Mobile Car Washes
Cities will take up car wash proposals
Panel suggests permits for mobile businesses
By Penny Arevalo
Staff Writer

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The mobile car wash issue is about to make another splash in two local cities.

The controversy first exploded in January, when owners of local permanent car washes complained to the Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks city councils that their mobile counterparts - who typically wash cars in parking lots while the owners work - had an unfair competitive advantage.

Thousand Oaks council members referred the matter to the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commere, which formed a committee made up of both mobile and stationary car wash owners.  The Westlake Village council put off any action until the committee drew up some recommendations.

Now, those recommendations are in, and the Westlake council will discuss the new, growing and mostly unregulated industry Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 4373 Park Terrace Drive.

The Thousand Oaks City Council will take up the issue May 11.

Westlake's planning director, Robert Theobald, is reommending that mobile car wash operators apply for a temporary use permit before working in the city.  Ther permit would require them to abide by such conditions as:

  • No washing cars on public streets.

  • Car washing on private property only with the permission of the property owner.

  • Car Washing in retail centers and gas stations in a designated area away from the primary customer parking areas.

The requirements come from the chamber committee's list of recommendations, but the prohibition on public streets was an unresolved issue, according to a letter from chamber President Steve Rubenstein to Theobald.

Ed Drogmund, owner of the Conejo Car Wash, 528 Thousand Oaks Blvd., siad it wouldn't be fair if the mobile car washers were allowed to wash on the public streets because he's not allowed to.

"I would be cited and get between a $1,200 and $2,400 fine," he said.  "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

He noted that the council concluded in January there is a "clear and present danger" in washing cars on city streets.

But Lance Winslow, owner of the Car Wash guys, said people who own boats or other recreational vehicles are likely to wash them in the streets anyway.

"If I don't do it in the street, (the owner's) going to,," he said.  "This is not new.  This has been going on for a long time."

Winslow - who said he agrees with most of the chamber committee's recommendations because they apply to the "bad apples" of the industry - said not being able to wash on Westlake Village streets won't hurt him personally.

"I have 53 trucks in 39 cities.  If I never washed a car in Westlake again, it wouldn't affect my income," he said.

HJowever, his wife's businesses, the Car Wash Gals, has a lot of Westlake Village customer.

Don La Voie, code enforcement manager for the city of Thousand Oaks, said the staff report is being written for the May 11 meeting and he wouldn't comment on it yet.

"Stay tuned," he said.

Reprinted from News Chronicle, April 1993.

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