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Atascadero considering policy to disincentivize businesses from building drive-thrus

Posted at 4:54 PM, Nov 26, 2019

Atascadero City leaders are considering a new drive-thru policy to help reduce the influx of traffic in certain areas of town.

City leaders say this policy is not a prohibition on drive-thrus but potential fees included in the policy could disincentivize businesses from building a drive thrus.

The 16 drive-thrus in Atascadero are utilized by many people, but city leaders say there's a trade off. While drive-thrus are convenient for customers, the added traffic is a headache building with each new development.

The two main problem areas are San Anselmo at Highway 101 and Del Rio off El Camino Real.

A policy up for consideration by City Council would create a traffic impact fee assessed to new business owners for the additional traffic created by drive thru.

"A small drive-thru restaurant, small gas station, things like that actually have a significant impact on the community, so we are wanting to make sure we can look at these uses carefully and make sure we have enough remaining traffic leftover to accommodate other business in the area as well," said Atascadero Community Development Director Phil Dunsmore. "One drive-thru restaurant might be as much as 1,000-2,000 vehicle trips per day, whereas something like a 200,000 square-foot business park that can hold many jobs and support the economy would have a similar amount of trips to one drive-thru or gas station."

Dunsmore says a study is still needed to determine what the traffic impact fee should be, but he says it would not apply to existing businesses, only future drive-thru shops. The policy would also give the City Council broader authority to deny permit requests if the drive-thru would seriously affect the flow of traffic.

The Atascadero City Council will discuss the issue at its meeting Tuesday night.

The policy would also apply to gas stations.

The City of San Luis Obispo has banned drive-thrus for more than 30 years, but that prohibition is tied to environmental reasons.