A public hearing will be held June 28 on a cleaning-solvent factory owner's appeal to turn a vacant, 1.75-acre parcel into a 25-space parking lot for employees.
Bob Rosenbaum, president of Mission Kleensweep Products Inc., said a parking lot at 2428 Birkdale St. would benefit the neighborhood by reducing the number of vehicles parked on streets.
"It's simply the right thing to do," Rosenbaum said. "We're not expanding."
But that's exactly what a group of residents fear most about Mission Kleensweep, which manufactures detergents, hand soaps and cleaners for commercial use.
About 100 residents banded together in March to oppose Rosenbaum's first bid for a conditional-use permit for the lot. The property, which used to be a two-unit house, is zoned for single-family homes only.
Residents' complaints about early morning truck traffic and foul-smelling and possibly hazardous chemicals emitting from the firm persuaded a zoning administrator to reject the owner's request.
Now that Rosenbaum is seeking to overturn that decision through the city's five-member Board of Zoning Appeals, the community is gearing up for another battle.
"We'll be down there (at the hearing) like we were before," said Virginia Adams, co-president of the Elysian Valley Property Owners, Renters & Businessmen's Assn.
Adams said an employee parking lot would only create additional space on public streets for large trucks. Rosenbaum uses the trucks to deliver cargo.
The association has since collected more than 700 signatures against Rosenbaum's project. "He's not a good neighbor, regardless of what he says," Adams said.
Association members are also planning to keep a close eye on the company's truck traffic and manufacturing processes. Residents hope the complaints will help lay the groundwork for a civil suit against the company.
Rosenbaum said he hopes the zoning appeals board will recognize his efforts in resolving the community's concerns.
He has scaled back all truck deliveries to no earlier than 6:30 a.m. and is replacing an old sawdust-sweeping machine, which had allowed small chips of wood to be blown throughout the neighborhood on windy days.
An air-filtration system should also be installed by the end of this month to mitigate odor problems, Rosenbaum said.
"I'm going at a fever pitch to correct the three or four things that the neighbors had been complaining about," he said. "I always care to be a good, corporate citizen and a good neighbor."
Residents as well as Los Angeles Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg are regarding Rosenbaum's actions cautiously.
"It's yet to be seen if the measures he is taking will result in an improvement," said David Hershey-Webb, a member of Goldberg's staff. "The fact that he's willing to take measures to improve relations with the community is a good sign."
Rosenbaum, who bought the 1.75-acre property early last year, has yet to decide whether to bring the matter to the City Council should he lose his bid again.
"It's a terrible thought--to have to fight for something which I think is a positive."