The noise coming from a San Luis Obispo car wash has neighbors bothered and restless, and they want the city to help reduce the disturbance.
Quiky Car Wash at 2959 Broad St. — owned and operated by the real estate company Westpac — is situated near Rockview Place residences where about 50 people say they are disturbed routinely by the noise of blowers and vacuums.
Quiky's general manager, however, says it's in compliance with city-permitted levels, citing a noise test conducted by a hired consultant.
The car wash operators also say they're willing to work with neighbors to offer landscaping buffers to help cut down the noise.
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The machines face the residences to the back and the side of the business. The car wash operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter, according to general manager John Singh.
Neighbors are asking for a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, among other changes.
"The machinery does not stop," said Jermaine Washington, president of the Broad Rockview Place Homeowners Association. "It's on a constant cycle, operating almost 12 hours a day, with cars coming in and out. The noise is excessive and in violation of city standards."
Sara Mikkelson, a resident of the nearby Rockview Court Homeowners Association, said that she has opted against making any improvements to her home's outdoor patio space because it's too noisy to enjoy. She also keeps her windows shut.
"My issues with the car wash are the noise and the drop in my property value since it opened (in 2010)," Mikkelson said. "It's considerable. Nobody wants to live behind that."
The car wash has a pending noise violation cited by the city, its third in the past six years. The business also was cited last year for use of non-permitted equipment, which was then removed and replaced with a new drying system, according to city records.
Past violations were resolved after the business provided noise tests showing it was in compliance.
However, city officials recently conducted noise testing that showed the business exceeded the permitted 60 decibels at the bordering residential properly line, said Community Development Director Michael Codron.
"We did our own tests and found a violation with our own equipment that is relatively basic," Codron said. "The business went and had a professional study done, and the owner showed they’re in compliance."
The car wash's tests showed decibel ranges between 55 and 57, Singh said.
The business uses a 30-horsepower motor that blows air to dry cars, and Quiky recently added a motor silencer package, Singh said.
"We actually took care of that issue over the past few weeks," Singh said. "We replaced the unit that was making the noise."
The city's next steps are to try to seek compromise between the business and neighbors about how to resolve the noise issues, possibly through mitigation improvements by the owner.
And the city also will review the property's use permit conditions to see if adjustments are needed. That could include reducing the hours of operation or other measures.
Singh said the business is willing to plant shrubs or other landscaping to help block sound "as quickly as we can get it done."
But Singh added that reduced hours of operation aren't on the table, contending that people need later or earlier hours to wash their cars around their work schedule.
Washington believes the best remedy will be converting the business to a manual drying operation; the city's process has been frustrating because past administrative citations haven't solved the problem.
"Our bedroom is upstairs, and we hear the sounds every day," Washington said. "The business wasn't designed well. It should have been facing Broad Street, not the homes.. But here we are now, and the best solution is for it to be manual."
The Planning Commission also is expected to address the issue, but a hearing date has yet to be set.