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Mercado El Rey May Go 'Adios'

A judge has ruled the San Juan Capistrano City Council erred in allowing a Latino-goods market to open as-is. An appellate court is now reviewing the matter.

The City Council may reverse its decision to allow a new and now-popular mercado to operate.

Back in September 2011 and despite many objections, the San Juan Capistrano City Council green-lighted the permit for Mercado El Rey in the spot of the former Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.

Dan Friess, whose Friess Property Investment is the landlord for some 20 tenants in four nearby buildings, sued to get the council’s decision overturned. He prevailed in January. His primary concern is that the city did not force the latiino-goods market to provide sufficient parking.

“It appears to this court that in granting the permit to the Mercado, the city has failed to perform an act that the law required,” Judge Larry Brown wrote on Feb. 4, ordering the city to vacate its earlier decision.

The judge gave the city until April 8 to comply, but the mercado’s owner and owner have both tried to stop the revocation by forcing a trial.

Friees said they were unsuccessful in a recent hearing, so they are now taking the matter to a state appellate court.

For him and his tenants, the store, open since December 2011, has caused nothing but trouble, Friess said.

‘I’m frustrated. I feel like a hapless victim,” he said.

Mercado El Rey has 12 parking spots when there can be as many as nine employees working, he said. Delivery trucks block driveways and parking spaces of his tenants. He has a traffic enforcement deputy on speed dial.

Friess believes most of the problems can be resolved if the city forces the store to get rid of a carport-turned-inside-space that the thrift store first built. It covers six parking spaces.

“It’s become a full-blown retail space,” he said.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto in San Juan Capistrano.

rachel o April 16, 2013 at 12:54 AM
So who in the Planning Department approved this mess? Dan Friess begged the City to not go through with this because of all the problems that it would present. Why would the city approve something where there is barely enough parking for the employees? Even my twelve year old could have told you that would not work. Will Dan Friess be reimbursed by the city for his legal expenses as he is the prevailing party.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) April 16, 2013 at 01:41 AM
The Planning Commission had denied it. The City Council over-ruled by a 3-1 vote, Councilman Derek Reeve being the one and Laura Freese abstaining over some conflict of interest. This was just two months before I started covering the council, so I can't give you first-hand recollections.
Dusty W Otero April 16, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Organize this problem,there is money being made here,a paying tenet,paying his taxes,and good for mostly our latino community,,we need a market too..this is great spot,,please get organised ,,delivery time,and parking looks very respectable when I am parking there,,vons,and Ralphs does not catering to this culture,like this marketa does,,,and this is a spanish Mission town,thats what people move here for....
JessC April 16, 2013 at 02:54 AM
@rachel o - Planning Department AKA: Grant Taylor & Company. I am willing to bet you will find their fingerprints all over the plans! So much for "planning." I was at some of the meetings where Mr. Friess urged the Council to not approve the Mercado plans. So, here we are today . . . another lawsuit on our hands and no money to pay for it. Yep, the lawyers will again! @Dusty - My family moved to SJC more than two decades ago for the "small community" feel, which sadly is going by the wayside these days. As for Mr. Freiss, good for him for standing up to the City Council.
rachel o April 16, 2013 at 03:03 AM
So let me understand this, Council Member Derek Reeve voted correctly on this. His lone vote against this was factually correct, and the court agreed with his vote. Maybe those good ol boys can learn something from this. I still wonder how much the thickheadedness of these people cost the city.
rachel o April 16, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Taylor just needs to go. How many lawsuits has our city lost because of his repeated bad decisions?
Carol April 16, 2013 at 03:45 AM
Leave The Mercado alone or find a more acceptable place for them to go - don't worry, their loyal customers will follow them.....The Mercado may be the next entity to get in line to sue the city
Whophantom April 16, 2013 at 01:44 PM
How come the "employees" don't find another location to park their vehicles?
jody anderson April 16, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I love this market, I hate what our city is becoming....traffic, lose the dinosaur, unfinished projects everywhere. Spend some of your government time doing something good for our city. My gosh!
Clint Worthington April 16, 2013 at 03:25 PM
The court has already ruled against the store being there.
Frank E. April 16, 2013 at 05:06 PM
There simply isn't enough information in the article to state where to place blame---if any. Where did the City "fail to perform an act that the law required". Error on the part of staff, Planning Commission or City Council? Rachel O., lets not jump the gun.
Rodney King April 16, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Can't we all just get along?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) April 16, 2013 at 06:32 PM
The staff report is not very detailed. It says this: Friess lastly contended that the property had deficient parking for the market. Here the court agreed. The court found there was insufficient evidence that prior permits granted to the property allowed for a reduction of parking spaces. As a result, Mercado could not rely on legal nonconforming parking from the prior use.
Kathi Eggers April 16, 2013 at 08:24 PM
I love this market & shop there often. The fruit and veggies are fresh and superior to the other markets. Meats are delicious! The parking is adaquate shoppers are in and out. I'm hopng they expand. What's up with the ciy council? Can't they let someone other than the heavy hitters be successful??
Clint Worthington April 17, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Can't we have a Planning Department that knows what they are doing?
Dusty W Otero April 17, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Oh wow you have lived here 20 years,,My family has been here for over 200 years,I know what u mean Jess c...I grew up working on the farms,and our own well water and no sewer,,,sometimes taking a cold shower,,,so I don't mind the change,,,that will being going onj for the next 20 years more,,,Good luck to your small town feel,,oh and it was us Spanish,Mexican Italians,Native Americans who founded this town,,mostly Mexicans,,so a Marketa is much needed...before you white people showed up,,,..
Smokey Bear April 17, 2013 at 03:46 PM
They are going to close a mans successful & appreciated business due to lack of parking?!! That isnl rediculous!!! Lets close down all small town groceries & biz's? That is messed up, let me see, whete else is it trouble to find a parking place? Cant they park on the street or the parking structure? Dont ruin a man over something so silly!!
Penny Arévalo (Editor) April 17, 2013 at 03:50 PM
It's the standing decision from a court (unless the state appellate court overrules it). Apparently, the court took a long time deciding, hoping the sides would come to an agreement. It didn't happen.
Kelley April 17, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Just one more example of our City becoming more and more anti business. It's very sad.

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