Public Comment

Open Letter to Councilmember Worthington opposing Honda project

Jeffrey J. Carter, attorney at law
Friday February 24, 2017 - 03:13:00 PM

I am writing to you to express my disappointment in your opposition to the neighborhood appeal of the ZAB decision approving the relocated dealership proposal of the Honda dealer. I have had an opportunity to review your comments from the most recent council meeting in which you provide reasons for your opposition, which from my perspective, appear to be unsupported by the facts and the law. 

A well-founded rule of statutory construction mandates that if the language of an enacted ordinance or statute is clear, then one may not look to the debate surrounding its adoption for guidance in its interpretation. While the 2013 ordinance, No. 7,304-NS amended the zoning ordinance to permit auto sales in the C-SA district, including certain ancillary operations such as repairs, the amendment did not alter the definition of “ancillary use” within Section 23.04.010 of the zoning ordinance which is applicable to the entire zoning ordinance.  

ANCILLARY USE: A use that is both dependent on and commonly associated with the principal permitted use of a lot and/or building and that does not result in different or greater impacts than the principal use.  

The highlighted clause within the zoning ordinance definition of ancillary use is crucial in the case of the Honda dealership use permit appeal because the addition of the repair facility has been clearly shown to have a demonstrably different and greater impact than the principal use as an automobile sales facility on the surrounding neighborhood.  

The debate is not as to whether the repair shop use is incidental or ancillary to the auto sales use, but rather whether the ancillary repair use will result in a “different or greater impact” than simply an auto salesroom, which it obviously will have. The 2013 amendment does not give carte blanche to an automobile dealership to engage in ancillary activities that “result in different or greater impacts than the principal use.” 

Furthermore, and contrary to what you seem to suggest in your statements to the council, the amount of time Honda may have spent in attempting to relocate or comply with the laws of the city are simply not germane or proper with respect to the area of inquiry of the city council in this matter. While the alleged difficulties experienced by Honda may generate sympathy, such sympathy may not serve as the basis for a decision one way or the other. The decision of the city council must rest on the facts, law and procedure as established by the ordinance. And major consideration must be given to the compatibility of the character of the use with the adjacent residential neighborhoods, and particularly to whether the use will generate “traffic or parking demand significantly beyond the capacity of the Commercial District or significantly increase impacts on adjacent residential neighborhoods.” BMC, Chapter 23E.56.090B.3. and 4. 

The city council, as you are aware, has the authority, based on its consideration of the hearing and record, to “reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or modify any decision, determination, condition or requirement of the Board’s original action...” BMC, Chapter 23B.32.060D.2. I believe that the facts and law fully support the appeal of the hundreds of neighbors, on behalf of themselves and the community generally, and urge you to join with council members Hahn, Bartlett, Davila and Mayor Arreguin in reversing the ZAB decision.