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Residents plan to take case against Hinojosa to council

June 27, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Two residents here, David Gastelum and Maria Terrazas, plan to address the City Council next week to again complain about recent decisions made by city Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa and about Hinojosa himself.

The two already have gone before the council in public session, with Terrazas taking her case before the Planning Commission as well, to complain of what they called Hinojosa's rude and disrespectful behavior and his recent rulings regarding their property.

Gastelum's problem with Hinojosa started about seven weeks ago when he brought in plans to build a porch in the back yard of his Margarita Street home. He says the Building Department OK'd his plans.

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Hinojosa, however, who must sign off on plans before the Building Department can issue a permit, told Gastelum he could not build his porch as close to his property line as Gastelum had planned. Hinojosa said the porch had to be 10 feet from the property line, but Gastelum said city codes said it could be as close as five feet.

Gastelum came before the City Council last week to explain why he should be allowed to build within five feet.

Councilman David Ouzan backed up Gastelum and said Calexico residents should be allowed to build big porches to create some shade from the Imperial Valley's heat.

Gastelum also isn't happy with how he was treated when he went to City Hall to explain his interpretation of the city codes.

"He was rude, condescending, he didn't want to listen to me explain about the city codes, he was really blunt and he raised his voice at me," Gastelum said Wednesday.

In response to Gastelum's concerns, Mayor John Renison and City Councilman Alex Perrone told City Manager Richard Inman to meet with Hinojosa. Perrone said all Calexico residents should be treated with respect.

Hinojosa apologized to Gastelum if he came across as rude. He said that was not how he conducted business.

Next week Gastelum is going to go before the council and ask it to make a ruling on the five-foot or 10-foot issue.

"I want them to take a stance. I expect them to do that for the other citizens," he said.

Earlier this week, according to Gastelum, Hinojosa said he would allow him to build his porch within seven feet of the line.

That ruling doesn't make any sense to Gastelum, even though he admits two feet isn't a big deal. It's the principle of the thing now, he said.

Gastelum accuses Hinojosa of being on a "power trip" for coming up with the seven-foot "compromise" but he did note Hinojosa was "really courteous" the second time he went to see him.

Maria Terrazas, meanwhile, is upset with Hinojosa for an incident in City Hall.

She told the Planning Commission on Monday that the city won't give her a business license so she can operate a self-serve vehicle parking lot on her family's 10 acres on Cole Road, across from the shuttered Calexico Tissue plant.

She has been told by city staffers that she can't get a license until she makes off-site improvements to her property.

Terrazas doesn't think the family should have to pay the $50,000 or so to put in the improvements, including sidewalks and curbs and gutters, because Hinojosa made a deal with the former owner allowing him to use the property without making improvements on the land.

Hinojosa concedes he made a mistake in that situation that he would not make again. He said the improvements were deferred to the people who bought the property, who turned out to be the Terrazas family.

Maria Terrazas told the Planning Commission she is not happy about being on the hook for improvements the previous owner did not have to pay for. She said the city should pay for the improvements and that Hinojosa was "rude and disrespectful" when she went to City Hall to confront him. She is planning to reiterate her claims Tuesday.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

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