Home>Articles>Political Vendetta or ‘Public Nuisance’: Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A Under Fire

Political Vendetta or ‘Public Nuisance’: Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A Under Fire

‘Santa Barbara—where they can shut you down for being too successful’

By Katy Grimes, March 7, 2022 2:22 am

The Santa Barbara City Council has given restaurant Chick-fil-A 90 days to fix its traffic problems on State Street or face the possibility of being declared a public nuisance. Why?

A local woman who “never liked Chick-fil-A,” not because of their product, but “for their social positions,” found a reason to cancel them.

Independent.com reported:

What spurred Hobbs to local action, however, was watching the upper State Street restaurant’s overcrowded drive-thru line spill constantly and precariously into the road, a public safety issue that has persisted for the better part of the decade, unabated, with no apparent consequences for either the culprit drivers or their fried-chicken-flinging enablers. “The idea of a big company coming into our community and using the main street of our city as a private parking lot is not acceptable,” she said.

Can the council sanction Chick-fil-A for doing too much business? One woman’s activism nearly brought the issue to a vote of the Santa Barbara City Council in favor of ousting Chick-fil-A, before even considering alternatives.

Instead, Chick-fil-A now has until June 7th to come up with solutions.

But is it warranted or even legal for elected city officials to hand-pick which businesses survive and thrive, and which businesses are forced out?

At the heart of the issue is not just the “public nuisance” Chick-fil-A may or may not be responsible for, but that the City Council very nearly voted to force the successful and popular business to vacate the legally held premises, rather than working with the business to come up with solutions.

These council members should be called on the carpet for even entertaining a decision to oust Chick-fil-A without due process. Do they understand their roles as elected officials? Why would they make the knee-jerk leap to authoritarianism at the first opportunity?

Consider this thoughtful letter to the Santa Barbara City Council from a local Santa Barbara business owner:

“One would hope that before you vote to restrict the operations of a private business, affecting the owners, employees, and commercial property landlords you might take a moment to reconsider your actions.

For one thing, it would be refreshing if you would simply clearly state your real objections to this particular business.  Tyler Hayden’s commentary in the Independent seems to be pretty honest about what is behind the real opposition to Chick-fil-A.

Why can’t any of you be so honest? You also might want to consider the precedent you will be setting.  Going forward, will elected officials like yourselves be empowered to alter contracts, rescind legal permissions, and to punish businesses for the sin of being successful?

A City Council vote to shut down Chick-fil-A’s legal drive thru using a “public nuisance” claim will clearly lead to multiple lawsuits against the City.

There will be serious 5th Amendment issues about unconstitutional “takings.”

There will be clear 14th Amendment issues about “due process.”

And the potential for many more claims. It is irresponsible for elected officials to expose the public purse to potential damage claims with such questionable actions.

This is not how “representative democracy” is supposed to work. Rather than picking winners and losers, city governments should be empowering their staffs to find solutions and mitigations to issues like this one.

It is not the job of an elected official at any level to vindictively punish businesses for being “too successful” for whatever reasons.

Step back from the brink. Sit down with staff, engineers, and the business and property owners and find potential mitigations.If you don’t, it will be clear to all that you are driven by ideology, not reason.

In the meantime, let’s talk “public nuisance”—see below.”

The business owner shared several photos of homeless vagrants living on the streets, urinating in public, congregating outside businesses, camping under trees, and feces on the sidewalk.

Can Santa Barbara shut a business down for being too successful?  Santa Barbara residents have shared with the Globe that several members of the Santa Barbara City Council won’t actually say why they’re doing this, but they have schemed without any public planning to shut down the Downtown section of State St. completely to traffic for the past 2 years because they want a “promenade.”

Could it be time for a regime change in Santa Barbara? As the business owner said, “This is not how ‘representative democracy’ is supposed to work.

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25 thoughts on “Political Vendetta or ‘Public Nuisance’: Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A Under Fire

  1. Seems to me that this is no different than the City of Burlingame passing an ordinance limiting the number of Chinese restaurants in the city, no? One per block as I recall. Too many constituted a nuisance, I guess. Cities pick winners and losers all the time.

  2. My Southern California city is like this, too. No amount of rabble-rousing and pushback over many years has — as far as I can tell —- made the slightest bit of difference. But okay, we finally figured out who is in charge: the unions, the government-paid employees, resident/stakeholders who work for the city, the county, the school district, or who work for the many many non-profits in town, the wealthy virtue-signaling left-wing elitists who are clueless but dominate the scene. On this particular topic, my city some years ago went so far as to BAN fast food restaurants “in a certain part of town” that the council deemed-from-on-high had health risks, obesity, and the like. Huh? It makes no sense, aside from every other screaming problem with it. Who the hell do these people think they are?

    Good for the citizen in this article, pointing out the council’s constant hypocrisies and Fascist-lite decision-making. Clone this good citizen and maybe we will get somewhere in the midst of these smug little E-2 Cooks in power who only get fatter and fatter and more crushing and crushing in ways big and small. Who knows?

    One thing I have never understood, though, is why our govt “leadership” is so ready to “spit in the soup” the way they do, destroying our cities and our state so that NO ONE could fail to notice it. Cities like San Francisco that they supposedly love, for instance. They certainly strutted around like peacocks with pride about such places once, and about California in general. Sure, maybe you can clean them up, restore needed policies that will lessen crime and start to bring back business and sanity, but what about the stigma from the destruction, which could last forever? What are they thinking? They live in these jewel cities, too, after all. “Spitting in the soup” means THEY can’t eat the soup either. It’s tainted and ruined and poisonous for them, too.

  3. I live in Santa Barbara, way too many liberal nuts…………I drive by Chick-Fil-A, every day around noon which is
    the busiest time. No big deal, It’s the nuts that wear masks in cars alone that are complaining. Santa Barbara is
    very un-friendly when it comes to business, hell look what they’ve done to State St.

  4. How about Chick opening up another location ? Which would take some of the pressure off of the State Street location . If you have a Business that’s so successful it shouldn’t be a problem . Also take a survey of where everyone is coming from. That might help establishing a new location . Yes you do know that Mc Donald’s and Starbucks definitely have several other locations and they are all doing fine .

  5. How about Chick opening up another location ? Which would take some of the pressure off of the State Street location . If you have a Business that’s so successful it shouldn’t be a problem . Also take a survey of where everyone is coming from. That might help establishing a new location . Yes you do know that Mc Donald’s and Starbucks definitely have several other locations and they are all doing fine .

    1. So, maybe you can you show CFA all those fast-food restaurants you’ve opened, especially the ones that had to be moved because of “traffic problems”. Oh, and do share with them your acumen in securing financing for construction, permits, fees, etc. etc. etc. for opening at another location. I mean, with your success in the industry, it “shouldn’t be a problem.” I’m sure with your business skills, coupled with your experience in opening and operating a restaurant, it should make the relocation of the CFA a breeze.

      1. Let’s look at some history: they picked a poor location for their drive-thru model, and the City should never have approved it. There are much better locations with sufficient space for large numbers of customers: see In-and-Out Burger in Goleta, which rarely has spill-over into the street, and, due to its location, spillover does not create big traffic hazards like those faced by the many people daily endangered by CFA’s poor design/location.

  6. I have no vendetta against Chick-fil-A. My wife loves their food and we are are happy for their success. That being said, there is a restaurant near us (Culver City) that constantly interrupts traffic. To drive past it requires changing lanes on a busy street. I suspect this happens in more places than are mentioned in the article. In a sense, Chick-fil-A is a victim of its own success. Not everything is a conspiracy against Christians. Representative democracy should represent all citizens. Even those who don’t think private business should dictate public byways.

  7. CEQA requires an analysis of traffic impact, and a proposal to mitigate any adverse effects, as part of the environmental study required for development project approval. Surely, the permitting process for any fast-food place with a drive-through, in any jurisdiction, should include ensuring that the drive-through line will not spill out onto the public thoroughfare. Absent any such consideration before the restaurant opens for business, it would appear that the constitutional protections against retroactive legislation should mean that the City of Santa Barbara is out of options to fix the problem that lack of foresight has created.

  8. If Chic-Fil-A thought they could win forgiveness from leftists for the past “sin” of donating to Christian organizations leftists don’t like (Samaritan’s Purse and Fellowship of Christian Athletes), by instead donating to other charities instead, it proved to be sadly mistaken. Changing the recipients of its charitable donations drove off many longtime Chic-Fil-A fans on the right, but doesn’t appear to have won any new support from the left.

  9. To be clear this is not Chick-fil-A’s fault at all. The location was not their choice. Santa Barbara prohibits drive thru restaurants but this location, which was previously another fast food restaurant (BK), had been grandfathered in. When it went out of business it was the only location the city would allow Chick-fil-A to set up shop. Now that it’s so successful the city blames the restaurant and not the consumers or themselves.

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