San Leandro businesses discuss security measures

August 23, 2013 5:30:58 PM PDT
Merchants in San Leandro are banding together to make their business district better, and they are willing to pay for it. At the top of their list is more security.

The City of San Leandro and merchants organized what's called the Community Benefit District. Property owners voted over the summer to provide funding to revitalize the downtown area of shops, restaurants, and commercial business. Security is very much on the minds of many merchants there.

Downtown San Leandro is the charming centerpiece of this city of some 86,000 people. The city and merchants felt it was time for a makeover. The new funding will come from assessments levied against downtown property owners.

"It's almost 385,000 dollars a year, which will go to downtown property owners and businesses to help leverage the work they're doing," said city business development manager Jeff Kay.

It'll cover a full gamut of services ranging from street cleaning to security, perhaps the most controversial of all. San Leandro borders high crime areas of Oakland. There is often a spillover, where residents from that city commit crimes here. There have been some violent high profile cases in the past, so security is a big concern among many merchants.

On Friday as we entered downtown, police were making an arrest outside Safeway. The disagreement among merchants is just what kind of security.

Larry Allphine owns a jewelry store. He's also the interim president of the new district. He wants community ambassadors patrolling the streets.

"As they're walking around they could help you if you had a problem, or they could alert police if felt there was a problem," Allphin said.

Allphin wants more money spent on cleaning and maintaining streets.

"Cleaning the street is not going to help me," downtown store owner Syd Sadeghi said. "Security is going to help me.

Sadeghi sells cigars and custom made golf clubs. There's a good reason why he wants most of the money spent on security. He's been burglarized four times in the past several years. Just three weeks ago thieves broke his front glass window, which he had to replace.

"Cost 790 dollars and they stole 20 dollars," he said, noting that the money came out of the cash register.

Police want merchants to install cameras outside their businesses.

"And that way if crime does occur we're able to at least go back and look at the footage," Lt. Luis Torres said.

The community benefit district says it will coordinate security measures with police.


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