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Friday, September 22, 2023

Council Votes Against Extending Philthy Philz Car Wash Permit, Approves Gas Station Expansion

Updated 07/25/2023

Amity Provenzano became one of the owners of Philthy Philz in 2021.

Philthy Philz Car Wash will close its doors after the Coronado City Council on July 18 voted against extending its special use permit in light of multiple city ordinance violations.

“None of us wants to shut down a small business,” said council member Mike Donovan. “The owners of the small business insist they’re meeting the requirements of their permit, but the evidence doesn’t show that.”

The council voted 4-1 to deny an appeal to extend the car wash’s special use permit, which was first issued in 1993 and was granted 10-year extensions each subsequent decade. In June, when the business’s current operators requested an extension, the Coronado Planning Commission denied it.

The city conducted its own noise study after conflicting studies were submitted in defense of and opposition to the car wash, which concluded that Philthy Philz was indeed violating noise ordinances.

“The city has received numerous complaints over the years, but a significant number of comments have been received since the current operators took over in August 2021,” said Jesse Brown, senior planner. “This could be due to the site not having any car wash activity for five years prior to that, or due to the equipment installed in 2021.”

Other complaints, Brown said, include cars blocking the sidewalk as they are dried – impeding public right-of-way – vacuums being used outside of designated operating hours, excessive mist and light coming from the property, and the rear gate being left open, allowing for after hours use.

Council member Carrie Downey cast the dissenting vote, worried that ceding to residential property concerns would eventually push out all commercial activities.

“When I voted, years ago, to allow mixed use in a commercial zone, I was worried,” she said. “We did not just want to become some planned development with just houses. We are a full-service city.”

Downey suggested a short-term extension to the permit to give the car wash time to adjust its practices and come into compliance. The parcel the car wash sits on, which is at 150 C Avenue, is zoned for commercial usage, which would allow for another car wash. The reason for city staff’s recommendation not to renew Philthy Philz is a matter of violation, not a matter of land parcel use.

“There’s not a place in this town that is quiet, so the question is: What else do you want to live with?” Downey asked.

But other council members said the car wash had ample time to address its public nuisance complaints, which began a year ago, and they were unconvinced an extension would lead to change.

“I don’t want to see a small business go; that’s the last thing any of us wants to see,” Mayor Richard Bailey said. “But if we ask ourselves if violations are occurring, the answer is yes.”

Bailey said the city had sufficiently documented violations and given the car wash the opportunity to address them.

“I am sorry to the residents who feel they cannot use their own space,” said Amity Provenzano, one of the operators of Philthy Philz. “But the accusation we have done nothing is completely false.”

Provenzano referenced signage the car wash installed to dissuade customers from blocking the sidewalk and lights that were removed to eliminate complaints of excessive light. Many of the complaints came from residents of Regatta Bay, a condo complex that is adjacent to the car wash. Provenzano also said she was amenable to additional changes to come into compliance.

Public comment was mixed. Some residents applauded the service Philthy Philz has provided to Coronado, while others bemoaned the business as a public nuisance.

The business’ special use permit expires on July 23.

Other council updates

Residents flocked to the meeting, split in support of and in opposition to a June story hour at the Coronado Public Library highlighting books centered on a Pride Month theme. In particular, some parents balked at the inclusion of the book The Rainbow Parade by Emily Neilson. The Coronado Public Library will revise its practices for sharing youth programming content – but it will not remove books from its shelves.

Read the full article on the story time book selection here.

Rendering of alterations at 400 Orange Ave.

The council granted a 100-year-old gas station’s request to expand its footprint by adding a second story to be used for staff area and storage. The service station, located at 400 Orange Avenue, will receive a 30-year extension to its major special usage permit, as well as a modification allowing the improvements, beginning the day its owners obtain a building permit.

Some residents worried the additions would add more commercial density and allowing alcohol sales would lead to the opening of a liquor store. City staff noted that the second-story office space can only be accessed from within the existing retail shop, so additional retail stores would not be feasible.

“We all take the neighbors’ concerns very seriously,” Duncan said. “But I think it’d be seriously inappropriate to not allow the business to continue at all, and if we’re going to let it continue, we want it to be successful.”

The city will send a letter to the U.S. Navy regarding its proposed additional home port days for aircraft carriers. Among its suggestions, the council requested that ferry service directly to Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) be restored to mitigate increased traffic, that the military increase the amount of military housing on base, and that transportation networks be improved to allow for increased traffic.

Council member Donovan worried that, if a carrier were in port long-term for maintenance, that would come with additional maintenance workers who would be housed at hotels in San Diego and add to the traffic. The entire council requested the Navy plan for more concrete information and measurables about how military changes impact Coronado.

“We need to send the message that this has a huge impact on a 25,000-person community that’s surrounded by water,” Donovan said.

Read the letter here.

Coronado’s competition pool will remain closed until at least late August due to a break in its main circulation pump, a part that is “not an optional; it is an imperative for the operation of the pool,” said Coronado City Manager Tina Friend. A new pump was ordered on June 30, but it has a lengthy lead time for delivery.

The city is currently in the design phase for major repairs to the pool, including repairs to the pool deck, repairing its bulkhead, and replastering its interior. The city anticipates that the pool will close again after Christmas and the project will take several months.

The city will address puffball-fungus-induced mounds on the John D. Spreckels Center Lawn Bowling Green. The fungus resulted in more than 20 mounds that rendered the green unplayable, and after city staff attempted without success to inject fungicide to remedy the problem, staff recommended the trees whose roots host the fungus be removed and a root barrier be installed on the northern end of the park to prevent the fungus from spreading to the Coronado Public Library. (January 2020 fungus information)

The council voted 5-0 to remove the four Canary Island Pine trees and send the barrier project to bid, with staff returning to council later with alternative landscaping ideas. Council voted 4-1 (Tanaka dissenting) to remove one Torrey Pine tree at the northern end of the park, closer to the library. See the full presentation on the lawn bowling green here and watch City Council discussion here. Click here for arborist report on the Torrey Pine tree.

According to city staff on July 25, a motion for “Reconsideration of a Matter upon Which the City Council has Voted” was made today (City Council Policy (9) and will be included in the upcoming August 15 City Council agenda to reconsider the July 18 vote on the matter.   

Editor’s Note (7/25/23): Correction, it was a 5-0 vote to remove four Canary Island Pine trees. Council voted 4-1 (Tanaka dissenting) to remove one Torrey Pine tree at the northern end of the park, closer to the library. 

Editor’s Note (7/25/23): Added information about “Reconsideration” for the August 15 meeting.

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Megan Kitt
Megan Kitt
Megan's work as a journalist has taken her around the world, from across the United States to Tokyo and Kampala, but her passion lies in community reporting. She believes a quality news publication strengthens a community by informing and connecting its members. She holds BA degrees in journalism, English literature and creative writing; an MA degree in creative writing; and her photography has been published internationally. While on a reporting assignment in Uganda, she founded Tuli, a fair trade fashion brand that earned her industry acclaim, most notably by earning her the title Designer to Watch at New York Fashion Week in 2022. Megan's diverse experience in travel and career taught her to approach reporting eager to understand the many experiences and perspectives that make life so interesting. When she's not working, you can find Megan wrangling her two toddlers, hiking with her husband, and binging podcasts.Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]