Kawuhara Wholesale May Be Forced To Close Due To Sandy City Violations
Feb 12, 2020, 11:27 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2020, 10:38 am
SANDY, Utah – A popular Sandy business has reached the end of the line. City officials warned Kawuhara Wholesale that it’s violating city code and must put an end to all business or face enforcement.
“I really think that it’s wrong,” said Alex Kuwahara, who started the plant nursery on his family’s property in 2013.
There’s no question growing a business is full of challenges, but Kuwahara never anticipated his business in Sandy would come to this. A big “for sale” sign now sits outside the front gate.
“I want Sandy City to hear but I want every city to hear this: You can’t push these types of regulations on agricultural-type businesses,” Kuwahara said. “They’re trying to make me be like a Walmart like a big store and that’s just not what we are.”
Kawuhara Wholesale’s Complicated History With Sandy City
At the root of the problem was Kuwahara Wholesale’s complicated history with Sandy city.
In an October letter, the city sent Kuwahara a list of fire, structure and city violations, including operating without a license. The letter further stated that Kuwahara needed to “discontinue all business at 8565 South and 8575 South State Street on or before Nov. 1, 2019, or Sandy City intends to pursue criminal, civil and/or administrative enforcement.”
“Gosh we’re just trying to grow plants and flowers and selling local produce and you’re going to throw me in jail and charge me all this,” Kuwahara said. “We don’t know what to do!”
But the city stood by its letter in a statement sent to KSL TV, which said, “Sandy City staff has worked exhaustively with the owners of Kuwahara Nursery. Kuwahara has not only failed to make improvements to meet those requirements but have added unpermitted structures and other facilities which do not meet safety and fire codes required by state law. While Sandy City takes every step necessary to avoid shutting down a local business, we can no longer allow them to operate in good faith while there are so many safety and regulatory concerns for the public.”
The city posted their letter and list of violations on its Facebook page in response to questions and concerns raised by people in the community. Many supported the business and hoped to see it remain open.
“This is family-oriented and very much loved by the community. The outpouring of shock when they put up a for sale sign was amazing,” long-time customer Lilly Johnson said. “They haven’t made a lot of money but they’re here for the community.”
Still, Kuwahara feared this latest hurdle for his business requires too much money and may be too big for them to continue growing.
“The only thing left is to go out of business,” Kuwahara said. “It’s just terrible, you know. Everything, it’s just gone.”
City officials also said they “value Kuwahara and will continue to work with them to find solutions that will address the safety and regulatory requirements needed in order to allow them to reopen.”
Kuwahara was grateful for all of the support he’s received from the community online and in-person and planned to bring that support with him to city hall on Tuesday.