The Poway City Council granted permission in a 4-1 decision at a meeting May 3 to allow a new auto body center to set up shop in the business park, located in the south of the city.
Representatives from other Poway repair shops opposed granting Chrome Collision Auto Body Repair a permit to open up at 13175 Gregg Street, saying a repair shop there gives an unfair advantage and that they had been told they couldn’t run their businesses in that area.
Competition among auto body repair shops had been a controversial at City Council meetings before. An August deal to relocate Toyota of Poway across the street on Poway Road included an auto body repair shop.
That plan allows the dealership to use city-owned land rent free as long as it generates at least $3 million in revenue over the term of a 15-year lease. Auto body representatives at those hearings said that was an unfair government subsidy.
Several council members pointed out that this was different, as the city was not subsidizing Chrome Collision.
City officials said using property in the business park for auto body repairs is allowed as long as vehicles are stored and repairs are done indoors, which Councilman John Mullin noted could increase costs for the shop.
Councilman Jim Cunningham, who ultimately opposed granting the permit, wanted the city to look into whether other such shops had been denied permission to open shops in the business park. That desire failed to gain support on the dais.
Some council members, including Dave Grosch and Cunningham, worried that the the shop would be inconsistent with the character Poway wants for the business park, noting that large technological firms would be more desirable. Mayor Don Higginson said the use conformed to city regulations and that Poway needed to conform with the demands of the market to avoid leaving lots vacant.