_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK



Most residents that came to meeting were against the deal.

By Brian Hews and Tammye McDuff

Cerritos residents packed the Council chambers this past Monday night to voice their opinion about the continuing saga regarding the Cerritos College lease of former Manassero Strawberry Fields to Norm Reeves Car Group for overflow parking.

Robert Lopez, Current Planning Manager, opened the segment saying, “Cerritos College has requested approval of a temporary use permit, for a temporary automobile storage facility that was previously occupied by Manassero Farms.”

Lopez subsequently made a presentation, via PowerPoint, to the packed house.

Lopez stated that generally the College is exempt from the City’s land use and zoning authority when it comes to classroom and school related buildings. However the proposal to use the subject site as an automobile storage facility is a non-classroom use, is subject to California Government Code / Section 53094(b) saying “The governing board of a school district, by a vote of two thirds of its members may render a city or county zoning ordinance inapplicable to a proposed use of property the school district. The board of the school district may not take this action when the proposed us of the property by the school district is for non-classroom facilities, to include warehouses, administrative buildings and automotive storage and repair buildings.” The Cerritos Municipal Code Section 22.20.450 states “Any uses of a temporary nature and not involving construction of substantial or permanent improvements may be permitted at any location within the city for a period not to exceed six months and any extension shall be reviewed by the City Council.”

“Given that the proposed automobile storage facility exceeds the six month limit, it is subject to a TUP,” said Lopez.

Lopez then outlined the contentious negotiations between the City and Cerritos College that started with the College beginning construction without telling the City, with the City folowed by the City issuing a stop-work order.

After a couple weeks, the City and College agreed to conduct a public hearing on the TUP.

It should be noted in this presentation that the temporary automobile storage facility is to accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles for a four-year term with the TUP not subject to renewal after that time.

Several questions were asked by the Council regarding comments from residents.

Who incurs the cost of renovations to the site? One resident stated that zoning prohibits the unloading of vehicles on Studebaker Road. Overall, there were 37 people who commented, ranging from angry residents to students who supported the additional funds.

Sally Havice, current College Professor at Cerritos stated,  “I am a Cerritos resident from way back and I wanted to let you know my thoughts on this. It was a joy to see the strawberry fields and enjoy the fresh produce. However, what is done has been done. The college really needs the money from this property and even though it is in the City of Cerritos it really belongs to the school district.”

Havice went on to say that the Council should consider the fact the College is trying to find funds to educate the community and she was in favor of proceeding with the TUP for vehicle storage.

Long-time Cerritos resident Dixie Premoish was against the TUP. “We want community planning with the College, nobody told us about this, we were the residents who contacted the City, and the City staff was great.”

Several people, who did not live in Cerritos, but either worked or who’s children went to the College, spoke in favor of the deal.

Nancy Apolionio, who lives across from the field was against the deal because, like Solanki, she thought the auto square dealers were not fulfilling their current commitments.

“Who are we going to call if we see violations?”

Felipe Lopez, Vice President of Business Services at Cerritos College addressed council saying “I acknowledge there has been a lot of miscommunication between the City and the College and we would like to move forward in a more productive manner with the project.” Lopez stated a new Board resolution was created taking into consideration all the concerns by residents.

Downey resident Yolanda Salazar said that the some of the area could be “deed restricted.” Salazar is a 16 year veteran of the L.A. County Assessor’s office.

She implored the Board to research because the land could be restricted in use.

Cerritos resident Eddie DeAvila asked that the College negotiate the deal in good faith. “I expect the College to give us straight answers, they are giving us all the funding they have in mind and all the proposals they have made but where are they going? We do not trust the College to use the money wisely.”

ABUSD Trustee Sophia Tse spoke asked why the College did not try and compromise with the residents.

Cerritos resident Laura Asendorph spoke and was worried about the lighting and debris.

A petition was presented by Asendorph signed by over 200 residents against any commercial business being placed on the lot sighting activity, seven days a week for almost twelve hours a day.

She submitted a petition signed by residents who live west of Studebaker and South of 166th.

“The lighting will affect them when they go upstairs. I am not in favor of a commercial business on that lot.”

Former Cerritos Board Member Bob Arthur and Scott Smith, Executive Director of Cerritos Chamber of Commerce followed asking for the approval of the TUP.

Scott Smith, President and CEO of the Cerritos Regional Chamber spoke in favor on the project.

Smith said, “This project is a win-win-win. A win for the City, the College, and Norm Reeves Honda.”

Smith went on to talk about the tax revenue that makes the City great that comes from Norm Reeves.

He pointed out it was a win for the students also, providing scholarships.

Stating that transparency and a sound accounting of potential funds was needed, a motion was made by Council member Jim Edwards to approve the proposed TUP with revised conditions as listed by City Staff, seconded by Mayor Grace Hu.

The motion passed four to one with Councilman Solanki voting no.

Solanki told HMG-CN, “Dealers are not following rules we have currently on books. They are unloading vehicles on Studebaker Rd, the fountain is not working, and they are parking vehicles on Liberty parking and the State Farm building. I have also seen them test driving cars in my residential home area. They are getting 5% off electric bills and subsidies for parking, I want them to follow the rules.”

  • Car says:

    Weird sight. College parking full of new cars. World first. Let’s get more creative and rent out building at Cerritos College. Win win for everyone. Wins for student. They don’t need an education. Money first. Welcome to the real world.