Car Washes
First meeting focuses on regulation of growing field

by Penny Arevalo
Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - A group of mobile car washers met with their competitors and city officials Thursday to discuss regulation of their new and growing field.

It was an intense, two-hour meeting that sometimes flared into shouting matches, participants said.  The media were not invited.

"It's obviously a very passionate issue when people are talking about their business," said Jill Lederer, chairwoman of the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce.

She is chairing the group, which the City Council has formed to report back in mid-April with suggested restrictions for mobile car washers.

The controversial entrepreneurs make "house calls" to wash cars, often while customers are at work.  About 50 are now in business in the city.

The council has already outlawed mass car washes and in January directed city staff to enforce a ban of car washing-for-profit on city streets.  Mobile car washers are still allowed to ply their trade on private property, however, with the property owner's permission.

Don LaVoie, code enforcement manager for the city, said that in the past 2 weeks code enforcement officers have warned several mobile car washers about obtaining a city business license and washing on public streets.

"This is an emotional issue," LaVoie said.  "I think you'll find there are two sides to it."  He is confident the group will be able to agree how best to regulate the mobile car wash industry, but he doubts there will be "total unanimity."

Mobile car washers and owners of fixed car washes who were at the meeting agreed.

"There will never be complete support with that group," said Lance Winslow, owner of the Car Wash Guys.  He added that he believes the owners of the stationary car washes shouldn't sit on a committee that is designed to regulate their competition.

"Of course the fixed car washers want to tighten the rope as tight as they can, inch by inch,: Winslow said.

But Nader Moradian, owner of the Westlake Village Car Wash on Thousand Oaks Boulevard at Lindero Canyon Road, said it is appropriate because mobile car washers should be subject to the same rules.

According to several people at the meeting, the two issues of disagreement are:

  • Whether mobile car washers should be allowed to wash cars on residential streets.  The mobile car washers say yes, but fixed car wash owners say no.

    "We have a lot of customers who want to come to their homes and wash their RV's" said Ron Klug, owner of Sunshine Polishing mobile car wash.  "What's the difference between us doing it and them doing it?"

  • Whether mobile car washers should be banned from working in shopping center.  The mobile car washers say no, but fixed car wash owners say yes.  Lederer said that the compromise may be getting the shopping center owner's permission in writing first.

Reprinted from News Chronicle, February 12, 1993.

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