The Austin Chronicle

City of Austin vs. Casa de Luz

By Elizabeth Pagano, June 14, 2013, News

A partial chronology of the code compliance and enforcement history concerning the Casa de Luz "school cafeteria"/restaurant/"experiential, educational community center" facility at 1701 Toomey Road.

1989: Casa de Luz predecessor, East West Center on South Fifth Street, burns down.

Feb. 1991: Casa opens on Toomey Road, with a certificate of occupancy for a school cafeteria.

1993: Casa de Luz initially notified that the facility has insufficient on-site parking to comply with city ordinances. Over the years, the business has periodically leased parking and has informally used parking at Butler Shores Park, without permission.

2002: Following an anonymous complaint about permits and parking, Casa comes under city scrutiny.

2003: Austin files charges against Casa for changing its use without a permit, and for parking violations.

Dec. 2003: Casa seeks a variance for parking requirements (granted in 2004 to allow reduced, off-site parking). Neighbors sue the Board of Adjustment over the variance.

Jan. 2004: Casa granted 30 more days to find additional parking.

Feb. 2004: Parking deadline extended 30 more days

2004: Casa notified of failure to acquire an appropriate certificate of occupancy.

2008: Warning issued for lack of a certificate of occupancy.

Mar. 2009: Warning issued for lack of CO; city files case with municipal court.

Oct. 2009: Code compliance inspection finds numerous violations.

Dec. 2009: Casa cited for a lack of site plan and commercial building permit for the "Serena Room" and is advised that there is no active certificate of occupancy.

Aug. 2010: Inspection by Austin Fire Department cites inadequate access to building; Longoria still seeking sufficient parking.

Aug. 2011: Casa pays $2,500 in fines for misdemeanor charges stemming from development without a site plan, lack of CO, and lack of building permit. Building remains in violation of fire code.

Nov. 2011: Following AFD inspection, Longoria reports on process of getting approval for parking on city property (still ongoing) and installing fire hydrant (never completed).

April 2012: Longoria informs city that Casa is attempting to install a sprinkler system.

June 2012: Fire code violations referred to the Building and Standards Commission.

Aug. & Sept. 2012: Guilty pleas; Casa pays $1,500 fine and court costs.

Sept. 2012: BSC reviews case, grants Casa additional time to address code violations. Accumulated unpaid fines: more than $22,000 and accruing.

May 2013: BSC reviews case, grants Casa another month; return to BSC scheduled for June 26.

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