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Car Wash Appeal Headed to City Council

The Redondo Beach Planning Commission denies a proposal to build a new car wash at the site of the old Redondo Car Wash.

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.

Lisa Rodriguez January 20, 2013 at 09:42 PM
I'm just curious why these business investors were given the Green Light to demolish the property by District 2 Councilman Bill Brand. I attended the August "photo opportunity" groundbreaking ceremony after receiving a forwarded e-mail invitation from Bill Brand. He was in full support of this project, with his hard hat and shovel. Why would you lead this effort without understanding resident concerns? Is this another example of his own agenda? District 2 deserves better.
Jim Light January 21, 2013 at 12:34 AM
In case you could not tell, Lisa is out campaigning for Michael Jackson and a new power plant. This a purely political smear post. Bill worked hard to get the old abandoned car wash demolished. He cannot weigh in right now on the new car wash as he will have to act in a quasi-judicial role in the appeal to Council. I am sure residents will see his true colors in the end. Bill has been a steadfast advocate of resident quality of life. Since Lisa chose to take this political, Jackson is pro-development and pro-power plant. Follow his votes on the Harbor Commission. He is not an advocate of our quality of life. Bill fought the 3000 condos of Heart of the City. He fought rezoning Torrance Blvd for hundreds of condos. He was a co-author of Measure DD, which now gives us all the right to vote on major upzonings passed by the Council. He is a coauthor of Measure A, which is our only chance to stop a power plant.
Jim Light January 21, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Pure smear. We will see Bill's true colors in the appeal. He cannot weigh in now or he would have to recuse himself. Bill has a track record of protecting our quality of life.
DR January 22, 2013 at 06:37 AM
That still begs the question Jim, if Bill is anti-business, then why didn't he oppose the project BEFORE these developers spent over $100k demolishing the site?
Jim Light January 22, 2013 at 06:56 AM
I have not experienced that Bill is anti-business. My experience with Bill is that he strives for a balance between business and resident quality of life. At times, as in this case that is a difficult balance. I do not believe City processes have required Bill to weigh in yet on the car wash. In fact, had he come down conclusively on one side or the other, it is my understanding he would have to abstain from the appeal since he is in a quasi-judicial role in this case.

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