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Lawndale ‘Anti-Business,’ Chamber Group Charges

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Lawndale Chamber of Commerce officials did not have to look far for an example of what they consider to be an “anti-business” attitude by three members of the Lawndale City Council.

At Thursday’s council meeting where Councilmen Harold E. Hofmann, Larry Rudolph and Dan McKenzie cut chamber funding, the three councilmen also denied permission for a popular ethnic restaurant to expand because it has 112 parking spaces instead of the 154 required. Enrique Coello, who left his medical practice in Peru to become an American citizen, owns the family-operated El Sol Peruvian restaurant.

In an emotional statement in Spanish, translated into English by an interpreter, he said that without knowing the city’s parking regulations he signed a 10-year lease to expand his restaurant at 15651 Hawthorne Blvd.

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Coello said he did not suspect a problem because the shopping center where the restaurant is has several vacant storefronts, and the parking lot is usually only two-thirds full.

Mayor Sarann Kruse and Councilwoman Carol Norman were willing to make allowances for the restaurant, because parking is in good supply. Also, they argued, the restaurant attracts most of its customers at night, when the other businesses are closed. But Hofmann, Rudolph and McKenzie said the city’s parking regulations should be obeyed to the letter or changed for everyone.

Some members of the Coello family left the council chambers in tears, and Coello said he will have to close down the restaurant because he cannot afford to pay the lease without expanding the business.

“It is an unfortunate situation where members of the council are so anti-business that they are taking the livelihood of this community--the retail businesses--and forcing them out of the city of Lawndale,” said chamber President Mel Greenstein.

Kruse commiserated with Coello family members, and said the city needs to foster its business community, which provides sales and business license taxes that pay for city services.

“Businesses are moving out of this city faster than we’re bringing them in,” she said.

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