SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — According to www.simivalleyacorn.com, the queuing pattern for vehicles waiting to get into California Speedwash at the corner of Madera and Tierra Rejada Rds. has been causing a controversy between customers, city officials and police for the decade that the business has been open, and now some residents are calling the area a police trap and an unfair revenue generator for the City of Simi Valley.
For instance, Mary Ann Strange, a resident of Simi Valley, reported that she received a $54 parking ticket in the mail in December for blocking through-traffic while waiting in the right-hand lane of Madera Rd. to get into the carwash, the article continued; a photo of her car, taken by a parking enforcement officer, was included with the ticket.
“How can you park your car when it’s still running and you’re waiting in line to get your car washed?” Strand said. “It makes me angry, because there’s more ways to get money than ticketing people trying to get their cars washed.”
Similarly, Lyle Pennington of Moorpark said that he also recently received a $54 parking ticket for blocking traffic on Madera, the article noted.
“The problem is that the average person, like me, is just trying to queue into the line and isn’t paying attention to the ‘No Stopping or Parking’ signs or red curbs,” Pennington said. “Unfortunately, if you stop ever so slightly [it’s] illegal … period.”
Simi Valley Police Department (SVPD) Cmdr. Robert Arabian, who oversees the traffic unit, has called the corner “an absolute nightmare” and has received a multitude of complaints from motorists turning right onto Madera Rd. from Tierra Rejada Rd. who have had to slam on the brakes because of the backup, the article noted.
To help prevent this backup along the red curb, the department began issuing parking citations, the article added; since April 2017, the department has given out 56 tickets outside the carwash.
However, the article continued, Arabian indicated that drivers could actually receive moving violations, but the parking ticket is the lesser of the two measures since the fee is lower and the driver does not get a mark on his record, which can increase insurance costs.
“It’s a happy medium, because Madera Rd. says no stopping at any time, so if you’re stopped waiting to use the carwash, then you’re choosing to violate a black-and-white rule,” Arabian said.
Lenny Elbaum, owner of Speedwash, said that he knows about the citations and that he has even reimbursed some of the ticketed customers, the article added.
“I don’t think it’s fair they’re ticketed while in their car, moving slowly toward the entrance,” said Elbaum, who’s been in the carwash business for 40 years. “I feel it’s the right thing for me to do.”
In 2013, Elbaum opened a second location about two miles down the road at 2155 First. St. in order to reduce some of the backup; however, instead of helping, almost as many people now also use the First St. location, the article stated.
“We’re blessed to have a successful business, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. I just don’t know what more I can do,” Elbaum said.
Pennington faults the city planning commission for approving the design, the article noted.
“Police say it’s unsafe because people are impeding the corner, but the unsafe part is the way it was designed, and now customers are paying the price because it’s not a legitimate turn lane,” he said.
“We can’t control traffic engineering; all we can do is enforcement,” Arabian said, also noting that he understands the carwash customers’ complaints but that he needs to take measures to prevent accidents. “I’m trying to take a reasonable approach to this, and if someone has a better idea, then I’m all ears, because I’m always trying to find a better solution.”
Elbaum has met with city officials, tried adding more barriers to direct cars and even increased the number of employees to combat the problem, but nothing so far has seemed to help, the article stated.
“We’re doing everything we can to be safe and not create any problems, [but] it’s one of those situations where no one has really brought us a good solution,” Elbaum said. “I’m open to having a third location, but I haven’t found the right property yet.”