The California Court of Appeals (3rd District) recently issued an opinion in Muzzi v. Bel Air Mart finding that Bel Air Mart, an anchor tenant on a commercial lease with Muzzi was not permitted to use common area parking spaces for food racks, pallets, an oil recycling bin and broken shopping carts despite provisions in their commercial lease allowing the use of common areas for the loading and unloading of merchandise. This opinion overruled the trial court’ s decision.
The Court of Appeals found that these items were left in the parking spaces far beyond any time associated with the actual loading and unloading of merchandise.
More specifically, the Court of Appeals found:
“”None of these uses involves the “loading and unloading of merchandise” as contemplated by the lease. These items were not placed in parking spaces a reasonable time before they were picked up; the parking spaces were permanently used for the storage of these items. By keeping items in these spaces, Bel Air appropriated these parking spaces to the exclusion of anyone else. The fact that few cars parked in this part of the shopping center is irrelevant (particularly given that Bel Air’s use of this area made this a less-than-desirable place to park). Under the lease, Bel Air had the right to nonexclusive use of these parking areas; it had no authority to commandeer these spaces for its own storage purposes.”
In other words, Bel Air’s exclusive and continuing use of these parking spaces violated its commercial lease.