Letters from our neighbors
RE: AMY'S DRIVE-THRU
Dear Members of the Design Review Commission
I have reviewed all the current materials on the City’s website pertaining to the Amy’s Drive Thru and have concerns with the current site design and circulation of the project.
1. Impacts to Second Ave
As I understand, basically 50% of the traffic will be coming to the site from North Main and turning left on either Second Avenue or at the proposed left turn pocket at the Masses driveway entry to get to Amy’s. These two access points would then converge at the internal drive aisle adjacent to the Amy’s restaurant requiring drivers/vehicles to compete to gain entry to the drive thru. As we have seen at the Chick Fil A site which has a much longer queue than what is proposed with this project, it is currently backing up onto North Main. From Second Avenue there are only about 5 to 6 vehicles que spaces from the drive thru entry. From the internal drive aisle from the Masses site there are approximately the same number, based on the site circulation conflicts there is a high likelihood we will see a backup onto Second Avenue that will cause the same traffic safety issue which now is occurring at Chick Fil A. This was not identified in the traffic study as a potential issue, nor was it identified in the Chick Fil A traffic study that this would occur.
I would like Public Works to review this condition and provide their input on the traffic study.
2. Internal Circulation
The internal circulation as currently designed has 3 vehicle que lines converging to gain access to the drive thru. For most drive thru restaurants there is only one que lane which provides for less possibility of vehicle conflicts and increased safety by not creating merging and blocking drive aisles to access the drive thru lanes. The que lines for the drive thru will also block access to the provided on‐ site parking spaces by either not allowing cars entry to the spaces, or not allowing cars parked in the spaces to exit until the drive thru que shortens or they can back out. The que line from Masses will also limit circulation and the ability to exit to Second Avenue until the que line shortens or drive in the wrong direction in the parking lot to bypass the drive thru. This has the potential to create an unsafe condition for both cars and pedestrians.
These conditions could also contribute to vehicles trying to access the site and cause backups onto North Main and
Second Avenue. Cars exiting the drive thru may also not be able to make a left to exit onto Second Avenue unless
they wait in the drive thru queue or drive on the wrong direction to bypass the drive thru line to exit.
The other option would be to turn right and attempt to merge to proposed left turn pocket and make a U‐turn, or proceed north on North Main and make a Uturn past Second Avenue. The traffic study did not analyze this condition and the possible impacts.
3. On‐site safety The current site design does not provide any pedestrian connections on site between the uses other than the sidewalk along North Main. With all the traffic projected for the site it would seem that a system of pathways linking the uses together would help to provide increased pedestrian safety.
4. Traffic from Masses In my review of the traffic study, I did not see where the new parking developed as part of Masses
has been included as part of the cumulative traffic for the Amy’s project and the overall impacts to both the queuing and turning movements onto both North Main and Second Avenue.
5. Non‐Conforming Use In a discussion I had with the Planning Manager Nathen Bindernagel, he explained
that the Masses project is considered a legal non‐conforming use since it is not increasing the floor area by more than 10%. I would like to find out that although the floor area of the existing use is not increasing by more than 10%, the site area and provided parking is increasing by more than 10%, could that not be considered expansion of the existing use making it no longer a legal non‐conforming use?
6. Long Term Development
Within a one‐mile radius of the site are five drive thru restaurants, Jack in the Box,
Taco Bell, Chick Fil A, Burger King, and Wendy’s. We also have a number of quick serve take out/sit down restaurants, Jimmy Johns, I‐Hop, the Habit, Freebirds, and Subway. Do we really need another high traffic generation drive thru use in this area utilizing a portion of the remaining available traffic capacity within the area?
There are a number of under‐utilized properties along this section of North Main from 680 north to the Pleasant Hill boundary. Many of these properties have the potential to be developed with higher intensity uses, this site being one of those. The current development approach is to take each property as it comes without looking at how each property impacts the overall development pattern of the area, and how to create development and uses to create a unified aesthetic and sense of place for one of the last development corridors in the City.
I would like to see the City take a long‐term comprehensive development approach in the form of a area plan/specific plan that studies and balances potential development with traffic so that we could one day see a cohesive well‐designed corridor for the surrounding neighborhoods and City.
Thank you for your consideration with the above comments and I would happy to answer any questions
and discuss this further.
CC Alan Carreon
Good morning to the Representatives of the Citizens of Walnut Creek,
Please include this full correspondence (current and multiple prior) in the records for the upcoming relevant Design Review and Planning Commissions Meetings AND any future meetings regarding this project/site.
As a result of my ongoing communications, regarding my unaddressed concerns with the proposals to place a Drive-thru at the corner of Second Avenue (where my family and I live) and North Main Street, several neighbors and I met with Dave Wolfgram (President of Amy's Drive-Thru) on Sunday evening, August 18 to hear about his newly "adjusted" plans (they had not been formally submitted to the city at that point).
I found the meeting to be highly disappointing as the changes Dave presented to us were minimal/insignificant; especially in regards to the concerns regarding Second Avenue traffic/safety repeatedly expressed to them over many months and by a multitude of neighbors in emails, at their own "Community Meeting," and at City Review/Commission meetings...
Dave Wolfgram's stated "adjustments" from previous plans:
Amy's Drive-Thru "recommended to (Walnut Creek City) Staff" no right turn from the Amy's driveway on to Second Ave. and "Staff supported that." Amy's put in the new design an "eyebrow" out towards Main that would "make it difficult to turn right," but there is nothing that would actually prevent someone from doing it if they choose to ignore the sign.
The City of WC "does not support" a no left turn from Second Avenue into the Amy's driveway.
The "City is willing" to eliminate the parking on both sides of Second Avenue from the Western border of the Amy's lot to North Main Street. Dave seems to think this will create 2 dedicated Eastbound lanes there (one that can be used as right turn lane at the light off of Second onto North Main). He said the Westbound lane on Second Avenue there would then be "a lane and a third," with the new sidewalk, and he seems to think this will create some sort of a "buffer."
They shifted the Amy's building 5 ft. forward to get all the parking to the 18 ft. size (vs. 15.5 ft. previously, so no curb overhand required to fit), but that cut the front dine-in patio space ("family deck") in half (have additional patio space on side next to entrance). It was since pointed out to me by a neighbor that this also eliminated previously proposed landscaping on North Main?!
Dave Wolfgram said they also requested Hall Equities widen the "critical drive" (the proposed driveway that feeds onto Second Avenue) 6 ft. (now 25 ft. total). Dave seems to think that is enough for people to pull in/out of parking spots, even if the other lane is backed up with cars waiting in the drive-thru line, but that does not seem realistic.
Noted Continued Serious Concerns for the Neighbors:
As noted by the Planning Commission at the Study Session Meeting: This overall plan is still for "10 gallons in an 8 gallon bucket" (way too much for this lot/these lots together).
Still looking at it as 2-3 projects instead of one interconnected redevelopment (with shared driveways and parking).
Project as a whole (interconnected by driveways and shared parking) is still significantly under-parked (not to mention the parking spots that will be made inaccessible by the peak drive-thru lines - see this link to an album of photos of In-N-Out and Chick-Fil-A for examples:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/oJBrzcLJPhQU82ok6. The entire lot/plans for “shared parking” would once again be an under parked Hall Equities Development in our area (there were 144 proposed spaces total where 187 should be required). This was not added up in total in the last "Staff Report" (I did that). It is important to explicitly point out that this primarily new development by Hall Equities, where they are proposing “shared” parking and driveways, would once again be highly under parked (by around 43 spaces) because they are taking advantage of Masses “legal non-conforming” status, & not making up for it anywhere else in the site plan. Especially considering 2 of the 3 newly planned "interconnected" sites, all owned by Hall Equities, will be completely torn down/redeveloped and even the Masses lot has parking lot improvements as part of these *shared* plans, this should be considered one new development project and required to fulfill current (and purposeful) standards for parking...
Continued Serious Concerns more specific to the Amy's Drive-Thru Proposal:
Access to most parking spots on the Amy's portion of the lot are blocked by potential drive-thru lines (see their own plans and album of nearby existing examples linked above).
From the majority of the parking lot/spaces there do not seem to be any built in walkways for pedestrians who want to dine in (especially families with young kids...) to safely access the building/cross the 3 directions of incoming drive-thru lines.
As previously noted by the Design Review Commission: there do not seem to have been significant modifications to the size of the landscaping beds/planters that would allow for the healthy growth of the plants they have planned.
Serious issues with internal flow: their plans show cars in the drive-thru line leaving significant spaces between them to keep internal lanes of traffic unblocked. This is NOT realistic and there is nothing in the plans to prevent cars from lining up right behind one another/blocking through traffic. Also (as previously noted by the City Commissions), there is NO plan for how three access points/driveways for the drive-thru will converge into the two lanes Amy's have designated for the drive-thru adjacent to the West side of the building (again cars will pull up as close as possible to the cars in front of them, to secure a space in line, blocking traffic flow in the opposite direction).
Due to the new barrier proposed for North Main Street, a large majority of the drive-thru traffic is being directed on to Second Avenue (also has the shortest internal line capabilities for the lot = only 4-5 cars stacked past dedicated drive-thru lane allowed before it spills out onto Second Ave. during what they call "peak" projections). It is not explicitly noted that this "critical drive" from/onto Second Avenue will likely be utilized by: all traffic entering when headed Northbound on Main (and those headed Southbound who don't want to wait in any potential back-up on Main). Also, the majority of traffic who want to leave Northbound on Main = most cars since that is the direction of the main freeway access point as well as Treat Blvd.
The Wendy’s drive-thru line (further down North Main across Treat), on a Thursday at about 12:30, wraps literally all the way around the building (3 full sides) & out into the first lane on Main, and even several cars coming Northbound in the street in the dedicated middle turn lane. (Click here for photos: ). This is Wendy’s AND Chick-fil-A! So even Wendy’s has cars waiting in/blocking the city road for their drive-thru line in both directions. My main point with these sets of photos/videos is that Second Ave. (with only one true lane total in each direction), has nowhere for cars to wait in the road and also let residents get by to access their homes.
Does their request for a CUP for a drive-thru on this lot take precedence over Walnut Creek residents being able to use Main to access our long established residential City of Walnut Creek street during lunch, dinner or other peak hours?
If it’s happening at Wendy’s, there is absolutely no way that it’s a stretch to assume it could happen regularly at Amy’s Drive-Thru, except that back up would be heavily on to a single lane/direction and primarily residential road.
Amy's Drive-thru has stated there is a five minute average wait time from order placed, until it is ready to be picked up. Even without a continuous flow of traffic, this could cause the lines to back up (block parking lot flow and spill over in to City Streets/especially Second Avenue) very easily. It will also cause the forward movement of the line to be slow (significant access issue for our homes).
According to Dave Wolfgram (President of Amy's Drive-thru) the City of Walnut Creek said a definitive no to any suggestion of closing off Second Avenue driveways (according to Dave the idea of exploring proposals that only use North Main to access the lots was not an option the City of Walnut Creek would allow).
There is still nothing being done to address long-standing (and documented in emails and public comment to the City) traffic safety issues on Second Ave. Granting a new CUP for this traffic heavy drive-thru plan (especially with the shared driveway from/onto Second Avenue that also allows Masses Bar patrons, from 2 lots over, to exit on to Second Avenue) will only make it significantly more dangerous for area residents. Could this be a potential future liability for the City? Here is a link to some brief example videos of current conditions for pedestrians on Second Avenue at all hours: Also, here is another link to an album showing the current sharp contrast between the regular traffic conditions at the existing Drive-thru on the other side of North Main and current conditions for residents/pedestrians on Second Avenue on a weeknight at 9pm: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JKHUSuEWTdrwwC3s9
Please Remember: Beyond this commercial lot Second Avenue is entirely residential and it is a Narrow street: The Majority (including most centerlines) is not striped at all, there are no bike lanes and minimal/disconnected sidewalks, so pedestrians are primarily forced to walk IN the roadway.
There are regularly multiple pedestrians on this residential street, between North Main and Buena Vista, at all hours of the day & evening
Neighbors walking to Main Street or nearby regional trails,
Neighbors walking pets,
Children walking, or riding bikes, to and home from school, or the Larkey Park playground and sports courts, and the Lindsay Wildlife Experience, or the city’s Larkey Park Recreational Pool/Splash Pad...
all just around the corner, but only accessible to our homes by utilizing this section of Second Avenue.
The City of Walnut Creek, in their regular "Going Green Together" email newsletter..., repeatedly warns of the dangers of lines of idling cars especially for growing children (increased risk for asthma...). Allowing a CUP for an additional/brand new drive-thru (where cars will likely be idling all day, every day) in a location directly adjacent to long established family homes, seems to fly in the face of that effort for residents in our area of the City (as well as the area's commercial zoning language - see below)...
Still to be asked:
Is there any document (minutes...) summarizing all the feedback/recommendations of the Design Review and Planning Commissions from the previous 2 meetings?
Is it true the City said a definitive no to exploring any options for these lots that would exclude driveways from/onto Second Avenue (and instead only use North Main Street)?
How do the Traffic and Environmental Reviews from the then proposed Sprouts Center and 24 Hour/Chick-fil-A developments compare to the realities? Please keep that in mind when reviewing the projections/reports generated for this proposal.
What if this specific business does not last? Does the CUP go only with this specific restaurant plan, or would any other drive-thru now be permitted under this CUP on this lot going forward?
Can it be part of the "Conditions"/explicitly put in writing that, if granted, the CUP ("Conditional" Use Permit) will be revoked if traffic is allowed to back up on to city streets? Please note this quote from the zoning document for this specific stretch of North Main: "The intent is to protect the regional-serving service commercial land uses, and balancing the need for more local-serving businesses, while ensuring minimal disruption to the adjacent residential areas." If there’s any lot especially sensitive to the disruptions of a drive-thru, and the intent of its zoning restriction (requires CUP/NON-"permitted use"), it should be this one that literally has a family homes neighborhood on the other side of the fence & shares a street that from that point on is entirely residential (and also almost totally lacking in basic pedestrian safe-guards).
Would you be okay with this specific proposal, and required CUP, being granted on your street?
Please also see forwarded prior correspondences with the City below regarding this proposal AND regarding traffic/safety on Second Avenue from 3 years ago (well before any drive-thru proposals).
Thank you for your careful consideration and representing the best interests of the people of Walnut Creek.
2017 Letters from our neighbors
RE: In 'n Out Drive-Thru
As a homeowner close to North Main, I am vehemently opposed to the proposed In-N- Out Burger/Starbucks that you have chosen to recently endorse. The proposed location is already congested as it is. The endorsement of such a busy business in an already overly impacted area of the city suggests that you did not take into consideration the feelings of the residents, the impact of traffic on residential side streets and the increasing pollution and noise. It’s becoming increasing dangerous for pedestrians as these side streets become more and more clogged with traffic and this development will only make this issue worse.
In addition, why is yet another fast food restaurant being considered here? What research has been done to assess the number of fast food restaurants already exist within a 2 mile radius? Off the top of my head I can name seven. I am sure there are more. I’m sure there are several other more desirable businesses that you can consider that will have a less significant impact to the traffic, pollution and also help keep the neighborhood a desirable place. What this city does not need is another strip mall that can ultimately degrade the neighborhood and thus our home values which come at a premium price no matter where you are located in Walnut Creek.
As our elected official, it is your responsibility to represent the position of the residents, not big businesses and developers. I thank you and the city planners in advance for your time and consideration.
Here is a copy of the email that I am sending to our local officials:
As a long-time resident and property owner in Northwest Walnut Creek, I write to express my extreme displeasure about the proposal to open an In-n-Out Burger and drive-through Starbucks on the parcel of land at North Main and 2nd Avenue.
Such a development would lead to an increase in traffic, noise, odor, garbage, pollution, and the possibility of crime in an area that is already experiencing a rise (as noted in weekly police reports which show an increase in break-ins and car theft). Too close to people’s homes, this proposed expansion of restaurants is inappropriate to and does not serve the needs and wants of our unique and quiet residential neighborhood.
Please be aware that the establishment of the retail center at North Main and Geary Road (Sprouts), combined with the subsequent openings of the 24 Hour Fitness and Chick-fil-A locations on North Main, has created severe traffic problems that were non-existent before their development. Inadequate parking in the lots of the aforementioned results in frustration and the need to find on-street parking which is often lacking. The addition of a new development at Main and 2nd would only exacerbate the traffic congestion in the immediate area.
At the very minimum, a detailed traffic study needs to be conducted at the intersection of North Main and Geary Roads and vicinity in each direction – and taken at different times of the day and evening and on week-ends. Surely such an analysis will substantiate my own personal observations that the existing infrastructure does not support the addition of another project in my neighborhood. It would also reveal that 2nd Avenue is not sufficiently wide enough to support additional traffic.
Also, please consider administering a survey that would seek to assess the consumer demands of residents of my and adjacent neighborhoods. Just what types of businesses or services would we support, if any? Do we really need another fast-food restaurant that offers poor nutritional choices? I think such a research study will yield some interesting findings that will benefit short- and long-term city planning and help make Walnut Creek officials responsive to the needs of all of its residents.
City of Walnut Creek Officials:
My husband and I are writing to voice our concern over the proposed drive-through Starbucks and In-N-Out Burger chains on the parcel located at the corner of 2nd Avenue and North Main Street.
I invite any of you to drive around this part of town during the afternoon commute or on weekends. The addition of the Sprouts complex with its paltry parking and poorly planned layout along with the mega-sized 24 Hour Fitness and drive though Chick-fil-A have already made navigating the surrounding area a nightmare. Adding two additional drive through restaurants will make an already bad situation unthinkably worse.
I am not against progress or development, but the advancement of what can only be described as thoughtless and negligent planning in this part of town needs to be curtailed. I moved to Walnut Creek 17 years ago for its core downtown area and what at the time I viewed as a thoughtful approach to planning and developement. Over the years we have been experiencing a "strip-mallification" of this part of town with seemingly no regard to the needs or concerns of residents and adding nothing in terms of walkability and charm evidenced in the downtown area.
A few years ago when the city invited resident input on the Pedestrian Master Plan and sidewalk concerns I emailed the address given numerous times regarding traffic and the need for a sidewalk the length of 3rd Avenue between Buena Vista and North Main and received not one response. I fear my concerns will again fall on deaf ears but I implore the City to give this proposal serious thought before approving something that will irreparably harm the residents of the north-western Walnut Creek area.
We respectfully request these concerns be shared with the City Council and look forward to establishing a dialogue between the City of Walnut Creek and the residents of the northern Walnut Creek.
Dear Mayor Carlston,
I recently read your "Mayor's Message" in the current issue of the Community Focus. While my family and I like hamburgers as much as anyone else does, I am certainly NOT pleased to hear about the application to build a drive-thru In-N-Out restaurant at the corner of N. Main St. and 2nd Ave, nor am I pleased with your apparent endorsement of this project. The idea of any drive-thru restaurant at this location, let alone two (including Starbucks), makes absolutely no sense.
As a 22-year resident of the Larkey Park neighborhood, I have already seen traffic on N. Main and Treat/Geary become increasingly worse, especially since the arrival of Chick-Fil-A & 24-Hour Fitness and the very poorly-planned Sprouts shopping center. The traffic at the intersection of N. Main and Treat/Geary is already at Level E. The addition of the two proposed drive-thrus would make traffic in this area substantially worse - a detriment not just to the residents, but to the existing business owners as well.
Moreover, there are already 9 fast-food and quick-serve restaurants in this area (including 4 that serve hamburgers) - a higher saturation than any other area in Walnut Creek.
You didn't mention the inclusion of a Starbucks drive-thru at this site in your message, but there are also already 9 Starbucks within 1 & 1/2 miles of this location. Not only are these businesses not needed at this location, they will have a detrimental effect on the health, safety, and welfare of the nearby residents due to increased traffic and pollution from trash and idling cars. The site at N. Main and 2nd Ave simply cannot support the number of cars that these types of businesses would bring.
I urge you and the members of the Walnut Creek Planning Commission and the City Council to seriously consider the detrimental impact of this proposed project before endorsing or approving it.
Hello Mr. Mayor:
I was disheartened to read your comments about the planned drive thru restaurants in the “Mayor’s Message” in the Community Focus last week. You should be aware by now that regardless of whether or not we like hamburgers, the people who have to live with the North Main traffic are very much NOT pleased to hear about this development.
The city has already made a hash of things with the traffic on Geary. Already those of us on Second are already seeing lots of through traffic from people trying to avoid that mess. Now you want to make us wait behind a bunch of cars stacked out behind the entrance to the drive through? Really? That’s really what you think will fix what the residents care about?
It is very upsetting to read city officials bragging about development projects that are adversely affecting our quality of life.
Please focus on making North Walnut Creek work for people who live in Walnut Creek. You work for residents.
I just sent a message to the mayor and city council and city planner
We do not need another fast food drive-thru or a Starbucks in the North Main Area. We already have BurgerKing , Wendy's and TacoBell. There is a Starbucks already at North Main and Geary just a block away and a coffee and tea shop in Sprouts Plaza.
I find it the height of hypocrisy for Walnut Creek a city that prides itself as being a pro- green community considering a drive-thru that is famous for having endless lines of idling cars 24 hours a day.
We as voters are finally getting fed up with elected officials doing what's best for them and large Corporations and ignoring the opinions of their constituents. If the city approves this project over the wishes of it's citizens, we promise we will not forget.
Residents since 1982
To Mayor Carlston:
RE: Your "Mayor's Message" announcement in the Community Focus newspaper that arrived at our home yesterday.
We find it irresponsible and insulting that you choose to promote a development project in your "Mayor's Message" that has not yet come up for public review and is only in the very early application stage.
Neighbors in and around this development site have sent letters of opposition to the City Council and Planners. We have also attended meetings on other projects and expressed our concerns about this development moving forward. We have also approached council members and other city official and staff with our concerns about Hall Equities past development projects on N. Main and this application in particular. We've been told that this development will need to go through the full application process and there will be a period of public review for us to further express our concerns.
Yet yesterday, on our doorstop, lands a message from our Mayor saying that "people who like hamburgers will be pleased to hear" about this development. It appears you've already made up your mind about this application without even taking into consideration our concerns.
We like hamburgers and we are NOT pleased.
We are homeowners in Larkey Park (purchased .5 acre lot and home in September 2016) and we expect our representatives to represent us. Representing us means not speaking for us about a development that has not yet been seen by the public, and has not made any public disclosures.
To say that we are disappointed in your public comments is an understatement. We are active politically and as new voters in your city, you can expect to here from us regularly about this project and other issues that are important to us.
Registered voters in Walnut Creek
I want to express my deep concern about the plan to add In-N-Out and Starbucks drive-thru restaurants at the 2nd and Main intersection. While I have no issues with either business, this intersection seems to me to be an extremely poor one for a drive thru business. 2nd avenue is a narrow, residential street, and such an operation will inevitably bring more cars off of main, onto the street itself. These cars will compete with the taxi businesses located there for space, making it much harder for us residents to get onto Main itself. I am especially concerned as we are already seeing increasing through traffic on Main that I suspect is looking for a back way to avoid the traffic mess caused by the ill-advised Sprouts development.
I am also concerned as this will draw freeway traffic, but the freeway on-ramps on Geary, and on San Luis are poorly designed, and basically not meant for the amount of traffic that they already get. It can already take five minutes just to take a right from Main onto Geary, due to all of the U-Turn traffic trying to go South on 680. Throwing more cars into the mix won’t help.
It seems to me that the perfectly appropriate place for an In-N-Out would be down where the old McDonalds used to be downtown. That area can obviously handle a lot more traffic, and is a lot better situated for a fast-food business. It seems to me that mixing commercial with residential is only worthwhile if you are trying to make the city more walking, but building drive-thru restaurants is basically the antithesis of “walkability”.
Dear Mr. Mayor
I love hamburgers and I like In-N-Out Burgers as well, but not everyone who loves the burgers wants to live next to an In-N-Out which has been proposed to be placed right at the entrance to our residential neighborhood.
As a homeowner in Larkey Park, we pay a lot of taxes and we vote and we are strongly opposed to the proposal to add not one, but two drive throughs of great magnitude to an already congested area.
We don't need more cars coming off the freeway clogging up our neighborhoods to drive through and pick up a burger. We don't need extra pollution from idling cars. We don't need the smells of burgers wafting through our neighborhood. We don't need more noise pollution of announcements of orders on loudspeakers. We don't need more traffic in an already over-traffic-ed area. We don't need more THOUGHTLESS development in our neighborhood. We already have enough fast food, and poorly planned business shopping centers, drive thrus, fitness centers and the like. We need something useful, attractive and appealling for the tax-paying local residents who elected the elected officials that are supposed to represent US.
Lastly we don't need elected officials publicly praising projects that are not yet approved, and go against the needs and desires of the people who live near the proposed site.
There will be lots more to come on this topic before anyone even thinks of ordering a double anything...
We live in the area here around N. Main (with the problems already created by Sprouts, 24 Hour Fitness and Chic-Fil-A) ... and we are very much opposed to the proposed In and Out Burger/Starbucks that you have chosen to endorse.
As homeowners (even though we're not Northgate, houses on this side of town aren't cheap you know) and active voters ... we expect to be represented in the interests of the residents around here, not just having our officials gung-ho for what the homeowners consider detrimental development to the neighborhoods.
It's easy to see the city is quite happy turning this end of N. Main into what is basically a strip mall. No thank you. What will happen is eventually even desirable businesses already here will leave and no other neighborhood desirable businesses will want to mix in.
Please Please Please consider the feelings of the people who live around here. Downtown gets all the desirable cafes, restaurants and chic businesses and we get the leftovers? Lots of people in this area do not want the rubber stamping of bad choices moving in, so we hope you and the city planners listen.
Thank you kindly.
Walnut Creek, CA
My wife and I are Walnut Creek Citizen Residents for the last 20 years, on Hall Ln down the canal trail from Masses.
The proposed In-N-Out on North Main would have a seriously negative effect on us and our neighbors.
So, we strenuously object to that business going in there. Pleasant Hill stopped it for very good reasons and we plan to do that also. Improving the area with a more enlightened plan would be OK, but the question in our minds is, why is the City foisting car dealerships and junk food over to our neighborhood? Enough already! We have plenty of fast food here and we make every effort to protect our children from it. Read the ingredients of a Chick-fil-a sometime.
Who does the City think lives here in North Walnut Creek? Why are the good restaurants downtown while we are treated like we are somehow a less valuable neighborhood? This is one of the best areas for residents in Walnut Creek, all the way to Lafayette, with educated, savvy and productive tax-paying citizens in very valuable homes.
There apparently is an assumption from City Planning that we are not aware of and practice healthy and evolved California cuisine, which is the kind of business we want in the area. Just over the hill to enjoy and patronize is the famed Berkeley, "Gourmet Ghetto", origin site for California cuisine, various vegan and delightful ethnic places, then up to Napa for the fabulous Oxbow, also the diverse food emporium in Emeryville and even little Montclair has a healthy chicken take out place.
We watch "Check Please" on KQED and occasionally a Walnut Creek downtown restaurant shows up there, but never a corporate burger joint! How about a Chow there, like Lafayette or chose from any number of high quality restaurants to encourage them in order to properly serve the quality of our neighborhood and the reputation of the City?
The idea of an In-N-Out on 2nd is horrible, with bright lights, grill smoke, loud speaker and worst of all, many cars idling and polluting our neighborhood. Then there is the clientele, mostly strangers. We are already having some increased crime, requiring steel mailboxes, increased break ins and having our cars stolen. Walnut Creek Police are very professional and they work hard to thwart crime so why unreasonably burden our protector police even more. They helped our neighborhood when Masses was becoming a loud biker bar which WCPD, with good enforcement, helped change into a reasonable business.
Frankly, I find it embarrassing that Walnut Creek would entertain this corporate burger joint, considering how wealthy this City is. Why do the obviously nice job of redesigning North Main,
and enhancing the Larkey Swim Center, all very commendable, just to plug in the most expedient kind of business nearby? Please be more creative!
Enlightened City Planning is meant to serve creatively and in tune with the healthy nature and circumstances of our neighborhoods.
Dear Mayor Carlston and Mayor Pro Tem Wedel,
I hope this finds you well. I am writing to you today not as an arts commissioner, but simply as a longtime citizen of Walnut Creek.
Please reconsider plans to add In n’ Out and Starbucks on North Main Street. I humbly request, instead, that we perhaps take a more thoughtful, careful view of the North Main Street corridor that runs between San Luis Road and Geary/Treat Blvd(s) and create a more inspired, integral plan such as those currently in process: the West Downtown and North Downtown Specific Plans.
It is not so much that these businesses bother me, nor the ensuing traffic congestion, parking headaches, or overcrowding (which are nonetheless huge issues). Instead, my concern comes from an aesthetic sensibility, and the sense of deep depression that entire street engenders. It seems to me that North Main Street between San Luis Road and Geary/Treat Blvd(s) has become Walnut Creek’s dumping ground for the cheap, easy and UGLY (though admittedly lucrative) businesses and buildings that the rest of Walnut Creek is sheltered from.
However, as one who lives in the Larkey-Buena Vista neighborhood, it embarrasses me that the first thing people see when they get off the freeway to come to my home is: toilets. Yes, from the show windows of the General Plumbing business. It gets no better as one continues down Main to pass Domino’s, a tattoo parlor, and so on.
Not only is it visually painful to drive or walk down this street—it is not at all congruent with the rest of Walnut Creek, which in terms of design and harmony seems to have had its aesthetics more carefully considered and planned. Nor is this piece of Walnut Creek even being included in any of the specific plans currently in progress, which just says to me that it will continue to be the dumping ground of all that the city does not want within its lovelier confines.
Is it at all possible that we stop for a moment—say no to In n’ Out and just take a breath, and instead reconsider a better, healthier, more livable plan for this section of our city? Perhaps we could live without the quick and easy developments to think about how we can beautify this area instead? Many of my neighbors and I would instead love to see businesses like those found closer to downtown: (a café, a bakery, a yoga studio, some restaurants). As it is, I only ever patronize this corridor for Diablo Oriental Foods (a true gem!) and 24 Hour Fitness.
If places such as Chick Fil’ A, Taco Bell, the Habit and Dominos are here to stay, I’ll sadly accept it, as long as we place a hold on any further developments of this kind in order to take a more mindful approach to planning for the future. Let’s come up with a vision, a new aesthetic, much in the way the North Downtown and West Downtown plans are exploring.
I have a much smaller request as well. There is a pedestrian crosswalk on North Main between Second Street and Geary/Treat, between Holiday Inn and 24 Hour Fitness. Numerous times my kids and I have crossed this walking our bikes, and numerous times speeding drivers have nearly hit us. Friends who park on the street to get to the 24 (because boy, was parking there ever poorly conceived—just like Sprouts!) have complained of near hits as well. The crosswalk is not part of an intersection, so there are no stoplights to help. Is there any way to get signaled blinking lights for this crosswalk as along many other crosswalks in Walnut Creek?
Many thanks for taking the time to read this long letter, and I would be happy to speak with you further on the issue of the North Main corridor’s future, if you would like.