PASADENA, Texas—This weekend, hundreds of community members attended a rally in support of Oz Mechanics, calling on city officials to instruct their staff to let Azael “Oz” Sepulveda open his Shaver Street auto shop. The rally comes more than a year after the city reached a settlement with Azael and his attorneys at the Institute for Justice (IJ); although the settlement allowed Azael to open his auto shop, the city still has not granted his permit.
“It was incredible to see all the support from the community—it really means a lot to me and my family,” said Azael. “I’ve been waiting more than a year to open this shop, so hopefully the city will finally grant me my permit so I can put all of this behind me.”
During Saturday’s rally, 140 community members signed up to send letters to city officials urging them to grant Azael a permit to open his shop. Over 260 local residents attended the event, and all expressed support for Azael.
“This weekend’s rally shows that the community supports Azael and his business,” said IJ Activism Coordinator Rachel Gonzalez, one of the organizers of the rally. “Hundreds of people have made their voices clear—the city should grant Azael his permit immediately.”
Azael purchased his Shaver Street location in the summer of 2021, with the goal of moving his auto shop from a rental location on Almendares Avenue. But when Azael applied for a permit to open the Shaver Street location, he was told he’d need 23 additional parking spots which he does not need, cannot afford, and which wouldn’t physically fit on the property. So, in December 2021, Azael and IJ filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s parking ordinance. In March 2022, a judge ruled the city’s parking ordinance was unconstitutional as applied to Oz’s property, and the settlement to allow Azael to open was reached two months later.
“It’s simply unfair that Azael has to pay a mortgage for an auto shop that he is not being allowed to open, even though the city agreed to let him do so,” said IJ City Policy Assistant Ava Mouton-Johnston, another organizer of the rally. “The city should be trying to encourage more people to be entrepreneurs, not crippling them with impossible demands.”