carwashers face an uncertain future
The battle between mobile car wash services and Westlake's only fixed car wash facility came to a head last week when both sides addressed a study session of the Westlake Village City Council.
Nader Moradian, owner of the Westlake Village Car Wash, had (in a Dec. 29 letter to the mayor and city council members) asked the council to establish guidelines to regulate mobile car washing in the city.
"The mobile car washers not only violate the industrial waste laws by dumping the pollutants on the parking lot and, therefore, directly into the environment, but also conduct unfair business practices by not being bound by the same laws that govern the entire car washing industry," Moradian wrote.
In response to Moradian's complaints and those of various mobile car wash companies which service the area, the council put a 60 day moratorium on an ordinance which, the council had discovered, rendered mobile car washing in the city illegal.
The move was designed to both give the city time to research, among other things, the economic and environmental effects of mobile car washing and avoid trouble for the mobile washers that provide a regular service to Westlake companies.
The council discussed current zoning and sanitary and industrial waste ordinances.
As they stand, current municipal codes do not specifically define the use of mobile car washes in the city. According to Planning Director Bob Theobald, when a use is not specifically defined, it is therefore prohibited.
The concern over the possible harmful effects of pollutants from mobile car washing products was discussed in light of the fact that Los Angeles County considers current mobile services to be a threat to sanitary sewer systems and made them illegal.
Mobile car wash owners present at the meeting were anxious to point out the differences between established business people such as themselves and eager solicitors in the business for a fast buck. Most said that they would welcome regulations that would keep irresponsible mobile washers from abusing the environment.
"The zoning law is really reaching," said Lance Winslow, owner of The Car Wash Guys, "Everything is mobile now and you have to reconsider laws that restrict because of zoning."
Councilwoman Bonnie Klove believes mobile units working in Westlake Village annoy many people.
"We owe the business people who pay taxes in this community and who generate revenue for the city," Klove said.
On the other hand, Councilman Ken Rufener would like to find a compromise that makes a distinction between "fly-by-night" and established mobile car wash businesses.
"I don't want to see the mobiles banned. There is a need in this community for both fixed and mobile washes. I would want to see that business owners or people are not being pestered, but from what I've seen so far, I don't think they should be banned," Rufener said.
Mayor James Emmons suggested that the council bear in mind the environmental and esthetic restrictions that make Westlake Village unique.
Reprinted from The Acorn, February 3, 1993.