Simi Valley Council kicked the can down the road with the Proposed Car Wash on Cochran and Tapo

By Debra Tash

On November 19th, 2014, the Sim Valley Planning Commission denied a Conditional Use Permit for a self service car wash with a 2,035 square foot building on a 1.83 -acre lot at the northwest corner of Tapo and Cochran.  It would have been located at the east end of the valley. The issues were safety with cars stacking on Cochran waiting to get into the car wash, the noise and that the use really wasn’t needed.

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The applicant, Nidal B. Azzi, appealed the Planning Commission decision to the Council.  Azzi altered the project by proposing to use quieter equipment, shortening the sound wall for esthetics because of the quieter equipment made a ten foot wall unnecessary, and redesigning the entrance to allow for more cars to enter the car wash and not stack up on the street.

The Council had two options, either an up or down vote:

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At first the council members wanted to turn the project back to the Planning Commission.  Mayor Bob Huber claimed it was different enough it should go to the Commission again.  Council Member Keith Mashburn said, “The Planning Commission looked at apples and we are looking at oranges.”

Mayor Pro Tem Steven T. Sojka argued that they’re the elected officials and they should hear the appeal.   No one on the Council wanted to put the applicant through more expense.

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They opened the hearing.

Chris Collier, who was a Republican political consultant, did the presentation for Azzi.

80 to 85 percent of the water used would be recycled. The facility would serve the east side of the city and that there are only two such facilities in Simi and none on the east side.  He showed the design was pleasant and would add to the community.  The landscaping would be drought tolerant.

A commercial realtor was one of the seven people who spoke in opposition during public comments.  He cited Thousand Oaks and Ventura as examples of cities with mixed use development.  He said that he would like to see that kind development in Simi Valley and that the large lots in the city would be perfect for mixed use.  Most who spoke during public comments were favorable and noise did not seem to be an issue with them.

Council Member Keith L. Mashburn, expressed his concerns for safety and the stacking issue on Cochran.  He thought noise would be a problem and that the proposed signage asking customers to turn down their radio demonstrated there were still noise issues.  Council Member Mike Judge wanted to know how this use was supposed to make money for the city.  Staff confirmed there is little to no sales tax revenue from this type of business.

Council Member Glen T. Becerra had an issue with the stacking of cars on Cochran and thought it would be great if they could make the entrance bigger.

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Judge and Huber were also concerned about safety.  When it came to the vote, which should have been thumbs up or thumbs down on the project, Becerra argued that the applicant should be allowed to go back for more redesign.

The Council voted 4 to 5 (Judge voting, no) to let the applicant redesign the project to address the stacking problem and sent the project back to the Planning Commission rather than killing it outright.

Earlier in the meeting during public comments operators from the local taxi services spoke against Uber and Lift.  They said it was unfair that they had to pay the fees and that Uber and Lyft drivers in Simi didn’t.

Council Member Becerra wanted to  “level the playing field.” Mayor Huber would like to see what Portand is doing to regulate the industry. Council directed staff to gather information to present at a later date on options for the City in addressing the issue. 

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Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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