Santa Barbara’s Chick-fil-A Will Face the Music

Council Schedules Hearing to Potentially Declare Drive-Thru a Public Nuisance

Credit: Ronda Hobbs

The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously this week to schedule a quasi-judicial hearing on March 1 that will determine if Chick-fil-A’s upper State Street drive-thru constitutes a public nuisance and ought to be shut down. For nine years, since opening in 2013, the popular fast-food restaurant has fomented consistent public anger over the traffic from its drive-thru line backing up onto one of Santa Barbara’s busiest roads, creating a hazard for motorists and bicyclists and blocking the entryways to nearby businesses.

Credit: Larry Bickford

The decision to hold the hearing was made over the objections of attorneys for both Chick-fil-A and the local property owners. Joseph Billings, representing the Thompson Family Limited Partnership and the McCollum Family Trust, said his clients are “Santa Barbara locals and business owners who care deeply about the safety of their community.” He said they were aware of the drive-thru issue but did not understand its urgency. “Had they known, they would have immediately worked with the city and their tenant to find a solution,” he said. 

Chick-fil-A attorney Spencer Kallick said the company was similarly surprised that the city was considering taking such drastic action. The last communication between the parties was nearly two years ago, he said, and the company was actively working to address the drive-thru concerns with a redesign and by hiring a third-party to manage traffic flow. “This is a small business in the community owned by a small-business proprietor,” he said. Eliminating the drive-thru could impact the jobs of dozens of UCSB and SBCC students employed by the restaurant, Kallick said. 

Both Billings and Kallick asked that the hearing be delayed so that Chick-fil-A could make the necessary changes. Councilmember Michael Jordan countered that asking for more time now, after years of unsuccessful attempts by city staff to work with the company on solutions, “is just an attempt to stall and drag this on,” he said. “I’m fully confident that staff has done everything they can to find a remedy,” he said. “In fact, they say they don’t see a remedy.” 

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.