City Officials and Starbucks Need to Fix Traffic Problems - Public Safety Issue
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Starbucks Drive-Thru in Thousand Oaks, on Rancho Rd/Thousand Oaks Blvd is a traffic mess. The city and Starbucks agreed to measures in the permit for the Starbucks. Call on the City and Starbucks to do what they said they would. The city was warned that the traffic would be bad; they ignored the warnings, and now are not even enforcing their own resolutions.
Starbucks shares the lot with a local small lighting business. Their business is affected daily by the car queue from Starbucks.
An injury or accident can be prevented - the city was warned. We need to alleviate the problem for all parties!
In Ventura County Star: VC Star Letter
In Thousand Oaks Acorn: TO Acorn Letter
Acorn Letter from another resident: Letter in Acorn from Resident who Warned City
UPDATE: An engineer for the city has said "nothing needs to be done at the location", saying a "comprehensive study" was done in 2015 and 2017, a study which ended up being a basic line graph, with no details or context. Even in that graph, cars, more often than not, exceeded the 9 car limit specified in the resolution permit. The engineer also said no cars have were EVER observed backed up onto Rancho Road. Anybody who has been through that intersection during the morning hours has seen that line back up onto the street. There are multiple recorded instances of this as well.
Starbucks Brews Public Safety Concerns
Starbucks is notorious for putting small shops out of business, from forcing out small vendors selling coffee at the V.A. Medical Center to stampeding adjacent properties with its high traffic. The large corporation has continued to increase its number of stores every year, and has a very loyal base of Starbucks aficionados. The company cannot keep up with the increasing amount of consumers waiting in line, whether in store, or in their cars. Starbucks has been trying to deal with this through their mobile app, which allows customers to place their orders ahead of time. Still, even after the rollout and promotion of the app, the coffee baristas are overworked in the morning rush hours, lines remain long, especially for drive-thru locations, and customers consequently sometimes don’t get their coffee at their preferred temperature. The increased demand for their products is a problem for them, in the sense that Starbucks has TOO much demand.
Starbucks plans to add 40,000 drive-thru locations over the next few years, with many of those locations being drive-thru ONLY. As of April 2017, there is only one Starbucks in the Conejo Valley that is drive-thru only – the Thousand Oaks location at the intersection of Rancho and Thousand Oaks Blvd, which opened in 2013. If you have been to this location before, then you most likely know that it has a major traffic problem. In order to fully understand how and why this unfortunate situation came to be, we must look at how it got approved in the first place. It was the first location to be approved after a drive-thru related amendment to the Thousand Oaks Specific Plan 20. This is the plan for improving Thousand Oaks Blvd east of Moorpark Road and west of Duesenburg Drive. It was first adopted November 2011, with two amendments in the middle of 2012, and an amendment in 2016. Basically, the plan deals with establishing future guidelines for the street and the businesses located on the street. The plan is very ambitious in terms of the overall vision for the boulevard, wanting a high amount of foot traffic, buildings that are pleasing to the eye, and for buildings to include landscaping and extended sidewalks. The May 2012 amendment dealt with drive-thru restaurants.
For drive-thru only restaurants on Thousand Oaks Blvd, approval must come from the City of Thousand Oaks Planning Commission, and requires a special use permit for the property. The special permit was granted after review of an ATE study dated April 5th, 2012; this study was referenced in the permit resolution. That ATE study, which dealt with predicting the traffic of this Starbucks location, cited 3 other Starbucks drive-thru locations, the primary one being the location in Oxnard on Channel Islands Blvd. The study inferred that the Oxnard location would have the same traffic patterns as the Thousand Oaks location. It projected about 91 vehicles for the weekday morning period (7:00 am – 9:00 am), with an average queue during this time of 6 vehicles, and a maximum of 9 vehicles. The resolution states that if the activity and resulting queues exceed those projections and thus adversely affect on-site circulation or block project driveways, that the applicant agrees to correct any identified deficiencies in a “timely manner to the satisfaction of the City Traffic Engineer and Community Development Department” by implementing measures recommended in the ATE study. The first measure would be to station a Starbucks employee, similar to In-N-Out drive-thru order takers, near the end of the queue in order to expedite the time spent in the queue. The second measure would be to restrict the Thousand Oaks Blvd entrance driveway to outbound traffic only – if the first measure doesn’t reduce the queue.
Anyone who has been to this Starbucks location in the last couple of years knows that on-site traffic circulation has been adversely affected. It is also a daily occurrence during those weekday morning hours for the queue to be so long that it stretches all the way out to the Rancho Rd entrance driveway. But have you seen a Starbucks employee taking orders for vehicles in the queue? If so, how often? I drive past this lot twice a day on my way to and from work, and I have yet to see a Starbucks employee outside. Even outside those peak morning hours the queue goes onto Rancho Rd. Once actually through the drive-thru and coffee in hand, getting out of the parking lot is another nightmare itself. With cars entering the drive-thru from both entrances, getting out is a major headache and requires patience, skill, cooperation with other drivers, and even then, it is still frustrating and unsafe. I understand the City of Thousand Oaks felt that prior to the Starbucks being there, it was somewhat of an eyesore, but their own resolution says that the permit will be revoked if those previously mentioned two measures aren’t enacted, and/or don’t help traffic circulation.
Imagine the frustration for the other tenant in this parking lot, Lighting and Bulbs Wholesale Supply. The long queue at Starbucks routinely blocks the entrance and parking spaces of that business. Customers who manage to park in a spot have even more difficulty getting out. Customers are forced to park in the adjacent lot, or at the Chevron across Rancho Road. Many of these customers are landscape contractors who drive heavy load pickup trucks. Parking and leaving Lighting and Bulbs Wholesale Supply is much more difficult for them than the average compact car with or without a backup camera. I spent one day in the morning hours recording action from the viewpoint of this local lighting business, which has been in Thousand Oaks since 1999. The customers were frequently agitated over the traffic situation, but they themselves could only imagine the stress of the owner of Lighting and Bulbs Wholesale Supply.
Why has there been no media coverage, or even local media, about this situation? As a local resident of Thousand Oaks for 6 years, who lives on a side street off of Thousand Oaks Blvd, I always liked the amount of genuine small businesses operating in the city, especially on Thousand Oaks Blvd. Many of these businesses have been in operation for a very long time.
In recent history we have seen more commercial chain stores come to Thousand Oaks Blvd, but this Starbucks is the biggest concern, because not only is it adversely affecting the neighboring local business, but also because it is affecting public safety (there has been a very noticeable increase in police/crime activity at that location in the past four years), and thus embodies the commercialization of large corporations negatively impacting the local community.
According to Google Maps, there are about 16 other Starbucks in the Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Newbury Park area (more if the Oak Park area is included). As residents of these cities, do we really need more big corporations pushing out small businesses as they swallow their own footprint? With the growing rate of population, do we really want to become the next San Fernando Valley? The Conejo Valley has always been a tight-knit community. Let’s keep it that way. Watch the video, give your signature to show your support, and help preserve our community.
Thousand Oaks Specific Plan 20
Small Business Owner Forced out of VA Medical Center due to Starbucks
Planning Commission Resolution No. 16-2012 PC
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