The UT recently covered the plight of a car wash owner whose project was denied after which he suggested the City of Chula Vista was to blame for the delays and that the process was not business friendly. His criticism is unjustified. The City has a long track record of fairly and expeditiously approving development projects that are in the best interests of the community. Rather than casting blame, he should only look in the mirror.
In February 2016, a City planner identified “a potential traffic hazard with the project traffic merging with freeway on ramps”. In a letter the City advised the owner “under the circumstances of the particular case” there would need to be a finding the project would not be detrimental to the health safety or general welfare. From 2016 right up to the recent City Council hearing the owner resisted and would not spend the money to do a Traffic Impact Study. Another carwash he owned with a similar carwash tunnel, at peak hours, added 144 vehicle trips to the site triggering the need for a study pursuant to the SANTEC Guidelines for TIS Studies in the San Diego Region. Instead of doing one the owner provided inaccurate data to the City claiming at maximum capacity the carwash tunnel would process 40 to 50 cars where the actual manufacturer specifications show 90, doubling the potential amount of traffic in and out of an already congested site.
Instead of being a good neighbor, the owner placed the tunnel with the loud blowers to dry the cars right next to the property of an 82-year-old woman instead of on the other side of the former gasoline site where there were contaminated soils which would have been more expensive to deal with. Even then, the sound study performed by the owner assumed these loud blowers would only be on 67% of the time at maximum capacity. In fact, at another one of his car washes, the blowers were on 100 % when the tunnel was full of cars at which time the noise would exceed the Chula Vista noise ordinance. CALTRANS was willing to comment on traffic concerns created by the project except the owner wanted to proceed under an exemption to the California Quality Act, so CALTRANS jurisdiction was limited to their actual right of way.
Rather than blame the city, the carwash owner is himself at fault for the delay. Had he done a Traffic Impact Study rather than trying to convince the City one was not necessary, even though this site was adjacent to a freeway on-ramp at one of the busiest roads in the city, he would’ve gotten a timely, and potentially positive response from the city. The health and safety of our residents is the primary concern of the city council and being business friendly does not mean putting blinders on when it comes to the safety of our streets and neighborhoods.
John Moot resides in Chula Vista.