Residents Not Lovin’ Proposed McDonald’s

McDonald’s wants to build one of its fine dining drive-throughs across the street from a middle school, but San Jose residents who spoke up at a recent public hearing aren’t lovin’ it. They say the fast-food culinary institute is too close to homes and would bring far more traffic to the neighborhood that sits at the San Jose-Cupertino border. Even more concerning, residents worry, impressionable young students might just dare eating the food.

And then there’s the cloying smell of French fries permeating in the air, Planning Commission Vice Chair Matt Kamkar added at a heated public hearing last month.

After a recommendation from the Planning Commission to deny the national chain’s building permit, the City Council will now hold a public hearing about the application when it meets Tuesday. City staff recommends the council uphold planning commissioners’ permit denial.

Plans submitted to the city would place the 3,911-square-foot restaurant in an empty corner of the Orchard Park Shopping Center. It would sit on Miller Avenue by Bollinger Road–right across the way from Hyde Middle School in Councilmember Pete Constant’s district.

Building another drive-through goes against the city’s vision spelled out in the General Plan 2040, which wants to create a more walkable community, says Joseph Horwedel—the city’s Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement—in a disapproving memo to the council.

Plus, there are those hideous golden arches.

“Staff also observed that the building design, with its unarticulated building facade and drive-through lane facing Miller Avenue, does not provide an attractive and welcoming appearance along the street and has a substantially lower overall quality of design compared to other drive-through restaurants approved in San Jose, including approvals for many other McDonald’s restaurants,” the memo says.

San Jose already has 10 McDonald’s eateries, and company spokesman Ken Rodrigues is asking the council for more time to come up with a better design for the proposed location, including richer landscaping, lattice-work and a vine-covered trellis.

More than 40 residents spoke against the plan at a March Planning Commission hearing, while only two were in favor. Most of people said they worry about traffic congestion and pedestrian safety, especially so close to a school. The shopping center acts as a community center, they argued, where people often meet at Caffé Adria and Cicero’s. A drive-through would take away from the center’s feel as a meeting space, said some neighbors, who had other ideas about how to use the vacant parcel.

“They suggested a clinic, dance studio, real estate office, mortgage company, shoe repair shop, optometrist, or sit-down restaurant, instead of the proposed drive-through restaurant at this location,” Horwedel writes about the previous hearing.

Honestly, what neighborhood doesn’t need a good shoe repair shop?

Other items from the San Jose City Council agenda for April 16, 2013:

• The council will consider whether to award a $2.1 million contract to the private San Jose Water Company to repair water mains through 2015. Readers may remember that this is the same water company that wants to raise rates 44 percent in the next three years.

San Jose’s Park Trust Fund ended the last fiscal year with nearly $80 million in the bank, according to an annual report on the trust fund going before the council Tuesday. The money comes from park-in-lieu fees paid to the city by developers, an amount that grew 30 percent year-to-year from $9.3 million to $12.5 million between 2010 and 2012.

• Plans to establish the creepiest high school ever are going forward. The council will consider a resolution to support a super-specific law that demands the state transfer title of the old Agnews Developmental Center to the city to turn it into a high school.

• The state’s asking local governments to make all new public landscaping with drought-tolerant plants to conserve water. The city will consider a code revision of its own this week to get up to code with state standards.

• Savory Kitchen, a restaurant on The Alameda, is asking the city to grant a permit that would allow it to sell wine for wine-pairing events and classes.

• A developer wants to build 70 attached town homes and 13,080 square feet of commercial space on a 2.3-acre site at Race Street and Park Avenue. The council will consider a rezoning application from Race Street Investments to make way for the mixed-use Hanchett Park Heritage Project.

WHAT: San Jose City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.565.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Last night KGO 7 news said that Constant was going to overrule the Planning Commission and support the McDonalds drive-thru.

    In my opinion, of the candidates running for mayor, Oliverio and Constant seem the most attractive to Westside voters.  Oliverio has a history of voting with his residents on issues like this (please correct me if I’m wrong).  Constant has a history of going against his residents.

  2. He wants to set a new resolution that allows developers to do anything they please. The homeowners are not against McDonald’s, just the drive through. It has been denied 2x by the Planning Commission, but Pete Constant doesn’t like pesky little zoning ordinances. He wants to chsnge the rules…How Republican!

  3. Pete Loses! Yeah…Now San Jose residents are mobilizing to make sure he does not become mayor in 2014. Campos, Khammis, Reed, and Constant all voted for the project, but lost 6-4. Constant should have refrained from name calling and miss-statements. The taxpayers did not appreciate being called a faction that hated the McDonald’s Brand, when it was just the drive through they were against.Constant wanted to ignore the public and with a resolution proceed to a permit. San Jose is a better place today because Constant was Constant….loud mouth, over-confident and not civil.

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