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Nightly Deliveries Pit Manufacturer Against Next-Door Councilman

September 22, 1985|JESSE KATZ | Times Staff Writer

SOUTH EL MONTE — Every night between 9 p.m. and midnight, a flatbed truck pulls up to Jackie Sherlin's metal plating company to unload several cases of unplated hardware.

Sherlin, president of J. D. Plating Corp. at 1841 Tyler Ave., says the nightly shipments represent about one-fourth of her firm's monthly sales. City Councilman Stanley Quintana, who lives next door at his chemical barrel business, says the noisy deliveries mean a nightly headache.

Their dispute--described by one business leader as "a regular Hatfield and McCoy feud"--has generated at least 12 complaints to sheriff's deputies, two lawsuits, a city noise ordinance sponsored by Quintana, a court injunction against the ordinance and charges that Quintana has violated state conflict-of-interest laws.

In the latest confrontation, the City Council approved an ordinance effective Oct. 12 that would prohibit noises causing a "disturbance" at night.

'I Go Bankrupt'

City Atty. Steven Dorsey said a business found guilty of violating the code could be ordered to stop doing whatever had caused the noise.

"That means I go bankrupt," Sherlin said. "We're a manufacturing company. We make some noise." The only recourse, Sherlin said, is to seek another court injunction.

Quintana, who would not comment on the dispute, did not vote on the most recent noise ordinance.

In a written statement submitted to The Times, Quintana and his wife, Donna, complained that Sherlin has disturbed them with noise from "low motors, trucks, radios, loud yelling from employees, metal crashing against metal, metal crashing against concrete . . . an intercom, machinery, tools, pumps, buzzers."

"Our only desire is to sleep and enjoy a decent life," the statement said.

Manufacturing Zone

The dispute started in March when Sherlin decided to expand her around-the-clock plating business by moving to a larger plant. Her 16 employees apply metal coatings to hardware, such as nuts and bolts.

The business had operated for three years a few blocks away without trouble, she said. The area is zoned for manufacturing, Sherlin said, and she had not known that Quintana was living next door.

"I don't mind the man living there," she said. "But if you're going to live in a manufacturing zone, you have to recognize and live within manufacturing zone requirements. He shouldn't have the best of both worlds."

Quintana's home and business at 1855 Tyler Ave. are in an industrial area that had been designated as a manufacturing zone when Quintana moved there in 1975. His business, Stan's Barrel Co., buys and resells drums used to store chemicals.

Almost immediately after Sherlin moved in, Quintana began filing complaints with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which polices the city. In one case, Quintana placed the driver of the nightly delivery truck under citizen's arrest for disturbing the peace.

Complaints Rejected

However, Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Higgins rejected the complaints because he said the matter was a civil, not a criminal, dispute.

In addition, the city code permitted companies in a manufacturing zone to make noise measuring up to 70 decibels, which South El Monte officials say is equal to "a noisy stenographic office." Measurements taken by the Sheriff's Department on May 22 showed that Sherlin's plant produced noise ranging between 60 and 72 decibels.

At a council meeting the following day, Quintana proposed an ordinance that would have limited night noise levels to 45 decibels for businesses next to homes in manufacturing zones. City officials say that 45 decibels is equal to the sound made inside a "noisy residence."

The council adopted Quintana's ordinance on an urgency basis, making it effective immediately.

The next day, a sheriff's deputy delivered a copy of the new regulations to Sherlin. Of the approximately 2,000 lots in the city's manufacturing zone, 644 are developed entirely or partially for residential use. But Sherlin was the only person to receive a copy of the ordinance, sheriff's deputies said.

Insists Operation Crucial

Sherlin said she stopped her night shift for two weeks and then tried to reduce noise at night by closing the four large bay doors that face Quintana's home. The nightly delivery truck cannot be scheduled at another time, she said.

"That's the only way I can keep my client," Sherlin said. "Without it, everything goes down the tubes."

Sherlin then filed a suit against the council, charging Quintana with conflict of interest in using his position on the council to settle a personal dispute. Pasadena Superior Court Judge Sally Disco issued a temporary injunction on Aug. 23 prohibiting the city from enforcing the ordinance against Sherlin's business while the suit is pending.

"It was strictly self-serving," Sherlin said. "He's trying to impose his residential restrictions on the rest of the world."

Meanwhile, the Quintanas filed a suit against Sherlin, charging her with harassment and asking that she be stopped from disturbing them at night.

'Never Had Problems'

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