IRVINE : Carwash-Gas Station Proposal Survives

A divided City Council has let stand the city’s approval of a proposed carwash and gas station in the Rancho San Joaquin neighborhood, ending a 14-month saga in which the developer’s project had been turned down twice previously by the council.

Nearly 100 residents appeared at Tuesday night’s council meeting to oppose the project, planned for the southwest corner at the intersection of Culver and Michelson drives.

Residents who live behind the project site in the San Joaquin Villas condominiums say the carwash will generate excessive noise and traffic.

Council members voted 2 to 2 on an appeal by the residents to overturn the Planning Commission’s approval of the project last month.


City officials said it takes a majority of the council to overturn a Planning Commission decision.

“We think this will have a negative effect on property values,” said Jim Linhart, chairman of a citizens group organized to oppose the project.

Mayor Michael Ward and Councilman Greg Smith voted in favor of the project, and council members Christina L. Shea and Paula Werner against it.

Councilman Barry J. Hammond abstained from voting, citing potential conflict of interest because his business has clients in the gas station industry.

Developer J.M. Burnstine, who had won approval for the project at three previous Planning Commission meetings, dropped plans for a lube shop and auto repairs at the site after the council voted against the proposal in March.

But Shea said the project is still too large for the 1.7-acre lot, which required a variance from the minimum four-acre lot size required for commercial developments in the area.

“It’s the most poorly designed plan for a carwash I’ve ever seen,” Shea said.

Ward, who voted against the project the first time it came before the council, said the developer has been diligent in trying to make the planned business more amenable to the residential community.

“There is not going to be as much of an impact as these homeowners think,” Ward said. “All they’ll be doing is pumping gas and washing cars.”