The owner of a small auto repair shop in Pasadena sued the city Thursday over a new parking order.
The lawsuit concerns an ongoing complaint in the Houston area regarding the parking space.
Azael Sepulveda started his workshop, Oz Mechanics, by renting space in a small business center, then moving into an auto workshop with four parking spaces.
Tired of leasing, Sepulveda then bought an old garage with five parking spaces.
But under an ordinance passed by Pasadena City Council in January, auto repair shops must have at least 10 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor space.
“I really wanted to own my own business, so I took the plunge to buy the building I have now,” he said. “But the city gave me a hard time.”
In Sepulveda’s case, he would have to build a plot with 28 parking spaces, which he said would cost $ 40,000, almost half of what he spent to buy the entire property and well. beyond what he could afford. This is in addition to the renovations to the building itself.
“I don’t know if my business will survive at this point,” he said.
To complicate matters further: Sepulveda’s wife is expecting her first child in March.
Under the ordinance, auto dealers are only required to provide five and a half spaces per 1,000 square feet, almost half of what garages like the one in Sepulveda are required to provide.
This is despite having similar parking needs, according to Tori Clark, one of Sepulveda’s attorneys and a freedom advocate at the nonprofit Institute for Justice. Clark said the double standard violates the equal protection clause of the Texas Constitution.
Sepulveda tried to come to terms with Pasadena barring a lawsuit, but was blocked at every turn, Clark added.
“The city itself recommended that Azael follow a specific procedure to request an exception to the parking requirements,” said Clark, “but when Azael tried to follow that recommendation, the city refused to even consider his request. We, his lawyers, followed up with the city to ask the city’s reasons or to request a meeting with the city, but the city also refused to speak to us. “
As part of the lawsuit, Sepulveda is seeking a declaration that Pasadena’s parking requirements for auto repair shops are unconstitutional. His lawyers are asking for an injunction that would allow Sepulveda to open its shop in its new premises.
Pasadena’s chief of staff did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit comes amid an ongoing controversy in the region over parking requirements for businesses. In 2019, Houston waived its own minimum parking requirements in parts of Midtown and downtown, instead allowing businesses to decide how much parking they need.
“Other cities of a similar size to Texas (up to Pasadena), like Mesquite and Killeen, only need two parking spaces per 1,000 square feet,” Clark said. “They have a minimum of five berths, but the bottom line is that Pasadena’s new 10-berth per 1,000 square feet requirements are several times higher than those required by other cities in Texas.”
Read the lawsuit below:
To subscribe to Today in Houston
Fill out the form below to subscribe to our new daily HPM Newsroom editorial newsletter.