With the job market currently flat-lined, residents were far from enticed by the potential employment prospects. The city council voted unanimously to deny McDonald’s permission to further their plans of planting the location, which would have resided directly across the street from the UC Davis childhood obesity clinic.
Approximately 60 people signed up to voice their opinions at the meeting, and council members stated to the media that the unhealthy menu really had nothing to do with the decision, but rather the location being inappropriate for a drive-thru. However many residents did voice concerns about the irony of having a fast food destination staring down a medical facility aimed at fighting obesity. Despite McDonald’s many menu changes in recent years, they are still considered to be very unhealthy in terms of both quality of ingredients and average caloric content.
One neighborhood activist was quoted as saying, “People who are struggling with weight would have to pass by a restaurant which encourages people to get food and stay in their cars.” (Sacramento Bee, June 19). Residents in favor of the building suggested that the new jobs would be very beneficial to the struggling community, but their opinion was strongly voted down by council.
Several of these council members went on to state a drive-thru restaurant simply was not approved as a use for the 1-acre lot at the intersection, mainly due to the North Oak Park gateway. It would seem the city also already has plans in the works for a revamped Stockton Blvd corridor, and a drive-thru simply is not part of it.
The franchisee, John Ritchey, was willing to be flexible with portions of his proposal, but the drive-thru was non-negotiable. Like any fast food chain, McDonald’s relies heavily on a customer base that is drawn to the convenience of grab-and-go cuisine. To require all patrons to park and go inside the restaurant would significantly reduce restaurant income.
The Stockton Blvd/2nd Ave proposal was originally shot down by the city’s Planning Commission back in April, stating there were many issues with Ritchey’s proposal including not only the site layout but also traffic congestion, air quality, noise pollution and the site’s potential operating hours. The new McDonald’s would have brought around 1,000 additional cars onto 2nd Ave, which remains a residential street with bike lanes.
Outside of the residents who were in attendance, a petition with 1700 signatures was presented, along with multiple letters addressed to the council asking for the denial of proposal. Other arguments against the building plan included:
So for now, the vacant lot in Oak Park will remain in its current state. The city made it unmistakably clear that Ritchey, or anyone else, will need to keep McDonald’s out of areas that directly affect those seeking out a healthier lifestyle. For Oak Park, that means fast food should be reserved for road trips, occasional work day lunch breaks – or perhaps not at all.