Please Prioritize Focus On State Of Local And Small Businesses

Dear Los Alamos County Council members,

Can you please prioritize a focus on the state of our local and small businesses, specifically downtown. There have been a number of recent announcements of businesses that are closing or moving away from downtown or entirely away from the county. More and more centralized store fronts are vacant (e.g. CB Fox, the old Blue Window, the old Smiths, The Hilltop House, soon Bennett’s Jewelry store, Starbucks, Fleur De Lys, etc.)

It appears there is a trend relating for many to the physical buildings/spaces as a primary motivator due to current landlords and property owners’ responsibility for perhaps legal, but unfair, stressful, and unsupportable situations for our local businesses. Our community is already suffering ongoing and long-term lasting damage from lack of services, variety, and the blight that empty storefronts represent. I’ve heard directly from a few business owners that have shared stories about how much control landlords have to cause undue stress or make unreasonable demands (beyond even county code enforcement). Recent exposure in the local news, about the Unquarked business (to move to the old Blue Window) is yet another story with visible consequences to the community.

I don’t know the details, or have individual facts about what might be causing these issues, but what I can see as a community member is the end results. Empty spaces, sometimes for years, and unhappy business owners. What can we do to change how these landlords operate in order to provide more support to the community, small businesses, and ultimately provide a thriving downtown with variety and sustainability and avoid such a vacancy blight? Are landlords allowed to pass along code requirements that involve building adjustments to tenants? Are landlords allowed to keep buildings vacant without penalty for years on end? Can we create incentives for them to populate the buildings with community oriented services? Can rules be adjusted to be more supportive to our community? Please consider this plea to focus on this issue.

Josephine Caffrey