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By Kristina Pritchett

Tom Volkmann, owner of Dana Point Foreign Car Service and member of the Dana Point Town Center Subcommittee, received a violation notice over the summer saying he was violating his conditional use permit and the Dana Point Municipal code.

Now, the local business owner is being asked to cease operations after more than 30 years of serving the city unless he remediates what the city claims are violations. However, it’s a catch-22 for Volkmann—the city wants him to stop repairing cars on the property, so if he complies with the order, he’ll own a car repair business that can’t repair cars.

Dana Point Foreign Car Service has been open since 1964 and originally received a conditional use permit from the county. When Dana Point officially became a city, Volkmann said the permit was “grandfathered” in.

Volkmann said on few occasions since 2002, the city has told him the business was not conforming to the permit, but he said the city has always worked with him to solve the issue. Now, Volkmann said they didn’t inform him of new issues, but sent him a letter that said he needs to cease auto repair work outside the facility within 30 days, and cease all auto repair work on the property within 90 days.

“If they had just come in and said, ‘Tom, we have issues, you’re not conforming,’ then we would have worked with them,” Volkmann said. “They basically started at the other end with a threatening letter. That’s not the way a community normally operates.”

Tom Volkmann works on customer’s cars at his Del Prado business. Photo: Kristina Pritchett
Tom Volkmann works on customer’s cars at his Del Prado business. Photo: Kristina Pritchett

He added that previously, about a decade ago, the city told him he was not conforming and gave him a list of things he needed to fix.

“We did that, and they were fine with what we were offering,” Volkmann said.

The attorney’s letter from the city said Volkmann has not taken the necessary action to bring the business into compliance, and has chosen “to ignore the city’s efforts.” It stated after the county approved of the permit, Volkmann had to be limited to minor repair work and perform that work within the interior of the shop.

Volkmann said he believes a complaint was made from a nearby residence, but could not confirm anything. He also said the loudest thing in his shop is the radio, and that he disposes of auto fluids efficiently.

City Manager Doug Chotkevys previously said “the code enforcement case initiated many years ago as a result of neighborhood complaints.”

City Attorney Patrick Muñoz said the city declined to comment on anything further.

Next to Volkmann’s shop is Bill Sandberg’s Dana Point Hardware, another small business that has been in the community for years. He said what’s happening with Volkmann is worrisome.

“I think it’s a trend that the city is going to continue on. They didn’t want Tom here or this type of business. I think they’re working their way along; they don’t want laundromats, they don’t want dry cleaners, and they don’t want this because it isn’t a Palm Springs shopping area,” Sandberg said.

Many customers have voiced concerns over Volkmann potentially closing up shop.

“It’s nice to go somewhere you trust; it’s a trust kind of city,” said Norris Lozano, a Capistrano Beach resident. “I hate to see these good local businesses kicked out so the lot can be power washed and put something new in. I hope they don’t do that to him.”

Currently Volkmann is working with an attorney to delay the closing for as long as possible.

“We support five families,” Volkmann said. “All of my employees have been here for years.”

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (5)

  • I’ve known & had done business with Tom since 1987. He is a stalwart of the community, an honest business man running an honest business. This is nothing but a land grab perpetrated by developers and council members who are in their pocket. I dare the resident or residents who complained to show their face. They are not Dana Pointers!

  • It’s sad, but not really surprising when local government follows in the footsteps of the state and federal goliaths. The fact that the city did not approach Tom with a list of concerns shows that they are no longer operating in good faith. They have not the courage of their convictions, they have to resort to underhandedness. The will of the community be damned, we know better than you what this town needs. That is the arrogance of government.

  • As a small city like Dana Point, we should be supporting good long standing businesses. Forcing out businesses that create jobs is wrong. There are plenty of other real issues that need addressing. Like the crime level increases, the homeless, parking, excessive burglaries in our area. Let’s rain on their parade and promote people providing a service and paying taxes at least allow them to do business as they have for thirty years.

  • What a shame ! BS!! trying to shut a business down after all these years ! all the sudden they do not want him anymore because its a little dirty or some crap like that , what a joke !!! Fight em with all you got sue them !!!!

  • Another example of turning Dana Point into Santa Monica. Leave him alone and clean up your own house!!

    Serf City
    Welcome to the Kingdom of Dana Point
    If you remember your history classes, you might recall Feudalism in the Middle Ages in Europe.
    Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land, and in return were entitled to protection, justice and the right to exploit certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Serfs were often required not only to work on the lord’s fields, but also his mines, forests and roads. The manor formed the basic unit of feudal society, and the lord of the manor and his serfs were bound legally, economically, and socially. Serfs formed the lowest social class of feudal society. (Wikipedia)
    In Dana Point the Residents are the Serfs. In Dana Point the King is the City Manager. In Dana Point the Lords of the Manor are the City Council.
    Hopefully, the message of H will resonate in City Hall and the serfs will be heard.

comments (5)

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