La Palma slated to get pandemic inspired “walk through” McDonalds

An architectural drawing of the pandemic inspired McDonalds

Even as the pandemic holds its grip on the nation, La Palma managed to announce two new economic development projects at its Sept. 1 meeting, including a “walk-through” Starbucks that could become a trend as Americans adjust their habits to reflect health and safety concerns.
The council voted 5-0 to approve an amendment to a 2017 approval that incorporates the updates to the design of a Starbucks project on Orangethorpe Ave. Much smaller than the traditional Starbucks, the “walk-through” design will have lanes for walk through and ride through customers, yet no inside dining.
The new design reflects an economic trend that could become one of the newest models of the national coffee shop franchises.
Planning manager Scott Hutter said the new Starbucks’ interior will be a mere 895 square feet, with no indoor seating but will allow for exterior seating.
There will be three tables with umbrellas and chairs for exterior seating, said Hutter, with additional tables and chairs for additional outdoor seating.
“This has been a long project in waiting,” said La Palma mayor Peter Kim, who also expressed satisfaction to see it finally taking shape. “It is a little unfortunate that there is no place to eat inside,” said Kim, who also noted the new coffee shop envisions “the times we’re living in now.”
Officials said the new Starbucks could be opened as early as next year and will be located at 5014 Orangethorpe Ave. near Coyote Creek. Moody Street Partners is the developer.
In a show of commercial unity, Clay Toombs, a spokesman for the development, thanked the management of an adjacent McDonald’s franchise for granting them an easement to allow patrons to cross the McDonald’s property to reach the new Starbucks.
In addition to the new Starbucks, the council also approved a conditional use permit for Viola Veterinary Hospital to be located at 7921 Valley View. The new animal hospital will create at least eight new jobs in the city, the council was told.
Although the proposed animal clinic will be located within a strip mall, Hutter said owners have committed to install sound-proof insulation to keep dog barking and other noises inside the clinic.
Council member Michelle Stegall, who favored the project, expressed concern about health inspections, given that the vet clinic will be located in the same strip mall with several restaurants.
The medical industry is heavily regulated, said Kim, who said he was “not too concerned” about any problems the clinic might pose to nearby establishments.
Moreover, Hutter reassured the council they could, in the event of any such problems, bring the conditional use permit could back before the council for modification.
The animal hospital will be called Viola Veterinary Hospital, Sutter said.
City officials were pleased with approving two new businesses amid a pandemic.
“We’re open for business,” said city manager Conal McNamara, noting that the city of La Palma’s economy is apparently “very healthy.” He credited Hutter for tying the threads together to keep the project development efforts on track during the pandemic.
In other action, the council voted 3-2 to send voting information to residents, over the objections of Mayor Kim and Stegall.
Council member Gerard Goedhart suggested sending detailed voting and voting safety information to residents, given a need created by the pandemic, a move for which Mayor Pro-Tem Nitesh Patel expressed support.
Kim said in principle, he of course wanted voters to be able to vote safely, but said voter information is generally the proximity of the Orange County Registrar of Voters and California’s Secretary of State’s office.
Receiving voter information from the city could “cause confusion,” said Kim.
Nevertheless, the council ultimately voted 3-2 to send the voter information to residents, with Goedhart, Council member Marshall Goodman and Patel voting for and Stegall joining Kim in voting against.
In another politically related item, Goedhart also suggested the city consider banning signs being placed in the public right of ways within the city.
He said the explosion of signs were cluttering up the city. Especially, he said, since new regulations allow candidates to keep signs up for 90 days.
Not to disrupt any of the current campaigns, Geodhart noted any action on signs should not take effect until 2021, though “if this passes, they (candidates) should be notified and asked as a courtesy to pick them up.”
Patel disagreed, saying it was “not necessary” to get involved in the limitation of signs. Patel said La Palma started a citizen’s academy with the expressed purpose to get people excited with a “competitive spirit” to get involved in government so limiting the signs would be a mistake.
Stegall suggested that since any action would not take affect until 2021 that the city place on the calendar for planning.
The signs are “a bit excessive,” said Kim, agreeing that the city should “try to find a balance.”
Goodman, a member of the Council running for re-election Nov. 3, said he agreed with Patel, but said he should limit his participation in the discussion because he was currently a candidate.
After the discussion, the council ultimately voted 4-1 to put the issue on the 2021 strategic planning agenda rather than take immediate action.
Kim, however, said the topic demanded immediate attention and voted against the motion to have the sign issue resurface in 2021 planning.