The City Council this week decided to allow the new owner of the Masonic Temple to operate a banquet hall despite inadequate parking on the property.
The council, voting 3 to 2, reversed a Planning Commission decision that had denied Benjamin Kim, owner of the 76-year-old temple on Harbor Boulevard, permission to operate without adequate parking. The commission favored the construction of a parking structure east of the Angelo and Vinci's Restaurant for Kim's customers, officials said.
Councilmen Don Bankhead and Peter Godfrey also favored a parking structure and cast the dissenting votes in the motion to overturn the Planning Commission's decision.
"If you build it, they will come," Bankhead said. "The time has come. . . . The need for parking in that area is now."
There are only nine parking spaces on Kim's property, which is being rehabilitated. Kim plans to operate a store and provide banquet facilities for receptions, assemblies and community gatherings when the rehabilitation is complete in June.
"I have been struggling with a parking problem," Kim said. "I don't want to create any inconvenience, but I don't think it's a good idea to build a parking structure at this time."
Kim presented the council with a petition signed by neighboring property owners who urged the city to find a solution to the downtown area's parking problems.
Steven Peck, owner of Angelo and Vinci's Restaurant, said he favored a parking structure because he foresees parking problems.