Chick-fil-A in Santa Barbara
A line of motorists waiting to enter the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Santa Barbara is backed up onto State Street. City officials have warned against “queuing in the street.” (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The chicken might be able to cross the road, but drivers should not. 

Rob Dayton, the Transportation Planning and Parking manager for the City of Santa Barbara, warned motorists on Thursday not to turn into Chick-fil-A if there’s a line of cars that backs out into the street.

“Please do not stop on State Street to queue into Chick-fil-A,” Dayton said in a statement. “Queuing in the street is not only dangerous and a blockage to normal State Street travel, but it is also illegal and is a significant fine if ticketed.”

Chick-fil-A is so popular that it has outgrown its space at 3707 State St. Like the In-N-Out restaurant, Chick-fil-A has garnered a cultlike following of people who crave the chicken cooked in peanut oil. Employees greet motorists deep into the driveway to take their orders. Still, even with the accelerated order techniques, hungry patrons typically fill the driveway and often snake out onto State Street, where cars are often whizzing by. 

Chick-fil-A opened in 2013, replacing Burger King. Even when it was going through the permitting process, the restaurant was tangled in controversy. Some members of the Architectural Board of Review abstained from voting on the proposal for personal and political purposes. The corporate ownership had given money to a then-proposition opposing same-sex marriage. 

Chick-fil-A did not return Noozhawk’s emails or calls seeking comment on the city’s demand, but Eric Friedman, a member of the Santa Barbara City Council, said that Chick-fil-A plans to work with the city to redesign its parking lot and driveway area to reduce the number of cars that have to back out onto the street. 

Friedman said the city has tried to work with Chick-fil-A during the past year, but it’s time for a “long-term fix.”

“I am concnered for public safety, not only for drivers, but pedestrians and cyclists,” Friedman said. “At the end of the day, it is a public safety issue. We are looking at different options where they can take more of the cars off the road and hopefully that will solve it.”

The city no longer allows new drive-thru restaurants, but there’s nothing the city can do to stop a drive-thru establishment from replacing an existing one.

“The nuisance to the public must be eliminated,” Dayton said. “Chick-fil-A representatives have acknowledged responsibility for addressing the public safety concerns and are actively pursuing options to address the situation both on a temporary and long-term basis. City staff has encouraged Chick-fil-A to expedite a resolution.”

The city did not report on accident data in its news release. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.