The Redondo Beach City Council will hear an appeal of the planning commission's denial of a plan to build an eco-friendly car wash on Torrance.
With a 4-1 vote—commissioners Nelson Zager and Douglas Kim were absent, and commissioner Marc Mitchell cast the only dissenting vote—and after hearing more than four hours of testimony, the planning commission decided not to approve the plan to build a car wash to replace the old Redondo Car Wash at the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Irena Avenue.
The rusting shell of the former car wash was demolished last summer to the delight of the neighborhood; however, plans to replace it with another car wash were met with strong opposition from the neighbors.
In a tag-team presentation during the public comment portion of the hearing, opponents of the plan argued that the traffic and noise analyses submitted by car wash consultant Chris McKenna as part of the development plan were flawed.
Opponents also submitted a large packet to commissioners with their research on traffic, noise, pollution and parking impacts. They claimed that because the car wash is an express model with only a few employees, it would wash far more cars than the 35 per hour used in the traffic analysis.
"The idea of this thing is high volume," said neighbor Mark Kleiman, who took noise readings at two area car washes. "We contend in this neighborhood, this will have an enormous adverse impact.
Nevertheless, some did speak in favor of the new car wash, which would be powered by a fuel cell and include other ecologically friendly features.
"I think that the un-operating car was created kind of an eyesore," said Bonnie Waters, who works across the street from the site. "It was a little bit of blight on the area … I welcome the car wash. It sounds like a great idea. It's a prime piece of real estate right there … It's a shame that it's been sitting there empty this long."
Other people who worked at the law office agreed.
"We're tired of this vacant lot (on Torrance Boulevard)," said Steve Goldberg, who has worked across the street for 25 years. "It's time."
Jeff Sallee, who plans to open his third Catalina Coffee location in the new car wash, said at first, he was not supportive of the plan; however, he found that McKenna was responsive to addressing complaints.
"I tried to find a reason for not moving forward with this project," Sallee said. "Ultimately, I became convinced that this is a best-of-breed project. I think this is good for Redondo."
McKenna also pointed out to the planning commission that he had tried to address residents' concerns by offering multiple potential site plans and hosting a meeting with residents at Calimari's on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Torrance Boulevard.
It's not known when the city council will hear the appeal of the planning commission's decision.