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New car wash challenges Fallbrook's Design Guidelines

Avalon Hester

Village News Intern

A new car wash is being proposed on South Mission, replacing the building that was previously the El Jardin Mexican restaurant. The carwash is coming to Fallbrook with plans for a tall, glass front, with a brightly lit, electric blue and yellow trimmed exterior.

Fallbrook Community Planning Group member Jeniene Domercq compared the proposed car wash to one you'd see in Oceanside, "I just don't see how it fits in our community. It's huge and out of place."

The project was rejected outright under Fallbrook's Design Guidelines. In the words of Eileen Delaney, chairwoman of the FCPG, it was "a perfect example of why we have design guidelines."

The Design Guidelines, recently up for discussion at FCPG meetings, are the aesthetic principles that guide developments in and around Fallbrook. They dictate certain ideals with the goal of maintaining local character through height restrictions, landscaping, color, and material usage.

In short, the Design Guidelines empower Fallbrook residents to safeguard against developer aesthetics that deviate from the cherished rural, small-town charm that defines the Friendly Village. These guidelines assume particular significance as the final protective measure for "by-right" projects, where Fallbrook's role lies not in determining the desirability of a business but in assessing its alignment with the community's essence.

The owner of the carwash, Mr. Salim, previously described the carwash by saying, "It's like something that you can't find around here. It's something I would take my BMW through."

While the new proposal looks much more like something you'd expect to see on the streets of Fallbrook, there are still concerns for the FCPG. Salim Development is expected to run a traffic study to determine the impact a bustling new carwash would have on traffic along South Mission. Additionally, extensive grading would be required on the site to accommodate the given plans.

Not under the FCPG's purview, but still up to community debate, are questions such as the impact this large car wash will have on local businesses, (such as Soapy Joe's on East Mission, Fallbrook Car Wash, the 24 Hour Max Car wash, Pearl Car Wash, or the Shell gas station car wash), whether or not the carwash will utilize recycled water, and what need this carwash will fill that the five other car washes already in Fallbrook do not.

The proposed car wash is not a by-right project, meaning it has to file for a major use permit in addition to complying with the Design Guidelines. San Diego County describes major use permits as accommodations for projects with special operating characteristics, design requirements, or potential adverse effects on surroundings.

Currently, the project is still in the pre-submittal phase. The FCPG described the major use permit application as "a long, expensive, and drawn out process."

There have also been several reports of squatting within El Jardin while the building sits, awaiting the development of the new car wash. The Village News previously covered the removal of three individuals that were living in the closed restaurant facility on April 18.

Community members are encouraged to write letters, contact the county, and attend FCPG meetings to voice their questions and concerns, whether about this car wash or the design guidelines in general, which are currently being reformatted into a clearer and more expansive list of design standards.


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