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Pestmaster parking space sparks talk of layoffs, relocation

October 28, 2010

The national headquarters for Pestmaster Services on South Street in Bishop. By way of a denial of a permit, Pestmaster told the City Council it was worried it may have to move its offices because of a lack of adequate parking. Photo by Mike Bodine

One of the only companies that has its national corporate headquarters located in Inyo County says it is afraid it may have to leave the area because of a single parking space. However, the solution may be as simple as changing the wording on an application.
Pestmaster Services had received word from the City of Bishop that it would have to seek a Conditional Use Permit from the city Planning Commission to set aside parking requirements and to allow for a trailer and storage facility to remain on the property in accordance with city ordinances.
Pestmaster was then denied the permit needed for the trailer and storage facility because, according to the Planning Commission, it did not have the required number of parking spaces, 12, to accommodate the number of employees. It has 11 spaces.
A stipulation of the Planning Commission decision was that the decision was made without prejudice, meaning the issue could be revisited again with Pestmaster simply modifying their application.
Pestmaster appealed the decision to the Bishop City Council on Monday.
Pestmaster employees and the owner, Jeff VanDiepen, prefaced remarks by saying the company is not threatening to leave town over the dispute, but they also said if a CUP is not permitted, Pestmaster may be left with no other viable option but to relocate.
The problem is that Pestmaster has a trailer and additional storage unit on site. The rationale from Pestmaster is that the extra storage is needed for the paperwork required in a nationally operated business.
Manager William Morris told the council that if a CUP is not granted, Pestmaster is afraid it will be forced to eliminate a storage facility to make room for the additional parking spot. Morris said the contents of the container will have to be moved to office spaces now occupied by employees. If this happens, employees will either lose their jobs, due to lack of storage, or the company will relocate to accommodate the extra space, Morris said.
VanDiepen said he already owns has an ample-sized lot near Reno.
“I’d hate to see these employees lose their jobs because of a parking space,” said Morris. “But there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of other choices.”
The Pestmaster headquarters sits on two separate lots, both owned by VanDiepen. One lot includes a small private residence in the back. VanDiepen and other Pestmaster employees claimed that the Planning Commission suggested the residence be removed to alleviate the parking problems. VanDiepen said he was disheartened by the suggestion, particularly in housing-strapped Bishop.
The council chambers were nearly full with a dozen employees and management from Pestmaster as well as other local business owners there to speak in support of Pestmaster.
Employee Linda Sergeant said she can think of no place else in Bishop where she can work in a busy company bidding on jobs nationwide and at the level of professionalism she has experienced at Pestmaster.
Sheri Bragdon, another Pestmaster employee, told the council that as a 40-year Bishop resident, “It would devastate me to lose my job, I would lose my home.”
Tom Sigler, attending the meeting on behalf of the Owens Valley Contractors and Vendors Association for a different agenda item, said he decided to stay and comment once he caught wind of what was happening.
“Do we need to throw the baby out with the bath water” because of a possible error or misunderstanding with the application by Pestmaster.
It was suggested that a possible, simple solution to the problem is if VanDiepen were to ask for a new CUP that would combine the two lots into one and thus changing the number of parking spots.
The council, with Pestmaster’s acceptance, decided to place the matter before the commission again, but this time asking for a merge of lots and not a CUP for parking.

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