STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — A mother says her dream of opening a fun and specialized gym for all kids has turned into a nightmare.
Dina Kimmel is involved in a bitter dispute with a neighboring business owner.
Kimmel hasn’t even opened “We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym” in Studio City and she believes the opening — planned for tomorrow — might not happen.
At two years of age, her son Gabriel was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. “After being kicked out of all the different play areas, I had to create a play area in my home,” Kimmel said.
She created a specialized gym for her son using occupational therapy equipment. “After three months, the autism community just flooded me. [I kept hearing] there’s nothing like this.”
We Rock became so popular Kimmel decided to franchise. Her plans were to also expand to a larger venue in Studio City. But just days before they were set to open, Kimmel says a neighboring business owner complained to Building and Safety about a lack of parking spots.
“Building and Safety came in and said we need to get you re-zoned,” Kimmel said. Construction immediately stopped.
Kimmel reached out to local businesses and residents. She received dozens of supportive letters. Along with her four parking spots and street parking, the owner of down-the-street Vitello’s Restaurant also signed an affidavit allowing gym customers to park in their lot.
Building and Safety said it wasn’t enough. “It’s devastating. People were crying in the gym yesterday as we were setting up. They were saying, ‘What, you’re not opening? Oh my God.’”
Studio City resident Kimber Kline is sad the gym might not open. “All of us that live in this neighborhood want positive things for this neighborhood,” Kline said.
Inside this specialized gym is a prominently displayed sign that reads ‘Finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry.’” But until these doors open, it’s a sign many families will never see.
Instead of opening their doors tomorrow, the owner will go before the Building and Safety commission to see if they can re-zone and even open their doors at all.
For more about We Rock The Spectrum, click here.