Zoning administrator Peter Gilli on Wednesday evening approved a new Chick-Fil-A with a drive-through for 1962 El Camino Real. The Sizzler now there refused to pay "anything close to the market rent" the landlord said.
Gilli said he was torn about allowing a drive-through right next to a three-story apartment building, which was not recommended by city staff. He approved it after hearing only support from neighbors and the Chamber of Commerce.
"My knee-jerk reaction is the drive-through is too close to the apartment building," Gilli said. "But lacking opposition from immediate neighbors, it seems appropriate."
Three speakers at the meeting decried the loss of Sizzler's relatively healthy, cheap food.
"This is the last restaurant (in Mountain View) senior citizens can go to that they can afford," said resident Paul Birch.
"I love Sizzler," said landlord Kathy Lin. "Unfortunately they refuse to pay anything close to the market rent. They currently only pay $2,500 a month."
Two neighborhood residents actually showed up to the 4 p.m. meeting to support the drive through for its convenience, including Rachel McFee, a mother of three in the neighboring complex.
"It appeals to me to have that drive-through as a young mom," McFee said. "Families would really appreciate that."
Gilli said he could not consider in his decision on the politics of Chick-Fil-A, which actively supports anti-gay rights groups, but made it clear that "I'm not condoning anything in any way." He praised Chick-Fil-A for working with a neighboring property owner to turn two driveways into one, for one less driveway for pedestrians to cross and potentially be hit by a car. Gilli also noted that a new stoplight-controlled intersection at Clark Avenue on El Camino Real would also go in as part of the project.
Gilli also noted that the "vast majority" of emails he had received were in support of the fast-food restaurant.
Gilli's decision will stand unless a $1,000 appeal to the City Council is filed within 10 days. Council members have expressed interest in a moratorium on new drive-throughs on El Camino Real, citing the environmental issue of idling engines and concepts for turning El Camino Real into a Grand Boulevard.
"If this gets appealed I have no idea what council is going to say," Gilli said. "Those of you who have followed my decisions know I've had a rough couple of months."