“There’s no reason our neighborhood can’t look like Hillcrest or North Park,” says Fox Canyon Neighborhood Association president José Lopez.
During the association’s monthly meeting on July 13, some of the members voiced their desire to campaign against Leo’s Auto Shop, which operates on the corner of Dwight Street and Euclid Avenue. Lopez says neighbors have several complaints about the way the business is run and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
“It’s such a producer of blight and problems on that corner,” says Lopez. “They’re not controlling what goes on around their business, and it’s producing a lot of problems for the neighbors, especially those on Dwight Street.”
Though the Fox Canyon Neighborhood Association has not yet decided on a plan of action, Lopez says he’s determined to get rid of the body shop “one way or the other.”
According to Leo’s owner, Miguel Sandoval, he’s had recent visits from hazardous-waste and air-pollution inspectors.
“I’m all paid up with my permits,” says Sandoval. “And I’m not doing anything wrong. Some of the neighbors are my customers. I paint their cars and fix them up. I even donated a car to the fire department.”
Sandoval says he understands that the recent construction of a new building across the street may have caused people to compare the two corners, finding his “more ghetto,” and he has plans to move some of the more unsightly cars on his lot to help improve the look of the intersection.
Some association members believe that campaigning to close down Leo’s is too harsh an option. Better fencing, for example, could help hide the “blight” that Leo’s represents to some neighbors.
“I like the guys [at Leo’s]. I’ve met them,” says one member. “They might step over the boundaries sometimes without knowing it, but I don’t think they’ve ever been invited into the discussion.”
The same member (who wishes to remain anonymous) went on to say, “There are body shops in Hillcrest and North Park, too. We just don’t notice them because all the other businesses shine so bright. I think if we had a shining intersection down at the corner [of University and Euclid], people would be more forgiving of Leo’s.”
The Fox Canyon Neighborhood Association has also decided to focus efforts on the revitalization of the corner of Euclid and University. To this end, it will organize a tour of Hillcrest and North Park so business owners can get ideas on how to improve their storefronts.