Temescal McDonald’s appeal: A victory for the community, appellants & the business

18 May

As I wrote on Monday, last week a group of the appellants of the Temescal McDonald’s plan met with the owner, Ed Smith, to negotiate a compromise plan that everyone could support. We were successful, and last night, in a unanimous vote, the Council approved the compromise plan.

Both the appellants and Smith were so on board with the design that the 18 of us who had signed up to speak agreed not to speak once the Council signaled they would approve the plan. Smith and appellant John Gatewood spoke briefly to thank the Council, staff, everyone involved and to say we were all on board. Everyone in the room (particularly the hundreds of people waiting to speak on the gang injunctions) seemed pleased and grateful that we had found a solution.

So after raising more than $1400 for the appeal, writing the appeal, spending months meeting with staff and councilmembers, generating dozens of emails to the Council and turning out many people to speak at two Council meetings, what exactly did we get?

Here is the initial design we were appealing, the number one offense being the moat of cars it created around the property and particularly the line of cars in the drive-through that would have been right next to the Telegraph sidewalk in this pedestrian oriented neighborhood. Another big problem with the design is that the building didn’t meet the street, which would detract from the pedestrian experience and take eyes off the street.

The compromise plan, while not an urbanist’s dream, is a whole lot better. It moves the drive-through to the back of the property and brings the building to the street. It also includes a bunch of additional landscaping and trees, including a landscaped area at the corner of Telegraph and 45th.

(If you’re having trouble seeing this image, here’s a larger PDF.)

What you can’t see from this design, but was included in Councilmember Jane Brunner’s motion last night, is that “decorative low walls or fencing shall screen the interior edge of the new south parking lot at the corner of 45th Street and Telegraph Ave.; and decorative trellises and/or low walls or fencing shall be included to screen the new north parking lot.”

Also, though in the drawing above the sidewalks may look narrow, her motion stipulates that “the sidewalk shall be widened to a minimum width of ten (10) feet for the entire length of the McDonald’s property frontage on Telegraph Avenue.” This is a huge improvement from the current sidewalk, which currently has a choke point because of street furniture at the bus stop.

I am so happy with the results – not only with the approved design, but also with how well the process went with Ed Smith, who should be applauded for having an open mind and working so well with the appellants. Thanks to everyone who helped out – the appellants, councilmembers and their staff, City staff, everyone who spoke at meetings or sent emails, and, of course, Ed.

Together, we not only saved Temescal from a design that would have deterred from the vibrant neighborhood atmosphere and potentially endangered pedestrian safety, but we also showed that appeals processes can lead to positive negotiations and that sometimes both business and community needs can be met.

Previous McDonald’s posts:

6 Responses to “Temescal McDonald’s appeal: A victory for the community, appellants & the business”

  1. Justin Horner May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Awesome! This is great work: wider sidewalk, more trees, hidden auto infrastructure! Yay!

  2. Joan Lichterman May 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Thanks so much for your part in helping us succeed, Becks! One small correction: we collected over $1400, not $1300.

    • Becks May 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      Thanks, I’ll make that correction – that’s what I get for writing a blog post early in the morning after staying up too late watching election results from Congressional District 36!

  3. Marta Lindsey May 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Way to go! SUCH an improvement!

  4. Phil March 22, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks! I appreciate your efforts in making the redesign much more pedestrian-friendly.

  5. Molly Batchelder July 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    The project is a disaster from a tree’s perspective. Two of our mature City street trees have been removed, and it appears without permits. Three of the four remaining trees have suffered significant root damage and could be lost; one tree’s roots were cut up the base where destabilization may now be an issue. There are no standard tree protection measures in place, which are also required. So, it appears that as much as six trees could be lost due to this project. And the small stature Crepe Myrtles that will be planted in their parking lot will not begin to compensate for the lost of these mature street trees. Our London Planes are precious. Indeed they are the reason why the Temescal neighborhood is so inviting. How were the trees not considered? I am searching for answers.

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