Greedy landlords create a mass-extinction event in Burbank's indie paradise

Burbank's Magnolia Park district was a big reason my family and I moved to town three years ago: a walkable, shady, tree-lined street whose merchants are a quirky (and legendary) mix of indie bookstores, prop outlets, vintage clothing stores, collectibles stores, year-round Halloween stores, hobby shops, quirky indie designers, gaming stores, wine bars, community credit unions — like a goth/alternative Main Street, USA.

People come from all over to visit Magnolia Park, and on the last Friday of every month the whole city of Burbank comes down for "Food Truck Friday," where local craftspeople, community organizations, and merchants set up stalls and the streets are lined with food trucks from across the region.

So naturally, greedy asshole landlords have started doubling and tripling the rents. I've been out of town since late June and I just got back and walked the length of Magnolia and it's a parade of empty storefronts, with merchants who've been on the street for a quarter century gone.

A grassroots effort is underway to get the city council to use zoning laws to save what's left of the neighborhood.

"My business and everyone else in the area are affected by this money gouging and greed," says Del Howison, owner of the Gothic bookstore and gift shop Dark Delicacies. "If landlords continue to do so, they will just turn it into another place of non-personalized steel and glass that can be found anywhere. There will be no reason to come here."

"Dark Delicacies is the only all horror and gift store in the United States," Howison continues. 'We have been in Burbank for 24 years. We hold signings every week with actors, composers, artists, authors. … We also carry handmade items not found elsewhere."

Del and his dark arts dispensary are just one of many unique shops (and unique shopkeepers) that make up the rogue's gallery of off-the-wall boutiques in the area. "[They] even referred to this area at one point as the 'Monster Crawl' because of all the different but related shops, including Creature Features (now gone), Bearded Lady and Mystic Museum, Blast from the Past, Motion Picture FX and others," he adds.

Save Magnolia Park

Saving Magnolia Park: Why L.A.'s Coolest Shopping Area Is in Danger [Erin Maxwell/LA Weekly]