The end of the drive-thru on El Camino? Other Issues, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:21 am
Citing human health, climate change and neighbor concerns, the City Council took aim at the uniquely American creation known as the fast-food drive-through on Tuesday, expressing interest in preventing any more from being built on El Camino Real.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 9:13 AM
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:21 am
Our City Council strikes again!
Today, people drive all the way up to Fairfield and burn a ton more gas just to get to a Chick-Fil-A; why not have one right here?
And how is it any worse than any other business that would take Sizzler's place?
Also, a moratorium on new ones will just keep the existing ones in business longer (since they won't have competition) -- wouldn't it be better to let the market dictate which ones stay vs. go?
The idea of a "grand boulevard" for El Camino is idiotic -- that works for a small, dense street like Castro street downtown, but it would never happen for a 6 lane road that's 600 miles long. Just banning a few drive-thru restaurants isn't going to do anything but deprive us of good choices and encourage the bad ones to stay. Let the market dictate what goes there, not a handful of power-hungry City Council members who are out of touch with reality.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm
1) The char-grilled chicken sandwich at Chick Fil A only has 4g of fat -- so it's not "fatty food".
2) Banning select types of restaurants doesn't make other food options healthier -- the presence of the drive-thru doesn't necessarily imply healthy or unhealthy
3) No matter what you put on El Camino where that Sizzler is, few people will walk to it
4) Banning new drive-thrus just makes the existing ones more popular since there won't be new competition. Chick Fil A is overall healthier than most of the other ones already on El Camino, so this is a net negative for health, and neutral on the environment. But the City Council doesn't understand economics, supply+demand, and consumer choice.
Posted by Tanya, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm
Council member Ronit Bryant disagreed about the necessity of a drive-through pharmacy, even for seniors.
"Seniors eventually need to get out of cars," Bryant said. "We're not all going to drive for the rest of our lives."
Ok, putting this person on my list of "people to remember not to vote for under any circumstances, because they have the empathy and understanding of a deer tick."
Seniors do need to get out of their cars, everyone does. But when you're sick or physically incapacitated, getting back to that pharmacy is a real pain. A drive-through is a good idea on that occasion. Hope this person never gets really sick, all i can say, but I'm still not voting for them.
Posted by Mark, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm
Sounds like our City Council is pretty damned bored to spend their time with this crap instead of focusing on the business of providing services to its local citizens. How about re-prioritizing your activities as council members and putting providing services to your citizens ABOVE this politically-correct, pro "green" stuff? Seems to me that this is a move against fast-food spearheaded by people who think that because THEY don't like fast-food, then I CAN'T MAKE MY OWN MIND UP ABOUT IT! Sounds like anti-fast-food-fascism to me!
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm
Banem: places like In 'n' Out and Chick Fil A have significant sit-down business as well. What's so bad about a drive thru? Would you rather have Sizzler, or another Chilis? How is that better for health or the environment?
If enough people in Mountain View agree with you, these places will go out of business anyway -- let the people decide, not some out-of-touch/bored/pension-grabbing/power-hungry City Council members.
Tanya: good point on Ronit Bryant. He should resign for his insensitivity toward seniors. I guess he plans to be in perfect health for his entire life. I'm sure he also currently walks everywhere he goes -- never drives, never flies on an airplane, and must expel oxygen when he breathes instead of carbon dioxide like the rest of us.
Posted by bkengland, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Infrastructure changes that move us away from being so car-focused are generally going to happen in incremental steps. And we’ll need both political and public will and support to get us there. If we don’t take those steps, nothing will change, and most of us will continue to use cars much more than we need to and be subjected to the collective noise, exhaust, and imposed hazards. We have eleven drive throughs in Mountain View already, and we certainly don’t need any more. Thank goodness we have a city council that can be forward thinking and be willing to do more than just rubber stamp the status quo.
Posted by Ernie, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm
The In-n-out drive thru is a menace and a safety hazard and I would be glad to see it and all others go away. I think the commentators above are going a bit overboard. This is a public safety and traffic management issue and I'm glad the council is taking it up.
Posted by Mounain Viewian, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm
I personally don't see anything wrong with another drive through. We have been exposed to worse things like the old Fairchild site where our water was contaminated years ago by them and yet nothing happened with that except that someone checked and tested the water...and the water was safe according to the City....which of course I don't believe for a second. I think it's good to have new business, new jobs instead of blighted buildings.
Posted by Michael Dunn, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm
Since I use a wheelchair to get around when I am not in my car, I choose my bank, my cleaners, my pharmacy, and my fast food establishments based on whether they have a drive through. Convenience is not laziness.
Posted by Close minded, a resident of another community, on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm
I'm sorry but I'm a working mom and getting out of my car for every stop I have to make can be overwhelming. If I can grab my child's prescription, cash flow for the week and an occasional coffee at a drive thru, it makes my life easier.
And what's the difference if my car idles at a red light on El Camino or in the drive thru? I have to be in my car, lots of people do, it's call life, work, kids, errands. Not everyone has the luxury of time.
Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm
If environment is what council cares about, doesn't turning off and turning on the engine to get our food even worst than idleing? At least that was one study's result. To me, this is just another big government. The council should take time to figure out how to fund our schools since they keep approving more housing.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm
If I wish to sit in my car and eat myself into oblivion it is none of the Mountain View City Council or for that matter anyone else's business. If I give myself a heart attack and can't afford to pay for treatment, then tough luck for me.
I am sick and tired of the well worn excuse that "society has to the bear the cost of my choices"
Society does not have to do any such thing. Society is choosing to do so and by doing so introducing a horrible moral hazard.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm
Another waste of my tax dollars hard at work. Great job city council. Let's see if we can find a few more initiatives to waste time/effort/money/digital ink on that won't truly have any positive effect on Mountain View and its inhabitants. Was this sponsored by an existing business with a drive-thru that doesn't want more competition?
Ronit, I will be paying closer attention during the next voting cycle. Your logic seems very flawed and I wish to have someone smarter in your position. And no, I'm not a senior, not handicapped, and actually rarely use the drive-thru businesses. I don't mind walking but I still think this has got to be one of the dumbest ideas I've seen in awhile.
It's no wonder people think Californians are nuts (I'm a native, so cool your jets before you get excited).
Posted by A.Lincoln, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm
My wife and I eat regularly at many places that have drive-thru windows, but we always park and get out of the car. Sitting in line in the car for the typical 5 to 10 minute wait just costs us more in the gas we burn, and it's much more comfortable to eat at a table.
Neither of us can fathom why people choose to sit in their cars as they do, when much of the time, they'd be done with whatever their business is much more quickly if they parked and went inside.
Posted by dominick, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm
I may be wrong but I believe that Ronit Bryant lives within walking distance of City Hall. Does she drive , skate, bike, carpool to the meetings? Funny how some politicians think that they know what we Voters should be doing, but don't practice what they preach.
Posted by Greg David, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm
All I have to say is,"You voted for them".
Tom and John are pretty level headed and rational when it comes to this stuff, so kudos to them.
As for whether someone refers to Ronit in the masculine or feminine, I don't see how it really matters relative to the discussion. If the guy doesn't know Ronit is a woman, who cares? YOU didn't vote for a man or woman, you voted for a REPRESENTATIVE. Unfortunately, the representation hasn't reflected reality for awhile now....
Posted by Ned, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2012 at 6:58 am
It's odd that the City Council would want to shut down drive thrus given the many illegals that find employment there. I guess they view the Day Worker Center as the only appropriate option for illegals which proves that the Nanny state envisioned by the council even extends to the illegal community as well. And what about the many drive-thru-for-day-worker site along El Camino? Are those the next to go?
The City Council should be focused on reigning in bloated salaries and pensions and not this nonsense.
Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of the Willowgate neighborhood, on Feb 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Maybe the City Council should spend less time worrying about drive-thrus on El Camino and more time worrying about the abandoned, burnt-out and/or boarded up eyesores on El Camino (such as Austin's) and on Moffett Blvd (former A&W and Cottage buildings respectively).
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2012 at 11:05 am
Given that it seems people are overwhelmingly against this idea (including two of the council members): How can we best organize to stop it? Show up to every council meeting and speak against it? Petition?
Let's show them how much Mountain View wants a Chick-Fil-A!
Posted by Old Ben, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm
When will City Council address the problem of Mountain View citizens being blinded by errant fingernail clippings? Mountain View subjects, errr, CITIZENS, need to be protected from themselves. A Council edict mandating that safety goggles be worn while trimming fingernails is absolutely essential.
Those bookstores downtown are selling subversive material, namely books. Can't something be done about that? And what kind of incredibly toxic fumes are wafting out of that TAP Plastics joint?
Cars that are insufficiently clean and shiny should be banned from public lots. People can't be trusted to not use their fireplaces on our everyday "Spare The Air" days. All fireplaces should be removed, preferably by city workers at city expense. Let's put the MVPD on a healthy vegan diet. We have to pay their medical costs, so it's up to us to decide what they eat. NO DONUTS!
Posted by Frustrated, a resident of the Stierlin Estates neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm
You're a man after my own heart. Welcome to the Nanny City. The Council has always known what's best for us, as do the other politicians across this wonderful country. Your take on the drive-thru edict is spot on. Keep the thoughts coming - some of us enjoy your take on things.
As for the council trying to stop drive-thru's, really? Don't you people have more important things to be doing - like maybe coming up with ways to deal with the increasing crime and gang issues? Our citizens are worried for their families and homes. And yet there you sit, voting on whether we should have any more drive-thru's. Seems like someone has your ear, and just maybe your pocket. Start doing the city's real work, and stop micro-managing. Drive-thru's on El Camino are not a problem. The problem is crime. Start dealing with it - PLEASE!
Posted by Old Ben, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm
Thank you, Frustrated.
I neglected to mention the children. How often has a child had his or her eyesight PERMANENTLY MAIMED by an errant fingernail clipping rocketing off the nicotine-stained digit of an irresponsible adult? Maybe never, you might say, but THE POSSIBILITY EXISTS!
I'll be circulating a petition soon DEMANDING action from the Council on this very matter, as well as a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. That stuff's a killer.
Posted by Colleen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm
I would welcome a Chick-Fil-A. My daughter went to school in Riverside and it was a great place for her and her friends to go to and she's been wanting one in this area. We have to travel too far away to go to one. They are just starting in Northern California (no there was never one in Sunnyvale)and it's also a great place for young adults to work at and we certainly need to open up more jobs for them. They are closed on Sunday's if people have problems with a drive-thru 7 days a week. You know there are some people that appreciate a drive-thru and this is a very good company!
Posted by Frustrated, a resident of the Stierlin Estates neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm
I do believe there was a Chick-Fil-A in Sunnyvale many, many years ago. It was located in what was once the Sunnyvale Town Center. I remember it as being in the Food Court and was always closed on Sundays. I do think that ugh is right on that one.
Posted by Gene, a resident of another community, on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:53 am
Wow. Everyone's getting all bent out of shape over whether or not drive-thrus for restaurants and retail are allowed in Mountain View. Aren't there other, more pressing priorities like the city's budget or the schools?
Personally I could care less about whether or not a restaurant has a drive-thru. When in Mountain View, I usually take the bus and walk to where I need to. Much better than risking my life and health driving solo along ECR. Cheaper than risking a parking ticket or having my car broken into or stolen while in the city.
Don't wait until your health declines to where you can't drive any more before you discover some of the health and safety benefits of walking to places. Try it sometime - you might like it.
Posted by Ray, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2012 at 10:17 am
How does one find out about new businesses moving in/out of town i.e. is the chik-fil-a location still up for discussion and is Sizzler out of business or moving? I would be interested to know these details. Traffic is horrible the whole corridor from El Monte to Grant as you drive along el Camino... ugh
Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of another community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm
Gene, you are certainly right to suggest that there are far more pressing priorities like the city budget. And these are the matters that the city council should concern itself with, not micromanagement of how restaurants interact with customers.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:38 am
How did Mountain View lose out on having Dittmers here? There are enough abandoned, rundown, or poorly performing businesses on El Camino that we should be encouraging any great business (whether Dittmers, Chick Fil A, etc) to come here. The City Council is wrong to try to be choosy about who can come.
Posted by Shannon Miller, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm
I can't believe this is even an issue in Mountain View. I use to live in Palo Alto and I wouldn't have been surprised if Palo Alto was wasting money over this. I have a friend that has MS and she goes to Pharmacies and food places where she can drive up to. Why take away everything and you can't just say it's for lazy people. Sometimes there are circumstances where a drive-thru is convenient and practical. I've had surgeries where it's harder for me to walk and I would love to have another place to drive up to on days where it's too hard for me to cook. Also, when I had young children it was much easier then having to wake up your children and take them out of the car seat. Such a waste of our tax payer dollars on this issue. I agree this establishment would be great to give jobs to some of our high school students!! Besides Chick-Fil-A is yummy!! I'm shocked at Mountain View!!
Posted by Erin, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:46 am
I applaud the City Council for noticing the need to take care of our health and environment even when many residents can't see the need for themselves. Plus, I see this as an issue to improve the quality of business in Mountain View. Another fast "food" chain is definitely not going to improve our quality of life.
-a injured, unemployed, babysitter of 3 young children
Posted by Frustrated, a resident of the Stierlin Estates neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 11:52 am
You "applaud" the city council?! Do you really want the government deciding what's best for you?! If the residents of Mountain View want another drive-thru, fast food establishment, it is ultimately our choice. Put it to a vote and let the majority decide. But allowing a small group of people decide what's best for the majority is wrong. Doesn't this whole thing smack of "nanny state" to you? If not, there are many other countries where you can go live where your choices are taken away from you under the guise of "we know what's best for the masses". Then you can rest easy knowing that bad choices won't ever be made for you because they will "notice the need to take care of our health and environment even when many residents can't see the need for themselves". Wow.
Posted by Jarrett M, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Drive through's are appropriate in more auto-oriented areas of the city like the Taco Bell on shoreline, or the In N Out by 101, but near areas that have the greatest potential to transform into walkable environments, they should be prohibited. Imagine if Castro street had a fast food store encircled by idling cars and multiple curb cuts across the sidewalk– the fine-grain pedestrian experience would be destroyed. Most of the the city is dominated by cars, I think it's fair to have a few areas that aren't designed to maximize the convenience of drivers at the expense of everyone else.
@Frustrated– yes, I want government, as in our representatives, making these kind of decisions. If we don't like what they're doing, we can elect different people. Imagine if every issue went to the ballot box– nothing would get done and the electorate would tire of relentless voting. This isn't 1790– direct democracy has its place, but it doesn't work for every single issue in modern society.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm
Jarrett -- how do you see the Sizzler on El Camino as a particularly walkable area? There's not all that much residential, the other businesses around there aren't dense, and there's no major public parking where people can park+walk. It's also six lanes wide, compared to two on Castro.
We already have a lot of vacant buildings or rundown businesses on El Camino. We also have a lot of drive thrus which aren't going to go away, especially if they're given a monopoly. So how does blocking a Chick Fil A make El Camino turn into another Castro street?
Posted by Jarrett M, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm
Nick: While the area around the sizzler/Escuela isn't the prettiest area of the city, it has some the highest residential densities in the city and some of the lowest car ownership and highest transit ridership densities. More than 10 percent of households do not own cars. This means lots of people who live there walk and ride transit to get to where they need to go.
El Camino is also the focus of several local and regional long range planning efforts and visions that aim to transform el camino into a boulevard, instead of an ambiguous semi-expressway strip corridor. In Mountain View's General Plan update, the El Camino corridor has been identified as a "change area" and the preliminary policies envision something more like a large-scale castro street than suburban strip mall corridor. The Grand Boulevard initiative also envisions El Camino with similar development and investments like VTA's BRT project will potentially reduce the part of the road dedicated to auto travel to 4 car lanes with 2 bike lanes and 2 bus-only lanes.
I don't think drive through's should be banned on the entire stretch of El Camino, but there are certain areas, like the neighborhood by the sizzler, that are characterized by high residential densities, and will continue to grow in the future and have greater potential to be even more walkable areas. The 237-grant road-85-El Camino area would probably be more appropriate for drive through's since there's more car oriented stuff there.
Posted by Ned, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm
I'd be willing to bet that the high density region at Escuela and ECR is also the poorest region in the city with a good percentage of the population being illegal or with illegal relatives living with them. Many are on welfare. Many people walk in the neighborhood because they either can't afford a car or don't have a legal driver's license. The minute they do get enough money for a car or anything else, they move out of that poor neighborhood. Many of these people would benefit from the low-paying jobs that drive thrus bring. How does all that fit into your analysis and the Grand Boulevard scheme of things. Please enlighten me.
Posted by Nick, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm
1) 10% does not equate to "lots of people" -- still means a vast majority tend to use cars.
2) Those 10% (and more) would happily walk to a Chick-Fil-A. Drive thru does not mean exclusively cars.
3) The 10% who can't afford cars are not likely to be the kind of customers that would build another Castro St or Santana Row. Look at the businesses on Escuela -- do you want more of those all along El Camino?
4) To really be a "Grand Boulevard", probably 90% of businesses on El Camino need a radical change -- most have big parking lots in front, primarily single story buildings, lots of space in between.
5) Say you deprive us of Chick-Fil-A; what will go in its place that's so much better? Keep the Sizzler? Or do you want more restaurants like "Tommy T's" that took over a previous Drive Thru not far down the street? How is a failing business better than a drive thru?:
Seems like compared to abandoned buildings like the Austin's BBQ or poorly run new businesses like Tommy T's, we should be bringing out the red carpet to a great business like Chick-Fil-A to bring jobs and taxes to our community. Surely the 10% without cars in that neighborhood would embrace a quality place to work!
Posted by Jarrett M, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Feb 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm
The 10% number means there are more people walking than in other parts of the city. Also, given the density of the residential units and the plethora of nearby services, research shows people will walk more even if they have access to a car. Many of the residential units are within a 10 minute walk of the many stores and shops around Escuela and El Camino, which is an ideal walking distance for most people. Since higher residential densities = more potential walking, shouldn't we be encouraging more people to walk?
Sure, you can still walk to an auto oriented store, but the more auto-oriented a place is, the less pedestrian friendly it is. Drive through's mean more conflicts with people walking, the design encourages people to drive, and a tremendous amount of space is dedicated to accommodating cars– it sends a clear message that the convenience of cars has been prioritized. It also sets a precedent for other redevelopment. If one project gets a drive through, than another one will want a giant parking lot in front and before you know it, we have auto strip El Camino Real 2.0, but built at higher densities
A lot of the properties along El Camino have fallen into disrepair and property owners are interested in redeveloping. The Austin's site has an applicant that wants to build a much more pedestrian friendly 3 story mixed use project with ground floor retail that faces the sidewalk. Prometheus has combined several properties around and including the tropicana lodge for a apartment development that has a strong pedestrian oriented street relationship. This is the type of development that should be encouraged along this section of El Camino Real. Like I said earlier, drive through's have their place out by the freeway, but the El Camino/Escuela area is starting to shift towards a more pedestrian friendly development pattern and we need [i]consistent[/i] pedestrian friendly design.
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Feb 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm
Another Prometheus development means more renters, not homeowners. Take a look at all the density from apartments along California Avenue. Attractive isn't it? And the area around Escuela and ECR is nothing but an eye sore. What are the services in that area you speak of? The 7-11? Cost Plus? The McDs drive thru? The auto-parts store? The laundromat? Kinko's? The party store? Or maybe the drive through coffee stand? What am I missing?
Posted by Ned, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2012 at 6:57 am
Yet all these establishments listed, drive-thrus included, even the porn shop (is the gun shop still a few blocks down?) have been there for quite some time, presumably all raising tax revenue for the city and providing services apparently to enough people to keep them in business!
Posted by GreatAuntie, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Mar 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm
We seem to be forgetting that El Camino Real is a very long street - not just people living around Escuela/ECR need to use it. ECR was not meant to be a Grand Boulevard. It was meant to be exactly what it is - a convenient major thoroughfare and it has been that for a very long, long, long time. Could things be tweaked a bit? Sure - just not to the extreme that has been proposed.
Besides, since all car owners will be driving alternative-fuel vehicles in the near future, what emissions at drive-thrus are we talking about?! The President says so, since he has no time for his administration to deal with gas prices going thru the roof.
Posted by Seer Clearly, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2012 at 8:21 am
The drive-through ban is about as crazy an idea as I've seen our Council of Amateurs come up with. If they're so concerned about emissions from cars waiting at drive through windows, they should take a look at the emissions of cars waiting at streetlights. This city has put streetlights up left and right whenever someone has whined to them about "safety", and the primary function of most of them is simply to delay traffic and waste gas both at idle and getting back up to speed (my pet peeve is Miramonte at Barbara, where at times 10 cars have to idle to accommodate one driver on the cross street.) On El Camino, you typically have 30 cars or more idling at each light, which dwarfs the 4-5 cars that might wait at a drive-through. Better traffic management and on El Camino would achieve the aim of reducing emissions far better than restricting business when these new businesses would bring cash to Mountain View.