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ROGER BÜTOW, Laguna Beach

That three-word maxim for those wishing to either sell or purchase property isn’t just a trite cliché: it’s how investments work.

In the case of the approved In-N-Out Burger one must wonder, though, just exactly what was their corporation thinking?

Didn’t they realize that there’d be blowback, that the drive-through might be a bad idea, be met with some hesitancy, skepticism, friction and concern? It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? Decades ago they were the new kid on the block. Perhaps they’ve forgotten their roots due to massive expansion?

There were options. It didn’t need to be jammed into an already over-serviced commercial fast food zone. In fact, just about anywhere else (like down by the Highway Patrol annex) and it’d have far less chance of increasing what’s already a problem.

Whomever declares that this location won’t have potentially significant adverse traffic circulation impacts are, in essence, facilitating the demise of a zone already experiencing vehicular gridlock. All for what was estimated as $40,000 a year. How does that mitigate the situation for the usual cross-town commuters?

Then there’s the good neighbor policy: locally owned and operated exemplary businesses like DeNault’s Ace Hardware have been that constant good—and the potential for locals and freeway flyers alike to use their parking as a turnaround didn’t seem to occur to the powers-that-be in the approval.

The other businesses along that section of Del Obispo might become de facto turnarounds well. A series of rights (egress from In-N-Out, then right on Camino Capistrano, then right on Ortega) gets them back to where they started. Three rights for freeway flyers or those from the inland side of the 5 Freeway will equal a wrong as this just moves the problem in a circle motion, putting more of a burden on what is presently SJC’s gridlocked central district.

If In-N-Out truly wanted to be a good neighbor, start their relationship best foot forward, wanted as the newbie to quickly become integrated into the positive community-friendly fabric of SJC’s life, they’d have chosen better. 

Editor’s note: The City Council’s approval of the potential new In-N-Out drive-through location is conditional and depends on if the company can meet a number of requested project design changes, including with building signage.

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comments (1)

  • If all goes exactly as the study suggests, peak lunchtime traffic will be passing through the main intersection of San Juan Elementary school as kids and parents walk to their cars after pickup. We already have close calls in the morning without all the extra traffic this will bring on Ortega and El Camino Real intersection. Compromising our children’s safety should also be acceptable in order to accommodate the franchise and property owner? This study did not look at the most closely related INO locations with direct “off the 5 Fwy” access, was performed prior to the opening and full impact of Target and didn’t look at the OCSD traffic accident numbers on the roadways in question. The residents just want the most accurate analysis possible to guide the council to make the best decision for our community’s responsible growth, resident safety and future well-being. Why not take more time to look closer at all the data, address the deficiencies in the study and make a decision?

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