m132.jpg (10422 bytes)Mobile business ordinance to be considered
by Sarah Keller
Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - The City Council on Tuesday will consider an ordinance that would regulate mobile carwashes and other businesses that use commercial and public parking lots.

The council took up the controversial issue after stationary carwashes complained that mobile businesses have an unfair advantage and after concerns were expressed about noise, traffic, and the quality of water runoff.

A handful of stationary carwash businesses and auto detailers agreed that restrictions were needed.  They wrote a letter to the council this week claiming that "mass" carwashing - defined by them as washing more than three vehicles a day in one place - in city parking lots is responsible for most of the problems.

"It is the mass carwashing of vehicles in business and shopping area of Thousand Oaks that has surfaced in the last two years which has been causing problems," their letter states.  "It is simply not an appropriate business for these areas."

A Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce committee went to work investigating the issue after concerns were raised in Thousand Oaks and neighboring Westlake Village last January.  The city of Westlake Village adopted many of the chamber's suggestions, the same ones the Thousand Oaks City Council will consider at its weekly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The committee discovered the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board does not consider carwash drainage to be a serious health hazard.

"Any discharge of casual water' to parking lots, sidewalks, or gutters ... probably constitutes a nuisance, but none of these is a water quality matter," said Richard Harris, assistant executive officer of the water quality board.

After looking at the chamber's findings, city staff incorporated them into a proposed ordinance:

  • Car washing can be done in any kind of parking lot as long as the washers have the property owner's written permission.  If the property is a shopping center, gas station or under another type of commercial use, the carwashing must be restricted to an area away from customer parking.

  • Each mobile carwash would have to obtain a business license from the city and a waste discharge permit from the water quality board in the next year.  The business must also have a solicitor's license if it plans to market door-to-door.

  • Oversized or unusual vehicles, such as boats and RVs, would only be allowed to be washed on residential streets, like driveways.

  • Carwashing of five or move vehicles would be restricted to designated areas within shopping centers to minimize interference with other customers and store owners.

  • Mobile carwashers must comply with guidelines, yet to be established, that will govern noise, overspray, water rights and traffic.

  • The Chamber of Commerce said the guidelines are not intended to affect the competitiveness of the carwash industry.

Reprinted from the Daily News, May 7, 1993.

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