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By Collin Breaux | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @collin_breaux
Citing traffic concerns and San Juan Capistrano’s historic small-town atmosphere, residents spoke on concerns they have about a potential new In-N-Out Burger franchise on Del Obispo Street during a city council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
City Manager Ben Siegel said city staff received an application from In-N-Out for the Marie Callender’s location on Del Obispo, and he anticipates bringing that forward at the next council meeting on Oct. 20 for consideration of a discretionary use permit because of the proposed drive-thru use.
“The action before the council on Oct. 20 would be whether to just initiate a study of a potential future In-N-Out at that parcel,” Siegel said. “That study, if initiated by the council on Oct. 20 or a future date, would kick off the process where staff and, subsequently the planning commission, would look at all the issues raised by residents—traffic, ingress, egress, etc.”
Staff would then report back to the planning commission, who would then make a recommendation to the council. Mayor Troy Bourne clarified the city council has not yet reviewed any applications, in response to citizen concerns.
“I respectfully request the city council reject this proposal,” longtime resident Rosa Hribar said. “I’ve witnessed our city’s growing pains. This stretch of Del Obispo became fast food alley for a time. We all hated it.”
Hribar said there is “severe gridlock” in town at certain hours and is also concerned with potential increased pollution from drive-thru restaurants. Approving an In-N-Out will not fit with San Juan being a “beautiful little Spanish town,” Hribar said.
Former Mayor Kerry Ferguson said she agreed with Hribar, suggesting an In-N-Out could instead be built at another location.
“I know restaurants come and go, but we need a restaurant in that area like Marie Callender’s,” Ferguson said. “They have served us very well for many years.”
Bourne said the city council has limited ability to control tenants who come into town.
“We really had nothing to do with (the Chick-fil-A location),” Bourne said. “We got mixed feedback on Target versus Ralphs. Some people are really excited to see Target in town. Other people are sad to see Ralphs go.”
“If you believe there are businesses that you would like to see in town that you see in other cities, I would strongly encourage you to contact those businesses and maybe make them aware of some of your ideas of where they might go in town,” Bourne said.