After an almost three-hour debate, the City Council on Tuesday effectively nixed a new Taco Bell at the intersection of Burbank Boulevard and Buena Vista Street, citing traffic safety concerns tied to a proposed drive-through on the site.
The intersection is already clogged with traffic during morning and evening peak hours, according to about a dozen residents living near the intersection who attended the council meeting and spoke in opposition of the project.
Taco Bell officials said rejecting a drive-through would be a deal-breaker. The chain already has a restaurant with a drive-through at Magnolia and Buena Vista, which would have been closed had the new site been approved, said Steve Pulcheon, construction manager.
But it would be almost impossible for drivers to turn left into or out of the site during peak hours from either Buena Vista or Burbank, said Councilman Dave Golonski, adding that drivers would turn right and weave through neighborhood streets to the north.
Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy agreed with concerns expressed by Robert Phipps — who appealed an earlier commission-level approval of the project — contending the drive-through wouldn’t be able to handle the number of vehicles during morning and evening peak hours, backing traffic up onto Buena Vista.
Because there is on-street parking near the entrance, vehicles could block a travel lane on Buena Vista, creating a hazard, she said.
The intersection has been the site of serious accidents in the past, including a motorcycle fatality last December. Earlier this year, Burbank traffic engineer Ken Johnson found that 20 accidents had occurred at the intersection over a 3 1/2-year period.
Police officials reported that there were 15 accidents around the intersection between January and October of this year alone. However, Johnson said only six of them were intersection-related, such as rear-end collisions and left-hand-turn crashes.
Business owners have said they would like a restaurant on the corner — the former site of Conroy’s Flowers — because workers could walk there for lunch.
In addition to a drive-through, the Taco Bell would have had a dining room and onsite parking.
“The impact to the intersection outweighs the benefits of having Taco Bell in that area,” said Mayor Jess Talamantes.
After the public hearing, Taco Bell officials attempted to introduce a new drive-through configuration before the council voted 4 to 1 against the proposal, but they were unable to sway the dais.
Councilman Gary Bric, the sole dissenter, said he preferred either continuing the case or denying it without prejudice so Taco Bell could bring a new plan back to city officials quickly without paying an application fee.
Taco Bell could submit new plans for the site in a year. However, company officials said Tuesday they may improve the Magnolia location instead.