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Gym owner, city meet to resolve issues

Insufficient parking part of the problem for facility

Posted: April 4, 2009 1:04 a.m.
Updated: April 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hugo Cherre, kneeling, works with Kendall De La Vega, 7, left, Zenaida McKinney, 7, and Victoria Del Rosario, 8, on Friday as they train on the uneven bars in front of the dismount pit. Cherre's athletic facility for children, Hugo's Gymfitness, is still awaiting planning commission approval.

A local gym owner received a bit of a reprieve as he works to bring his business into compliance with city and county guidelines.

The Santa Clarita Planning Commission voted March 17 to continue until May 5 a request to revoke the minor use permit for Hugo's Gymfitness, located in the Centre Pointe Business Park.

Owner Hugo Cherre was given a list of what needs to be done to bring his business into compliance and he has had several meetings with city staff, said Ray Barragan, assistant planner for the city.

"We're not saying that it's unsafe, we just don't know if it's safe," Barragan said.

"This is so new to me. I (practically) live in the gym," Cherre said Friday. "It was ignorance on my side."

The Planning Commission approved a permit in February 2008 for Cherre to use 1,006 square feet for instructional space, 1,122 square feet for office space and 9,620 square feet of storage space to house equipment for his mobile gymnastics training program, according to a city report.

Cherre has 450 children enrolled in programs at his gym.

In May 2008, city officials reportedly visited Gymfitness and found the business was using more space for instruction than was approved, and that no approvals or occupancy certificates had been granted by the Los Angeles County Fire Department or the county departments of building and safety and environmental services.

Additionally, because the business was using more space than had been approved, an insufficient number of parking spaces was available. The city calculates parking spaces in part based on square footage of the space used by a building's tenant.

Gymfitness offers instructional programs including gymnastics, cheerleading, martial arts, rock climbing and dance.

The gym is requesting a parking variance, noting that most activity at the gym takes place when neighboring businesses are closed, and that most parking spaces are used only briefly by parents who are either dropping off or picking up their children.

In addition to providing Cherre a list of requirements, Barragan said the planning staff also is preparing an alternate resolution that would revoke the Gymfitness permit.

"We're going to be able to move forward in one of these directions," he said.

Cherre said he's optimistic the outcome will be positive.

While he strives for full approval, Cherre has closed the gym's rock-climbing wall, foam pit and bleachers.

A Canyon Country resident since 1988, Cherre has been a longtime gymnastics enthusiast.

In 1984, he attended the Los Angeles summer Olympic games as a delegate of his native Peru, and within a few years began coaching at a gym in the San Fernando Valley.

He's also attended the 2008 summer Olympic games in Beijing; the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta; and the 1992 summer games in Barcelona.

Cherre said since the March 17 public hearing, parents of his students have backed him 100 percent.

"I didn't know how much support I had until then," he said. "I'm trying to do the best for my kids."


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