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At Commission Meeting, A Lesson in Good Business

Lotus 7 moves for the third time but is praised for reinventing itself to stay viable as the city shows how it can accommodate small businesses. Planning Commission signs off on CUP.

If anyone was looking for , the Rancho Santa Margarita Planning Commission meeting last week was not the place to find it.

Providing an example of good business, the light docket—the meeting lasted less than a half hour—showcased a longtime business taking advantage of the city's can-do attitude.

The commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit that allowed to relocate from the Empresa Center to the Aventura Business Park across the street.

The new site location will be 22521 Empresa, across the street and facing .

The whole process, from the time Lotus owner Lisa Brabender contacted the city and said she needed an expeditious resolution until the commission's approval, took about a month.

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"About a month ago, Lisa the applicant indicated she was having an opportunity to move from an existing location to another location to help her save costs and put her in a better position to run her business," city planner Nate Farnsworth explained to the commissioners, who are appointed by the city council. "She asked if the city could help do it expeditiously. We believe the relocation will work out just fine."

This will be the third location for the studio, which was located at Plaza Antonio before going to the Empresa Center. However, a proposed five percent rent increase when the lease renews in November—and a lack of communication with the landlord, Brabender told the commissioners—caused her to scramble to remain viable.

The normal conditional use permit costs about $3,500; because of the situation, and the city's familiarity with the longtime business, the process cost Brabender considerably less.

"This one we took in with a $500 deposit and she'll probably get a refund at the end of it," Farnsworth said.

"I'm pleased to see they got a break on the C.U.P.," said commissioner Jim Eakin.

Kent Hayden told Brabender "I am so impressed with entreprenuers like you, so impressed with how you reinvent yourself, find a way to stay in business and thank god you stayed in our city, too. Best of luck and congratulations."

For her part, Brabender said she's been a resident of Rancho Santa Margarita for 25 years and had "no intention of leaving."

She couldn't thank Farnsworth and the city staff enough.

"The sense of urgency ... he really went to bat," she said. "This is the third time around. It's not by choice, only by economic reasons, but I want to verbally extend my thanks ... to everyone on the staff."

She told the commissioners that she's getting a five-year lease at the new location.

"I look forward," she said, "to not seeing you any time soon."

Melody Henderson May 09, 2012 at 09:49 PM
That's so interesting because my husband tried to rent a space in that same center and was told that there was an issue with the allocation of parking spaces there. He only wanted parking available for his business a few nights a week and a few hours on the weekends.... much less than what Lotus 7 will require... doesn't make any sense.....

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