Chick-fil-A Is Really Pissing Off the City of Santa Barbara

The drive-thru lines are blocking traffic, and sometimes it’s downright dangerous.

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Cars in a Chick-fil-A drive-thru line
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

Congrats to Chick-fil-A for being a disruptor! The city of Santa Barbara is on the verge of deeming its Chick-fil-A a public nuisance, according to KTLA. The city has received complaints over traffic problems related to the drive-thru, from cars backed up onto the street, to biker safety issues, to car accidents from slippery streets getting slathered in Chick-fil-A sauces. (Okay fine, I made that last one up.)

How bad could the Chick-fil-A drive-thru situation possibly be?

It does sound very bad. The Public Works Department conducted a survey that found cars in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru can block one street lane for up to 91 minutes—and that’s on weekdays. On weekends (or I guess just Saturdays?), the blockage can be as long as 155 minutes, further supporting the case that you should be allowed to walk up to a drive-thru window.

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Spending two hours waiting for chicken? Some of that has to be like, teens who just want to hang out in someone’s car, right? Maybe Chick-fil-A could collaborate with the Public Works Department to find a separate parking lot for them?

How Santa Barbara plans to crack down on Chick-fil-A

Santa Barbara’s City Council is giving Chick-fil-A until June 7 to figure out a solution before moving forward with airing it out as a public nuisance. If Chick-fil-A is declared a public nuisance, the restaurant could lose its nonconforming use status for drive-thrus, which means that the drive-thru would no longer be legal, even though it was back when it was established.

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But what happens if the drive-thru is no more? Are customers going to freak out? Will there be protests? Will everyone adjust to simply going inside and ordering? Will people fight for the delicious homophobic chicken? Will this bring a community together? Will it tear a community apart??

The Los Angeles Times reported that Chick-fil-A is on its way to applying for a permit to operate in an unincorporated section of Santa Barbara County, which would be two miles away from the offending location. So maybe that would turn the 155-minute wait at one Chick-fil-A into a reasonable 78-minute wait at two different Chick-fil-A drive-thru lanes. Perfect solution.

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