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Congestion at New Chick-fil-A on State Street Hard for Some to Swallow

Santa Barbara officials order the installation of signs warning motorists not to block traffic while waiting to enter the drive-through

Cars back up onto State Street on Wednesday as drivers wait to order food at the drive-through window of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Santa Barbara. City officials have ordered signs warning motorists not to block the traffic lanes.
Cars back up onto State Street on Wednesday as drivers wait to order food at the drive-through window of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Santa Barbara. City officials have ordered signs warning motorists not to block the traffic lanes.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Crowds flocking to the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Santa Barbara are causing a bit of indigestion for neighbors and city traffic officials.

The restaurant’s drive-through window has been so popular that cars having been backing up onto State Street, causing congestion and prompting city officials to order the installation of signs warning motorists not to block the roadway’s right lane.

Chick-fil-A, which opened Feb. 7 at 3707 State St., has one of the few drive-throughs allowed in the city, and neighbors have been complaining about congestion in the area, according to traffic engineer Derek Bailey.

Drivers have been blocking the right-hand lane and a bike lane when the line has snaked out of the restaurant’s small parking lot.

Public Works officials say they hope it’s a temporary problem while people are trying out the restaurant.

The same thing happened when Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods opened, but everything settled into a more normal traffic pattern eventually, Bailey noted.

The city has ordered the installation of signs stating, “No waiting on street for parking lot” — and the appropriate Vehicle Code section — to post near the restaurant, and will install them soon.

“We’re really hoping we don’t have to send police along there for enforcement,” he said. “People just want a chicken sandwich; we get that.”

Chick-fil-A employees are trying to help by taking orders outside by hand so not every car has to wait and order into the speaker, which is making the line move faster, Bailey said.

“We hope it dies down in a few weeks,” he said. “If police enforcement is required, with that and signs, word will get out that people can’t wait on the street. Go around the block, or go down the block, park and walk.”

The site was formerly a Burger King, and has been the topic of controversy in Santa Barbara since Chick-fil-A president and CEO Dan Cathy said he opposed same-sex marriage in an interview last summer.

Architectural Board of Review members abstained from a vote on minor changes to the Santa Barbara project, some because of personal opinions about the company, and were later reprimanded and required to go through ethics training.

Since the restaurant’s opening, employees have been handing out coupons and giveaways, and there have been several protests by UCSB students and others.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 02.22.13 @ 08:32 AM

the answer is to have them closer drive thru

» on 02.22.13 @ 08:39 AM

Why would students protest a company whose CEO practices the right to free speech?

» on 02.22.13 @ 11:18 AM

“Congestion at New Chick-fil-A on State Street Hard for Some to Swallow”
Perhaps they have swallowed something else..

» on 02.22.13 @ 11:27 AM

Last night I was almost hit by a reckless driver who cut right in front of my car. She made an illegal left turn to cut into the line that was blocking the eastbound right lane of State Street.
It is a dangerous situation and it needs to be remedied
Where were the traffic planners of which our city seems to have a few too many?


» on 02.22.13 @ 12:48 PM

Glad to see that students (and others) are practicing their right to free speech by protesting against the homophobia of this company and its owner. Bravo to those taking a stand against hate!

» on 02.22.13 @ 01:06 PM

Didn’t any of the great minds, think that this might happen?

» on 02.22.13 @ 02:08 PM

Still free speech, not to mention freedom of religion, Goleta Guy.  You call it “homophobia”, other people call it their constitutionally protected relgiious beliefs.

Even so, I guess ignorance and reverse hatred isn’t keeping people away from Chick-Fil-A.

» on 02.22.13 @ 02:11 PM

The ABR members who made an issue of this restaurant and, especially, councilmember Murillo who supported them, speaking out against it, can be thanked for this huge popularity. (No doubt that owner of the franchise is _very_ grateful!) As for the traffic, it’ll subside. It’s a fast food restaurant; people will move on until some politico next rails against it.

» on 02.22.13 @ 02:21 PM

So what do we conclude here?

Do citizens believe the man’s right to free speech trumps his homophobia?

Are the citizens supporting homophobia by patronizing the place?

Or do they think the man’s position should be held separate from the decision to patronize the business?

I’m so confused….but I’d bet ChickFilA would have had a much less auspicious opening had the objectionista just kept their mouths shut.  Ironic, that….

» on 02.22.13 @ 02:40 PM

Libs only love anchor babies and hate our constitutionally protected freedums like free speech. 

People should be able to say what they believe in most situations.  You can’t yell “fire” in a theater, for example, nor can you criticize a republican president for starting a war on false pretenses against a country that didn’t attack us.  That’s treason.  It’s OK to criticize Obama on how he’s handling the wars republicans started, however, that’s fair because Obama is a socialist who loves anchor babies.

» on 02.22.13 @ 03:44 PM

One suspects the congestion may be partially attributable to the voluminous publicity generated for this business by Councilwoman Murillo and her fellow travelers.  I can’t recall a restaurant that has attracted as much public attention as this one has, thanks to the raucus behavior of a small group of zealots.  Perhaps they might learn from this episode.

» on 02.22.13 @ 04:22 PM

The City should ask the restaurant to post a traffic-control person [at their own
expense] to guide traffic into the parking area, and the drive-thru.

City residents and visitors shouldn’t have to deal with lines of people backed up
outer State Street, trying to get in to some shop for a dose of fried chicken, no
matter how good it might be.

The Police can also start citing folks for “failure to yield”, when those queued up
fail to be courteous, or use common sense.

» on 02.22.13 @ 04:38 PM

Enforcement is need NOW. Chicken-crazed motorists are creating a *very* unsafe situation on State Street. Vehicles are made to leave the right lane to continue eastbound, bicyclists have to be crazy to try to navigate through there. “No stopping” and “No driving in a bike lane” are already laws, why do we have to wait for signage?

Do we need to wait for someone to injured or killed before SBPD will do something?  It’s easy money for them, too. Many of those queuing up on State on talking on their cellphones, another non-enforced safety issue.

» on 02.22.13 @ 05:50 PM

I would like to thank the City of Santa Barbara, Council woman Murillo, the Architectual Board of review and the very few protesters for making this busness opening a GREAT SUCCESS. I am sure the owners also would like to thank you.

Suggestion- next time City people do your jobs and shut your mouths.

» on 02.22.13 @ 06:49 PM

The bike lane is legal right of way for vehicles turning right. California state law requires all vehicles making a turn to pull as far to the right as pavement permits. What is illegal is blocking through traffic making a turn. Through traffic has the right of way.

Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey all vehicle traffic laws. When a bicycle lane is blocked by a right turning vehicle, bicycles must use the through traffic lane to go around the turning vehicles. They are required to use the same merging traffic signaling when changing lanes from a bike lane to a through traffic lane and vehicles in the through traffic lane are required to follow the same merging laws required of any vehicle entering their lane. That is the law.

Where the law is not specific is what constitutes “No Stopping” in a bike lane. Is it vehicles being congested and stopping because right turning traffic is backing up (gridlock) as in the case of Chick-Fil-A or just vehicles stopping to let some one out? Precedent favors the latter not the former.

Sorry for the bloviation, but idiot asinine drivers who make right turns from the left side of a through lane, thus blocking through traffic, all to avoid merging into and using the bike lane to turn is a pet peeve of mine. As for Chick-Fil-A if they are as popular as another Christian owned business here in town, In-N-Out Burger, don’t expect the traffic to abate too soon.

The sorry state of outer State Street traffic is a result of years of meddling by social engineers into the traffic engineering field. There continuous desire to make streets narrower, with fewer lanes, less channelization and even blocking turn lanes with these idiotic bulb outs are why you drivers suffer. Their plan is simple make traffic as bad as is legally possible so you will be encouraged to not drive and as a tool for the no growth mob to stop any and all development. I think they are doing a rather good job don’t you?

» on 02.22.13 @ 09:35 PM

Ha, Ha, this is too funny!  All over the excitement about the chance to eat more crappy commercial fast-food fried chicken, just because it is marketed under a new label.

We get what we deserve.

» on 02.22.13 @ 10:36 PM

The main reason I ate there yesterday was due to the objections by Cathy Murillo and her thought-police liberal friends. It was good. Thanks Cathy

» on 02.23.13 @ 04:32 AM

When I heard that Chick Fil A was coming here; I mentioned there needs to be a bigger parking lot! For those who have not tried it to bad, you are missing out on fresh good food! Their lemonade, ice tea & brownies are so good! Chicken salad sandwich is good… I think it is ridiculous that cars can not wait to drive in. Are they kidding! Lets see, where ever there is land they are allowing buildings to be build! Tearing down beautiful historic buildings here. The traffic here is insane in Santa Barbara,we have to pay for parking in our beaches, 3 adult shops, a strip club, and people are complaining about cars waiting to drive in to the restaurant! I am sure its those who are against what President/CEO Dan Cathy said about, opposed same-sex marriage in an interview last summer.GOOD for him to have the nerve to say what is true. The 1% that oppose it, it is very sad. God will bless those who stand up for the truth. I am not surprised. The day he changes his mind on the truth; the restaurant will not last. I have nothing against those 1%. I am not a hater! God is the judge not me…

» on 02.23.13 @ 04:49 AM

BETTER than jack in the box, Carl’s Jr. McDonald, ! Try the lemonade! I tried their food in Tennessee 6 years ago. When I heard they were opening here… I knew this would happen & it is worth the wait & the staff are friendly! Something I have not witnessed in a very, very, very long time here in S.B.

» on 02.23.13 @ 11:23 AM

Obviously it isn’t about the food. People on both sides of “the issue” are creating the problem. The protester’s efforts have mostly backfired, and the anti-protesters are just as zealous in their support, as John Q and Lynnda Rae’s comments show. “fresh good food”? You have low standards.

» on 02.23.13 @ 03:11 PM

Trader Joes definitely still has horrible parking as well as accidents and poor flow. They need to add a no left hand turn out of that parking lot. Chick a fil will die down when everone realizes how horrible the food is for you. Yuck!

» on 02.23.13 @ 03:38 PM

That is right! I forgot about trader Joe’s parking “accident waiting to happen”! & yet nothing is ever said about that…Especially the location on De la Vina… YIKES!!! We know who are the haters & complainers… :)

» on 02.23.13 @ 04:01 PM

The liberals are so upset because the business is doing great.>>Traffic complaints by the tax and waste Dems, what a bunch of babies!!.The wacky 5% on the left are destroying our nation because the yell and scream louder than the 95% of us?

» on 02.23.13 @ 04:38 PM

Just wanted the thought-police that I’m heading over there right now for a sandwich. On a side note, All this bickering over a fast food restaurant is kinda ridiculous when you look at the grand scheme of things.

» on 02.23.13 @ 08:51 PM

John Locke: Freedom of Speech trumps everything else.

» on 02.24.13 @ 01:47 PM

There are two conversations going on here, the horrible traffic the city endures at the behest of its Orwellian social engineers masquerading as traffic engineers and highlighted by the popularity of an new drive through eating establishment, and then the hatred, exclusion and intolerance of those in this community who hypocritically say they and they alone lead the charge for inclusion, tolerance and acceptance and their protesting this eating establishment because they disagree with its owners political views.

Only in Santa Barbara.

» on 02.24.13 @ 03:14 PM


» on 02.24.13 @ 04:23 PM

Many of the protesters do like to swallow, and Iam sure its sometimes hard.

» on 02.25.13 @ 04:41 PM

“Public Works officials say they hope it’s a temporary problem while people are trying out the restaurant.”

Hope is not a plan.  Good luck with that whole fad meme.  Chick-fil-A has delicious food.  Get over it.  I still can’t believe that liberals drew a line in the sand over a chicken sandwich.  Delicious chicken sandwich or gay marriage?  Which shall I choose?  3 times a day I know which I’ll choose.  Chicken sandwich, because I was born that way.

» on 02.27.13 @ 12:51 AM

Bailey you need to do your home work! I drove by Trader Joe today & 3 cars stopped in front of me 3 different times, a lady crossing the Street towards the store & a biker almost hit her & yet everyone is smiling! I did not honk my horn because this is a regular ordeal at the stores & yet NO ONE COMPLAINS! We know who are the people complaining for a fact. SAD! Because they are haters & if one does not agree with their beliefs than some will through a fit…OMG…

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