The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved a clean-water ordinance in November of 2007, prompting residents of unincorporated areas to worry that washing cars in their driveways would become a crime. The board modified its decision at its Jan. 15 meeting. As it stands now, the ordinance will allow what are considered incidental uses, which includes car washing.
The Stormwater Pollution Prevention and Discharge Control Ordinance, which is required by both the state and federal governments, sought to regulate pollutants by outlawing actions that put impure substances into storm drains that end up in creeks and, ultimately, the ocean.
In the wake of the most recent decision, one county supervisor said that many residents misinterpreted the ordinance when it was first discussed.
"The whole issue of washing your car on private property was really blown out of proportion," Supervisor Jerry Lenthall said in an interview. "There was never any language that ever outlawed washing cars."
Lenthall added that the Board of Supervisors was just looking out for the environment.
"What I wanted to focus on is, what is the best practice to minimize the negative environmental impact in our waterway?" Lenthall said. "It's trying to find that balance, and I think we did that."
The board approved the new ordinance 4-0, with supervisor Katcho Achadjian abstaining because of potential conflicts related to gas stations he owns.