Santee Council Serves Up Burger and Chicken Outlets Side-by-Side

In-N-Out Burgers and Chick-fil-A will occupy unused parking lot space of Kohl’s and Lowe’s.

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.

Lynne Mollay March 15, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Sounds like a win-lose for Santee. More jobs and tax revenue for our city but more fast food calories for our citizens. If only I could resist those In-N-Out burgers! And, I can't wait to try Chick-Fil-A!
Thayes March 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I am sorry to hear that they approved these permits. We do not need more traffic on Mission Gorge nor do we need more fast food establishments. I would be more inclined to agree to them if they were independent businesses owned by local people than chain establishments.
Tom Vyse March 15, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I loooove Chick-fil-A.
Ellen McGuire March 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Thayes...you should have no worries about Chick-fil-A,because Chick-fil-A will be locally owned...most of their locations are franchised & all locations in this area are franchised. Also, Chick-fil-A only grants 1 franchise per owner,so the owner & most likely,their spouse will be present on a daily basis! Chick-fil-A owners are part of their community,most live fairly close to their outlets (ie. in Santee). Also,since each Chick-fil-A owner's photo is displayed next to the main entrance,you'll recognize them when you see them at work! This is a win/win situation...locally owned...but much less risky for the owner,since they have the backing of the corporation to teach them how to operate a sucessful establishment, plus a supply chain of quality products. However, In-N-Out will be a corporate owned location,since all locations are company owned & operated!
Mary B March 16, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Here. Here. My sentiments exactly. Santee certainly doesn't need any more junk/fast food establishments lining the streets. It seems this town has become nothing more than a a giant eatery. The whole of Mission Gorge is clogged as it is, so adding yet even more fast food joints will undoubtedly tie up traffic even more. Seriously, can people drive an extra couple of minutes to the In-And-Out right there on the border of Santee and El Cajon? And why must the city council pave over every inch of open space to crowd with some new restaurant or high density housing complex?
Jay March 21, 2012 at 09:30 PM
We don't need more traffic. However....bring on those DOUBLE DOUBLES BABY!
Ryan Daley July 11, 2012 at 01:30 AM
This is great news! More jobs, more tax revenue, and great food options over taco bell or jack in the box. People complaing that they are fast food restaurants....well yes they are but the location won't stop people from eating it...they just drive over to el cajon or pt. Loma to get it. What healthy restaurant options would you like to consider???
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