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For many months, transients have hunkered down in front of the Albertsons supermarket at 2235 University Avenue in North Park. They panhandle for change and sometimes fall asleep on the sidewalk.

After contacting the Albertsons corporate office, I received an email on June 14 from loss prevention district manager Koby Dumas, who offered this reply: “Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience you may have experienced in respect to the transients that hang out at this location. We are looking into this opportunity and working on a solution.”

Lilia Rodriguez, external communications manager for Albertsons in Southern California, said by phone June 15 that “it's a challenge” dealing with the problem. They get many complaints from their customers at other store locations, she said.

Nikki Berdy, president of North Park Community Association, said by email, “I think the transient problem has gotten worse everywhere due to the economy.”

On June 15, I spoke with Belinda Cobb, tagged “Person in Charge” at the Ralphs on 1030 University Avenue. How does Ralphs manage to keep the panhandlers away, while Albertsons cannot? “It's because we have security here in the center,” Cobb said.

As for hiring security, Albertsons’ Rodriguez said the North Park store management has “all options on the table.” Store personnel must be careful about ordering transients off the property, she said, "because we don't want anyone to get hurt.”

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Comments

SanCarlosGuy June 16, 2011 @ 8:02 a.m.

It's really a shame that Albertson's after the money it spent on renovations can't do a better job securing it's property for shoppers. A guard would be a visual reminder to transients that all are welcome to shop without being harassed. A guard may also reduce their losses to shoplifting and help their employees and customers feel safer.

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dwbat June 16, 2011 @ 8:13 a.m.

It's also a sanitation issue, as the transients have dumped trash and half-eaten food behind the water-dispensing machine, and on the sidewalk in front near the entrance. Obviously this draws roaches and rodents.

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dwbat June 30, 2011 @ 3:53 p.m.

I've been observing the North Park Albertsons every day since my story appeared, and have seen NO homeless on the property. Why?--The store now has a security guard.

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dwbat Aug. 8, 2012 @ 12:50 p.m.

The homeless have returned, as Albertsons no longer has a security guard. A store employee told me today that they cannot afford it. The supermarket chain is in big financial trouble, and so is their corporate owner, Supervalu.

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dwbat Aug. 16, 2012 @ 11:02 a.m.

Today I stopped a shoplifter at this store. He grabbed a big handful of game tickets from underneath an unused cash register. I happened to be right there. So I yelled at him he couldn't do that, and he put them back, saying "I thought they were free." Then he walked out of the store. I told a store employee about it. She said he's in there all the time; no doubt he's stealing whatever he can get.

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dwbat Sept. 5, 2012 @ 5:54 p.m.

Today Supervalu/Albertsons announced that about 19 Albertsons in SoCal would be closed. The list didn't include any in SD.

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dwbat Dec. 22, 2014 @ 10:30 p.m.

The U-T just reported that several Albertsons stores will be sold off, including the North Park and Mission Hills stores. Grocery chain Haggen is buying them, and several Vons stores.

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Visduh Dec. 23, 2014 @ 9:12 p.m.

When one chain buys another that has stores in the same area, the FTC or DOJ will insist on some steps that will prevent the "loss of competition." In this case the private equity operation that owns Albertson's is buying up Safeway, which is Von's in this area. Hence, the new combination has to sell off some of its stores to another competitor. Today, no competitor in the area is in a position to buy some of the stores, hence they find an out-of-the-area buyer, which happens to be from the northwest.

Some years ago, Albertson's acquired all the Lucky stores, and had to sell off a bunch of stores. In many cases, such as here in Vista where Albertson's had to dispose of its own two stores, the FTC just arbitrarily picked the excess outlets, and decreed they had to be sold. That time around it was Stater Brothers who suddenly found itself a major player in the county. But this time, Stater could not qualify--if it had wanted to--and a new outsider had to be found. This supermarket merger mania has only served to fragment the market, confuse the public, and provide more openings for Sprouts, Fresh and Easy, Smart and Final Extra, "Whole Paycheck", Grocery Outlet, and a host of 99-centers, all of which sell food,

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dwbat Dec. 24, 2014 @ 10:03 a.m.

I like Sprouts for the cheaper produce, but I avoid buying their other stuff. And for some grocery items, you get a better deal at CVS when they're on sale, than at Albertsons. Hopefully Haggen will be cheaper than Albertsons for North Park residents. We'll have to wait and see.

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dwbat Dec. 26, 2014 @ 1:41 p.m.

I asked a checker today at the North Park store about Haggen. She said she heard they had "high prices." That may not work well for North Park (like it can in Hillcrest, Mission Hills, La Jolla or Del Mar).

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Visduh Dec. 27, 2014 @ 9:26 p.m.

Haggen may very well have high prices in the northwest. There unions are strong, and most stores have union contracts. With no competition operating with a different cost structure, they probably have to have higher prices. But if they try that here, they'll flop. If you look closely at Haggen, you'll see that they are a creature of a private equity group that is making a huge amount of growth possible. The company, on its own, could never dream of buying up over a hundred stores in California and expanding its business that much. What we have here is a grocer owned by a private equity group taking over a publicly held supermarket chain that has been traded for most of a century, and then selling part of the combined chain to others, one of which is also a private equity group. Whew!

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dwbat Dec. 31, 2014 @ 10:10 a.m.

The private equity group takeover of supermarkets, drug chains, etc. is nothing new. One of the masters at this is billionaire Ron Burkle and his Yucaipa Companies. Says Wikipedia: Among his many big-bucks coups was the "buyouts of Jurgensen's, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, and Ralphs supermarket chains, and sold to Kroger for $13.5 billion."

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danfogel Dec. 29, 2014 @ 7:55 a.m.

I was talking to my daughter about Haggen when she was down for the holidays. I think I may have been to one a couple of times but don't remember that much about them. She said the used to have pretty good prices, somewhere between a QFC, which is Kroger up there, and a Safeway. Now, she says they are more comparable to a Whole Foods and another local PNW chain called New Seasons Market, which is around Portland. I guess the company ran into some problems during the great recession. Their revenues fell pretty hard and they ended up closing about a dozen stores. My daughter said she thinks they stopped keeping all of their store open 24 hrs also. The brothers that owned the company sold controlling interest to some outfit in Florida called The Comvest Group. According to wikipedia, the Haggen family's holding company for its real estate recently sold a portfolio consisting of 15 sites of Haggen stores to a San Diego outfit called MGP X for a cool $175 million. Can anyone say take the money and run? Don't know about San Diego, but in Orange County, there are is a mix of 11 stores. And even over here in Arizona, where I have been for a while, they are taking over 7 Albertsons and 3 Safeway stores of which an Albertsons and 2 Safeways are here in Tucson. Interesting, very interesting.

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dwbat Dec. 31, 2014 @ 10:13 a.m.

When I lived in Portland many years ago, the big cheese there was Fred Meyer (later bought out; see above). They sold not only groceries, but just about everything else at discount prices. Sort of like a Target store. I don't know what they are like these days.

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Jazzcatt Dec. 27, 2014 @ 2:07 p.m.

Some day you or I might just BE one of those 'transients' with no home and nowhere to go. They have to be somewhere, for cryin' out loud! You want to blame the homeless for poor sanitation etc. but when you are homeless no place of business will let you use the restroom. Where are you supposed to go? In your pants? Public use trash cans are far and few between, so what are they supposed to do?

Now you want to blame the grocery store for homeless people being around? Since when is the homeless 'problem' their responsibility? Have a heart. man!

It's not always the homeless either. I see plenty of finely dressed people throwing uneaten food and trash on the ground. And, I've seen plenty of well dressed, obviously not homeless men sneak beside or behind a building to take a leak.

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dwbat Dec. 28, 2014 @ 8 p.m.

The city and county agencies either don't or can't do enough. But we've heard pronouncements from the Mayor and City Council recently that San Diego wants to get the homeless off the streets and into housing, and provided with healthcare and other services. They've made a great start with the remodeled old World Trade Center building downtown. And more public restrooms are needed, with the two newly-install Portland Loos downtown helping out. But having transients hanging out and panhandling in front of supermarkets, CVS, or in Ocean Beach, etc. is not the solution.

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dwbat Dec. 28, 2014 @ 10:55 p.m.

John Jusko on FB: We'll have to wait and see how the new out-of-state owner (Haggen) deals with this issue when they take over. They probably don't even know there's a problem.

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dwbat Feb. 28, 2015 @ 5:57 p.m.

Ronda E Brainard on FB: The issue of homelessness is not something to be solved by supermarkets. I've seen shoplifting at the North Park Albertsons, as well as loitering under signs that say "No Loitering." That's unacceptable. They should instead head downtown where there this IS help, meals, healthcare, shelter, etc. As for Haggen, I heard today from a store employee that they take over on March 18 in North Park.

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