Welcome Mi Pueblo – welcome to controversy

Welcome, welcome, welcome. A new member of the community, Mi
Pueblo, an ethnic grocery store moving into the former Grocery
Outlet store location on First Street, has been welcomed with open
arms for creating 150 new jobs in a town when we desperately needed
them.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.

A new member of the community, Mi Pueblo, an ethnic grocery store moving into the former Grocery Outlet store location on First Street, has been welcomed with open arms for creating 150 new jobs in a town when we desperately needed them.

As their hammers flew and their saws sung out their merry tunes all summer, hidden deep inside the bowels of City Hall lay the demon that would bring this project to its knees and pit neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother and council member against council member.

Could this REALLY be happening in our little hamlet?

Okay, maybe I’m just a little ahead of myself. Let’s turn the clock backwards and start at the beginning.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. God thought this was a beautiful and good idea and he continued by creating light, heaven, land and the seas. God did this all without the approval of the Planning Commission or the City Council.

Could you imagine the size of the Environmental Impact Review document God would have had to put together to get this one past all the special interest groups today?

OK, maybe that is going back just a bit too far. This story started in the spring as the rains stopped and the grasses and flowers began to open up and show their lovely colors on the carpet of the hillsides. Spring is the earth shedding its winter coat and with the sun, we wipe the sleep from our eyes.

What greets us is color breaking free from the grey winter grip. Colors brighten the world around us.

So why is there such a heated discussion about the use of color in our town? We dress in colors, some better than others, for many different reasons, however, I am sure that one of the reasons, is to be noticed by others.

Businesses want to be noticed, too. They want to catch the eye of a future customer. One way to do this is through the use of color as part of the company image. Mi Pueblo has a very colorful logo and some of their very successful stores have these bright colors.

In spring Mi Pueblo submitted plans to the city for their new store. The plans were approved by the acting planning manager and the remodeling started.

When it came time to paint the outside of the store, the bright new colors were presented to the community. After another business person in the shopping center raised a concern, this issue raise its ugly little head. It turns out, the dissenting neighbor complained to the planning department, who then changed their approval of the color scheme. This caused Mi Pueblo to appeal that decision to the Planning Commission which then overturned the planning department’s disapproval. The City Council also got involved, and upheld the planning commission’s decision, however, it was a split vote. The feelings about the subject are still divided.

When you look around town, you will find other businesses with bright paint on their exteriors, where apparently the neighboring businesses did not have an issue because no complaints were raised. So why was Mi Pueblo involved in this situation at all?

Maybe Mi Pueblo didn’t do the upfront work by meeting their neighbors and sharing with them ahead of time what they were planning to do. Maybe if Mi Pueblo had talked to the person who complained about the color, it wouldn’t have been such a shock, and there would have been a personal connection that would have allowed a private discussion.

We live in a community called Gilroy, a community called Santa Clara County, a community called earth. We also live in a community called our neighborhood, be it residential or business. Talking to each other in our community, being friends and asking for input when we want to do something that could impact our neighbors, is how we all can avoid situations like this.

This is the time for the community to come together and not rely on the city government to settle this dispute.

A very different yet very similar issue is before the Council right now and I was happy to see the Council advise the developer to go back and meet with the neighbors. It will be through these open discussions with the neighbors that the two groups can come up with a workable solution.

The government should not be the answer to this type of problem in Gilroy. We as a community need to meet each other half way. One way to do that is to speak to your neighbors with an open mind and to be willing to accept change every once in a while. Additionally, those of you faced with a change, should be open to understanding your neighbors choices to maintain harmony in our little community we call Gilroy.

Just something to think about …

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