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Pasadena, Texas parking ordinance pushes Oz Mechanics auto store to court

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) – The Institute for Justice, which represents the owner of Oz Mechanics, says the city of Pasadena’s latest parking ordinance harms small businesses and violates the Texas Constitution.

Azael Sepulveda, known as Oz, owns Oz Mechanics in Pasadena and has said it was his dream to open his own store in the city where he grew up. He bought a building on Shaver Street and was preparing to convert it into a machine shop, but Sepulveda has been engaged in a battle with the city over parking for months.

“I don’t know how long we’re going to last,” Sepulveda said.

In August 2021, ABC13 learned that the Parking Ordinance, which was approved by the City of Pasadena in January 2021, requires auto repair shops to have 10 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet. The previous ordinance required half the number of parking spaces for auto repair shops, or five parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, according to the city’s planning department.

SEE ALSO: Small business owner fights city parking ordinance that could eventually close his store

Under the new ordinance, in order for the mechanical workshop to meet industry standards, the building would need a total of 28 parking spaces, which would require Sepulveda to install 23 additional parking spaces, for one cost about $ 40,000. The cost of this additional parking is around half of the amount he paid for the entire building, according to lawyers for Sepulveda.

“The previous owner only needed those five parking spaces,” said Diana Simpson, a lawyer at the Institute of Justice. “It makes even less sense that the city demands that Azael needs more, as the previous owner had no issues or problems with the number of parking spaces and the city therefore issued this new ordinance which does not ‘just doesn’t make sense. Azael should have been grandfathered. He should be able to get an exception to those requirements, but the city won’t have it and they just demand that he have a parking lot that he doesn’t have. not need and that he cannot afford. “

This new ordinance only applies to new businesses, not to established businesses. At least two other local business owners contacted ABC13 stating they had the same issue and requested a waiver across town to see if there could be an exception for their cases. Sepulveda said he also requested a waiver and it was denied.

“(The city) denied it after two days,” Sepulveda said, referring to its waiver request. “And they couldn’t give me an explanation why.”

Sepulveda would also change the use of the building, which is common in cities that don’t have zoning laws like Houston. However, due to this debacle of parking requirements, the new Sepulveda building remains closed.

“It is not known why the City of Pasadena enacted this new ordinance,” said Simpson. “It seems they are trying to drive the hard working businessmen and women out of town and that is not rational.”

The Pasadena City Planning Department responded on Thursday with the following statement:

“Mr. Sepulveda appears to have submitted waiver request documents, but the city has not received a completed waiver request and any accompanying fees from him.

Our legal department has no comments.

No other company has submitted a waiver request for the city’s current off-street parking requirements based on the number of parking spaces required.

It may be important to note that this is actually a “change of use” situation. The property was originally licensed as a machine shop by the previous owner. Mr Sepulveda said he was using the property as an auto repair shop, which is a completely different use, requiring more parking and different permits. Even if he had applied for a certificate of occupancy under the old city parking ordinance, he would have been refused due to the lack of required off-street parking. “

Simpson said the Institute of Justice has filed a petition on behalf of Sepulveda, claiming the new ordinance violates the Texas Constitution.

“Honestly to God, I didn’t want it to get to this point,” Sepulveda said. “I’m not a confrontational person, but it’s my dream here and I’ve always wanted to own my own store.”

Sepulveda said he only had one message for other local business owners facing similar challenges.

“Keep fighting,” Sepulveda said. “Never give up. If you have a dream, pursue it and you will get it.”

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