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Community Briefs / VALLEY NEWS

LOS ANGELES : Panel OKs Relaxing Body Shop Rules

April 16, 1993|JILL LEOVY

The Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday approved a proposed ordinance to relax some zoning restrictions on auto garages, a measure strongly supported by automotive industry groups who are concerned that a recent crackdown on shops is hurting business.

The four commissioners who attended voted unanimously to send the proposed ordinance to the City Council Planning and Land-Use Management Committee without amendments--despite testimony from some auto body and repair shop owners who pleaded for removal of even more restrictions, said Steve Ciccarelli, a city planning associate.

The issue heated up last summer when building inspectors made a citywide sweep of body, tire and repair shops, looking for violations. Auto shops, often considered eyesores by neighboring homeowners, are required to abide by a host of zoning restrictions, some of which have been on the books since the 1940s.

The inspectors found that more than half of the city's 4,400 auto shops were in violation, and cited many for doing work outdoors illegally, storing tires and debris on their lots, and not having valid occupancy permits.

Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley, proposed relaxing several restrictions after consulting with industry leaders. His proposal would allow limited repairs to be done outdoors and permit some body shops to leave their doors open. Shop owners contend that the changes are necessary if they are to stay in business.

The dozen people who testified Thursday are in the auto repair business.

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