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Goleta Council Rejects Drive-Through for McDonald’s at Camino Real Marketplace

With a 3-2 vote, city leaders uphold an appeal by the Goodland Coalition citing traffic and parking concerns

In a close 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the Goleta City Council denied the McDonald’s drive-through project proposed for the Camino Real Marketplace.

McDonald’s franchise owner David Peterson has made his case to the Goleta Planning Commission and the City Council for months, asking to add the drive-through to his restaurant in the Camino Real Marketplace.

The Goodland Coalition appealed the Planning Commission’s approval, but the council upheld the project in November. However, the council’s concerns made Peterson redesign portions of his project, so the revised project was presented for the first time Tuesday night.

While some council members said the revised plan was better, three believed the drive-through was inappropriate for the location and upheld the appeal. 

McDonald’s is located on the edge of the shopping center on Marketplace Drive and Storke Road, which is a busy intersection, and critics worry that a drive-through would make the congestion even worse.

Council members Ed Easton, Jim Farr and Paula Perotte voted to uphold the appeal and deny the drive-through.

For the appeal, Goodland Coalition attorney Marc Chytilo argued that the changes didn’t help circulation or parking issues — they may have added more problems.

However, Goleta city staff said the project has no significant environmental impacts and is consistent with the city’s General Plan and Zoning Code.

The drive-through queue could fit 13 cars, and the restaurant added a larger patio with landscaping in front of the restaurant. Both designs have medians to prevent left turns into Home Depot, which can block traffic all the way to Hollister Avenue. 

Disabled parking spots were moved directly in front of the restaurant, and there were slight changes to the paved sidewalks and crosswalk areas being added.

“The real issue with the facility here and proposal to put in a drive-through is impacts it will have on circulation both in the marketplace as well as on external roads,” Chytilo said.

He called the Marketplace Drive entrance off Storke Road a “conflict zone” with all incoming and outgoing traffic in one spot.

Peterson argues that his design improves the circulation at that spot, and that the drive-through would bring in customers who are already shopping in the area. His two other McDonald’s locations with drive-throughs — at Fairview Avenue and Cliff Drive — never have circulation issues or long wait times, he said.

Every meeting for this project has drawn a large crowd; fans say the drive-through will be a great convenience for families and disabled people who won’t have to get out of their vehicles for food. Critics say the project is inappropriate for this spot, and that the queue of idling cars would add more vehicle emissions and traffic. 

Perotte agreed that the area needs more sidewalks and a crosswalk, but said the city could partner with the Camino Real Marketplace to build all the planned pedestrian improvements in the area.

“We should not have to approve a drive-through to address this issue,” she said.

Farr said the project would exacerbate the existing traffic problems, which are likely going to get worse with cumulative effects of development in the area. At the Storke Road and Hollister Avenue intersection alone, a new hotel and residential complex are being built right now.

Councilman Roger Aceves said there is a drive-through window already built into the building, which proves it was always meant to have one. The project has gone through many revisions and done everything the city asked, he said.

Aceves was in the minority vote to approve the project and deny the appeal.

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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