City Council bans mobile car washes from shopping centers
by Penny Arevalo
Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - Mobile car washers should be prohibited from washing cars in shopping center parking lots, the City Council decided Tuesday.

The council also decided to continue prohibiting mobile car washing on city streets, including in residential areas.  The practice is still allowed on private property.

The decision, which must come back to the City Council in the form of an ordinance, ends a five-month controversy over how the new and growing industry of mobile car washers should be regulated.  The City Council had referred the issue to the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, which set up a committee comprised of mobile car washers and owners of stationary car washes, who claim their competitors have an unfair advantage by not playing by the same set of rules.

"There is no other commercial operation in this city or state that is allowed to dump in the storm drain," said Ed Drogmund, owner of Conejo Car Wash, 528 Thousand Oaks Blvd.  The chamber committee recommended that mobile car washers be allowed to work in shopping center parking lots, as long as the property owner granted permission in writing and it was in  a designated area away from customer parking.  But Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski said that would create an enforcement nightmare for the city.  She recommended that mobile car washers bring their trucks to offices and home only.

The simpler the regulations, the less likely they will be misinterpreted and the easier it will be for the code enforcement officers, she said.

"I agree," said Councilwoman Elois Zeanah.  "People who work at shopping centers can invite (the mobile car washers) to their home."

Added Mayor Judy Lazar: "I think what we're looking for is the least amount of burden on code enforcement."

Lance Winslow, owner of the Car Wash Guys, said it would be "a real pain in the neck" to have his employees carry copies of letters from property owners.

Jim Kniffen, however, said he doesn't mind the regulations.  Kniffen owns Executive Autocare, a mobile auto detailer, which differs form a mobile car washer.  He said he has never solicited from a parking lot; his is an appointments-only business.

"It's the mass car washing of cars that is causing a lot of the problems," Kniffen told the council.

Another auto detailer, Greg Dumond, owner of National Detailing Systems, said he hoped overregulation wouldn't cripple his competitors.

"To live in a healthy business climate, you must have competition," he said.

Jill Lederer, chairwoman of the chamber, who also chaired the mobile car washing committee, agreed that competition must be preserved.

Reprinted from the News Chronicle, May 12, 1993.

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