Eviction coda

Sometimes, a little good news.

Two weeks ago, this paper ran a story on the sudden eviction of two small businesses at the Diamond Parking lot on the northeast corner of Broadway and East Mercer Street. Stephen Johnson, owner of Jump Gourmet Espresso, and Boma Cho, who owns Boma Cho Fine Art, were given a mere 15 days to vacate their shacks in the parking lot. It was an unexpected blow, not exactly a cup of holiday cheer

Nor was it, to put it more bluntly, fair. Johnson and Cho run businesses, not hobby huts. Those businesses are how they make their livings, and such miniscule notice put both men in a pretty dour situation. Not that they had a lot of time to think about it.

What a difference a week makes. It seems someone at Diamond read the piece, or at least heard the story. A company executive came by and told them that owner Joe Diamond was unhappy with how Johnson and Cho had been treated.

And more than a mere rhetorical reply, Johnson and Cho were given an extension. Instead of having to vacate in the middle of November, they could stay on the property through the end of the year. Not only that, but there would be no charge for December's rent.

So that's good. Having spoken at some length with Johnson and Cho, good men both, I am very glad they received something positive from their landlord. And the news came none too soon. Cho was a day or two away from loading everything into storage. For Johnson, it was even more dramatic. He'd closed a week before and had been frantically looking for a place to store the coffee shack, which he owns. The reprieve came 18 hours before the structure was to be removed from the parking lot. Had that happened, the late gesture by Diamond wouldn't have been of any use.

Now both are back in business, at least through the holidays. Given that the majority of Cho's sales are of silk-screened apparel, this time of year is crucial to his bottom line.

There are, I think, two ways to think about this. It is certainly a good thing that Diamond did the right thing. Johnson had only opened a year ago, and Cho a year before that. These are small businesses with small profit margins, and being evicted with 15-days' notice was patently unfair.

But it is also unfortunate that it came down to a small-scale grand gesture on the part of Diamond Parking. Simply put, the company should have been more considerate and aware in the first place.

Around Here is a column by the editor of the Capitol Hill Times. Doug Schwartz can be reached at editor @capitolhilltimes.com or 461-1308.[[In-content Ad]]