The proposal for a drive-thru at McDonald’s in the Camino Real Marketplace, which comes before the City of Goleta’s Planning Commission on Monday, August 12, at 6 p.m., has some in Goleta worried about traffic congestion. To get a better sense of why the restaurant is asking for this, I sent some questions to Dudek’s Troy White, who is the consulting planner on the project.
Among other points, he noted the the McDonald’s restaurants of Santa Barbara and Goleta have been owned by the Peterson family for 40 years, during which time they have supported numerous organizations and events. Here’s what else he had to say.
Why does McDonald’s need a drive-thru?
This is simple request — a very basic improvement. By adding a drive-thru, it will offer more convenience to our customers.
A recent survey pointed out that 91 percent of our current customers would use the drive-thru — that’s a good thing, as a drive-thru is better for our air quality and does not impact parking. There are many who are served well by a drive-thru: seniors who have trouble getting in and out of a car, working parents in a rush to pick up lunch or dinner, and the handicapped who can avoid one more difficult in and out of a car.
And to sweeten the project the applicant has offered to improve pedestrian and car traffic patterns near the McDonald’s.
Will McDonalds be offering any solutions to the traffic congestion at Storke and Hollister?
Yes. As an benefit to the project, we will extending the median on Marketplace Drive, removing the first left hand turn into Home Depot drive aisle, as well as the left turn from the McDonald’s drive aisle onto Marketplace Drive. Today, the cross traffic associated with both of these existing turning movements slows traffic that enters the Marketplace and causes cars to stack both on the Marketplace Drive and Storke Road. Our project improvements will help fix this.
How will this drive-thru benefit the community?
Time and Convenience: First, we are adding a drive-thru, that is a necessity to many seniors and those with disabilities that face difficulty getting in and out of a car. It will also be a major time-saver and convenience for busy parents and people on the move, especially those already shopping at the Marketplace (which our recent study concludes is 72 percent of current customers).
Air Quality: The drive-thru will improve air quality. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, studies have concluded that a park-and-restart facility generates more emissions than a facility with a drive-through. The basic truth is that parking and turning your ignition on and off generates far more pollutants than simply idling in a drive-thru for a short time period.
Improved Parking and Traffic Circulation: Based on the experience of our other McDonald’s locations, we are confident that there will be reduced parking demand. We’re also improving the Storke-Marketplace entry by lengthening the center median on Marketplace Drive. This, along with our traffic flow improvements, will eliminate the existing cross-traffic issues at the Storke-Marketplace entry. It will improve traffic flow.
Improved Pedestrian Walkways: At our cost, we will add crosswalks and walkways into the Marketplace — today none currently exist. This will create a more pedestrian-friendly environment and reduce traffic congestion by reducing unplanned pedestrian crossing.
Revenue: We know that many of McDonald’s potential customers are already at the Camino Real Marketplace for other shopping needs when they make a decision to visit our restaurant. Our recent customer survey revealed that 72 percent of our customers have already shopped or are intending to shop at the Camino Real Marketplace when they visit the restaurant. We hope a drive-thru will have a significant impact on sales, thus, increasing critical tax revenue that Goleta needs in order to maintain its level of excellence.
Why readdress this proposal now for the third time?
We are requesting this improvement to help our business because it is also a benefit to the community, to the Marketplace and the local neighborhood. It’s a good idea that after time looks better as the evidence of air quality improvement, the need to improve pedestrian circulation and the demand for drive-thru convenience continues to grow. Quite frankly, there is no real factual reason not to make this improvement.