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GARDENA : Nearby Residents Want Swap Meet Closed

March 03, 1994|IRIS YOKOI

Repeating decades-old complaints, residents near the Vermont Drive-In begged the Gardena Planning and Environmental Quality Commission this week to shut it down, saying noise and traffic from its weekend swap meet have made life unbearable.

At a continuation of a public hearing begun in January, about 25 residents of 182nd and Rumbold streets and Vermont Avenue filed into the council chambers Tuesday night to complain of traffic congestion, automobile and early morning vendor noise, and swap meet patrons who litter and urinate on residents' lawns.

Residents said they can't enjoy leisurely weekends or allow their children to play outside because of the many swap meet patrons who traipse through their neighborhoods every Saturday and Sunday. Some residents said they haven't been able to sell their homes because of proximity to the swap meet.

While most of the complaints concern the 25-year-old, 800-vendor swap meet, open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, residents also complained of honking horns and traffic noise from weeknight movie customers.

Officials of the 50-year-old drive-in at 17737 S. Vermont Ave. said they have had workers diligently pick up trash, prohibited walk-in patrons and hired off-duty police officers to direct traffic. Jay Swerdlow, general manager for Pacific Theaters, said he went through nearby neighborhoods last Sunday and saw no signs of swap meet patrons, urination or litter.

But residents said the swap meet's fixes never last long, with problems resurfacing after a few weeks.

City officials indicated they'd like to close the swap meet, which last year paid the city close to $75,000 in business fees and sales taxes, perhaps by passing a law that would prohibit such uses near residential areas. The City Council asked the Planning Commission to make recommendations.

After listening to the testimony Tuesday, the commission gave its staff 90 days to draft proposals to forward to the council.

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