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T.O. poised to ban mobile car washes
by Penny Arevalo
Staff Writer

m74.jpg (19100 bytes)THOUSAND OAKS - The freewheeling days of mobile car washes may be numbered.

The City Council is set to ban mobile car washes from cleaning Chryslers, buffing Buicks and polishing Pontiacs on city streets.  The move was prompted by owners of regular car washes who say the mobile washers have an unfair advantage and are cutting in on their business.

The City Council will discuss the matter at its next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at interim City Hall, 2150 W. Hillcrest Drive.  It is in the middle of a fairly busy agenda.

Washing cars in a public street represents a safety hazard, wrote Don LaVoie, in a report to the council.

"These activities present a clear and present danger to public safety," he wrote.

The entire state of New Jersey outlawed mobile car washes from plying their trade in parking lots and shopping centers in 1991, LaVoie wrote.

The council first discussed the issue of mobile car washes two years ago.  At that time, there was just one business, the Car Wash Guys, washing cars in parking lots while the owner worked.  Now, there are nearly 50 similar enterprises, LaVoie wrote.

"It is not unusual to observe two or three trucks working in a specific parking lot for periods of two to three hours," he wrote

When the council discussed the subject two years ago, they required that mobile car washes work on an appointment basis only.  LaVoiwe is recommending that the council expand the definition.

Also in the past two years, city staff has attempted to discover whether mobile car washes discharge any pollutants into the storm drain system.  The state Regional Water Quality Control Board has said no, but LaVoie recommends the city conducting its own laboratory tests, just to make sure.

A Jan. 19 letter form the owners of six Conejo-area car washes complain that mobile car washes practice "unfair business practices."

"Due to the lack of overhead and not being bound by the same laws governing the entire car washing industry, they undercut prices and unfairly complete with fixed-location car washes," the letter states.

Another 12 letters from property owners - everyone from The Oaks regional shopping center to the Westlake Lake Management Association - indicate that they don't want mobile car washes operating on their properties.

Reprinted from News Chronicle, January 23,   1993.

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