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Auto Shop Gates Can Stay, Lake Forest Council Rules

The council narrowly overturns an earlier vote by the Planning Commission.

After a spirited debate, the City Council on Tuesday narrowly overturned a previous ruling by a city commission that would have forced the owner of  to remove a pair of wrought-iron security gates.

Installed without the correct permits, the gates inside the auto repair complex on Orange Avenue caught the eye of city code enforcement in October 2010.

City staff decided they had to go, arguing the gates could potentially impede traffic circulation to and from other businesses in the complex. In response, owner Peter Capdevielle took the issue to the Planning Commission.

, he turned to the City Council in a last-ditch effort to keep the gates, which he says have eliminated incidents of vandalism at his business.

The 3-2 vote on Tuesday tentatively reversed the commission's decision and approved Capdevielle's gates.

Capdevielle and Craig Ota, owner of the El Toro Auto Center complex in which Maaco is located, both spoke at the meeting, asking the council to support the gates.

"We installed those gates for security purposes,” Capdevielle told the council Tuesday evening.

They are "supposed to impede traffic" after business hours, he said in response to the rationale given for the original ruling.

Ota said the other tenants in the complex also favor of the gates, as they are perceived to increase the security of the entire auto center as do those already in place along Orange Avenue.

"[The gates have] significantly reduced the amount of theft and vandalism and the use of our parking lot as a restroom at night,” he said Tuesday night. 

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Tettemer opposed the reversal of the commission's ruling, saying it could set a precedent within the complex—and in other similar situations.

Also voting against the gates was Mayor Peter Herzog, who pointed to the potential for the gates to limit access for customers to Harley's Garage, an adjacent business.

He quoted a report from staff, which included correspondence from the shop owner emphasizing the need for his customers to access the business.

However, Councilman Scott Voigts said he personally discussed the gates with the owner—who was in favor.

Herzog, calling Voigts’ statement “hearsay,” remained opposed.

Voigts, Councilwoman Marcia Rudolph and Councilwoman Kathryn McCullough voted in favor of the gates.

At a later council meeting, the topic will return as an official resolution.

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