Car dealership calls Downtown Auburn home

Slower pace may improve business, owner says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Downtown Auburn will soon be home to a used car dealership that has been operating in North Auburn for seven years. Tuesday night the Auburn Planning Commission approved a one-year use permit for a temporary modular office for California Auto Sales at 160 Elm Avenue. The dealership is planned for the lot above Southwest Silver, with cars also parked on the lower level near the jewelry store. Haidar Kiani, who owns the dealership, said he welcomes Southwest Silver and The Finishing Touch Salon to stay at their current locations on the property. Kiani and his brother purchased the property over the summer in the hopes of opening a second car dealership. California Auto Sales is currently located at 1440 Grass Valley Highway. “My ultimate goal was basically keeping this location and adding another business to Downtown Auburn,” Kiani said. However, when Kiani’s current landlord declined to reduce the amount of his lease, Kiani decided not to renew at the Grass Valley Highway location, and instead make the Elm Avenue spot his only dealership. “I don’t really anticipate a drastic change in the business,” Kiani said. “It’s probably going to be better. I’m very optimistic. Once the economy is turned around, people will appreciate more the quality of cars they can find in one corner lot.” Kiani has been in the car business for about 20 years, working in San Francisco, San Mateo and Placer counties. California Auto Sales has been in business for about seven years in two locations on Grass Valley Highway. Without having to pay his current lease, Kiani said he would have fewer overhead costs, which will be reflected in the prices of his cars. “This way you can provide the customer with reasonable prices, because you will not incorporate the prices with the cost of the operation,” he said. According to Lance Lowe, associate planner with the city of Auburn, now that the permit has been approved there is a 10-day appeal period in place, and Kiani can’t begin business until that period is over. According to city documents, the upper portion of the property has a history of being used for car sales, while the bottom portion has been used for retail/service businesses. Kiani said he hopes to eventually make the dealership more permanent on the site. “The ideal goal is to put a nice permanent building upstairs and use that one as an office,” Kiani said. “Obviously we have to see what the economy looks like.” Any permanent buildings would have to go back before the city, Lowe said. “Any new buildings would require Historic Design Review (Commission) approval,” he said. Kiani also said he hopes to replace the old fencing on the property as well as adding some landscaping. Kiani said although now he sells a variety of used cars, he hopes to change that in the future. “Mostly I just try to meet the taste of every budget at this time,” he said. “But ideally I would like to stay with high-end European vehicles and some Japanese cars. That’s what I’m really trained for, but under the circumstances we just have to go with the economy … but I’m very optimistic.” Kiani said although the Elm Avenue location probably won’t see as much traffic passing as his current location, he thinks Downtown’s slower pace could be beneficial. “I like the Downtown area because of the fact people are more relaxed,” he said. “They are not in a rush. They can just walk comfortably, and once they see the car they want, they can just stop by.” Reach Bridget Jones at