Encinitas kennel owner appeal denied

ENCINITAS — The Planning Commission voted Jan. 15 to deny the appeal of a kennel owner while agreeing with staff that two of the canopies used to house animals amounted to a structural alteration.
Jennifer Perkins, owner of the Holiday Pet Hotel, disagreed with the findings of planning and building staff that in order to keep the canopies in place she would have to apply for a design review permit.
After a complaint was lodged with the city’s code enforcement office March 29, 2007, officials contacted Perkins. “”We’ve been in contact with the owner through letters and phone calls ever since,” Joan Kling, a code enforcement officer, said.
Patrick Murphy, director of planning and building, said that the code section at issue was adopted in 1989. “We based our decision on the definition of structural alteration and determined that the owner was in violation of the code,” he said. Murphy also said that there was a question of an intensification of use at the business. The code is relevant because of the kennel’s location in a residential neighborhood. “If this were in a commercial zone it would be different,” Murphy said.
Perkins blames her neighbor Mayor Maggie Houlihan for her current troubles. “I’ve never had a complaint from the neighbors until she started the inquiry,” Perkins said. “I think there is a lot of corruption at the city.”
However, staff reports indicate that the normal process of review was followed. Houlihan declined to comment beyond denying that she had anything to do with the complaint because of the possibility that the appeal would come before City Council.
The kennel houses approximately 190 cats and dogs according to Perkins, who has owned the business on Union Street for 33 years. When asked if her business had expanded, Perkins said she preferred the word “grown.” “We take care of more animals than we did 30 years ago but we haven’t expanded to do so,” she said. “We just filled up the existing kennels.”
Murphy said his department focused on the canopies rather than the expansion. “Intensity of use is tied to a structural alteration,” he said.
The 3-2 vote leaves Perkins with three choices according to Murphy. “She can either take down the canopies, appeal the decision to the City Council or go through the design review process for approval,” he said.
Perkins said she hasn’t made a decision on what to do in response to the commission’s decision. “I picked up the design review application, but I’m considering all of my options over the next week,” she said.

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  1. Leucadian says:

    To me the issue seems to be whether or not a canopy is a structure, or using pre-existing space by covering it with a canopy is an “intensification.” This area is quite near the freeway, and there were pre-existing commercial uses. Because there are seasonally more dogs being boarded there now does not seem like an intensification of structural use, to me.

    I feel our City does single out certain individuals or businesses based on one or two people’s complaints If the use pre-existed the incorporation, then adding canopies to allow use of the structures that already exist, seems quite reasonable to me. Too often a few individuals use Code Enforcement as a tool to subject people whom they are having a conflict with to huge, harassing ordeals of bureaucracy and red tape all because of typical neighborhood disputes.

    People moving into a neighborhood with a pre-existing commercial use should be understanding of that and not try to drive the business owners away with frivolous complaints.

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