ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you’ve driven around Albuquerque as of recent, you may have noticed a lot of new car washes popping up. Now, the city’s trying to set up some new rules for those businesses amid some community concern.
Albuquerque city planners say they’re receiving more applications from business people seeking to open up car washes all over. Champion Xpress is an example of one company that’s grown as of recent. They already have seven locations operating in Albuquerque. One of their newest just opened it’s doors on Wednesday at Rio Grande and Central. The company says it plans to open four more within the next year alone.
City planners tell KRQE News 13 it’s unclear why they’ve seen an uptick in the demand for opening new car wash businesses. However drivers have some insight as to why there’s seemingly more people seeking car washes.
“The dust,” said Victor Lovato. Lovato was getting his car washed on Friday. “You know, a little bit of rain and they all get dirty, you’ve got to keep washing them.”
“All of our sites are very busy. We run quite a few cars every single day, seven days a week,” says Kristi Hagerty, regional trainer with Champion Xpress. “I would say on an average with all of our sites a good 500.”
According to a recent industry report, the percentage of Americans using car washes and the number of car washes is expanding rapidly every year. In Albuquerque, that has come with an increase in concerns from the community. The city is now evaluating a proposed change for how close a carwash can be to homes or neighborhoods.
“Currently, a car wash building and associated outdoor activities are prohibited within 50 feet in any direction of a residential use,” says Jolene Wolfley, an associate director of planning with the City of Albuquerque. “This would identify what those outdoor activities are more clearly. It tries to define outdoor activities to include but not limited to vacuum stations, driving polishing stations, and queuing lanes.”
Wolfley says neighbors have expressed worries about the traffic car washes create. Some drivers understand the concern.
“Residential neighborhood, I understand it. I mean, I wouldn’t want that kind of traffic on my street either,” Lovato says.
“I would say if I was a homeowner in Albuquerque, I would be concerned too,” another driver told KRQE News 13 on Friday. “Just coming into this carwash off the main road was a little bit challenging, and I did see the line, so it has some safety hazards, I agree.”
According to that industry report, two-thirds of drivers go to the car wash about a dozen times a year. The proposed regulation change still has to go through Albuquerque’s Environmental Planning Commissioner, then the City Council’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee, which will take several months.
If the regulation change passes those two committees, Albuquerque City Council would then be required to take a final vote on it. That could take place by spring of 2023.