T.O. council to ponder laws for carwashes
by Margaret Daly
Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - Though the City Council has already approved regulations on mobile carwashes, it may impose additional fees and requirements to avoid any impact on city storm drains.

City Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski said the mobile carwashes should have to buy a water catchment system and pay fees that will cover monitoring and enforcement of all regulations to create a fair marketplace where both mobile carwashes and fixed carwashes can exist.

But Lance Winslow, owner of The Car Wash Guys, a mobile car washing business, called the requirement ridiculous saying he doesn't use much water and no chemicals.  "All it is is water," he said.  "It's drinkable.  We drink it," he said.

In November the city approved a series of regulations on the mobile car washes, but they modified some of the suggestions made by the committee of fixed and mobile carwashes coordinated by the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce.

"Going into the ninth of November it looked like something everyone could live with," said John Elliott, who is handling publicity for the Conejo Valley Car Wash Association.  "Then the City Council made quite a lot of changes," he said.

The city staff is studying the impact of the mobile businesses on storm drains.  Zukowski says that is a logical step.

"I don't think we should be waiting until the problem becomes big," she said.  "We as a council need to see this is a growing industry that has an impact," she said.

In a report, prepared by City Attorney Mark Sellers, the council is faced with three options.

  • It can impose a fee on the clean-up required and the costs of enforcing the regulations.  The report suggests a fee of $648 for six months based the average number of cars likely to be washed per day.

  • Another option is to require mobile carwashes to have a wash water collection system and charge each business a fee of $516 for six months to cover enforcement and water treatment.

  • The council could opt to do nothing until a storm water control program has been developed.  The council would then assess storm drain cleanup costs to all business, mobile or fixed, that pollute the drainage system.

Zukowski says the city should not wait, but should force the mobile washes to install a collection system on their trucks immediately.   "I think we need to plan a head," she said.  "It would be delaying the inevitable," she said.

Zukowski said compelling the mobile washes to install collection system's is the only fair way to even up the market place, so that fixed car washes can continue to compete.  "Currently the fixed car washes are regulated and must pay the costs dealing with those impacts," she said referring to the drainage.

But Winslow says a water catchment system is unnecessary and not possible with today's technology.  He says the catchment system the Sellers' report points out is for large trucks not for pick-up trucks used by his employees.

He said his carwashes use 2.4 gallons of water and do not use soap, he said, compared to a carwash done with a garden hose in someone's driveway which uses about 100 gallons and most people use soap.

Reprinted from the News Chronicle, January 15, 1994.

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