Wichita Falls city council shelter-in-place amendments restrict self serve car washes

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Wichita Falls City Council met Tuesday and put restrictions on car washes: drive-thru car washes were allowed to stay open, while self-serve car washes had to close, and the dispute is about whether manual car washes are essential businesses.

“They were concerned about touching the wands at a car wash,” Electra Construction Company owner Cindy Simmons said. “My reply to that is that we’re touching our gas pumps. We’re touching the produce in the grocery store. Thousands of people a day are picking up a tomato, an apple or an orange and it’s too soft and they put it back. There’s no way that we can clean that.”

That was the argument Simmons gave to the City Council on Tuesday as the City Council made restrictions to car washes, but Simmons said her concern is for essential businesses and their vehicles.

“We’re talking about pump trucks, we’re talking about those that are doing the yard maintenance and commercial maintenance of the lawns,” Simmons said. “We’re talking about our agriculture, our farmers. We have to be sure that those companies do not become liable by having a dirty vehicle and rocks flying off and hitting the windshield.”

Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana had this to say when hearing some of Simmons’s arguments.

“I may get to work in a dirty car, but I can’t make it to work without any gasoline,” Santellana said. “There’s the difference. You’re saying that I can drive around with a dirty car.”

Santellana also told Simmons during the meeting to bring research to back up her claims at the next meeting and the council may be more informed to amend the restrictions if they see fit.

“I need something on paper,” Santellana said. “I need more information on these chemicals. It’s hard for us to make any determination without all the facts and I’ve said from day one we need to be data-driven. And that’s gotta be factual data.”

Until then, residents and businesses will have to clean their vehicles elsewhere; and manual car wash owners have to hope the council will change their mind soon.

“I don’t want people to have to wash at home and have that water fall off into the drainage system,” Simmons said.

The City Council announced Thursday that their next meeting will be on Tuesday and the meeting will be in a virtual format where those wanting to make a public comment can call in.

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