In-N-Out, In-N-Out, In-N-Out. Sounds like we're getting screwed.

It was reported in the Monterey Herald today that the Seaside City Council approved a six-month extension of negotiations for an In-N-Out Burger joint on Del Monte Avenue next to Laguna Grande Park. All I can say is "Sigh."

The City of Seaside is notorious for setting its sights impossibly high then settling for the ridiculously low. The property in question was zoned for a hotel. When they couldn't find a suitable developer they decided to settle for a hamburger stand. 

Isn't there something between those two extremes that would be both economically viable and appropriate for the site? I would suggest a nice locally-owned family restaurant, designed by a local architect so as to be aesthetically compatible with the lakefront setting. It might incorporate outdoor seating, perhaps on an upper deck, to allow diners to gaze across the water and view the waterfowl. Anyway, that's just one idea that pops off the top of my head. You'd think the planners at city hall would have some other good ideas at their disposal. You'd think.

You'd also think that Seaside, being the gateway to some of the most beautiful communities in California, would have developed some sort of aesthetic sensibilities when it comes to land use. Instead, the city has allowed itself to be defined by cookie-cutter corporate buildings where the dominant architectural feature is the parking lot. Chili's restaurant, which also fronts Laguna Grande, is a good example of this problem. (Incidentally, Chili's was supposed to have outdoor lakefront seating, but the city let that slide by, too.) 

Nearby, the city planned to build a train station, but settled for a Starbucks. The beautiful building at Broadway and Fremont has the aesthetic part right, but that corner needed a major anchor tenant, such as a department store, to encourage smaller businesses to move in around it in accord with the Broadway "downtown" plan. Instead we got a pizza parlor, a Kinkos, and a Starbucks that fizzled along with the neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against fast-food chains. I patronize them myself. Cities like Pacific Grove that ban them altogether are unreasonably extreme. So I have no problem having an In-N-Out Burger somewhere in Seaside, just don't put it in front of our lake! There are better uses for such prime real-estate. 

Seaside desperately needs better leadership, people with good economic sense, combined with an appreciation for the city's appearance and genuine concern for our reputation as part of the larger Monterey Peninsula community. Our Mayor, Ralph Rubio, talks up a storm about civic "pride," but he hasn't given us much, aside from some free music on city hall lawn and the occasional parade, to get excited about. Meanwhile, our major commercial neighborhoods still look like hell when compared to the rest of The Peninsula. And yet he still wonders why we get no respect.

It is for these reasons, and many others, that I am supporting Felix Bachofner for Mayor of Seaside. I have known Felix for twenty years, and can personally vouch for his integrity and good sense. As a former Seaside Planning Commissioner he has a good grasp on proper land-use policy, which will help make Seaside more attractive and more prosperous. See to learn more.


realitybytes said…
does that really qualify as a "lake"? seems barely big enough to be called a pond. but i digress. as a former commercial real estate appraiser, i have to say that i think that is a horrible place for an in-n-out burger joint. sure it has some limited visibility from the freeway, and it is in close proximity to a couple of hotels & motels. but getting into that site isn't going to be easy for the freeway traveler. traveling southwest along del monte from the nearest freeway exit near the home depot, you can't turn left into the site. not to mention that the site itself seems to be way too big for a fast food restaurant. it's actually larger than the chili's restaurant site. i really do not understand this move at all. on the other hand, i do like in-n-out burgers. so i got that goin for me. which is nice.
James B Toy said…
Thanks for your comment. To answer your question, is it a lake? Well, I don't know what the geologists would say qualifies as a lake, but looking at a map, Laguna Grande is slightly larger than Lake El Estero. So if El Estero can be called a lake, so can Laguna Grande. Laguna Grande's circumference is roughly one mile, which seems too large to qualify as a pond.

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