for the armed forces.

If Lakewood wants a say in the use of this property, then let it contribute to Long Beach an amount equal to one-half of the sales tax revenue Long Beach went without while the property was used as a hospital.

Next thing you know, Hawaiian Gardens is going to be telling Cerritos how to develop the Cerritos Towne Center.

WAYNE MASON

Cerritos

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