Fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A is hoping to expand into the Bay Area with a new location in Mountain View, though the company's apparent opposition to gay marriage might not be so appetizing in these parts.
Zoning administrator Peter Gilli said in an email that on Wednesday evening, July 11, at 4 p.m. he may approve a proposed Chick-Fil-A to be built at 1962 El Camino Real in Mountain View, replacing a Sizzler near Rengstorff Avenue. City planners do not recommend he approve a drive-through that had been requested but City Council members oppose.
While council members say the owner's views are not a basis for rejecting Chick-Fil-A, the chain common to the Southern and Midwestern states does face opposition here over its support of anti-gay rights groups.
"I just want everyone to realize this is a company that does spend millions of dollars on anti-gay initiatives," said Mountain View resident Ray Hixson, "For me, it's just like if I knew a business funded discrimination against blacks, against women, against any minority group. I would not frequent that establishment. This to me is the same thing."
Chik-Fil-A's WinShape Foundation reportedly gave over $3 million to anti-gay rights groups between 2003 and 2009, including Marriage and Family Legacy Fund and Family Research Council, which oppose gay marriage. The foundation also reportedly funded groups that are said to bully gay students, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Focus on the Family, and a group which promotes ex-gay therapy, Exodus International.
Chik-Fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, reportedly has said "We're not anti-anybody," and that "Our mission is to create raving fans."
"Chick-Fil-A coming to Mountain View is actually going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of Bay Area residents who value diversity and equality above all," said Stuart Gaffney, media director of Marriage Equality USA, which organized a rally in Mountain View in February to celebrate a court ruling against Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban.
"In the four years since the passage of Prop 8, every poll taken shows more and more support for marriage equality," Gaffney said. "I wouldn't be surprised if equality minded residents were interested in eating elsewhere."
Council member Laura Macias said she disagreed with the owner's views, but could not make that a basis for rejecting their proposal.
"What they are doing politically as owners and individuals is not funny and I would not want to support a business like that," Macias said. "But I have to keep that completely separate from deciding if they are obeying the letter of the law in terms of land use."
Macias said she had not heard any neighborhood opposition to the proposal, but "I have heard from a good number of Midwestern transplants who are absolutely gaga over Chick-Fil-A."
In the future, something else may stand in the way of new fast food joints. Council members may pass a ban on new fast food restaurants that don't serve a certain amount of healthy foods, said Mayor Mike Kasperzak at a Community Health Forum in September. But such policies seem "a few years away," Kasperzak said.
A location in Fairfield is Chick-Fil-A's only location near the Bay Area's major metropolitan area, though stores in San Jose and Walnut Creek are set to open soon, according to the company's website. A Mountain View store could be the first on the Peninsula.
Gilli said his decision would stand unless someone in Mountain View files a $1,000 appeal to the City Council within 10 days.