2012-07-05 / Front Page
Drive-thru Starbucks clears big hurdle
On June 25, the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to a plan to build an 850-square-foot kiosk on a vacant lot at the northwest corner of T.O. Boulevard and Rancho Road near the 101 and 23 freeway entrances.
The coffee shop will have no indoor seating so caffeine-seekers will have to either walk up or drive through the establishment.
The small property was for years the site of gas station, and after the
business closed nine years ago, the land was found to be contaminated. The property owner has since removed all residue left behind by the gas station and, in March, the county’s environmental health division cleared the property for development.
To make way for the new business, the planning commission voted in April to change wording in the recently adopted Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan to allow drive-thru food and drink establishments as long as they meet certain criteria.
Property owner Richard Winchester, who has owned the parcel since 1979, was required by the city to get a special-use permit to create the drive-thru and will need to build the business according to specific guidelines set forth by staff; mainly, that the drive-thru is not visible from the boulevard and that he provide an outdoor courtyard between the coffee shop and the sidewalk.
The guidelines are meant to ensure the Starbucks—the first proposal adopted under the specific plan—doesn’t conflict with any of the plan’s goals.
Project architect Neal Scribner said it does not.
“The site has 51 percent landscaping on site, a large patio in front of the building, it’s meant to be a pedestrian-friendly people space,” Scribner said. “That’s what the boulevard plan asked for and that’s what we’ve done.”
In addition to the courtyard, the store will feature outdoor seating, a fire pit and soft music playing over speakers.
The store, which will be open from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m., will have two access points: one off westbound Thousand Oaks Boulevard and the second from the property to the north on Rancho Road.
Commissioner Pete Turpel raised a question regarding the likelihood that the drive-thru entrance off T.O. Boulevard will slow traffic heading west at the intersection during peak hours.
Senior city planner Haider Alawami said staff was satisfied with the developer’s plan for traffic.
“We told the applicant from the beginning we don’t want any impact to the public street,” Alawami said. “If there’s any problem with the stacking there’s other (solutions) we can institute.”
Barring an appeal of the planning commission’s decision, which would have to be received by 5 p.m. today, the project needs only to obtain grading approval to proceed.
If all goes as planned, construction could begin in August and would likely take six months, Alawami said.
City officials are excited to see progress at the corner lot, which lay vacant for a decade and has been viewed as an eyesore, Alawami told the Acorn.
“It’s a gateway to the residential area off the freeway. . . . The fence and the temporary signs that hang off it, it’s not something (we) liked to see. This will help clean up the intersection.”
The only other drive-thru Starbucks in the East County is in Simi Valley at the intersection of Los Angeles Avenue and First Street.
*Article updated Thurs., July 5 to reflect the drive-thru Starbucks in Simi Valley.