Parking lot wash may be illegal

By Justin Boron

All it takes is bright poster board, a hose, soap and some sunshine.

They are the ingredients for the dozens of parking lot car washes that come in droves during the summer months.

Popping up sporadically throughout the county, the washes usually garner donations for a church, charity, or school.

The participants wave signs and shout at drivers, hoping to lure a few cars in for a wash.

Reginald McDougald, 37, of Jonesboro recently set up with family and friends at the Taco Bell on Tara Boulevard, hoping to raise money for a kidney transplant.

He said all it took was the property owners' permission and they were good to go.

It would seem to be an easy way for non-profit organizations to enterprise, said Sherri Christian, 23, another car washing fund-raiser.

She said the managers at Long John Silver's didn't mind them plugging their hose to a faucet so they could raise money for their church's youth summer camp.

"It's just a way to keep kids off the street," she said.

Little did the two car washers know, what they were doing was illegal.

Eddie Williams, the county director of community development, said his code enforcers aren't out to get the fund-raising drives. But the innocent charities are easily confused with other types of washes that he says the county does target.

"If its for a charity thing, they need to let us know," he said.

Clayton County licenses businesses to operate from mobile detail units, which they can take from home to home to wash people's cars.

The businesses, Williams said, are authorized to wash in driveways, but too many times, they plant themselves in a parking lot.

In the summer, he said it becomes more of a problem.

While some of the car washes may be for a good cause, he said people should be cautious, if not for getting ripped off, then for environmental reasons.

The soapy runoff usually drains into the county's creeks or water system, he said.