A Thousand Oaks landlord is asking the City Council to overlook violations of the city's overcrowding ordinance on his property because he says the ordinance discriminates against renters.
Adil Barakat rents a property on Calle Tulipan to an extended family of six adults and two children. Last year he asked for and was granted a permit to continue to rent to that family, even though their numbers exceed those the ordinance allows for the size of the house.
But the second part of his request, that the family be allowed to keep four cars on the property, was rejected by the Planning Commission because neighbors complained.
Now Barakat is appealing that decision to the City Council, saying it is not fair to force his tenants to park far from their homes while homeowners in Thousand Oaks can park as many cars as they want in their driveways. The ordinance places limitations on parking in commercial areas, which includes all rental properties.
The City Council will decide whether to issue a permit to Barakat at its meeting Tuesday.
Instituted in 1992 at the urging of Mayor Elois Zeanah to preserve a single-family atmosphere in the city's residential areas, the legality of the ordinance has frequently come under fire. Some council members question whether it would be upheld in court.
"I think that we may have a legal problem here," said Councilman Frank Schillo. "To say to one person that they can't park in their driveway and that the other guy who lives next door can, just isn't right."
The Planning Commission changed its initial approval of Barakat's permit after neighbors on the street complained about noise and numbers of cars nearby. As part of the consideration of Barakat's appeal, a city survey crew studied parking and traffic on Calle Tulipan and the surrounding streets.
The crew counted 68 available street parking spots. At peak usage times, 20 of those spots were occupied, 48 were vacant. With that many parking spots available, the Barakat family said they didn't see why there was a problem approving more street parking for their tenants.
"I understand the concerns of the other residents on the street, but I really do think we're being discriminated against," said Barakat's son and business partner, Nidal Barakat.
He said the tenants have been living in the property for more than a year.
"They're good tenants," he said. "They take pride in the landscaping."
Zeanah said the Planning Commission had made concessions to Barakat by allowing eight people to live in the house. She said Barakat had not supplied the council with any hard evidence that the parking portion of the ordinance should be waived for his property.
Zeanah said she believed the ordinance was not discriminatory and that it was directed at rental units because they had been the subject of complaints in the past.
"Our residential areas are supposed to be uncluttered," she said. "After all, this is our refuge; these are our homes."