Some San Fernando Merchants Questioning Parking Lot Deal with Tesla

Nicolas Cardenas, who works as a financial advisor in San Fernando and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, feels he knows a thing or two about what makes a good deal.

And he is not sure the agreement between the City of San Fernando and Tesla to build a supercharging station for the electric car company’s vehicles, to be built in Parking Lot 8 near the downtown mall, is indeed a good one.

“We’re trying to communicate with the City, and trying to get an idea of what was the outreach process, and what is the reasoning for not waiting for the parking study, which is underway and agreed upon,” said Cardenas who is the co-chair of the chamber’s Government Relations Committee.

“I would want them to revisit the project, primarily because of the location,” Cardenas said. “Not on any kind of philosophical level, but just wanting to know that the affected parties are the residents and business owners in that area are able to have their voices heard in the process. And it doesn’t seem like that was the case.”

Tesla vehicles would need between 35-40 minutes to fully recharge. 

The City Council approved the agreement at its Aug. 3 meeting. City Manager Nick Kimball says San Fernando has a “contractual actual agreement” with Tesla, Inc., and that building permits have been issued.

“At this point there’s not really an opportunity to revisit [said agreement],” Kimball said.

The city manager said he was “a bit surprised” there is now some pushback to the deal but has heard of the rising concerns.

“There are a few vocal business owners that are hesitant about that location,” Kimball said. “But I’ll also tell you I’ve talked to other business owners with businesses on the mall who are extremely excited, and disagree with the other merchants on the mall [who oppose it].

“At the end of the day, any business owner down there will have the opportunity to basically diversify their customer base and also their products to Tesla owners. I think many merchants there are excited about that aspect.”

The agreement is for five years and can be renewed for another five years. The City an also opt out of the agreement after the first five years.

 Kimball said Tesla has already invested in the design pre-engineering work for the project at Lot 8, and would be unwilling to start over at another location. 

“There was some vetting at other sites, but it’s not a cheap venture for them… and at the meeting we had with the merchants last on Nov. 12, [the Tesla representatives on the call] basically said that from their point of view, if it’s not this site where they’ve already done a significant amount of engineering and preparation work, they’re not interested in another site.”

Cardenas said it might be a long shot, but he still has hope the agreement can be revisited.

“I think there is a chance it could be ‘paused’ and have that input from the parking study to integrate into the decision to whatever should be done with the Tesla station,” he said.