Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chick-fil-A in Santa Rosa?

Santa Rosa's Planning Commission last month rejected Chick-fil-A's bid to build a restaurant in Santa Rosa near Santa Rosa High and SRJC.  The reason?  Several of the commissioners were opposed to the project because of the drive thru.  See the Press Democrat article here.  There were suggestions that this very same thing might happen a couple years ago when In-N-Out wanted to open a Santa Rosa restaurant with a drive thru, but the Planning Commission ended up voting unanimously to allow it--possibly because a lot of people came to the meeting in support of In-N-Out.

It is interesting to note that three commissioners voted against the project.  These are the three who were appointed by the three more liberal members of the City Council.  The three who voted in favor of the project were appointed by three of the more conservative members of the City Council.  The one commissioner who was absent from the meeting was also appointed by a more conservative councilmember.

I've never eaten at a Chick-fil-A (although my friend who works at one in Texas tells me it's good), but I think the City needs to allow this restaurant if only for the good jobs it will provide for the city residents.  A Burger King existed at this location not long ago, a McDonalds is just down the street, a Taco Bell is next to SRJC, and a new In-N-Out (which the  Planning Commission approved after many people showed up at a meeting to support it) is about a mile away. The Burger King had a drive thru, and the three other restaurants all have drive thrus.

The benefits that residents of Santa Rosa would get by having only two drive thrus rather than three on that stretch of Mendocino are minimal at best.  The costs of rejecting the project are great.  A number of people who could have gotten jobs at the new restaurant may remain unemployed and be unable to pay their bills.  Real people will suffer.  Chick-fil-A has appealed to the City Council and will be heard on the issue tonight.  The City Council should approve the project, if only for the benefit it will bring to people who need jobs.

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