Criminals, Homeless, and Big Labor Thrive While LA Businesses Are Crippled by Government

Richard Vogel

In Part I of this two-part series, we told you about the crime and vagrancy plaguing business owners like Paul Scrivano and Angela Marsden in the upscale Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, California. Now, we bring you details on some of the policies, regulations, and laws that are making the lives of small-businesses owners even more of a misery.


I spoke with Marsden Friday afternoon. When I walked into her Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill, was she overseeing the staff? Checking on the kitchen? No, she was dealing with yet another demand about posted notices. The city is unable to keep the streets outside her establishment safe, or remove the dangerous homeless people harassing her patrons and staff, but they’ll always find time to nitpick from their giant list of infractions. Look at this behemoth tome:

Marsden was planning on spending much of the rest of her day helping a friend of a friend shut down his exercise business after 16 years. As she explained: 

…this is his issue. …he has a lot in back rent and between the economy being bad, the crime, the homeless, and owing back rent and [current] rent. After 16 years in business in Sherman Oaks, he has to close his doors. He doesn’t want to, he has to.

Sadly, stories like these are common in this affluent section of Los Angeles, where homes regularly sell for over $2 million. What’s going on exactly?


As Angela says: 

…it’s a 3-tiered problem. It’s not just the homeless and the crime, it’s the wages that are increasing and it is the fact that so many businesses are hundreds of thousands behind on rent still [due to the pandemic lockdowns] and got no help.

I asked her about Paycheck Protection Program loans; didn’t those help her through the hard times? She responded:

Oh, the PPP actually it was a good thing, but It lasted 2 months, so basically it gave you enough money to pay your staff and your employees for two months.

…OK, now what do I do?

The tangled machinations of the various COVID relief programs are so complicated that I know of more than one business that became ensnared in a bureaucratic nightmare over something that was supposed to help. Angela also talked about the Restaurant Fund:

They only approved 270,000 restaurants across the United States, but the SBA prioritized minorities and women, which then got them sued. The funds were depleted based on that lawsuit, apparently. That’s what they say. And 67% of those restaurants that were counting on the grant literally took out loans against their house and everything else ’cause they were getting this money, never got the money.

I asked Angela if she felt retaliated against because she’s been outspoken:

You know, I would say in the beginning I thought I was, but you know, seeing a bigger picture now… I feel that all small businesses in California are being retaliated against.

…I like to pretend that people just don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s gotta be one or the other—they’re so stupid they shouldn’t be employed. Or they’re literally doing it on purpose, like there is no break because it’s so such gross targeting and negligence.


She’s not wrong. Remember that Walmart, liquor stores, strip clubs, and Amazon were allowed to operate—while Angela’s place, other restaurants, and houses of worship were forcibly closed.

It’s not a Left vs Right issue. Everyone is noticing.

It’s shameful that the Los Angeles Department of Public Health has enforcers ready to fine businesses who don’t comply with mask rules, while the County and City do nothing to maintain public safety. I noticed a ridiculous amount of government health notices on her back door, so I asked her about them:

“Those were all the rules and regulations we had to follow during COVID and they would change, you know, every month or every two weeks. And we had to keep up with them changing, keep them current, and have them displayed for any one person to read whenever they want it.”

LA Public Health Department required notices (Credit: Bob Hoge)

Lest you think that the signs and the fines are minor and can be shrugged off, those of us in LA know all too well the cautionary tale of the restaurant owner who desperately tried to keep his doors open. RedState’s Jennifer O’Connell told the story:


It’s not just the City and the County that Los Angeles businesses have to contend with. Governor Gavin Newsom and his super-majority Democrat legislature pile on as well:

Angela had this to say about the Fast Food Recovery Act, which Governor Newsom signed into law last month:

…you know when you talk about the different facts of how we’re being attacked and how what’s being done makes no sense. You know this isn’t a small business thing, but it affects us. And people don’t realize it, so they just pass this whole thing for fast food restaurants and franchisees owners and they’re gonna pay $22 an hour, right?

… Well, I lost a cook. A cook is normally $18.00 an hour, but …now they’re passing this new law.

Look for more robots as businesses try to avoid the huge wage-hike:

My payroll has doubled and when it comes to my food, I’m making no profit on my food right now because I would literally have to raise between the cost of food and the cost of what I’m paying my staff, 40% increase…. So when you see small businesses going out of business and you think you know that new law doesn’t affect them or, oh, good, stick it to the McDonald’s.

It’s a trickle down effect and nobody’s considering the effect on the small businesses and how many of us may not be here next year because of back-due rent, wages too high and the homeless, and the crime.


She may be forced out of business, but she somehow manages to stay philosophical. “Oh, hey, if I can’t make it, I know that God has another plan for me, and as long as I can make it—I am not gonna shut up. I’ve had it.”

This is just one story about a Los Angeles restaurant; there are countless other outfits up and down the state. California’s war on business isn’t confined to small companies either—a staggering number of corporations have fled the state in just the past two years: Telsa, Norton LifeLock, Pabst Brewing, real estate giant CRBE, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Chevron, and many many more. Just typing that list of heavyweights is kind of mind-blowing, truthfully.

It’s hard to imagine the endgame for California’s leaders. One can only assume by their actions that they literally want to force out every business so that it can become just one giant, Golden, Democrat-controlled governmental entity. We’ve seen that movie before—in the Soviet Union, in Cuba, and elsewhere—and it never works out well. They’ve made their intentions clear. Look at what former state Rep. Lorena Gonzalez said to the founder of Tesla as he contemplated moving his business from the state:

Nice. That seems to be their message to all California business owners.


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