Business owners on Beverly Blvd. between Martel Avenue and Vista Street have a beef with Verizon. For the past month or so, the company has been laying fiber optic cable under the street along Martel between Beverly Blvd. and Oakwood Avenue, and along Beverly Blvd.
The construction was permitted by the City’s Bureau of Engineering, which required the company to work only Saturdays, presumably to minimize the disruptive effect on traffic, according to Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato, who told the Buzz the purpose of the construction was to lay down 4G fiber optic cable to connect to street “furniture” (those utility boxes you see on the street).
But no one told the local business owners the construction schedule. Propsr owner and Windsor Square resident Randy Esada told the Buzz that after three Saturdays in a row, he contacted CD5 Council Member Paul Koretz’s office for help. But Koretz’s office told the Buzz that getting solid information was not so easy.
Last weekend, construction crews were not supposed to work, according to the previously set schedule, but showed anyway up after senior officials at the company told the contractor to put in extra time to finish the project.
Frustrated by the lack of information from the company, RJ Milano, owner of the neighborhood coffee shop Shaky Alibi and whose street tables were rendered unusable because of noisy construction, told the Buzz, “I employ 8 people, they lost several shifts.” Milano said he just couldn’t understand why Verizon wasn’t required to notify the local business owners.
“How does this happen? How is it that you can’t communicate?” said Milano, who also said that had he known about the work, he might have been able to reduce the negative impact on his business.
No construction work is expected this weekend, due to the holida,y so Esada and Milano are hoping things will return to normal. But they have organized, forming the Beverly Boulevard Business Owners Alliance and requesting compensation for the small businesses that lost their Saturday customers, or that Verizon move construction to Sunday. They also want the city to require contractors to talk to business owners before they start construction, so businesses can plan accordingly.
Everyone we spoke to agreed that more improvements to the city’s telecommunications infrastructure will mean more construction and potentially more disruption to local businesses. Esada is hoping that by organizing his fellow local business owners, they can get ahead of the disruption…or at least be compensated to make sure they can weather it.