A catering business that North Fair Oaks neighbors blame for causing odors, noise, parking and traffic problems must comply with "urgency" regulations, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously decided on Tuesday.
Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, who represents the unincorporated area, said the county has futilely tried to get the business to voluntarily make changes.
"This has been going on for a long time," Jacobs Gibson said. "We were left in a position of having to take some additional steps to address the concerns of the neighborhood."
The urgency ordinance, which went into effect immediately after the vote and will last 45 days, applies specifically to the lot at 3821 Fair Oaks Ave., where Bay Area Catering and Events opened in 2011.
The ordinance limits operating hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and prohibits "exterior noise" such as vans loading outside of those hours. It also establishes noise levels and bans any use "which emits an odor or air pollutant, detectable without instruments" beyond the property's boundaries.
The lot is zoned for neighborhood commercial but the surrounding zoning is residential.
David Bui, who lives near the catering company, said the business sometimes operates past midnight and then opens in the early morning a few hours later.
"It's not serving the neighborhood at all and it's becoming a nuisance," Bui said.
Several residents told the supervisors they don't need a corner store or any other business in their neighborhood and they'd prefer to see the lot rezoned as residential.
Bay Area Catering and Events did not send anyone to the meeting to speak on its behalf.
Jaime Gonzalez, who owns the lot at 3821 Fair Oaks Ave., said three markets have come and gone in the past decade because they couldn't get enough customers. And now that he's finally got a tenant that is able to do business, the county is trying to drown it in regulations, he said.
"Now that the business is flourishing, there's a problem," Gonzalez said, adding that the regulations would create a financial hardship.
"If there is an issue, I'm willing to work with the community," he said. "The business said they'd do that. There's things that can be done without having to rezone a property."
Although the urgency ordinance is temporary, Planning and Building Director Jim Eggemeyer told supervisors he would ask them next month to extend it for a full year. That would give the county more time to investigate the situation and possible solutions.
He noted that the catering business is seeking permits to open a second facility in Redwood City and company officials have told the county they plan to relocate the bulk of their operations to that site.