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Council says no to Chick-Fil-A

Original post made on Oct 17, 2012

Mountain View's City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday evening against allowing a Chick-Fil-A to open at 1962 El Camino Real, saying that a drive-through restaurant would be at odds with visions of a bike- and pedestrian-friendly city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:38 AM

Comments (39)

Posted by OK, lets move on now, a resident of Castro City
on Oct 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

So there you have it. Its a drive through issue.
The owners could probably open one w/out the drive through. Come back w/out the drive thru portion and it can discussed fuller.

Thanks City Council. This is the right decision based on the right reasons.

Posted by nonsense, a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm

The property owner gets screwed in the end.

Funny, I wonder what a few thousand more rental apartments and a hotel and office buildings are going to do to walkability and bikeability on El Camino and San Antonio.

Posted by Yah But, a resident of Castro City
on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I never see lines of cars backed up at all hours in front of apartments, hotels or office buildings.
If the business cannot survive without a drive through, one must question the viability of its future.

Posted by obesity, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Be realistic. The type of people who eat this type of food would be greatly deterred from visiting by the exercise they would get by walking from the parking lot to the front door.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Heard about this as we often eat at Sizzlers.

I am not a fan of drivethrus unless it is snowing and freezing, which we don't get here.

I like what Tom Means is quoted as saying and suspect that the arguments against the drivethru are much more likely to be veiled comments against their religious affilliations rather than the drive thru aspect. Cars are going to use a parking lot and need to come out in traffic whether or not they have used the drive thru or parked and walked into the store. I expect the residents of the nearby apartments will actually appreciate the fact that they have an empty parking lot on Sundays rather than notice whether or not there is a car idling in the drive thru line.

I hope that they come back with a park only option and still get permission to open.

Posted by drive through, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm

You can find numerous examples up and down the peninsula of drive throughs creating huge traffic headaches. The problem is that car drivers wait in line and the lines snake out of the parking lot and on to the street, blocking traffic. This never happens when diners have to park and get out of their cars. If the parking lot is full, they will find a parking place down the street instead of waiting in line.

Posted by David, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Terrible decision by an inept council.

Ironically under the guise of a "Grand Boulevard", our Council is dooming El Camino to be a continued mess of rundown or abandoned shops, seedy businesses like the Alibi or the adult video store, and other generally failing businesses. They're basically saying that if you're likely to be successful, then you're not welcome because that may bring traffic. The reality is that there are no businesses like "Ronit and Siegel's Walk-up Vegan Shakes" looking to open in place of Sizzler (and if they did, they wouldn't succeed). The more vibrant the businesses on El Camino (regardless of what type), the more likely it is that El Camino will someday be this "Grand Boulevard".

The Council needs to focus on:
1) Being pro-business to bring in tax revenue (look at our costs -- we need tax revenue to avoid being like Stockton or other cities)
2) Make Castro St. the real "Grand Boulevard" of Mountain View. Already having trouble supporting businesses on one street (e.g. the grocery store claims to be struggling)
3) Safety -- the accidents with cars+pedestrians are on streets like California, not El Camino
4) Crime -- plenty of burglaries in Mountain View, despite our well-funded police department

Instead, they get hung up on one more drive-thru or plastic bags. What a waste!

I'd like to see a recall for all but Means and Inks. Need some sanity in Mountain View. If others are interested, we should organize one ASAP.

Posted by A Wolf dressed as a Lamb ?, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Zoning administrator Peter Gilli had previously approved the project, citing no real opposition at the time, and the fact that being closed Sunday would reduce drive-through impacts. The decision was appealed to the City Council, by not one, but two groups.

The first appellant, David Speakman, had raised the $1,000 appeal fee on overnight, noting Chick-Fil-A's funding of anti-gay rights groups. But Speakman and his husband Richard focused entirely on land-use issues on Tuesday night, as did everyone else. City officials noted that "free speech issues" could not be taken into consideration.

Posted by LOL, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm

One resident said the noise levels might be tolerable on average, but that doesn't account for "that one V8 Mustang that comes through every hour, revving its engine."
This resident spends Her/His time standing at drive throughs just to see how often " that one V8 Mustang" orders Chicken just to rev its engine ? Who needs a traffic study with citizens like this ?

Posted by Nadyne, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Jim, I read the article and understood the joke (and it got a bit of a chuckle). Given that your intent came through loud and clear, I don't think that you should assume that there is some kind of vendetta.

Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm

By the way, for those of you that are tired of the City telling us how many restaurants we can have and where, what type of bags we can use, and everything else they can ram down our throats in the name of "The General Plan", I have started a petition to have the donated portions of the Berlin Wall installed on City Hall Plaza as a reminder of what happens when the government controls every aspect of our lives. If you want to sign the petition here is the link:
Web Link

Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Nadyne, I'm glad you understood, but if you take all of Debolt's articles about me as a whole, it is clear that he has some kind of problem with me. Even when I provided him with written responses, he rewrote what I said.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

This "excuse" of opposition based on a drive-thru is just a lame attempt to pacify the so-called "open minded" folk who oppose Chick-Fil-A based on political reasons. If CFA was pro-gay you can bet everyone would've welcomed a drive-thru with open arms. Those same "chicken crazed" teenage drivers are still on the roads an dthis does not improve bicycle safety one iota. In-N-Out has a drive-in right next to apartment complexes and I don't see any complaints about them.

This "argument" is complete garbage. I feel sorry that the owner of the building is being victimized by Sizzler and now the political agenda of the truly closed-minded folks who bullied the spineless city council into caving.

Shame on all who had a hand in this. I'm sure you feel proud that you defended Mountain View against the evil empire.

Posted by Drive-Through babe, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

So I guess the city council is going to begin discussion on how to enact a vote to close down Taco Hell and Jack-in-the-Crack? I'm pretty sure there might be at least one other restaurant with a drive through access from ECR, but I can't think of it off the top of my head. I'm still trying to come out of the daze of stupid stupid our fine city council is hoping I get lost in.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@Jim Neal,

I think journalists generally print the most newsworthy comments, in their opinion. And the one about the Mustangs was a lot more memorable than your other comments, unfortunately (though I still remembered them, as they were good points). It drew a good laugh from the crowd, which I would assume is what you were aiming for.

I would be shocked if there were anything more to it than that. For other references, see "binders of women" or "Big Bird"

p.s. Do you actually own two of the same make and model of car? Or was that part said in jest as well?

Posted by Croc Dundee, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I was unable to attend the hearing. Where exactly in the room did the elephant sit?

Posted by George, a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Here comes another nail in the coffin of free choice, self reliance, and Nanny Stuff.

Once again, the City "Fathers" (and Mothers" ) let their left wing world control their decisions... So what's the suprise ?

Bye George

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@Jim Neal,

Was your first post in the comments removed by management? I don't see it anymore, and Nadyne's comments and mine are both now kind of non-sequiturs.

Posted by juniperk, a resident of Gemello
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm

purely arbitrary decision or deliberately denying because of CHick-fil-a's controversial position on gay marriage. anyone with an ounce of common sense would know that it is more to do with the controversy that Chick-Fil-A generated. I guess freedom of expression doesn't apply to everyone. Now Imagine if McDonald's or Starbucks' comes out some such controversial position. Politicians at all levels of our ogvt are liars and thieves of the worst kind. MV city council is no different. shameless and foolish residents of this town voted for these crooks who are running our city.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@The elephant in the room,

I guess we can never know what thoughts people truly have going through their minds in a case like this. We can only go by their actions and their words. I certainly hope that all the council members didn't internally consider issues that can not be considered, but there's no way to know, now is there? There was certainly a kabuki-esque quality to the proceedings, what with the absence of said room-elephant.

I would have liked to see and hear all the councilmember's deliberations with my own eyes and ears, but after spending 5 hours and 45 minutes in those chambers, I had to call it quits at 10:15 PM :) Hopefully I'll catch it on video.

Truth be told, the site is question is a very difficult site, and not the one you would pick for a drive through if you were CFA and had your choice of sites. I feel the same way about the site with the In-N-Out at Grant and ECR; that is one terrible drive through configuration. In my car, it often requires a K-turn to make the turns in the line!

I think it would be great if CFA found a less impacted/compromised site somewhere else in MV, and reapplied. They are certainly a better asset to the community than most of the other 26 drive throughs in MV.

On a related note, I don't think we should start acting as if MV residents are about to abandon their use of cars in the near future, no matter what the 2030 General Plan or some regional planning or transit agency says.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

Does anyone know what 'market rent' should be for that site that Sizzler pays $2500 a month for?

Posted by relocated southerner, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm

This is a huge disappointment for me. I have been looking forward to this Chik Fil A for as long as they have been discussing adding one in MV. I find all of the arguments about traffic, noise, and safety to be filters and excuses, since the opposition didn't start until CFA made national headlines as anti-gay marriage. I agree with other commentators that El Camino is no grand boulevard, and in my opinion, CFA would be a good REGIONAL drive through option on El Camino that isn't a Jack in the Box or In and Out Burger. CFA is one of the few drive through restaurants that I would actually go to, and shame on everyone who stereotypes "the type of people who go to drive-throughs." Living in OMV, I do my share of walking and cycling, and I am also the person who would go to CFA! I hope CFA does explore a no-drive through option, otherwise, I'll just keep DRIVING over to San Jose (so much for the city council's advocacy for environment) and SPENDING my money there (so much for keeping money here in the city). BAD MOVE CITY COUNCIL!

Posted by Pooch, a resident of Castro City
on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I know whatcha mean. I have to drive to Fremont to find a Wienerschnitzel. Hey! There used to be one of those in MV. Bring back the drive-thru-less Wienerschnitzel!!!

Posted by long time MV resident, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

As one who worked extremely hard compiling facts on this CUP the appeal I was involved in was purely honest. Our objection to this business on this site was clear long before the stories appeared in the news. The appeal was not taken lightly by any means and there was no ulterior motive whatsoever. This was quite simply the wrong business for the wrong site at the wrong time, end of story. I will be very happy if CFA is able to find another home without a drive through in our city and I never understood why this site was selected. I visited several locations during the research phase and found them to be superior in design to the average fast food restaurant. On the same note I hope the property owner is able to find a suitable business for her site. The time put into the appeal process was overwhelming. I understand it must be easy for some to now sit on the sidelines and speculate that there was more to this but there was not.

Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

-- GColadon, Yes my prior comment was removed. So much for free speech! I guess some people can say whatever they like about me and not have the article corrected, but if I try to say something in my defense, it gets deleted.

Posted by former MV resident, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I would LOVE to sign the recall, but I'm not a MV resident anymore. Good Luck; this is so idiotic, it's really hard to believe it's actually happening.

Posted by Not New To This, a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Reading the terms use I don't see how someone would be confused that this was a free speech msg board.

Anyone who has the misunderstanding that this site isn't owned by a private entity who can do whatever they want with whatever post they want is _sorely_ mistaken.
There is no free speech on internet msg boards...never has been...anywhere!
Wait, I bet there were attempts and they just filled up with spam ads. Don't know for sure, but that's what would happen in about 3 minutes.

Posted by NeHi, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Wow, that deletion [Defender's message] was quick.

Posted by Jeffrey H, a resident of Castro City
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by LOL, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Just found this, Chick-Fil-A Challenge!!! by Jim Neal
Web Link

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@long time MV resident,

Thank you for your post, you seem sincere and sound honest to me. I am always glad to hear citizens getting involved, and trying to help make the community better, according to whatever values they may have. Much better than apathy, no matter what values the person has.

I would like to ask if you might expand on your sentence which began, "I will be very happy if CFA is able to find another home without a drive through in our city"

It sounds like you wouldn't be very happy if CFA found another home in our city that had a drive through? Why is that? CFA does happen to be a 'drive through restaurant business', not unlike In N Out.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@ MV Voice,

Sometimes when a message is removed, there is an explanation for why it was removed. I think that's very helpful.

What's the deal with messages that are removed silently with no explanation? What's the good in doing it that way?

So far on this thread, I've read two messages that have since been made to not exist.

Is that supposed to be good for business or something? Because I definitely don't think its good for the community.

Posted by Jim neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Jim neal is a registered user.

Just for the record, I do own two Mustangs but they are different years and I drive far less than Anyone on the city council and less than any of my opponents in the race, it's amazing how concerned some of them are and yet they won't give up thier cars!

Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 18, 2012 at 6:57 am

Otto Maddox is a registered user.

I laugh each time I read the term "grand boulevard" used to describe a future version of El Camino in Mountain View.

Yeah right. Please point to any section of El Camino, in any city, that has been transformed into this magnificent masterpiece of planning.

Some people are trying to put lipstick on a pig. If anyplace in the city of Mountain View was meant to be lined with drive-thru businesses it was El Camino.

Posted by Trisha, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Trisha is a registered user.

Ridiculous! Come on! There is an In & Out Burger, as well as a Jack and the Box establishment off of El Camino. BOTH DRIVE THROUGH. Perhaps, people would like the option of a Chick-Fil-A establishment to go. The employees are quite friendly and the food is much better. Whether or not there was a drive through, I would make the trip from LG to MV to order my favorite.

Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

It's nice to see that the city council is being consistent about their Grand Boulevard Initiative. But it seems like it might be off to a rough start given this paragraph:

The owner of 1962 El Camino Real, Kathy Lin, was in tears at the end of the meeting with a crowd of Chick-Fil-A supporters around her. She told the council that the Sizzler there now was refusing to pay "market rent" for the site and that it had become a financial burden on her family. "We could not tenant anyone else," Lin said. "Only Chick-Fil-A or a 24-hour Denny's. We don't have much choice."

Either the city council is having trouble getting businesses to believe in the effort or Kathy Lin thinks "market rent" is much higher than it actually is.

Posted by David, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm

David is a registered user.

Scott Lamb -- the issue is that El Camino in Mountain View is dotted with empty buildings, for lease signs, sketchy businesses, and businesses that won't succeed. That doesn't make for a "Grand Boulevard", and drives down the market rate for leasing for everyone.

The Council is naive to think they can pick-and-choose their way to a Grand Boulevard. And ironically they are denying the very businesses that are most likely to succeed, based on the argument that they will generate too much business!

They should support any business that is likely to thrive; this will in turn drive up market rates for leases, bring in more businesses, create natural densification, and in turn create more of a "Grand Boulevard".

But the Council (other than Inks and Means) have little/no business background, and clearly don't understand economics.

A "vision" without a realistic plan is worthless. Meanwhile, we have Castro that could actually be a "Grand Boulevard", but the Council spends their time worrying about a chicken joint on El Camino. Why would any business want to set up shop in Mountain View with these clowns at the helm?

Posted by DavidR, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

Hey, it's not just the Grand Boulevard idea. Something was fishy with that whole application, and I don't mean any publicity stunt free speech gay marriage issue.

Don't feel so bad for the property owners. They only bought the property back in 2007. Their speculation will eventually pay off. The parcel immediately behind separating Sizzler from Latham changed hands in April of this year, for about $1M. Combine the two properties and put the driveway through to Latham and the whole picture changes. The sizzler property with or without a light at El Camino is not big enough by itself to host a drive through. It doesn't have enough connection to El Camino to keep traffic from backing up getting to the proposed Chick Fil A development. That's why the market value of the parcel and its market rent is less than the current owner's would like. If they bought the parcel behind the combined vallue of the two properties would go up. Similarly if it was consolidated with the strip mall next door, and even better on down to include the Cost Plus strip mall and the Escuela corner, things would change too. The speculation on the property value increase isn't going to pay off within 5 years. Boo hoo.

Posted by Darin, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

Darin is a registered user.

Re: "Why would any business want to set up shop in Mountain View with these clowns at the helm?"

It isn't just Mountain View. A few years ago, a study found that the direct costs of regulatory compliance to California's small businesses exceeded their tax burden. The indirect costs are even higher.

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any regulation, but if we want to promote small businesses, then we need to consider the regulatory environment in addition to taxes.

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