CPA Objects to Chick-fil-A Expansion

Dear Santa Barbara City Council Members:

Citizens Planning Association has worked to create and support city guidelines and ordinances for more than 60 years. Many of our current members remember clearly the creation of the drive -through ordinance which prohibited additional drive through restaurants and expansion of existing drive-throughs in our City.

In a separate comment letter, former Deputy City Attorney James O. Kahan provides an historical perspective of City action to eliminate environmentally detrimental drive-throughs. He mentions the EIR done when Burger King was allowed to become Chick-fil-A. CPA finds this factual history compelling as it highlights why the ordinance was created. Allowing this business to now expand violates this ordinance. The ordinance (30.185.160) reads:

New or expanded drive-through facilities are prohibited. There shall be no new floor area, and no intensification of use on existing structures developed with a drive-through facility. Existing financial institution drive-through facilities may be replaced in kind with automated teller machines provided the number of drive-through lanes does not increase.

The CPA board believes this is the policy and it should be followed. What now seems to be worked out between the owner and city staff is an expansion/intensification from what was permitted. We believe this violates the original ordinance.

An Environmental Impact Assessment Application was completed 5/17/1979 which included the intent of the ordinance. It states:

Project is intended to reduce vehicle trips generated, maintain air quality, conform to AQAP (Air Quality Achievement Plan) land-use strategies.

We have also read the staff report from the recent ABR hearing and disagree with its conclusion that this is not an expansion.

The proposed Chick-fil-A Site Improvement Plan adds additional drive-through lanes that increase the stack from 8 to 22 cars, increases the area for cars nearly 2 1/2 times from 2403 sq ft to 5,735 sq ft and expands the driveway apron to accommodate more cars. These all would have a direct negative impact on the original intent and must be considered as a violation of the ordinance.

Council should acknowledge that the Site Plan violates code, and the Traffic Circulation Plan, which requires the Site Plan, is not a viable agreement.

The CPA board also disagrees with the idea of permitting this expansion under the guise of a traffic circulation agreement. Again, we feel the ‘remedial actions’ involve an expansion.

“Staff and Chick-fil-A have worked diligently and, in the opinion of the City Attorney, successfully, on a series of remedial actions. Staff will be recommending Council approval of a proposed Traffic Circulation Agreement”.

Thank you for following the existing ordinances regarding drive-throughs and not allowing this expansion. A possible solution is to eliminate the drive- through lanes, use that space for parking and a patio area, and transition to an indoor/outdoor family dining experience. City residents look forward to a solution to this traffic/circulation fiasco and to being able to once again travel safely in this area of upper State Street.

To quote a CPA member, ‘An expansion is an expansion”.

Marell Brooks, President, Citizens Planning Association