April 29, 2005


Check-Cashing Businesses Considered an Eye Store to Chula Vista City Council

The City Council for the City of Chula Vista has found the source that is feeding the decay of the west side, ruining it’s image, and they have put their foot down by imposing a 45 day moratorium on check-cashing businesses opening in the City! Their stated primary objections to this type of business is that “they are a detriment and are eyesores” to the area. The recent opening of such a business on Broadway and E was pointed out as an example of their concern.

La Prensa San Diego found their rational rather curious and strange. A look at the business structure considered as an eyesore, is in fact the best looking building of the four corners. Opposite this building are two gas stations, neither of which is exactly improving the ecstatics of the area. Adjacent to one of the gas stations is an oil change shop. The other gas station is adjacent to an old run down smorgasbord. On the opposing corner is a strip mall.

A ride down Broadway, we noted innumerable bars that line Broadway, the numerous trailer parks, the vacant lots overgrown with weeds, and abandoned buildings that run along and adjacent to Broadway. Then there is the overwhelming number of tire stores, some in relatively good shape and some looking pretty rough and deteriorated, next to all the second hand stores, pawn shops, a card room, strip malls, liquor stores, quickie stores. No, Broadway and South J Street have a lot of problems, and putting a moratorium on one particular business does little to address the multitude of problems.

On top of this, the city council has not shown that these businesses have been a magnet for criminal activity nor has there been a hue and cry from the public in general or a community group in particular that has spearheaded a drive to curb these businesses, so what is the problem?

Could it be that the real objection to the so-called problem with the check-cashing businesses is the type of clientele they attract? It is well known that the clientele that use the check-cashing services are those who come to Chula Vista to mow the lawns, re-roof our homes, and work in the restaurants. They are the immigrant workers who cross daily and who provide labor and services that make our lives a little more livable.

These “day workers” are normally paid by check. They are not citizens of the U.S. and banks don’t like cashing non-client checks. Then there is the finger printing process they have to go through to cash a check, making them feel like a criminal. For this invisible segment of our society, check-cashing businesses provide a valuable service.

The problem for this city council is the type of clientele that uses these services. The city council doesn’t want these businesses to become a magnet for immigrant workers, i.e. Mexicans! The eyesore is not the businesses but the people at these stores. Instead of nipping a problem in the bud, this city council has done something much worse, they now appear to be xenophobic.

If this city council really wanted to address the problems of the west side, they should have put a moratorium on all news businesses and business expansion until after the General Plan Update was complete and the new redevelopment board had been installed and was up and running.

According to the city, the number of new check-cashing businesses has been on average two per year for the last ten years. If the city wanted to put a moratorium on any business they could have targeted Starbucks which has exploded in Chula Vista, but then again they attract the type of clientele the council members like!

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