Carmel Valley board approves new car wash at Carmel Valley Shell station

A rendering of the improved Carmel Valley Shell station.
(Karen Billing)

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board unanimously approved an upgrade of the Shell gas station on Carmel Valley Road at its Sept. 22 meeting.

Owned by KA Enterprises, which also owns the Shell station in La Jolla at the corner of Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Parkway, plans for the station improvements include a Bubble Buddies car wash and an expanded Mega Mart convenience store, replacing the existing mechanic bays. A total of 13 parking spaces will be outfitted with new self-vacuum stations.

Back in 2016, the station became San Diego’s only hydrogen fueling station. The hydrogen pump will remain but will be moved under the canopy with an additional pump for hydrogen fueling. The upgrade will also include one new electric vehicle charging station.

“With the state of California’s gas mandate of all cars becoming electric vehicles by 2035, sites like this need to evolve to stay relevant to continue to be an amenity for the community,” said Eugene Marini of KA Enterprises. “We’re working really hard and investing a lot to make sure this site does stay relevant….We think this is a great opportunity for that and a great way to make the site a lot more visually appealing.”

The project last came before the board in February and the board shared concerns about the car wash marquee signage sticking out on a 33-foot-tall tower, other signage that did not comply with Carmel Valley’s unique sign guidelines and the color scheme, particularly the “cartoonish” bright blue and yellow color of the Bubble Buddies branding.

Marini said they worked tirelessly with Barghausen Consultants and Omega Engineers to incorporate all of the board’s feedback. At the meeting, he shared a 3D rendering of the proposed development, showing how they had lowered the parapet walls to 26 feet, changed the signage to comply with the signage requirement and enhanced the landscape. They also updated the material color palette with a more warm, earth-tone look, matching what will be seen on the station’s new neighbor on the Old El Camino Real cul-de-sac, the Costa Azul hotel and restaurant development. That development will feature a seven-story Tempo by Hilton hotel and a five-story office building with space for two restaurants.

The entrance for the new car wash in Carmel Valley.
(Karen Billing)

“We tried to really listen to you on colors,” said owner Ken Assi, adding that the Bubble Buddies’ blue and yellow is now more muted but the colors are still needed to designate that it is a different business than Shell.

In their approval, Vice Chair Barry Schultz and the board members said they appreciated the applicant’s efforts to incorporate their comments and make adjustments.

“I think it looks a lot better than what is there today,” said board member Michelle Strauss.