Burbank Halts New Drive-Thrus

(Photo by Gavin J. Quinton / Burbank Leader) - A Raising Canes employee takes orders at the restaurants drive-thru in August, as cars queued onto Olive Avenue. City officials raised concerns this Tuesday that busy drive-thru queueing could pose risks to public health, safety, and welfare

First published in the Oct. 8 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Burbank City Council voted unanimously this Tuesday to impose an immediate moratorium on applications for new business drive-thrus for 45 days.
The measure, which went into effect immediately, comes just a month after the council installed speedbumps, closed access to side streets, and took other actions to control the overwhelming traffic to and from the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers restaurant on Olive Avenue.
Drive-thru restaurants are not new to Burbank, but city staff said in a report that a recent business trend involves maximizing drive-thru traffic, resulting in lines that “far exceed the existing drive-thru queuing standards,” raising concerns for street safety in nearby neighborhoods.
“Many new restaurant drive-thru prototypes have smaller building footprints with limited or no on-site dining, garnering more demand for vehicle queueing lanes, which far exceed the physical capacity of existing and proposed sites,” said Joseph Onyebuchi, associate city planner, in a presentation to council.
Area residents have spoken out about Cane’s customers, criticizing their use of the residential streets of Reese Place and Orchard Drive as a parking lot — often loitering, parking illegally, swearing at residents and leaving behind garbage.
Their response to this moratorium: “Too little, too late”
One resident, Timothy Murphy, wrote that in an email to councilmembers regarding the urgency ordinance. He added “our neighborhood did the work that CDD should have done. No neighborhood should have to put up with the traffic, trash and parking issues that were created and we predicted.”
The urgency ordinance only seeks to limit the establishment of new drive-thrus, but will not address issues with existing drive-thru restaurants such as Cane’s. The city has taken several measures to curb Cane’s traffic, but locals say it’s not enough.
“It’s nice that we’re an example for the rest of the city, but honestly it’s too little, too late,” said Peter Pendergest, a resident who lives near the new Cane’s restaurant. “We warned the city council that this was going to happen, but because the planning department went rogue and fell over themselves to issue the permits before notifying anyone, there wasn’t even much the council could do. It would have been nice if someone thought about this before this happened, but there you go,” he told the Leader.
Onyebuchi pointed out that there are 12 other sites currently eligible for future or replacement drive-thrus, and said “an Interim Urgency Ordinance is necessary to preserve public health, safety, and welfare … existing zoning regulations has the potential to create a risk of harm to the surrounding residential and commercial corridors.”
During the 45-day period, staff will seek to update to the existing drive-thru standards and zoning regulations to ensure that any future or replacement restaurant drive-thrus are adequate to prevent these problems.