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County supervisors pass emergency zoning rules
November 21, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

County supervisors yesterday imposed an emergency set of zoning guidelines to regulate a North Fair Oaks catering company that has rankled neighbors who say its success has crimped their quality of life because of its noise, odors and employees who park on residential streets.

The 45-day urgency ordinance gives county staff time to continue studying the issues and the teeth to enforce the restrictions if necessary, said Community Development Director Jim Eggemeyer.

Eggemeyer also gave the Board of Supervisors a heads up yesterday that in December he already plans to seek a 10-month, 15-day extension of the ordinance specific to the parcel at 3821 Fair Oaks Ave. housing Bay Area Catering and Events since 2011. The company complied with county regulations for appropriate use when first applying for permits in January 2011 but its growth brought complaints about its lime-green trucks and building, the early and late hours of operation and other possible risks to the neighborhood, Eggemeyer said.

"With the success — and according to the neighbors — it has negatively impacted the community,” Eggemeyer said.

No representatives from Bay Area Catering and Events attended Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ hearing on the urgency ordinance.

But property owner Jaime Gonzalez told the board it should not amend the zoning based on neighbor complaints rather than actual studies of noise, pollutants or other environmental impacts.

"There are tons of complaints. None of them have any validity,” Gonzalez said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Gonzalez said neighbors knew they were moving near a commercial property with the risk of noise and other possible irritants. However, he also said he’s willing to work with the community and emphasized that the catering company is not deliberately trying to skirt any issues.

"I understand the codes are very vague but everyone went into this with great intentions,” Gonzalez said.

But neighbors who also spoke urged the board to act, citing workers who loiter on breaks outside, trucks that speed down narrow streets and garbage.

The performance standards immediately put in place copy those already required of businesses in other portions of North Fair Oaks to limit noise, odor, vibration, loitering, lighting and trash enclosures, Eggemeyer said.

Operating hours will be from  6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Exterior noise is prohibited at other times and odors and pollutants can’t extend beyond the site’s limits.

Eggemeyer said he, Deputy County Manager Peggy Jensen and mediators from the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center met with the business owners to try voluntarily easing the neighborhood concerns but that implementing standards on commercial activities is required.  

The business did make some changes such as painting the building a more neutral color and asking employees to park at the Atherton train station for shuttling to the site, Eggemeyer said.

The company also plans to move its primary operation to Redwood City but the shift will take a minimum of four to six months for the building and planning process, he said.

Supervisor Don Horsley, who represents the district where the company will relocate, said it has learned its lesson and is now doing a lot of outreach to Redwood City neighbors.

"But if big lime green trucks are in Emerald Hills, Redwood City is going to hear the same problems,” Horsley said.

If the board agrees to the suggested extension, it can also add one extra year. Each extension requires a four-fifths vote.


Michelle Durand can be reached by email: michelle@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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