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Community members protest against proposed mobile car washing ordinance in Santa Maria

Protesters on the move
Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 02:42:09-04

About 50 community members gathered in Santa Maria for a protest against a proposed ordinance that would restrict mobile car washing and detailing.

“[We are out here protesting]: the permit fees that are not disclosed yet, the application process, the demonstration fees for the owner and the employee. Also, not being able to wash on the streets and the waste disposal permit," explained Chris Barajas, protest organizer and owner of California Detail Center.

Manuel Estrada, a small business owner and protester, says there will be big impacts to him and his family if the ordinance passes.

"It's a little bit hard for the families because I need to support my family; I have four kids and my wife. Everybody has to [be able to] pay rent," Estrada said.

Santa Maria city officials said in a statement last month:

The City is not trying to put anybody out of business. The goal is to have mobile commercial washers return to being mobile, not stationary on a street, which is what drives many of the complaints we receive.

Brick-and-mortar car wash, Quick and Clean Car Washes, says they welcome the competition but are in favor of the ordinance because it would hold mobile car washers to the same standard.

Jason Prather, owner of Quick and Clean Car Washes, says in a statement:

Brick and mortar car washes are required by the city to have water filtration/recycle systems. These systems are engineered and installed as part of the initial design and construction of the car wash facility. These systems contain and trap all wash water, properly treat that water, and allow the car wash to re-use/recycle the wash water, and send the dirty water to the city sewer system. This keeps all dirty water, chemicals and contaminates out of the street and gutters, and ultimately, the ocean. This allows traditional car washes to operate in an environmentally-friendly manner.

These water filtration systems are very expensive to install and maintain; costing over one hundred thousand dollars to purchase and install, and tens of thousands of dollars to maintain annually.

We welcome fair competition, and feel that all car washes, no matter if they are traditional brick and mortar or mobile, should be held to the same rules and standards.

It is not fair for one type of car wash to be held to a different standard than the other type.

The City will cast a final vote on April 6th.

Barajas says he and other protesters plan to be at City Hall at 3pm on April 6th, ahead of the vote.

Related stories: Mobile car washing businesses in Santa Maria protest new proposed rules
City of Santa Maria discussing future of mobile commercial car washing regulations