Eureka City Council discusses local drive-thru situation – Times-Standard

With 31 drive-thru operations within the Eureka city limits and four other fast-food outlets with windows for ongoing drive-thru service, the local city council has been discussing its options for businesses offering service to the steering wheel during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

The discussion came after a report article by Eureka planner Kristen Goetz defining what constitutes a drive-thru and the options available for consideration by the council to regulate them.

“The first question is how do you define a drive-thru. The inland and coastal part of the city to find drive-thru as you might expect, where customers get services without leaving their cars. Although in the coastal area, we use the definition of “drive-in,” Goetz said. “I have another definition to help you with tonight’s discussion, a ‘formula business’ (provides) a service such as an ATM or a cafe or a fast food place where there is a contract or a other arrangement that requires the business to maintain perhaps standardized services or the menus, uniforms, exterior facade of the structure and this makes the business substantially identical to a number of other businesses in a geographic area or even the whole of the United States.

Fifteen of the 31 existing drive-thru businesses in Eureka are fast-food outlets, with 11 of those 15 falling under the formula business definition. The planner went on to explain that apart from fast food and coffee services, there are banks, car washes and pharmacies with car window service which can fall under one or both of the business models. drive-thru and formula.

There are four drive-thru restaurants slated for construction in the city, one at the current site of Annie’s Cambodian restaurant, another at the Target parking lot awaiting development permit from the California Coastal Commission, and two locations Starbucks along the US Highway 101 Corridor.

Options presented to the board include keeping the regulations as they are, implementing a drive-thru or food drive-through ban, implementing restrictions on drive-thrus, or granting authorizations for drive-thru services.

Goetz pointed to what other cities have done to limit formula businesses and drive-thru, referencing Arcata’s 2002 ordinance banning the amount of formula restaurants and limiting drive-thrus in Valley West. .

“At the time of its passage, one of our Arcata’s planners endorsed the ordinance, saying it fulfilled several goals of the city’s overall plan, including reducing auto-dependent activity, protecting community character, encouraging sustainable development, and promoting local investment in food establishments that meet local needs,” Goetz explained.

Looking at other examples from San Diego, Long Beach and Sebastopol, Goetz said reasons cited for pushing for a drive-thru ban include reducing emissions from idling vehicles, waste, noise pollution and improving walking in commercial areas.

Points in favor of the drive-thru include providing services to people with reduced mobility, contactless service during health emergencies such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The convenience, availability, and familiarity with these businesses also help attract travelers passing through the region. Seven drive-thru establishments were among Eureka’s top 100 sales tax producers in 2020.

“These establishments generated more than $263,000 in general fund revenue,” Goetz said.

During the discussion period, Councilor Kati Moulton expressed interest in restricting drive-thru in Old Town and Henderson Center, but not along the Highway 101 corridor.

“I would not be in favor of restricting drive-thru in the hallway. Eureka rides a river of money and anything we can do to catch sales tax on all the cars that come by every day, I’m generally in favor of that,” she said.

Council member Leslie Castellano said she favors capping or banning new drive-thrus, especially those in foodservice. She also took up the argument that more drive-thru would mean more sales tax revenue for the city.

“Honestly, I don’t think we have enough information to properly assess whether we would gain more tax revenue by allowing more restaurants. I really think the stats of recent additions to the drive-thru environment were done before the pandemic when things changed everywhere. I don’t think we have an adequate understanding of how this affects other businesses,” she said. “Making this decision by saying we’re going to bring more tax revenue to the city of Eureka based on this little information is a bad idea.”

Council member Kim Bergel also spoke out against allowing drive-thrus to be allowed in the Old Town and Central Henderson areas, but perhaps only allowing them at the northern and southern ends of the stretch. from city road 101.

Following the board’s comments, staff said the board could hold a workshop and review the information to further guide the discussion.

“This is a really large and complicated topic and based on what we’ve heard here today, (Goetz) and I will provide additional information so that we can continue this conversation later,” the district attorney said. city, Autumn Luna.

As this was a report, no action was taken by the board.

Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0526.

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