Goleta residents have spoken up at every public meeting for this issue for years — both in support and opposition — and the commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the development plan and conditional use permit for the drive-through.
Chair Meg West and commissioner Julie Kessler Solomon voted against the project, echoing community concerns about traffic in the shopping center and surrounding streets.
The drive-through project would include sidewalk improvements, a crosswalk across Storke Road at the center’s entrance, and prohibit left turns out of the drive-through and prohibit left turns into Home Depot from Storke Road with a median. These changes are meant to help traffic move into the parking lots, instead of having cars backed up behind a left-turning car.
Restaurant owner David Peterson brought the issue to the city months ago, but the Planning Commission asked for more information about traffic impacts and average daily car trip counts.
Mark Linehan, owner and developer of the Camino Real Marketplace, said he already put Peterson’s plans under a lot of scrutiny. He wouldn’t support the plans unless they improved the marketplace overall, which they do, he said.
Many residents argued for the drive-through and the promised improvements. They would make stopping for food much easier for disabled residents and parents of disabled children, speakers said.
Opponents were mostly concerned with traffic impacts.
The drive-through would become the closest one for Isla Vista and the Ellwood area, and it could attract Dos Pueblos High School students during lunchtime andUCSB students around the clock, said George Relles of the Goodland Coalition. If the 90-second wait time goes up, the queued cars could block traffic in the parking lot and cause more problems, he added.
According to the environmental impact report and traffic analysis, adding a drive-through wouldn’t add very many car trips and wouldn’t create a “significant” impact under California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.
Peterson says the addition would bring in customers who are already in the Camino Real Marketplace — “impulse buyers” — and not attract more people to the area.
West said the applicant painted a picture of the best-case scenario while the opponents painted a picture of the worst-case scenario, and no one can know what’s going to happen.
Solomon agreed, and noted that there are huge development projects happening nearby that could have impacts on the area’s traffic. That includes the Cabrillo Business Park, new UCSB faculty and student housing, the Westar mixed-use project, the residential Hideaway Bungalows, the new Hilton hotel and the Ocean Meadows Golf Club adding more residences, she said.
“I just I feel that as commissioners, we need to not put blinders on about what’s actually happening in that area,” she said.
As with other development projects, the approval can be appealed to the City Council.