Santa Maria Planning Commission Denies Starbucks Drive-thru Due To Traffic Problems | Local news


Traffic problems at an already congested intersection prompted the Santa Maria Planning Commission to reject a request to allow the existing Starbucks to add a drive-thru operation.

The proposal would have required the reconstruction of the existing structure at 1201 E. Main St.

The building is currently home to Starbucks as well as Subway and Al Pho, both of which were said to have been left with no space as part of the plan for a smaller building on the site. Demolition plans would have removed most of the structure to leave a 1,525 square foot cafe with a drive-thru option.

However, after neighboring properties expressed concerns last month, planning commissioners voted to deny the request and they formalized the action this week. Commissioner Tom Lopez abstained because he missed last month’s meeting.

“I really haven’t seen anything here tonight to change my opinion which I had at the last meeting,” said Commissioner Tim Seifert. “They don’t want or can’t change the project.”

Opposition to the proposal came from a representative for a nearby owner who is also looking to add a drive-through Starbucks at a nearby site, which is one block from the worrying crowded intersection.

The existing Starbucks, Al Pho and Subway are adjacent to the northbound access ramp of Hwy 101 with a traffic light. Neighbors is a health and wellness center affiliated with Marian Regional Medical Center and Home Motors car dealership.

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An artist concept represents the Starbucks offered driving on East Main Street in Santa Maria. The City Planning Commission rejected the project due to traffic problems. (Contributed renderings)

Drivers entering the three restaurants, making left turns or U-turns nearby, urged planning commissioners to voice concerns about the addition of an already busy intersection. Concerns included blocking the flow of ambulances heading to the hospital.

Project applicant Greg Fick, vice president of land development firm Tait & Associates, said a traffic study showed the new project would actually reduce the number of vehicles entering the site on a daily basis.

“Before you that night, there was absolutely no evidence that this project was going to generate more traffic,” he said.

The traffic study determined that adding a drive-thru but removing two of the restaurants would result in about 700 fewer trips per day to the site.

Adding a drive-thru option would be critical to the site’s success, Fick said, especially given the uncertainty created by COVID-19.

He noted that staff initially recommended that the commission support the project.

Commissioners also noted possible negative effects on the neighboring property, which Fick questioned.

“If our project has less travel than the existing condition, how is it possible that there is a greater impact? It just doesn’t make sense, ”he added.

The planning commissioners’ rejection of the project essentially prohibits any redevelopment of the property due to the perceived impact on a neighbor, Fick said, adding: “The only interest in his project is a competing interest.”

Last month Jacob Weintraub, a representative for the owner of the property now housing Home Motors, said they had a planned development permit pending for a fast food restaurant facility at 1313 E. Main St., “currently reported for the same potential tenant as 1201 E. Main, which is Starbucks. “

“I’m not here tonight to nitpick 1201 and strengthen our position with Starbucks given that any fast food tenant would be successful in our proposed location at 1313,” Weintraub said at the Nov. 17 meeting. “I am here tonight because the development of 1201 has a poorly planned entry and exit and is causing difficulties for our current tenants which caused us concern during the initial PD [planned development] process 15 years ago.

The 1313 E. Main St. site is further from the congested intersection with the northbound ramp on Hwy 101 and Nicholson Avenue, where exit traffic from Hwy 101 northbound ends after leaving the highway.

The proposed project at 1201 E. Main St. would increase the impacts on current and future tenants at 1313 E. Main St., Weintraub added.

“We will not allow our private property to be used as a public turnaround by clients of an adjacent poorly planned project,” he said.

– Noozhawk North County Editor-in-Chief Janene Scully can be reached at . (JavaScript must be enabled to display this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.



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