Business ed comes to Corona corridor

Commish, inspector pay fine-free visits

It is not uncommon for an inspector with the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to arrive at one of the city’s large commercial corridors to drop in and meet with business owners.

But in Corona last Monday, the inspector was accompanied by his boss, DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas, and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Corona), in an effort to help small businesses avoid fines and summonses.

The so-called Business Education Day initiative arranges for no-fine visits from the city where an inspector can point out small existing or potential violations, giving the owner the information and the opportunity to correct them without a penalty.

Serious violations — none were found at any of the stores while the Chronicle tagged along — still would have been subject to regular enforcement.

“I contacted the department and asked for four of these visits in my district,” Cruz said, adding that the results help both business owners and consumers.

Tuesday’s contingent met on 103rd Street in Corona, just north of Roosevelt Avenue. The early-morning route included stops on 103rd on both sides of Roosevelt Avenue, hitting restaurants, bodegas, gift shops and clothing stores — though the inspector, in plain clothes but wearing his badge on a lanyard, did leave the group briefly for a side visit to a woman selling fruit from a cart set up at Corona Plaza on the southeast corner of the intersection of Roosevelt and 103rd.

In the event English might not be the strongest language for the shop owners in the area, Salas and her inspector are both bilingual.

Salas reiterated that such visits are supposed to be friendly and educational in order to help owners comply with city regulations. She said the questions and concerns she hears from business owners are common ones.

“We can visit 70 to 100 businesses,” Salas said. “They worry about new rules and regulations.”

But she said something as simple as telling a shop owner about having or acquiring the right sign or information about having it in the right place is better for everyone.

The questions for both Salas and Cruz eventually came around to the sheer number and complexity of the city’s regulations and whether both subjects needed to be addressed. Both said existing regulations had to be enforced.

Cruz also discounted accusations from businesses and advocacy groups that the city and state governments can look to small businesses as ATMs.

“That’s not fair,” the assemblywoman said. “Businesses that comply with the rules don’t have to worry about being fined.”