Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to sell personal items in Ontario the OTHER 48 weeks of the year

Matt Munson first tipped me off to this. But before I look at Munson's comments, let's get the word directly from the city of Ontario:

A City Permit is no longer needed for a garage sale.

All right! Those municipal paper-pushers have found better things to do with their time than to require people to get permits to sell used baby clothes!

Oh...but there's more.

As of June 17, 2010, an ordiance (sic) amendment went into effect to allow garage or yard sales only on fixed dates, four weekends per year. Ontario residents may now have four garage sales per year, instead of two sales per year. The dates for 2010 are August 6, 7, and 8th and November 5, 6, and 7th. The dates for 2011 will be posted on the City web site later this year.

Matt has the first two 2011 dates; I'll get to those in a minute. But why did our city clamp down on this?

The new ordiance (sic) will help to reduce parking and traffic problems, and will help to keep the City a safe and attractive place to live.

Yes, as I drive around town on Saturday, August 14, I'm sure that I'll be thinking, "Boy my city is certainly a safe and attractive place to live! And there are wonderful parking opportunities in residential areas!"

Well, Matt Munson saw some problems with Ontario's plan:

Four weekends per year is sort of inflexible when you have people moving or having estate sales. With the economy still not as exceptional, people are still foreclosing from their homes.

I mean, let's say that someone gets a wonderful job offer on August 16 that requires him/her to move out of state by October. According to current Ontario law, they can't hold a garage sale pre-move to get rid of their stuff.

Munson's proposal is to allow one emergency permit per year, with a payment of $30, to hold a garage sale on an alternate day.

Of course, there are other options.

First, you could befriend someone in Upland or Chino or Montclair. Let's face it, residents of those cities with a lot of junk are probably salivating right now, because they can hold their yard sales on most weekends per year and won't have to worry about competition from Ontario yard sales. In fact, perhaps someone in Upland could offer a wider selection of junk if those of us in Ontario cart our junk across the border and sell it at an Upland residence.

Second, you could go the professional swap meet route. Maclin's Ontario location (7407 Riverside Drive) will happily sell you space to allow you to sell your junk:

Rates: Tuesday...New Merchandise $20.00 Used Merchandise $10.00
Saturday...New Merchandise $25.00 Used Merchandise $15.00
Sunday...New Merchandise $30.00 Used Merchandise $15.00
Visa, MC or Cash ONLY no checks
Enclosed spaces are $5.00 more.

And if you don't have a lot of stuff to sell, there's always the third option - direct advertising. Craigslist, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin...heck, post a "for sale" notice in the comments to this post if you're so inclined.

Or you can wait and see if the possibly-powerful garage sale lobby is able to oust all the incumbents in this November's election, in which case the prohibition may simply go away.

If it doesn't, Munson reports that the early 2011 Ontario garage sale dates are February 4-6 and May 6-8.

Monday, July 26, 2010

E-Verify - voluntary?

If you go to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security page for the U.S. government E-Verify program, you will read the following:

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows an employer, using information reported on an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States. For most employers, the use of E-Verify is voluntary and limited to determining the employment eligibility of new hires only. There is no charge to employers to use E-Verify. The E-Verify system is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.

And, later on the same page:

E-Verify is a voluntary program for employers, with limited exceptions. Companies can access E-Verify online and compare an employee's Form I-9 information with over 455 million records in the Social Security Administration database, and more than 80 million records in Department of Homeland Security immigration databases. E-Verify is an essential tool for employers committed to maintaining a legal workforce, and the number of registered employers is growing by approximately 1,400 per week.

Why do employers sign up for E-Verify? To stay out of jail:

In fiscal year 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement made more than 1,100 criminal arrests associated with workplace investigations, according to its website. Of those arrests, more than 100 were business owners, managers or supervisors.

Another reason to use it - even though it's voluntary, it's not voluntary for some.

Temecula businesses will have to make sure their employees can legally work in the United States after the City Council unanimously passed an employment verification law Tuesday night.

Mayor Jeff Comerchero said the E-Verify ordinance is no different than the city enforcing speeding laws that are already on the books.

"We're obligated to enforce the law, and this is the law," he said.

Temecula's ordinance, modeled after a law in the city of Lancaster, will require holders of business licenses granted by the city to use E-Verify....

And there's a move to make E-Verify mandatory in another Inland Empire city:

Several residents have asked that the city [of Ontario] look into requiring businesses to use the government operated employment verification system, E-Verify....

Ontario resident, Susan Terry, who is unemployed, said she has a personal interest in seeing the system integrated in the city.

"It would open up a lot of jobs for myself," she said.

Councilman Alan Wapner asked city staff to study the matter, but I'm personally not certain that Ontario is likely to require E-Verify.

Incidentally, David Allen's Friday column in the Daily Bulletin included a good line regarding one E-Verify supporter.

From his seat in the audience, one of the activists continually waved a small Arizona flag. Outrageous. Does he want us to be Arizona? This is California, pal. You need to assimilate, pronto.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Afternoon delight at @my_delight

Yes, I know that I've been talking about My Delight Cupcakery in a couple of my blogs over the last few months. Here's a February post here in the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog, and here's a December post in my Empoprise-BI business blog.

But until today I never actually HAD a My Delight Cupcake.

You see, as a small business, My Delight isn't exactly open 24/7. And since I don't work in Ontario, I'm normally not around on weekdays when they ARE open, except at dinnertime. And you know the rule - thou shalt not spoil thy dinner. (Once I left for work late, but not late enough).

And on weekends, I'm usually running around doing other things.

But today, just before 5:00 pm, I found myself in the area of My Delight, and figured that this would be my chance. So I checked in:

finally... (@ My Delight Cupcakery)

I ended up having a mint chip cupcake that was filled with ice cream. Definitely an indulgence, and definitely recommended.

Oh, and if you happen to see this post on Saturday, July 24, check out one of their rare Sunday openings on Sunday, July 25 (Facebook event page).

(And for you young whippersnappers who don't know where I got the title of this post - read this. And yes, if I eat too many My Delight Cupcakes, I'll end up living in Fat City. And no, Fat City is not a place where I belong.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The story of John Rains (in the Carbon Canyon Chronicle)

Just a pointer this morning to a post in the Carbon Canyon Chronicle about John Rains, who co-owned the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and later owner the Rancho Cucamonga (the rancho, not the city).

In case you're wondering why the Carbon Canyon Chronicle is interested in the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, read this post from April.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Identify a speedway's target audience (hint: some wear makeup)

I've never been to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, but even non-racing fans have to admit that it's a major part of the Inland Empire. However, when I wanted to find out a simple question - how many seats does the Speedway have? - I had to dig through some other information to find it. The "Track Facts" page started with some structural information:


230,000 concrete blocks

17 miles

51,000 cubic yards

Steel and Rebar
370 tons

Grandstand Foundations
1,600 ea. (enough concrete to cover 10 football fields 1 foot thick)

Perhaps I'm going out on a limb here, but I get the sneaking suspicion that the Auto Club Speedway caters to guys. But luckily for me, the next item in the list is "Seating."

280,000 lbs. of aluminum

Uh, that doesn't exactly tell me what I was looking for. But dude, that's pretty cool.

After scrolling through some other structural facts, as well as some communications and facilities information (hey ladies, there's an infant care center!), I eventually got to an entire section on seating information.

Seating Information

Upper Level 36,030

Lower Level 42,490

Auto Club Speedway Club

Total Number of Disabled Seating
1,050 w/Companion

Total Grandstand Seating

Pit Lane Deluxe Corporate W/Handicapped Access


So I got my answer - 92,100 not counting the special facilities. (I didn't know that racetracks had skyboxes; I guess everyone does now.)

And those 92,100 seats aren't used for just racing. The oddly named EPICENTER Twenty Ten (odd because there is a much smaller facility in Rancho Cucamonga that happens to be called the Epicenter) may not have a lot of cars, other than some sound effects in "Detroit Rock City." Featured artists include KISS, Eminem, Bush, Blink 182, Bad Religion, and Suicidal Tendencies. Not sure how well KISS' makeup will hold up in September, but the crowd will still like it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Game theory in airline promotion

Now note that I'm not talking about gaming theory - I'm talking about game theory, which is somewhat different. At least in my mind.

Companies offer incentives to employees and other companies all the time, but incentives need to be carefully designed. For example, some incentives can have detrimental side effects - if you promise to offer bonuses to people who stay at work the longest, sooner or later you're going to have cots in cubicles, wet towels in shower stalls, and probably a satellite TV subscription buried in the accounting records.

San Bernardino International Airport, despite its grand name, is still trying off the ground. Because of this, it decided to offer incentives to the first four airlines who initiated regular passenger service at the airport. I alluded to these incentives in a post I wrote last October. (I've also written about the airport at other times, including a detailed post in May 2010 and an "Empoprise-IE" rooster mention in June 2008.)

Unfortunately, the risks of starting business at a brand new airport had an unintended consequence regarding the incentive:

When San Bernardino International Airport offered incentives to the first four airlines that brought a schedule of flights with them, none wanted to be the first when they could be the third or fourth instead....

Yeah, let two other airlines take the risks, then march in and pocket the millions that the airport offers with minimized risk to yourself.

So the airport modified the offer:

Officials will now reward up to $2 million annually for two years and $1 million in startup and marketing costs to just the first two airlines to offer at least 12 flights a week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cause, effect, and airport policies

If I wanted to, I could spin a really really good cause and effect story regarding the policies that airports follow.

In the past I've commented on the high fees that Ontario International Airport is charging to the airlines that use the airport. But two recent stories indicate a possible change in the trend.

Fees lowered at ONT

Passenger traffic rises slightly at Ontario Airport

"Well, duh," you may be saying. "Of course if you lower the fees, then the airlines will be more apt to use the airport, and passenger traffic will start to grow again."

Only one problem - I listed the stories out of order.

The story about the rise in passenger traffic is the FIRST of the two stories, and talks about a one percent increase in May 2010 over May 2009.

The story about the lowering of the fees is the SECOND of the two stories, and those reductions are just now taking effect. Plus, as the article notes, even if this results in a significant cost savings for the airlines, it could take some time for this to be reflected in lower ticket prices.

Still, any good news about Ontario airport is good - provided that you live in Ontario.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ontario Music closing - what will the competitors do?

On Wednesday, David Allen blogged about the closing of Ontario Music later this month. He said that he'll have more information in Friday's column, so go to to check for his column when it comes out.

Two comments:

First, as I suspected, David Allen himself was the source of my information regarding Zappa's association with Ontario Music. (See my post).

Second, I want to call your attention to a comment from Richard Firman:

This is a sad story! As a private instructor I used to send kids there all the time! Now, as a competitor, we sent people there all the time for things we ran out of because they always had it!

Now Firman didn't say where he works today, but it's clear that his employer is one who is focused on helping the customer (rather than just helping themselves). I know it sounds all Miracle on 34th Streety, but isn't it nice when Company X will send customers to Company Y in an attempt to help them?

But after Ontario Music is closed, where will Firman send his customers?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

One David Allen reader has lived in the IE a REALLY long time

On Tuesday, David Allen requested participation via a blog post entitled "How to know you've lived here a long time."

Based upon my 1983 arrival in California, I added a few items. My personal favorite:

...there was a place called Licorice Pizza that didn't sell food.

I also mentioned the time when the area code changed to 909, but several other people not only mentioned this change, but also mentioned the change from phone numbers that started with two letters (e.g. "YU" for Yukon).

But it's not necessary for you to have lived here forever to contribute. Kristen McConnell arrived in the area in 1997, but even she has noticed changes in the last few years. Two examples:

--when there were open, thriving antique stores in B Street in Ontario

--The Ontario police WERE in downtown Ontario.

I don't know if the changes in the Inland Empire have been accelerated because of our suburban/exurban location, but the comments to Allen's post document a variety of changes in the area - some recent, some not so recent.

In the "not so recent" category, you have to include Bob House's contribution:

Tectonic forces along the San Andreas Fault created Mt. Baldy.

Well, that one's certainly before my time.

I encourage you to read all of the contributions here.