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Nanny of the Week: Virginia hoses down car wash fundraisers

By   /   May 23, 2014  /   No Comments

Part 6 of 22 in the series Nanny State of the Week

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

MINNEAPOLIS — For years, car washes have been a fundraising staple for high school sports teams, marching bands and youth groups.

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SHUT IT DOWN: You can’t have fundraising car washes in Arlington, Va., anymore. In fact, you can’t have any car washes on private property without a permit from the state.

Just get some kids together with buckets and soap, rent out a parking lot, put up a sign and hope it doesn’t rain.

But in Arlington, Va., you also have to hope the government doesn’t catch you.

Charity car washes and car wash fundraisers are now banned there, after the city’s Department of Environmental Services issued new rules for stormwater and water runoff.

The county pins the blame on the Virginia General Assembly, which approved more stringent water regulations last year.

There is an underlying reason why most types of car washing are not allowed under state and federal stormwater regulations,” DES spokeswoman Shannon Whalen told the Arlington News.

Those important reasons: washing cars can cause chlorinated water and soap to wash into local streams, which flow into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

But Whalen found a silver lining in the new regulations.

“There are educational and environmental benefits that come with finding new and environmentally friendly ways to raise money for extracurricular activities,” she said.

Yes, indeed. One of those educational benefits: high school kids get a first-hand civics lesson in how government shuts down just about any activity it doesn’t like. Try finding that lesson in any textbook.

Coaches told the Arlington News they’re concerned about how the ban will affect sports and other activities. After all, the market can only handle so many bake sales.

The new stormwater regulations in Virginia have consequences beyond Arlington.

By the letter of the law approved in July 2013, all car washes that aren’t for personal use require a permit from the state government, even charity car washes held on private property.

For their concern about the environment, Virginia’s lawmakers and Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services win our Nanny of the Week award this week.

Their prize is a lifetime of dirty cars with “Wash me — even if the government doesn’t allow it” scrawled across the back windows.

Boehm can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org and follow @WatchdogOrg and @EricBoehm87 on Twitter for more.

Part of 22 in the series Nanny State of the Week
  1. Nanny-state state of the week: MD may become first to ban Vaportinis
  2. Nanny-state city of the week: Minneapolis wants to ban take-out trays
  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
  4. Nanny state of the week: Fairfax, VA, wants to limit the right to assemble
  5. Nanny state of the week: SC — and Schumer — for duplicative efforts to ban powdered alcohol
  6. Nanny of the Week: Virginia hoses down car wash fundraisers
  7. Nanny of the Week: Even a summertime trip to the beach can’t be nanny-free
  8. Nanny of the week: Federal authorities think feral cats can read signs
  9. Nanny of the week: Cambridge wants to ban ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft
  10. Nanny-stater of the week: NY lawmaker wants to ban photos with tigers
  11. Nanny-stater of the Week: Who needs cupcakes and candy? Here, have a pencil
  12. Nanny-stater of the week: Fargo limits kids to less than four shots of juice per day
  13. Nanny-stater of the week: Wisconsin towns fight repeal of bow ban
  14. Nanny of the week: No fun in the sun, thanks to Congress and FDA
  15. Nanny-stater of the week: DOT to ban cell phone use on planes
  16. Nanny of the week: The out-of-control trend of arresting non-helicopter moms
  17. Nanny of the Week: Vermont city could ban ‘human activity’
  18. Nanny of the Week: Mississippi makes bird feeders illegal – by accident
  19. Nanny of the week: MO town bans breastfeeding near pools
  20. Nanny of the Week: School bans lip balm, 11 year-old girl fights back
  21. Watchdog.org blows lid off Vermont’s bake sale brownie ban
  22. Nanny of the Week: Seattle imposes fine on residents who throw away food

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.