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Vines Storage in Mentone will close shop after a two-year legal fight with San Bernardino County, co-owner Geneil Vines confirmed to Follow Our Courts Sept. 26.

Vines declined to comment further, saying she and her husband, co-owner Terry Vines, wanted to put the issue behind them.

Their answer to a legal complaint, filed in 2020, denied the county’s allegations that their 17-year-old business lacked permits.

The county and the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District’s joint Feb. 5, 2020, complaint claims that the business’ north parcel’s only conditional use permit was for a wireless telecommunications facility, and that the south parcel was not zoned for storage spaces.

It also claims a CrossFit gym on the property was unpermitted, and so were the facility’s 8-foot, 6-inch wall, its leveling job and its lighting.

The warehouse violated the California Fire Code by not having enough fire extinguishers or alarms, not maintaining and operating sprinkler control valves, having blocked  exits and by not having fire rated walls, the complaint continued. The company’s grading caused increased drainage, flooding and mudflow to neighboring properties, the complaint said.

A 2015 notice of violation attached in the complaint said the property was converted to an enclosed garage without permits or inspections, that some of the exit doors were chained and that two sewage dump stations were connected to sewer without permits. It also listed some of the alterations described in the complaint.

A 2018 notice directed the company to stop operations and to apply for a land use permit.

The county told the Vines they needed more permits as early as 2006, according to a third notice also attached. They were cited a total of $1,100 between November 2018 and June 2019, for first, second and third violations of not having permits, according to citations attached to the complaint

A failed Dec. 2, 2019, fire inspection said the building did not have enough fire extinguishers, smoke detectors or unblocked fire exit routes, among other hazards.

A Jan. 6, 2020, inspection report by the San Bernardino County Fire Department directed the company to close the building to the public pending written approval by the department.

The Vineses, the county and the fire protection district agreed to temporarily halt the case Oct. 15, 2021, while the county reviewed the Vineses’ applications to remedy the issues the county alleged. By that time, the Vineses had filed a completed application for a minor use permit, had agreed to merge the two parcels as requested by the county and had filed all documents required by the county for those applications, according to a court document.

The October agreement is the last legal document filed for the case.

The county has not confirmed whether they denied the Vineses’ applications, or whether the Vineses decided to discontinue the process.

Case info

Deputy County Counsel Jason Searles represented the county.

John Mirau of Mirau, Edwards, Cannon, Lewin & Tooke LLP represented the Vineses.
San Bernardino Superior Judges John Tomberlin and Winston Keh presided.

Case number CIVDS2003895.

Read the complaint, including the attached citations, here.

Read the Vineses’ legal response here.

Read the stipulation to stay the case here.

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