By Shawn Raymundo
In-N-Out Burger took one step closer to moving into San Clemente with a new location, as the planning commission last week approved the popular fast-food chain’s project plans with additional conditions.
Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of approving the restaurant’s permit applications, which propose to demolish the former California Bank & Trust building located at Pico Plaza—on Avenida Pico, just off Interstate 5.
The site of the two-story office building will be rebuilt into a one-story, drive-thru In-N-Out location on 3,882 square feet of space. The restaurant’s drive-thru lane, according to the city, will be able to accommodate 30 vehicles, while the parking lot will comprise 51 spaces.
Jim Lockington, manager of new store development for In-N-Out, had told the commission on Sept. 16 that the West Coast chain believes “this will be one of the most attractive, if not the most attractive, In-N-Out restaurant ever built.”
To address concerns with potential traffic issues, as In-N-Out is known to produce a long line of vehicles, a condition of approval mandates that should vehicle stacking “cause circulation and/or crowding onto the public streets,” the business owner will have to work with city staff to implement solutions to mitigate the problem.
Such mitigation measures could mean increasing the number of In-N-Out staff working outside to organize drive-thru stacking or even double-stacking vehicles on site, according to the city’s report.
Before commissioners approved the plans, concerns were raised over In-N-Out’s proposed 7-foot-tall monument sign. As part of the approval, the commission added another condition requiring In-N-Out to remove the sign from its plans, as well as the red LED cove lighting on the building.
According to Katie Crockett, the city’s associate planner, part of the commission’s concern with the monument sign was it would contribute to sign pollution, as the Pico Plaza pile-on sign is already stationed nearby.
Crockett said In-N-Out has until Monday, Sept. 28, to appeal the additional conditions, putting the final decision on approval on the shoulders of the city council. She added that the restaurant is likely to appeal the addition of the condition.
Regardless of whether In-N-Out appeals the additional condition, Crockett said in an email, “The applicant still needs to submit construction documents for building plan check, the process for which can take several months. Once they receive building permits, they can move forward with construction.”
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.