Here is Donald C. LaVoie's interpretation of the events regarding mobile car washing businesses and the City of Thousand Oaks.  Notice, he left off any mention that all the complaints rose for the "fixed-site" car wash operators.  Nor did he mention that this posed any kind of conflict - an attempt to get rid of a competitor through bureaucracy.

City of Thousand Oaks
Planning & Community Development
2150 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320

September 10, 1992

Subject: An Open Letter To All Mobile Car Washing and Detailing Businesses Operating in the City of Thousand Oaks

Gentlemen, The purpose of this letter is to provide you with information concerning the operation of your businesses within the City of Thousand Oaks.   It is being written because of continuing questions and concerns that we have been receiving from private citizens, business owners and property owners who live and work in our city.

In 1990, a new mobile car washing business began operations within the City.  It had been reported that soap was being used to wash cars in private parking lots.  The California Water Code prohibits contaminated water to puddle and/or otherwise accumulate on the ground.  The matter came to the attention of the City in January of 1991 and a public meeting was held to discuss the issues.   After receiving public testimony, the Council voted to allow the use to continue subject to several conditions as follows:

  1. That these activities would have to be conducted on a one on one basis and that no mass car wash operations be allowed to operate, and
  2. That the operators obtain a Wastewater Discharge Permit from the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The operators of the mobile car wash decided to terminate the use of soap in their operation which prompted the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board to issue a letter stating that the use of domestic water in the operation of a mobile car washing business would not require a waste water discharge permit.

In September of 1991, the matter again came to the attention of the City and the Council heard from both sides on the issue.  As a result of that meeting the Council voted as follows.

  1. That no mass mobile car wash operations be allowed except for fund raising and charitable events.
  2. That the City form an Ad Hoc Committee to discuss the various issues relating to these businesses to determine what guidelines, policies and/or code amendments might be needed to regulate these activities.

The first meeting of the Committee was held in June, 1992 and recommendations were made as follows.

  1. That a letter be prepared and sent to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board advising them of our intention to conduct an analysis of the run-off water resulting from these operations, and to ask the Board to determine whether or not there is any violation of the California Water Code.
  2. That a letter be prepared and sent to all mobile car wash and detailing businesses advising them of history behind these activities.  The letter was to contain information concerning other Municipal Code requirements affecting the manner in which some of the businesses are being conducted.  (This Committee recommendation prompted this letter)

In an effort to fully inform all businesses involved in these activities, the City recommends the following.

  1. Avoid the use of soaps, additives, or any chemicals in the washing and cleaning of vehicles in commercial, industrial and public property.   Technically, the use of such chemicals is a violation of State and Federal laws.
  2. You may solicit business on a door to door basis, however it is necessary to apply for and obtain a Solicitors License from the City of Thousand Oaks.
  3. You may conduct mass car wash operations on private or public property only if these activities are conducted for the express purpose of fund raising and for charitable activities.
  4. The term "mobile" in the conduct of any business within the City relates to operators who move from one location to another to perform their services.  Current zoning laws preclude the establishment of a permanent or semi-permanent area of any parking lot from being used to conduct an on-going business.
  5. We recommend that each mobile business contact the legal private and public property owners whose parking lots are being used to conduct your activities.  This information is available from the Ventura County Assessors Office or the City of Thousand Oaks.

We hope that this information has been helpful and has answered some of your questions.  When the Committee completes its work, the results will be submitted to the full Council for review and appropriate action.  We will advise you in advance of this meeting so that you may have an opportunity to participate as you desire.   Meanwhile, please feel free to call us if you have any questions or comments.


Donald C. LaVoie
Code Enforcement Manager

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