Owners of CrossFit Horsepower gym in Hermosa Beach announced Tuesday they are closing their business and they're blaming it on the city.
The Cypress Avenue neighborhood gym opened in 2014. Less than a year later, it became the subject of noise complaints and code violations for using the public streets for workouts.
Co-owners Jed Sanford and Dan Wells say the city's enforcement visits and soundproofing requirements have made it impossible to stay in business. Hermosa Beach officials disagree, saying the city has cooperated at every turn and has nothing to do with the business shuttering.
Although Sanford and Wells said in a statement they were “extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet and work with so many wonderful and fun people,” the pressure from the city was too much.
“Unfortunately, the pressure the City brought to bear on our business through the constant barrage of enforcement visits and harassment, threats of criminal prosecution and fines, coordination of negative public relations, requirements to soundproof our entire building and other financially unreasonable demands, the City did everything it could short of locking our doors,” read the statement.
In response, Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal said Wednesday she was “deeply disappointed” that CrossFit had not been “willing to work collaboratively with the City to assure that its operations did not disturb its residential neighbors.” She also said the city never required them to soundproof the whole building.
“The gym owners have only themselves to blame for their stubborn refusal to work cooperatively with the City to address and resolve the noise and vibration issues,” Lowenthal said.
“The City devoted substantial resources to working with the gym owners, only to be rebuffed at every turn... the City played no role in the gym owners’ decision to close the business. Our goal was to address a narrow problem, so that the gym and its residential neighbors could be compatible.”
In November 2018, CrossFit owners filed a lawsuit against the city and then Coucilmember Stacey Armato, who is now the mayor. They claimed the city deeming their business a public nuisance caused “direct and incidental” injuries and damages, which could lead to “complete destruction of plaintiff's gym business.”
“It should be troubling to everyone that one or two Hermosa Beach elected officials could manipulate the City’s processes to put the City’s full might and resources behind extinguishing a lawful, existing business just because they didn’t like it, decided it didn’t fit their vision for the community, or to appease their constituency,” this week's statement by the owners read.
Lowenthal replied the city had changed its zoning ordinance in 2014 to allow the gym to operate at its location in “reliance on the owners' promises that they would be compatible with the neighborhood.”
“It is a councilmember’s role to balance all stakeholders’ interests whenever possible,” Lowenthal said. “What I see is councilmembers doing their job and doing their job really well. (CrossFit’s claim about the councilmembers) is fundamentally, absolutely and unequivocally wrong. They are doing their job and anything short of what they have done so far would mean they would be failing a large section of their constituencies.”
After the city of Hermosa Beach received more than 175 noise complaints from 2014 to 2018, in late August of 2018, they declared CrossFit Horsepower gym a public nuisance. The city gave CrossFit 90 days to abate the issues or they would be required to cut operating hours to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and eliminate the use of free weights.
CrossFit will close permanently and has no plans of reopening at another location, but owners said they will “focus on a long protracted litigation.”
“While we have suffered the loss of the gym, our team has more resolve than ever,” read the statement. “We look forward being vindicated in court. Most of all, we sincerely hope that what happened to us never again happens to another business or individual in our city.”