ENCINITAS — Encinitas planning commissioners will vote on a proposed drive-through Starbucks along El Camino Real on Feb. 15, after Starbucks requested to postpone a vote slated for Feb. 1.
City staff has endorsed the plans for the coffee giant, which would fill the former KFC space in the Camino Village Shopping Center. But Starbucks requested the hearing be rescheduled to Feb. 15 to address a concern raised by a resident about the dimensions of the drive-through exit, a representative said.
“We’re coming back next week,” said Elizabeth Hansen of Southwest Strategies, a public relations firm hired by Starbucks to handle community outreach on the project. “We received an inquiry from a community member that we wanted to look into further.”
Hansen said that the company’s engagement efforts have yielded support for the project from more than 100 residents. Many filled out form letters on the company’s website that were sent to city staff.
“We have tried to engage the public, and it has been challenging with this project,” Hansen said. “Because most people don’t understand why there would be objections to a Starbucks drive-through.”
But a number of residents have expressed concern that the popular coffee chain will snarl traffic. Several New Encinitas residents — including a former planning commissioner, Ruben Flores-Saaib — who caught wind of the proposal wrote the city expressing concern about the traffic constraints on the site, likening it to the Starbucks on Orpheus Avenue in Leucadia that has been a sore point for residents since it opened in 2011.
Flores-Saaib wrote a letter last March that was included in the commission staff report.
“We all love and support our local Starbucks. But you also know the distress the drive-thru in Leucadia causes,” Flores-Saaib wrote. “No need to say anything other than no amount of traffic studies can mitigate the real impact that a drive-thru sitting along El Camino will have for the residents of New Encinitas the communities to the North and East from us. If this project is coming to you for review, I request that you consider denying the project, for the benefit of our community.”
Most recently, former City Councilwoman Teresa Barth sided with opponents of the project in her recent newsletter.
“Based on the amount of traffic the Leucadia Blvd. Starbucks has generated I agree with the residents,” Barth wrote.
City planners said that the company’s proposed traffic-mitigation measures are enough to address concerns about vehicle queueing, spillover onto El Camino Real and circulation within the shopping center’s parking lot.