HOUSTON—Today, Pasadena auto mechanic Azael “Oz” Sepulveda filed a second lawsuit against the city, arguing that it breached a contract by continuing to deny him a permit to open his Shaver Street auto shop. Oz teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file the new suit, which argues that the city’s continued insistence that Oz comply with impossible demands before opening his shop is unconstitutional.
“The city agreed to let Oz open his shop if he did a few simple things. He did those things, but the city has now gone back on its word and is once again putting impossible hurdles in his way, even though he’s done everything the right way,” said IJ Attorney Diana Simpson. “It doesn’t make any sense why the city is fighting so hard to prevent a hardworking entrepreneur from opening his own shop. But the city can’t just refuse to hold up its end of the bargain, so we’ve filed a new lawsuit challenging the city’s baseless behavior. We won’t stop until Oz’s shop opens.”
Oz and IJ filed his original lawsuit in December 2021, challenging a city law that would have required him to have 28 parking spots on his Shaver Street property before he could open his new shop. But those spots didn’t make any sense: The lot could not physically fit as many spots as the city demanded; Oz’s business did not need them, as just a handful of cars park each day at his current shop; and Oz could not afford to add those spots. Moreover, the new property was home to an auto shop for 30 years with the existing parking without any problems.
In February 2022, a judge granted Oz a temporary injunction, which said the city could not apply its unconstitutional parking requirements against him. Then in May 2022, Oz and the city reached an agreement that allowed Oz to open if he added just a few parking spaces. But once Oz formally applied for the permit to open according to the agreement, the city changed its tune. Now it is once again requiring the impossible of Oz to open.
“Like I’ve said from the beginning of this lawsuit: all I want to do is continue working on cars and making a living for myself and my family,” said Oz. “Once we reached an agreement with the city, I thought this would be over, but it turns out that was just the beginning of the fight.”
The new lawsuit also alleges that the city has been treating Oz unequally in its parking demands. Numerous other businesses exist throughout Pasadena without having to add impossible spots while the city refuses to allow Oz to open.
This summer, hundreds of community members held a rally and sent letters to city officials urging them to let Oz open his shop. But once again the city did not budge.
“We tried everything short of a new lawsuit to get the city to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement, but we’re now left with no option other than to fight this in court once again,” said IJ Senior Attorney Justin Pearson. “The city’s request that Oz meet impossible demands before opening his shop violates the terms of the settlement agreement and violates Oz’s basic right to earn an honest living.”