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A mobile car washer sprays down a car on North Thornburg Street in Santa Maria.

The Santa Maria Code Enforcement Office and Utilities Department will lead two virtual workshops next week for owners of mobile car wash and detailing business to learn more about new regulations passed earlier this month.

The first workshop will be held via Zoom from noon to 2 p.m. on April 28, followed by another workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 29, according to city spokesman Mark van de Kamp. English and Spanish interpretation will be available.

Mobile car washing and detailing is now banned on public streets under a sweeping ordinance passed by the City Council on April 6, which also requires owners to obtain additional permits and equipment to collect wastewater for disposal at the city's treatment facility rather than on streets.

Following its passing, preceded by several protests by local washers and detailers, officials said enforcement and fees outlined in the ordinance will not go into effect until at least late summer, and that further outreach would take place in the meantime.

"Our goal is to gain compliance," City Attorney Thomas Watson said. "We'll see how it goes, and if we need to have more [workshops], we'll have more."

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He added that officers will also be conducting "walk-and-talks" over the coming months to provide detailers and washers with fliers about the ordinance in both English and Spanish.

The ordinance sparked widespread criticism from the local mobile wash and detail sector, with many owners saying they did not have the opportunity to give input about the regulations they believe will put them out of business. 

According to code compliance officers, several months of outreach to the sector were completed prior to the City Council vote. While officials counted around 80 mobile wash businesses with licenses in Santa Maria, local business owners said the true number of licensed and unlicensed washes, including those that operate part and full time, is closer to 180. 

Longtime Santa Maria mobile car washer and detailer Chris Barajas said the ordinance caught many off guard as only half of the sector received outreach and didn't have a chance to provide input. 

"There was not the proper type of outreach done," Barajas said. "What we wanted was for them was to delay the vote, and adjust the ordinance with our input."

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