The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council voted unanimously this past week to oppose a plan by the owners of a Figueroa Street gas station to build a self-service automated car wash on the southwest corner of the property without a conditional use permit.
The council voted, 13-0, at its board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5, to write a letter of opposition to the Los Angeles Department of Planning, with copies to the office Councilmember Gil Cedillo as well as the proprietor of the Highland Park Shell Station located at 5137 N. Figueroa St. and operated by Sunset Equity Partners LLC.
The vote followed public comments by about half a dozen residents who said they live near the gas station and oppose the creation of another car wash that already has two such facilities nearby, including one at a 76 gas station just across the Avenue 52 cross street.
“We don’t need another car wash,” one of the speakers, a middle-aged man, said, adding that he lives with a three-year-old child in an apartment building adjacent to the Shell station. The already noisy area would become unbearably congested and noisier if a third car wash were to be built in the vicinity, he said.
Carolos Bomina, an outreach worker who said his office is located on 5306 N. Figueroa St., told the neighborhood council that he has a petition signed by more than 200 people opposing the proposed car wash.
"Basically, local residents are going to have blowers blowing in their ears for 16 hours a day," he said.
The problem with the plan is that it violates Section 12.03 of the Los Angeles Zoning Code manual, which specifies that a car wash that exceeds 500 square feet cannot be considered an “accessory use” within a gas station and therefore requires a conditional use permit to be built, Bomina told Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch.
Bomina pointed to a Planning department map of the proposed car wash, which showed that the business would occupy 880 square feet.
The owners of the gas station had never appeared before the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and had not applied for the necessary permit, the outreach worker said.
The proposed car wash’s square footage isn’t the only problem, Bomina said. Because the car wash is planned in a so-called “commercial corner development” adjoining an alley, the city zoning code requires that any development at the corner of such a lot requires a CUP, Bomina argued.