By NATHAN SOLIS
HIGHLAND PARK — Apparently you can never have too many car washes. The owners of the Shell gas station at Figueroa and Avenue 52 want to get into the car wash cleaning business across the street from two existing car washes. Neighbors and planning commissioners have rejected the proposed car wash but Councilman Gil Cedillo has stepped into the fray, giving the Shell car wash a second chance.
Several car washes already operate along Figueroa Street, many of them near homes and apartments. In the case of the proposed Shell car wash, nearby residents were concerned about how the noise from the machinery would impact them. Resident Mercedes Vasquez, who appealed a preliminary city approval of the car wash, said she was concerned that noise from the car wash located only 10 feet from the couple’s living room window would disturb her already ill husband, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Car wash applicant Benjamin Donel of Sunset Equity Partners, LLC came up with several strategies that would dampen the machinery’s sound, including mufflers and rolling doors. During an appeal hearing before the five-member East Los Angeles Area Planning Commission last November, Donel also alleged that Vasquez had ulterior motives and was making her appeal on behalf of the rival car wash owners.
But the planning commissioners sided with Vasquez and voted to uphold the appeal and deny the permits needed to build the car wash based on the noise concerns.
A few weeks later, however, Councilman Cedillo got involved. He asserted his power in the matter and had the City Council veto the area planning commission’s decision and sent the appeal back to the commissioners for review and reconsideration.
Cedillo spokesman Louis Reyes said that there are several factors that were not considered when the commissioners made their decision. “Before making an informed decision [the Councilman] wants the committee to have all the information,” said Reyes.
But when asked what factors were absent from the original proposal, Reyes said he could not recall the particulars that Cedillo considered important.
The East L.A. Area Planning Commission is now scheduled to take a second vote on the appeal on Wednesday at the Ramona Hall Community Center, 4580 N. Figueroa Street.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.