Torrance Union Loses Zoning Bid on Hall Use
Neighbors of a north Torrance union hall complained about loud parties at the facility and persuaded the City Council Tuesday to deny a zoning change that would have permitted the union to rent out its hall for weddings and parties.
Richard Pikes said that the walls of the union hall “act like a man-made amphitheater that make normal speaking voices sound like an operetta.”
The center of the conflict is a large, single-story structure on West 182nd Street near Yukon Street that houses District 720 of the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
While zoning regulations prohibit parties or weddings at the hall, Pikes and other neighbors complained that they have suffered the litter, traffic and noise from such banned activities for several years.
Councilman Tim Mock, who lives a few blocks from the hall, said he has noted that wedding receptions taking place there on a regular basis. He said he was surprised to learn that zoning did not permit them.
Councilman Bill Applegate said that the zone change “would intrude upon the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood.” He said that several neighbors have complained to police about noise at the hall.
Union representatives admitted some problems with noise at the hall but denied they had violated zoning regulations. “What these people are telling you is untrue,” a union member told the council. “We don’t have parties.”
They added that if the zone change is approved, rental use of the facility would be closely supervised.
“Our primary interest in expanding the usage of our building is to provide a community service to our members as well as the community,” said Barbara Pawley, the union’s secretary-treasurer. “It is not a profit motivation.”
Pawley said that if the zoning is changed from restricted commercial district to solely commercial use, the union would be willing to restrict the hours that the hall is rented out and would screen the people who use it.
“We have shown an interest to work with the neighborhood,” she said.
Union representatives also reminded the council that the hall has regularly been used as a place for voting booths and federal distribution of surplus foods.
“The effort the union has made to provide facilities to charitable causes is commendable,” said Councilman George Nakano.
Residents were not so sympathetic.
Martha Nakashima who lives across the street from the hall, told the council that on several occasions she has been awakened by the sounds of shouts and breaking glass coming from the union hall. “It’s frightening and I don’t know what to do,” she said. “So I call the police.”
During an interview in front of the hall, Angelo La Ponza 23, who has lived next door for nine years, said: “It has gotten to the point where my mother has to wear earplugs to get to sleep.”
After listening to residents and union members for nearly an hour, the City Council voted unanimously to reject the zone change.