By Katie Nielsen

LIVERMORE (KPIX 5) — Many people across the Bay Area are working from home during the pandemic, but one Livermore man says trying to work out of his garage got him in trouble with the city.

“I couldn’t pay rent. I didn’t have a stimulus. I didn’t have unemployment,” said AJ Wright.

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He lost his job repairing bicycles at Livermore Cyclery when the shops closed around the start of the pandemic. He was able to take his work bench and equipment home.

“I’ve got all the tools needed to do the work. I’m going to try. I’m going to put some feelers out there and see what happens,” said Wright.

He started AJs Bike Service out of his garage last April. He says he got a business license with the city and was trying to do everything right to make sure he was following the city guidelines. Within a few weeks, he had enough customers to keep him busy full-time.

“It’s been working really smoothly and fine basically up until now,” he said.

One of the neighbors on AJ’s street complained to the city about the fact AJ was operating a business in a residential neighborhood. So last week, the City of Livermore cited him and told him he had to shut it down.

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“I think the whole situation is kind of ridiculous,” said Brian Cambra, who lives across the street from Wright. He says he’s never been bothered by the bicycle business.

“With COVID going on and people trying to work from home and trying to make ends meet, people shouldn’t be getting in the way,” said Cambra.

More than 6,000 people have already signed an online petition urging the city to let the business stay where it is, as it is.

“He’s helping people. He’s earning a living. He’s quiet,” said Barbara Miller, who lives part-time with her daughter a few doors down from Wright. “I don’t think everybody on this street is going to want to start a business out of their house.”

Wright says he is complying with city orders and has shut down the business.

Robert Carling, the Livermore City Councilmember who represents that area, told KPIX 5 the city does want to find a compromise to allow Wright to keep the business open. Carling also says the council must be sensitive to zoning rules, because it is still a residential neighborhood.

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Livermore Mayor Bob Woerner said the issue will be brought up at the city council meeting on Monday, February 22.