They are right when they say, “Be careful what you wish for.”
I always hated that big sea of asphalt at the intersection of El Camino Real and Morro Road (Highway 41) that included Vons, Rite Aid and others. So I was pleased when it was eaten up by the new Rite Aid building, the new Carl’s Jr. and the Lube ’N Go.
All the new construction has certainly enhanced that gateway entrance into Atascadero via the new Highway 101/41 interchange.
But what we have ended up with is a parking lot that provides a lot of challenges to anyone who drives anything larger than a Mini Cooper or Volkswagen Beetle. The city required Rite Aid to shorten all the parking spaces to the minimum length “prescribed for parking spaces by the Atascadero Municipal Code for nonwheel stop spaces,” and that all the parking spaces along the Highway 41 side of the new building be “compact spaces.”
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So getting around in that parking lot is quickly becoming a challenge.
And now the city has approved a new Starbucks Coffee that will open in a completely remodeled space in the old Rite Aid building. This will be a great-looking renovation and simply continue the improved look of the entire old shopping complex, all of which is built on the original grounds of Atascadero founder E.G. Lewis’ estate.
The new Starbucks will feature a drive-through service on the northern end of that old building, where the loading dock rests. Cars coming and going into the complex off Highway 41 will soon be competing with drivers trying to get in line for a morning cup of java.
Because the space is limited, new latte-lovers will have to turn into one parking lot, cut through a second and make the loop around to be in place for the service window. The new drive-through proposes that drivers can only exit the center via the El Camino Real light and not Highway 41.
The planning commission was told that the drive-through could accommodate 11 vehicles — six in the drive-through aisle and five more in the nearby parking lot.
I see the potential for things to get a little crazy there during certain times of the day.
I’ve talked to a number of older drivers who find it difficult to navigate the new complex and get close enough to the entrance of the new Rite Aid.
City staff and, subsequently, the Planning Commission, determined that the driveways and other internal circulation “will continue to function at acceptable levels.”
Where is the proof that this town is not friendly to new business?