Plans to open a new Triumph motorcycle dealership passed Planning Commission this month with the new business set to occupy property at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and 17th Street.  

The site has a history of automotive uses having served as a dealership, repair location and rental car facility. Commission concerns focused on potential noise from the business during their hearing and specifically on the overall operation of a motorcycle, noise associated with the repair business and disturbing neighbors due to test rides. 

Speaking on behalf of the project, Dina Elkinawy said the kind of engine noise that many people fear won’t likely be a problem at the dealership. 

“There’s been a lot of concern with the loud exhausts, but loud exhausts are no longer allowed on motorcycles and we’re not legally allowed to work on aftermarket exhausts,” she said. “And that should mitigate a lot of those issues. As well, we’re hiring an acoustical consultant to do a study on noise mitigation, on the noise of the operation and noise mitigation practices to implement.” 

Dealership owner Greg McCord also said noise would be minimal. 

“There’s no reason that our customers would pull into the parking lot and keep their motorcycles idling. Remember now, these are all modern European motorcycles; all of the exhaust, the decibel, the amount of noise that comes out of the motorcycles is all regulated by CARB [California Air Resource Board],” McCord said. “We’re not allowed to put any aftermarket exhausts on the bikes and we don’t work on bikes with aftermarket exhausts because it voids the warranties. And it’s just not really our customer base. We’re sort of the soft side of motorcycling, 25% of our customers are women riders. And so the notion of having a bunch of idling motorcycles on premise is really not our customer base.”

He said the business doesn’t rely on in-house test rides and, instead, Triumph regularly hosts off-site demonstrations. 

Two residents called into the meeting, one in opposition and one in support of the project. 

Lizbeth Bell cited noise and exhaust fumes as her concerns. 

“So I guess that’s all I have to say I’m very opposed to this,” she said. “I’m hoping I do not see a motorcycle facility at this location. There must be something else the city could attract that is not as detrimental to our environment as motorcycles.”

Charlie Martin said the dealership would improve the quality of businesses in the neighborhood.

“He hit the hammer on the nail for me when he said that they’re going to be spending a few hundred thousand dollars on the exterior. These kinds of upscale motorcycle shops or car dealers, it’s gonna have to have curb appeal, and I’m confident these people will have the curb appeal. So I haven’t heard anything throughout the meeting that it gives me pause for concern.” 

The Commission approved the permits with conditions that included a possible extension of a wall on the south side of the property, noise mitigation efforts as recommended by an acoustical engineer, limiting routine service to appointments, banning all test drives from the location, prohibiting repair work in the parking lot and minimizing idling engines.

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Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...