Small Business Owner Lacks Hope For Los Angeles
Neighborhood: San Pedro
Job: Co-owner of Wellington Signs and Graphics (small business owner)
Discouraged by the difficulty of owning a small business in Los Angeles, Kim Love, 50, has little faith for the future of this city. She wants to see improvements with graffiti and parking in San Pedro, which is where her business Wellington Signs and Graphics is located. Love says she’s seeing less benefit and more disadvantages to being a small business owner, and she hopes Mayor Garcetti can facilitate a process that makes being a small business owner enjoyable again.
What are the top issues facing Los Angeles, and why?
The cost of doing business in L.A. is getting to be where it’s almost impossible for a smaller business owner like myself. It’s becoming impossible to do business legitimately and fairly and to make any money. Not only do I pay property tax, tIpay sales tax, then we pay a city tax on everything that I own in this building, then I pay a renewal tax every year based on my gross sales (one percent of my gross sales).
The other tough thing here in San Pedro is that there isn’t any parking. The city is willing to give me a parking permit that will cost me $30 per employee per month. I feel responsible to provide this because I can’t provide adequate parking.
Also they’re not doing a whole lot down here to revitalize San Pedro. There are a lot of gangs, drugs, crime and graffiti. Our other building got tagged every night--this building we’ve only been tagged once. We’re getting safety shutters right now that cost $3,000 so that the kids don’t break in. I have to replace my rolling gate because people are climbing over the gate and breaking into our trucks, stealing all the tools and the paint. And people use our paint to graffiti our building. I just think there needs to be more patrol. I see plenty of meter maids but I don’t see any police officers down here. This is our livelihood right here. It’s very frustrating.
What should Mayor Garcetti do to address your top priorities? Especially doing business in Los Angeles.
I think he should offer some sort of program for the small business owners. You can’t start up a business unless you max out all your credit cards. It took us eight years to get an equipment loan. It’s just so difficult. I was able to get a credit line for some equipment through Obama’s program but that expired in December 2012. Just something for the small business owner to start up, even a small credit line at the bank because a lot of small businesses have trouble with cash flow. They want you to fund it yourself but I don’t want to use my own money to fund my business.
What do you think Garcetti should do about crime and graffiti?
I think the punishment for graffiti should be severe. I think you should go to jail for it. My husband testified against someone who tagged a building. He called the police and testified against this young boy that did some tagging. They had to hide my husband. They didn’t want the kid to see him because they were afraid of retaliation.
Also, something needs to be done about public parking down here. It is ridiculous. I don’t think the city should make that much money off people parking their vehicles. And if you don’t want me to use a vehicle, then provide some better public transportation. I would be happy to use it. Just provide it.
Did you vote in the May election? Who did you support?
No. I didn’t vote. I vote for everything but I didn’t vote for that one. I’m disgusted. I feel like there’s no hope and I don’t have a lot of faith. I don’t see any improvements. It’s sad because it’s people like me who should vote, but I feel like it’s not even going to make a difference. Of course every vote counts, and I know that, but I don’t see things getting better here. I only live in this state because my parents live here. I wouldn’t live here if they moved.
What’s the hardest part about owning your own business?
All of the bureaucracy. The work is easy. It’s the paperwork, the taxes, making sure you fill out all of the forms. Employers have lost a lot of rights in the state of California.
Would you recommend students go into owning a small business?
I love it, but for me now it’s a big game. It’s really hard. You have to think about things like pensions and ealth insurance because none of those things are provided for you. There aren’t many benefits to being a small business owner any more. It’s funny people say, "you have freedom and you can go and do things," but you really can’t because you can’t leave. My husband and I can’t go anywhere together because one of us always needs to be here.
Reach staff reporter Margaret Lenker here