By Kristina Pritchett

Thomas Volkmann, owner of Dana Point Foreign Car Service, recently filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the city violated his rights.

According to the lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court on April 14, the city “unlawfully coerced” Volkmann into executing an agreement to close the auto repair operations on the property to avoid criminal sanctions threatened by the city. It said any such agreement was under duress and was induced by the city’s unlawful conduct.

The court documents said during the construction along Del Prado, direct access to Volkmann’s business was removed, which “was unreasonable and substantial” because it eliminated direct access to an abutting street and left the property with only a non-conforming entry point from a rear alleyway.

The document continues to say the city’s conduct in removing the direct access rights constitutes damaging of the plaintiff’s property and business rights.

In 1958 the original owner received approval for a use variance permit. In 1969 when that owner applied for another permit to expand the business, the Board of Supervisors issued a resolution with conditions.

According to the document, the original owner never expanded and never used that permit, which then expired and became void as a matter of law one year after its issuance. And because it was void, the permit’s conditions had no effect; therefore Volkmann could not be forced to close his business or to comply with the conditions of the permit.

In August 2015, the city said Volkmann failed to comply with a permit that expired and was void. In October 2016, Volkmann signed an agreement to close the business no later than Aug. 31, 2017.

The lawsuit said that at the time of the agreement, Volkmann was unaware of the inaccuracies of the city’s claims. He entered into the agreement under duress and unlawful threats of criminal prosecution by the city.

According to the lawsuit, Volkmann is asking for damages for litigation expenses, for costs of suit incurred and for other relief the court deems appropriate.

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comments (4)

  • This is concerning. Another lawsuit for Dana Point! Seems like this business owner has a legitimate complaint. Let’s hope it can be settled quickly.

  • Muller probably doesn’t want an auto shop next to his property right next store.

    The took away the drive way to his business . The city council is supposed to be pro biz. Well I guess they are if you are the right kind of biz. Like a developer, a resort hotel , property management or a support biz to one of those.

    This has a smell to it .

  • I agree with Larry Vetter’s opinion in regard to the city’s unfair treatment of a locally owned and operated business Dana Point Foreign Car Service. Tom, the owner, is a reputable business man, is fair and treats his customers right! He kept my 17 year old Mazda running smoothly and at a fair price.

    Also, the last sentence of the last paragraph of Mr. Vetter’s opinion, I believe, contains a typographical error. The word “not” should have been included in “Please take note of the most recent election in Dana Point that dealt with Propositions I and H in which the citizens overwhelming voted to retain the “hometown” flavor that enticed many people to take up residence in an ocean community that did “NOT” match the hustle and bustle of Newport or Manhattan Beach.”

    I moved to Dana Point four years ago and I love the small town laid back atmosphere, so please don’t turn us into another touristy-driven Laguna Beach or Zooport (as Newport Beach is known)! Keep our small locally owned businesses alive and prosperous! I hope Tom Volkman prevails in the lawsuit with the city!

comments (4)

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