The Van Ness Auto Repair controversy involves six issues:
- History. Fresno is lucky to have the second-oldest working station in the United States and oldest in the state of California.
- Culture. This is an example of early car culture expressed in gas station and garage architecture.
- NIMBY. Complaints from nearby residents of 25 and 11 years concerning business operations have merit and must be addressed, but arguments based on "not in my backyard" do not. Automobile repair has been in the neighborhood since the 1920s. No one forced them to buy a house near it.
- Smarter law. Fresno should first levy fines for code violations, not use a draconian off/on toggle switch simply shutting down Jim Medina's business.
- Future plans. If Van Ness Auto Repair is shuttered, what happens to the site?
- Jobs. Closing the garage will put five people out of work at a time when the local economy is suffering.
Actions taken by the City Planning Commission on this matter could attract national attention. Punishing successful business where form and function, history, culture and commerce all converge will burnish Fresno's somewhat deserved reputation as America's Dumbest City.
Edward C. Lanfranco
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