The city of San Mateo is backing off enforcement of auto shop vehicle lifts and temporarily not issuing any new permits, saying it would rather find solutions with businesses who were hit with costly violations in recent weeks during inspections for other public nuisance problems.
“We understand this came as a surprise to many in the auto shop community and we are aware of and sensitive to the concerns which have been expressed by the business owners,” City Manager Susan Loftus wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to the shops.
While the auto lift code enforcement is on hold, Loftus said other unrelated violation such as parking, car repair on the streets and garbage must still be fixed.
The letter was a relief to Joseph Boyd of Metric-tech on South Claremont Street.
“They approached the whole situation wrong. They should have come to us first about problems with parking and people working on the street but they didn’t. That totally blew my mind when they did that,” Boyd said.
Boyd’s shop and more than a dozen others located in the area of South Claremont Street and South Railroad Avenue met with City Attorney Shawn Mason earlier to say they were unfairly singled out for an array of code enforcement issues, including vehicle lifts.
Warning letters said the owners could be hit with a $2,000 administrative fee plus daily civil penalties if the owners did not comply by a certain date.
Boyd, with 18 years in the industry, said needing a special permit for lifts was news to him and the others. He felt the city was looking for anything on which to knock the repair shops and added a number of his customers also found the situation concerning.
The city began notifying and inspecting businesses after receiving complains about “particularly excessive” double parking, repair work on the street, visible garbage and lingering graffiti, according to Loftus’ letter.
In her letter, Loftus told owners no new warning letters will be issued for lifts without permits during this time and any letters received should be ignored until further notice.
The city will contact the owners no sooner than early 2013 about next steps.