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[whitespace] Del Grande told to get rid of abandoned cars--once again

Campbell--Paul Del Grande, who lost a lawsuit to the city of Campbell 11 years ago for storing broken-down cars downtown without a permit, has just lost another lawsuit to the city--for the same offense at the same location.

Although Del Grande did not comply after the last settlement, Campbell city attorney Bill Seligman believes things will be different this time.

Del Grande must clear away 30-plus vehicles from behind Paul Del Grande Auto Parts on Campbell Avenue. He must also limit the number of cars stored in front of his shop to 10. He was given nine months to make it happen.

Last week's agreement very closely mirrors one made back in 1988. But this time the deal contains more specifics, as well as a stricter time-frame.

"He's given us his word," Seligmann said. "I think he knows it's not economically viable for him to have so many cars. And of course if he doesn't comply, we can always bring a new contempt action, too. But I have every belief that he will be complying this time around."

Del Grande's three auto shops stretch down a block of East Campbell Avenue between Gilman and Dillon streets. One storefront sells auto parts, another repairs vehicles and still another fixes machinery.

Behind these businesses, more than 30 dilapidated cars are stored in a grassy lot enclosed by a metal fence, which itself is in serious disrepair. On the side of the lot which fronts onto Dillon Avenue, at least six more vehicles--some filled with trash and others tied together with rope--line up bumper to bumper.

Del Grande admits that the number of vehicles is a bit out of control.

"I'm aware of my problem that's built up over the years," Del Grande says. "My customers come in and say, 'Paul where am I going to park?'"

Still, Del Grande gripes that he owns the property and should therefore be able to do with it as he pleases.

In his defense against the city, Del Grande's attorney, R.C. Ackerman, argued that Del Grande owned the property and stored cars there before a conditional use permit was required.

"Their defense was that the automobile storage had been going on prior to the compliance code," Seligmann said. "But under our law you have five years to come into compliance."

Five years after the original 1988 lawsuit, Del Grande's cars were still there. It took until last year for the city to kick the case back into gear.

"Over the last couple of years we started to hear complaints again as well as people expressing concern about the number of cars being parked in front of his property indefinitely," Seligmann said.

The Campbell City Council was updated on the lawsuit at its April 6 meeting.
Cecily Barnes

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