Stabbings on sale

May 20, 2010

They should never have closed the Ventura Police Department annex at the Pacific View Mall.

It’s still vacant after having shut down for over a year now … no replacement vendors, nothing. That was well before the failure of Measure A, the ambitious sales tax increase, 40 percent of which would have boosted our public safety services.

Would having the police annex do anything to curb crime at the mall? I certainly think so. Take the stabbing which occurred yesterday at the mall.

From what we’ve heard, two young men were accosted by three other young men at the mall, a fight ensued, and mall security were summoned to break up the fracas, already unnerving to shoppers and visitors.

But that wasn’t enough. After getting kicked out of the mall, another fight broke out, and one of the two original victims was stabbed. It was only then that the police were called. Arrests were made, yes, and suspects are in custody with some damn serious charges against them (attempted murder, street terrorism, etc.).

But had the cops been there to begin with, it’s likely the stabbing wouldn’t have happened, in my opinion, because arrests may already have been made. The suspects were gang members and could have had existing warrants. Or just the sheer intimidation of the law would have cut off any scuffle right there.

Instead, the mall, which I always thought was pretty safe, earns a shady reputation.

The argument isn’t really over the hypothetical “what-ifs” of the situation had the police been there first or not. It’s *why* the police weren’t there to begin with. I say it’s because of trust.

Yes, we’re still feeling the fallout of rejecting Measure A because we didn’t trust our elected officials to pump money into public safety funding through a sales tax increase. It’s a very familiar feeling that doesn’t go away: this week, we got news on the closure of a fire station, also from a lack of public safety funding.

It makes me wonder where else fights will break out … the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store?

It’s only primary election season, so we don’t have any important tax increase ballots this time around, with a public safety option, in Ventura. Still, it’s worth remembering this stuff for June 8, and in future elections:

Know the *real* details of ballot measures and proposed legislature in your city … and give elected representatives a second chance to fund critical services. How many stabbings or shootings do we need to realize that?

The mall might be a great place to go to fund stuff on sale, but aggravated assault isn’t one of them, no matter how deep the discount — or the knife wound. I’d pay an extra sales tax for that.

The Lakes shopping center in Thousand Oaks.

The Lakes shopping center in Thousand Oaks.

And what The Collection in Oxnard will look like after completion. Is there more than just a visual resemblance?

And what The Collection in Oxnard will look like after completion. Is there more than just a visual resemblance?

For all the talk lately of the impacts East Ventura will bear from the departure of its Century 16 theater, it kind of seems unsurprising that “The Lakes II” has that whole movie sequel kind of vibe to it.

It was reported today that The Lakes, under its glitzy, high-class sheen that this humble blogger will never afford in his lifetime, could be in trouble with the possible hiring of a consultant on board to amp up business at the echelon Thousand Oaks shopping plaza.

City officials are presumably set to examine if they want a consultant — at a cost of over $95,000 — this week.

I don’t know about you, but with municipal budgets waning all over Ventura County, does the city need to spend that much money on an adviser whose sole job is to find new ways to get people to … well, spend more money?

It’s been echoed by many residents, readers of our paper and others, that shopping at The Lakes is targeted to a demographic far too upper class for Thousand Oaks. T.O., as it’s affectionately called, is no slouch, mind you, in the wealth department; hosts of celebrities call it home, a veritable cashed-out Utopia compared to the likes of the poorer parts of say, Oxnard.

As one person online pointed out, there’s a difference between an annual income of $75,000 to $750,000. I wouldn’t be complaining if I made the former amount, but I don’t know if I could still afford to shop at the likes of a Lakes, which is clearly marketed to the latter.

Which brings me back to Oxnard: how well will The Collection survive? Here’s a gargantuan shopping epicenter unlike any the region has seen: a 50,000-square foot Whole Foods, an REI, and the anchor of the development, Century 16.

Oxnard has the worst crime rate in the county, and some of the lowest income neighborhoods, well, anywhere. Save for The Collection’s manufactured mega-suburb Riverpark, and the odd L.A. weekend shopper, I don’t know if most of Oxnard will be able to afford thinking about shopping at The Collection.

If the quaint Lakes center is in trouble in well-to-do T.O., just imagine how the ginormous Collection will fare in mostly-low-income “The ‘Nard.” Could the shopping center, in five years’ time, meet some similar financial problems as its Thousand Oaks consumer sibling has?

One thing’s for sure, if the economy continues the way it’s been going, we won’t be seeing another sequel in this franchise.