Over the vehement and often hostile objections of several residents, the City Council on a 3-0 vote Tuesday night indicated that it will vacate two alleys adjacent to Vasek Polak BMW at 2901 Pacific Coast Hwy.
The council also directed the city staff to draw up a development contract with the auto dealership that would allow it to expand into the alleys if it agrees to remain in Hermosa Beach for 15 years.
If an agreement is reached and approved by the council this fall, about 100 feet of a 15-foot-wide alley between the dealership and Midas Muffler Shop will be closed. A 10-foot strip of the alley next to the dealership will be used for Vasek Polak's expansion. The remaining five feet will revert to Midas, the other original owner.
Polak has requested use of the second alley, located behind the dealership between 30th Street and Gould Avenue, for a two-level parking structure.
Mayor Jack Wood made the motion to vacate the alleys if an acceptable development agreement can be reached. Councilmen Gary Brutsch and John Cioffi supported the motion. Councilman George Barks disqualified himself from the vote because he owns property near the dealership. Councilman Tony DeBellis was absent.
The proposal, devised to keep Polak's two car dealerships, and the tax revenue they bring the city, from relocating to Torrance, was vociferously opposed by nine residents in the area.
"Fifteen years in business is a drop in the bucket," argued Frank Cruz. "That's a rotten agreement. I am saying to you, the City Council, we don't want it and we're not going to put up with it."
Many residents also complained that new cars from the dealership are "road-tested" on 30th Street and frequently are parked on residential roads, sometimes blocking driveways.
Councilman Brutsch tried to calm the 30 residents in the audience. He said the council would like the company to stay, but "not to the extent of ruining the quality of life here in town, and that's why we're trying to mitigate you folks' concerns."