Bijan Radnia couldn’t be in a stickier situation.
According to Whittier Daily News reporter Mike Sprague, the businessman bought a historic station on Hadley Street in Uptown for $1.2 million in January 2005.
Only problem is, Whittier’s zoning codes prohibit gas stations there. And because the property doesn’t have enough space for parking spots, it really can’t be developed into anything else.
“He is in a unique situation,” said Jeff Collier, director of Community Development for Whittier. “It doesn’t comply with the Uptown Specific Plan. It’s not a downtown use.”
Assistant City Manager Nancy Mendez said Radnia could reduce the size of his building to lessen the need for parking and get more spaces.
But Radnia says structurally that wouldn’t work.
“You can’t take part of it down,” he said. “It would be less expensive to demolish it and build a new one.”
But why do that when the building is in good shape, he said.
You’re probably wondering how the gas station was ever built there in the first place.
Apparently, it started out as a tire store in 1927 and then turned into a gas station in the 1940s. The previous owner said it was “existing, non-conforming” when he took it over.
According to Sprague, “Once the station sat vacant for six months, that use was considered abandoned and couldn’t be reinstated…”
We’ve seen issues similar to this in other cities. In Rosemead, Chinese American Live Poultry has been operating against city codes for almost 20 years.
Kind of makes you wonder what the codes are there for in the first place. Of course, there is always the argument of grandfathering in uses….