The People vs Suprema
We won the battle but what about the war?
On December 18, 2019, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to uphold GGCA’s appeal of Suprema Meats’ Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and building permits. The ruling was a key victory for residents who have spent the last seven years opposing the permits that would essentially rewarded Suprema for flagrantly violating noise, building, and public safety codes.
Time to celebrate? Not so much once you consider that hundreds of neighbors have been forced to endure seven years of extreme noise and public safety hazards while the City coddled Suprema. Then consider the colossal costs: GGCA estimates the City’s doomed Suprema strategy cost Oakland taxpayers at least $30 million in staff time, legal expenses fighting three of Suprema lawsuits, contractor fees, and waived fines for the multimillion dollar company. All of which could have been avoided had the City heeded GGCA’s insights and warnings about the rogue company back in 2013.
City’s doomed Suprema strategy
The CUP and permits would have legalized the unpermitted structures Suprema Meat Co. (SMC) built in 2013 as a reward for SMC’s proposed “improvements” to allegedly reduce noise generation in the long term. To give neighbors respite in the meantime, SMC signed the 2014 Compliance Plan, an agreement to significantly reduce noise between 4-7 a.m.; big rig unloading on 57th Street; and truck traffic on residential streets. SMC proceeded to violate the Plan daily despite being slapped with numerous noise nuisance fines. Rather than comply, SMC spitefully used the appeals process to reduce some of the fines and just paid the rest. What’s a few thousand dollars to a company whose net worth is estimated at $50 million dollars?
Once fining proved ineffective, the City simply ignored all the ongoing, public outcries about extreme noise, big rig idling overnight, and harassment of female and immigrant neighbors. SMC owner Miguel Jara was even caught on video one of the times he used a forklift to move a neighbor’s car that was parked near his business. Code Enforcement also dropped the ball entirely on at least 30 code violations that its own inspectors issued to SMC since 2013 for unpermitted construction of freezer equipment, interior remodeling, and outdoor truck washing.
Suprema Fights Back
In March 2020 Suprema filed a suit in Superior Court county of Alameda called A Verified Petition Seeking Writ of Mandate that is seeking a title against the planning commission ruling. The writ alleges:
- The hearing before the Planning Commission did not meet the requirements for a fair trial.
- The Planning Commission abused its discretion in a manner prejudicial to Petitioners.
- The Planning Commission failed to proceed as required by law.
- The evidence does not support the Commission’s decisions.
In short, this means the city’s ability to force Suprema to dismantle its unpermitted structures has been put on hold until this suit is heard in Superior Court.