Community members are rallying around a Pasadena shop owner who says the city targeted him with an aggressive code enforcement campaign.
Andy’s Auto Center, a used car lot that specializes in classic car repair, has operated along the city’s historic corridor for over 25 years — until December, when owner Andy Janiec received a 30-day eviction notice.
Janiec was supposed to be off the property by Jan.?19, but said it was impossible to move nearly 200 cars and his machinery in 30 days.
The eviction notice came shortly after the city issued 35 code enforcement citations totaling $54,000 to Janiec and property owner George Dye between March and December?2015.
Since word of Janiec’s eviction reached the community, residents and local business owners have begun to speak out against the city.
“This whole thing, it’s not about the violations, it’s not about the cars — it’s about getting the property for redevelopment, it’s that simple,” Azusa resident and longtime friend Jonathan Romuzga said.
Former Glendora resident Sonia Martin said the city ran her husband’s small business out of town in a similar fashion.
“Code enforcement went above and beyond, and even went so far as to switch the date in pictures that ‘proved’ why they gave him a ticket on a certain day,” she said.
Many residents and Janiec believe the city is trying to force him out because it has plans to redevelop the site.
Over the past year, the city has been working to revamp its Route?66 Specific Plan, a document that defines what types of development are allowed on Route 66. The proposed revisions include rezoning parts of Route?66 to incentivize development and revitalize the sleepy “bedroom community.”
In a staff report from May 2015, planners identified the property as “underutilized,” and said it planned to hire a real estate consultant to assess the economics and probability of new commercial investment occurring over the next decade.
City Manager Chris Jeffers denied any relation between the code enforcement citations and the city’s Route 66 plan recommendations.
“This is simply a code enforcement issue,” he said. “We’ve explained to him and the property owner we just want compliance.”
Janiec believes otherwise.
Janiec says he moved 51 cars off the property in 2013, about four or five months after the city sent a letter asking him to reduce the number of cars by 15 percent.
He said he submitted a document to the city identifying the vehicles and dates removed before the citations started coming in.
Jeffers said he has never seen that document. Officials in code enforcement also could not confirm the document either.
“They are doing everything they can to remove me from the city,” Janiec said.
After having lost his home in the 2014 Colby Fire, Janiec said he is doing all he can to save his business, including trying to work out a deal with his landlord while simultaneously battling the citations in court.
We would like to thank The Pasadena Star-News for reprint permission.