Santee will have its choice of double-doubles and Spicy Chicken Biscuits only yards apart on Mission Gorge Road thanks to votes Wednesday night by the City Council—and also to under-used parking space.
With Jack Dale casting the dissenting vote, the council voted 3-1 to OK a request by In-N-Out Burgers to occupy part of the Kohl’s parking lot, which city staff said never fills up even on holidays.
Dale joined Councilmen John Minto, Rob McNelis and John Ryan in approving a Chick-fil-A conditional use permit in the nearby Lowe’s parking lot. Mayor Randy Voepel was asbent, reportedly on vacation.
Confusion about which item was being considered first led Dale to vote against Chick-fil-A. But when he learned the vote wasn’t about the burger spot, he asked the council to rescind its action. It did, and he voted for the poultry specialist on a second try.
Chick-fil-A would open its first East County store—with indoor seating for 120 people, a play area and bike rack—after having outlets in San Diego’s Sports Arena area, Mira Mesa and Carmel Mountain, plus the Eastlake section of Chula Vista.
U-T San Diego said both restaurants would open in the first quarter of 2013.
The Santee In-N-Out Burger would join locations in El Cajon and Lemon Grove, plus about a half-dozen other sites in San Diego County.
In an hour-long hearing, the council heard few critics of the fast-food operations.
Willow Grove resident Bruce Stacy was concerned about the restaurants’ traffic and noise impacts on a mobile-home park nearby.
“I love In-N-Out Burgers,” he said. “I want this thing to work.” But he said he didn’t buy city staff contentions of no traffic issues.
“I don’t know where trucks are going to park” that supply the stores, he said. And he feared noise from trash Dumpsters being unloaded at 5 in the morning.
Dale said: “I think In-N-Out Burger will be really successful,” but voted against approving a conditiona to site the 3,750-square-foot store on less than 8 acres of the Kohl’s parking lot. “I see a traffic mess.”
Dale said he wanted more space made available for In-N-Out to accommodate a feared traffic crush.
But Dallas-based architect Shinpei Kuo, speaking for the In-N-Out contingent, said: “This is what Kohl’s wants wand what In-N-Out wants to buy.”
McNelis, running the meeting as vice mayor in Voelpel’s absence, said he loved In-N-Out from his Los Angeles days, including its original Baldwin Park location.
McNelis said: “The first three months, it will be hectic [with traffic],” but that later “everyone will figure out what to do” as far as how to avoid navigate the parking lot and avoid congestion.
City planner Kevin Mallory said the Santee applicants have learned from the mistakes of the smaller El Cajon In-N-Out at 1541 North Magnolia Ave.
Kuo said the Santee burger spot will have space for 14 cars in its drive-through lanes, compared with five cars for the Magnolia location.
References were made to the “Sonic debacle” of April 2009, when an estimated 125 cars tried to crowd the drive-in stalls on its opening day.