Oh, goody, looks like Los Osos will have another Battle Royale coming up, again. Yes, it's the French Fries War Redux, the battle over whether a McDonalds will be allowed to open in the old drive-thru bank building in the Vons/Ace shopping center.
And there's the rub -- the drive thru. For some reason, that's become the sticking point. Anti-McErs object on account of air pollution from all the idling cars, and a jammed up parking lot as hundreds of cars waiting for the drive-thru back up in the lot, creating a humongous mess. And they are also concerned about all those burger-stuffed cars making a traffic mess as they attempt to get out of the Von's lot and onto Los Osos Valley Road or double back through the lot to 10th St.
The whole traffic jam notion is odd to me because I've driven by both McDonalds and Burger King in Morro Bay at various "busy" times and have seen, at most, 5-6 cars lined up, a line that didn't even get backed up into the stores' own parking areas. But I gather from comments I've read that folks presume that half the town will arrive every day at 5:30 to get burgers, which would indeed cause a mess. On the other hand, I've been out and about town at various "food-busy" times and have yet to see any eatery -- fast or not -- jammed up. Indeed, it seems that lack of customers for cooked food -- fast or sit-down slow -- seems to be the problem here, as restaurants come and go with sad regularity.
Now, if an In-and-Out Burger were being proposed . . . . well, that would be another story.)
One interesting take on the drive-thru came from BOS candidate, Muril Clift, who did observe that he could see one benefit to a drive through and that would be for parents with young kids; it's a hassle to unbuckle all the kids out of their safety seats just so they could dash into the place just to get a Coke, so a drive-thru would make that process easier. Of course, my take on that is this: "Hey Mom, keep the kids buckled up. You shouldn't be feeding your children that crap in the first place. Drive on. "
In addition to the pollution of thousands of idling cars and a traffic jam up, another objection seems to be that the joint wants to stay open 24/7, in case any hard-working, pot-smoking Los Ososian gets a case of the fierce munchies at 3 a.m. I'm not sure why this earns such ire. Are folks afraid that all the drunken/stoned saloon denizens will drunk-drive over to McDonalds after the bars close, thereby creating a threat to all the empty streets? Or maybe it's the light pollution, if the proposed design features a gigantic pair of gaudy yellow arches blasting out light all night and blinding the owls?
On the other hand, there have been several letters to the editor urging that the place be allowed because it could create "approximately 30 new entry level jobs . . for college students and retired folks on fixed incomes," wrote Los Ososian Mike Morgan, in a recent letter to the editor. Which caused me to think, "Ah, yes, The Great American Dream has come to this: Our highest aspirations for a new business now is that it offers minimum wage part-time jobs for college kids and a few oldsters supplementing their retirement income."
Well, no matter. Right now, things are at an impasse. The County Planning Commission said Ixnay on the deal, ruling against a drive through and McDonalds said, No Drive Through, No Deal. So now it goes back before the BOS on April 8th for an appeal. Unfortunately, I have to work that day and will miss all the food-fight fun. Not that I have much to say about it all since I figure, traffic issues aside, this is just another Subway or Starbucks. The Corporate take-over/transformation of SLOVille began quite some time ago (as you can see from any visit to downtown SLO) and Los Osos is not exempt from this process. After all, "The People" have already decided, with their pocketbooks, what kind of food they want to eat and what kind of businesses they want to patronize, and with those dollars they're creating the kind of community they want to live in. And near as I can see, CorporateVille is their choice, and since the customer is always right, CorporateVille it shall be.
On the other hand, if the drive-thru is the deal-breaker and the BOS holds the line on this, McDonalds will go bye-bye . . . for a while . . . and thereby the community's health might improve an uptick and everyone can rest up and fuel up for the next battle over something-or other-by driving to Morro Bay for their Big Macs.