Local business owner threatens lawsuit against the city.
By Galen Patterson
Council members voted 4-0 to pass a small food hall proposal at 33 W. Huntington Drive in Downtown Arcadia.
The food hall will contain seven to eight different food vendors on the ground floor of a pre-existing building, while the upper floors will continue to operate as self-storage units.
One of the project goals is to preserve the existing building and keep the mid-century look of the building, according to Senior Economic Development Analyst Tim Schwehr.
The food hall is expected to have 20 on-site parking spaces for customers, with a flexible number of parking spaces leased for the employees of the food hall. The project is also looking at limiting parking time on Morlan Place, which runs behind the building, between the proposed site and Mercedes-Benz of Arcadia.
Controversy over the project came in the form of mostly concerns over parking.
Manny Romero, owner of Rod’s Grill, next door to the project, told the council that an attraction of this size will need more than the proposed number of spaces because the area is already dealing with parking issues.
According to Romero, tow trucks, UPS trucks and any other large vehicles that pass through Morlan Drive block traffic for his customers due to a shortage of parking. “It will create a parking crisis,” he said.
Rusnak Mercedes also sent a representative to speak at the meeting, who confirmed that the parking proposal will cause problems in the area and may affect the marketing display on Santa Anita.
Attorney Christopher Sutton legally represented Romero in 2005-2006 when Rusnak Mercedes and the city tried to use eminent domain to forcefully move Rod’s Grill form the current location. Romero sued and won his case then and is prepared to do so now, according to Sutton.
Charges have not yet been filed, but due to the nature of the claims, Romero will have a maximum of 60 days from the submission of the sale of the land to do so.
Project proponent Peter Lee is a developer and previously an architect. Lee originally proposed a much larger project, which would have seen condos in the upper floors and food hall dining in the ground floor.
The previous project totaled 15,000 square feet, but has been scaled down to help with the parking issue. The current project proposes only 5,800 square feet.
Lee is also actively seeking solutions and willing to change his plan to accommodate the necessary amount of parking and security needed to make his plan work.
“I don’t want this to be a massive parking controversy,” Lee said in an interview with Arcadia Weekly.
Sutton says the main causes for the possible lawsuit are based on The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Community Redevelopment Law (CRL). The CEQA possible CEQA violation, according to Sutton, comes from the city not filing an environmental impact study for the project.
Currently, California State Senator Jim Beall has introduced two bills which may have an impact on the city’s decision to use the building for the food hall.
Romero has agreed to discuss the parking problem with Lee. “It’s Manny’s decision whether he wants to sue or not,” said Sutton.