Photo By: COURTESY OF STEPHEN FRIEDMAN
Forget Chick-fil-A’s politics. Mountain View and Los Altos residents don’t want the traffic hassles.
Residents of Mountain View’s Gemello and Los Altos’ Eastender neighborhoods were scheduled to share their concerns with the Mountain View City Council Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline. A group of residents registered their support for two appeals filed against the zoning administrator’s decision to approve a conditional-use permit for a Chick-fil-A drive-through.
Zoning administrator Peter Gilli approved the conditional-use permit last summer after the city’s planning department recommended denial.
“Residents of these neighborhoods seem to be overwhelmingly against a high-volume, drive-through, fast-food restaurant that will surely bring much traffic through their quiet neighborhood streets,” said Jardin Drive resident Stephen Friedman.
Friedman said the addition of a Chick-fil-A, looking to occupy the old Sizzler restaurant site at 1962 El Camino Real, would impact several streets. He predicted that traffic problems would occur on Clark Avenue, Distel Drive, Casita Way and Jardin, “as chicken-seeking motorists cut through to Clark Avenue from El Monte and as Los Altos High School students hurry back to school at lunchtime via Distel Drive.”
Residents’ biggest concern is the restaurant’s drive-through. Friedman pointed to a recently opened Chick-fil-A in San Jose that has drawn long lines of cars. Chick-fil-A officials projected 60 cars per hour at peak times.
Gilli downplayed the impact.
“None of the opposition at the hearing I held really cited any concern with this site having a drive-through,” he said.
Although some at the hearing opposed drive-throughs in general, Gilli said disallowing them is a policy matter for city leaders to determine – and the city still allows them.
Factoring in Gilli’s approval was a promise from Chick-A-fil to mitigate traffic problems by funding a traffic signal at Clark and El Camino Way. A 7-foot soundwall is also proposed to lessen noise.
But residents aren’t impressed. Friedman said the traffic signal would actually create more problems for his neighborhood.
“The increased traffic, litter and fried-chicken odors signal a diminished quality of life and lower home values for these households,” he said.
Political opposition to the fast-food chain stems from Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s anti-gay marriage stance. His comments supporting traditional marriage made national headlines last summer.
Residents opposed to Chick-fil-A’s presence in Mountain View filed one of the two appeals on the basis of Cathy’s views.