Torrance changes rules on businesses allowed downtown – Daily Breeze

City Council this week approved a change to Torrance’s zoning code that aims to streamline the activity review process and differentiate the types of uses allowed in the downtown district.

The update identified permitted activities and the type of review required by each particular use. It also eliminated the requirement for a special development permit, which all businesses operating in downtown Torrance currently must obtain and which many have called too onerous. The processing time for this permit usually takes about four weeks.

“It was a really good step forward to help streamline the process for companies being accepted as a company that won’t have to go through the SDP process,” said board member Sharon Kalani, whose district includes Old Torrance, in an interview after that. meeting of the week. “The idea behind downtown Torrance is meant to be a family walking area, so we want to keep that style present in this area.”.

Uses that will no longer be permitted in the city center in the future are gun shops, car rentals, car sales and rentals, gas stations, car washes with self-service mechanics, drive-thru restaurants, long-term care facilities, residential care facilities, drive-thru and drive-thru sales, check cashing, and drive-thru and drive-thru services, according to a report from the staff.

These types of businesses operating in the region will be able to continue to do so.

The decision to update the downtown zoning code was made after “a controversial company” came to town with a proposal in late 2022 to operate in downtown Torrance, said planning director Gregg Lodan. This has raised concern among some residents and frustration with the city’s lengthy review and appeal process.

Jack Brandhorst, the owner of Carson-based Red Rifle, Ltd, hoped to open a new storefront in downtown Torrance. He was first awarded the Torrance SDP in July, but the move sparked an uproar among a group of community members, who argued that downtown Torrance was not a suitable location for a store. of weapons.

The Planning Commission sided with the appellants in September and revoked the SDP of Brandhorst. The armory owner appealed the planning commission’s decision, but his latest attempt was rejected after the city council voted 6-1 in November to uphold the planning commission’s decision.

After this case, the council directed staff to review downtown zoning and incorporated specific land uses into the code. The move prompted an update to the area’s zoning code, Lodan said.

Uoutside’s attorney determined that banning the sale of guns in downtown Torrance would create no undue liability for the city, Lodan said, given that the area represents only less than 3% of all retail zones in the city, and that outside of Torrance, gun sales are permitted by law and don’t even require a zoning review, he said. declared.

“The Armory is welcome in the town of Torrance,” Kalani said, “just a bit outside of this area of ​​downtown Torrance.”

It’s unclear whether the land use change would result in additional revenue for the city, said community development director Michelle Ramirez.

“In terms of any increase in revenue,” she said, “it would be difficult for us to predict, to know what businesses would go there.

“We hope this will allow other companies to move in there at a faster pace, however,” she added at the board meeting on Tuesday, May 23, “since some of them will now be authorized by law and no longer have to go through the special planning permit.

The new changes are expected to come into effect 30 days after board approval on Tuesday.

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