A Blue Wave Car Wash planned for a busy Elk Grove intersection passed the City Council on Wednesday night, overriding a Planning Commission decision that the business would add too much traffic to an already congested area.
The council considered a revised set of plans that address some concerns previously raised by residents on Facebook and in emails to the Planning Commission. Traffic was a major concern because the car wash would sit in the same block as a popular Dutch Bros. Coffee drive-thru. The area is bounded by Elk Grove Boulevard, East Stockton Boulevard and Highway 99.
Residents said traffic from the Dutch Bros. backs up onto East Stockton and that adding another drive-thru business would exacerbate the problem.
“Adding another drive-thru type of business in that location would be a disaster,” read a submission to the Planning Commission from resident Hillary Santiago. “How many car washes does one town need?!”
After the Planning Commission’s rejection, Blue Wave altered the plans to address the traffic issues.
Instead of driving straight in to Dutch Bros., customers would drive through a loop so that lines of waiting cars would be on the property rather than on Stockton Boulevard. Cars enter and exit Dutch Bros.’ line from a turn-only lane for the ramp to Highway 99 north.
The parking lot already has arrows drawn on the pavement to direct cars in a loop fashion – these changes would make the loop permanent. The site is currently empty, surrounded by a chain-link fence and covered in browned grass.
Councilmen Darren Suen and Pat Hume said the willingness to adjust made the plan acceptable for the council.
“That new design accommodates the peak traffic flow for the Dutch Bros. site,” Suen said. “Traffic is always a concern of ours. It resonated with us that the applicant chose to address the community’s concerns.”
Suen said he’s heard complaints about the number of car washes in the area, but the council doesn’t dictate which businesses come to Elk Grove and where they locate. A car wash was deemed an acceptable use for the land in 2008.
“It’s a market-driven dynamic,” he said. “The city doesn’t govern how many car washes should happen in the city.”