Eleven years ago this month, developer Munther Ghazia, first put forward his plans for a carwash/oil change/restaurant complex at the corner of Brotherton and Centre City Parkway. At the time, the North County Times reported A restaurant, gas station, oil change and “boutique car wash” business could come to Centre City Parkway at Brotherton Road in south Escondido. Property owner Munther Ghazal, who ran a five-star hotel in Baghdad before Saddam Hussein’s government confiscated it in the early 1980s and now owns the manufacturing firm All American Plastic Bags in National City, has a vision for what he calls a true “service station.”
Eleven years later, this vision is nowhere near completion.
When this project came before Planning and then the City Council, it was not for just a Conditional Use Permit. Oh no. The “. . .car wash would not be permitted under the current South Escondido Boulevard Area Plan. The proposed oil change facility would require the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit and the proposed restaurant would be a permitted use. The applicant is proposing to amend the South Escondido Boulevard Area Plan to make car washes a conditional use similar to the oil change facility. A Conditional Use Permit has been submitted for both the car wash and oil change facility.” Over the years, the developer has returned again and again for extensions, modifications and fee waivers, giving Talk of the Town quite a dossier on the City’s Planning pages. Here’s the list:
It was noted in the Environmental Checklist that . . .the project has the potential to create significant noise and air quality impacts for the adjacent residents although mitigation measures have been developed to reduce those impacts to a less than significant level. While the mitigated impacts would not rise to the level of environmental significance, it could be determined that the proximity of the proposed development to the existing residential neighborhood could result in a finding that nuisance issues associated with the use render the site inappropriate for the proposed development. And it was for this reason, among others, that residents who lived above the site came to the Planning Commission and City Council meetings. On January 26, 2010 the Planning Commission denied the approval.
On August 15, 2011, the developer received a one-year extension and a waiver of a $72,500 fee. The UT reported that “. . . It was the first time the council waved an undergrounding fee since 2006.” Voting in favor were Abed, Gallo and Waldron. Diaz was the only one to vote NO.
On July 29, 2012, the developer received another one-year extension. This time both Diaz and Morasco voted NO, but the extension was approved by Abed, Gallo and Waldron. The UT reported that “The project has been on the drawing board for eight years; it was rejected once by the council and twice by the Planning Commission as too intense and a bad fit for the mostly residential area.”
I see no other extensions of the project since this meeting and it is obvious the project is still far from complete. The only other place I have seen the developer’s name is in two of Mayor Abed’s 460 forms that show campaign contributions from Mr. Munther’s home address totaling $5,140.
The last note on the project comes City Manager’s report dated March 26, 2014 states The Talk of the Town project at 400 Brotherton Rd. is progressing through masonry inspections. I would love to know if this project is ever going to be completed and how long the City will wait for a developer that can’t seem to get anything accomplished.