Christi Nail
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Christi Nail has spent thousands of dollars on double-pane windows to keep out the noise and wooden shutters to block out the headlights. She is thinking of building a concrete retaining wall to ward off runaway vehicles. Nail is boxing in her family to drown out disturbances created by the Jack in the Box at the T-intersection of 30th and Upas streets in North Park.

Nearby residents claim the fast-food restaurant has been a nuisance for years. They have complained about litter, traffic, and noise, not only from customers using the drive-through but also from 18-wheelers making late-night deliveries. The Nails have dealt with the problems since 2000, when they purchased their home on Dale Street, across from the restaurant’s side entrance. In 2004, while trying to negotiate the restaurant’s driveway, a driver smacked into Nail’s truck, bending the frame. The Nails renovated their house so car stereos wouldn’t rattle the windows and late-night deliveries wouldn’t wake up the kids. Many community residents say that despite having conversations with management and the corporate office, carpet cleaners and grease-trap crews continue to arrive after 2:00 a.m.

Nearby residents have long complained that this North Park Jack in the Box disturbs the peace of the neighborhood.

Now residents worry that a plan to tear down the restaurant and build a new one will further diminish their quality of life. The proposal, currently under review by the City’s Development Services Department, adds 234 square feet to the building, extends the length of the drive-through, and adds an outdoor dining area. It reconfigures the site, moving the main entrance from Upas Street to Dale, which residents say will increase noise and pose risks for pedestrians and kids playing in their front yards. In October, the North Park Planning Committee unanimously rejected the proposal.

This drawing details corporate plans to expand the restaurant and move the entrance to Dale Street. Neighbors bitterly oppose the expansion.

Neighbors are frustrated with the City’s apparent support of the project, despite zoning that prohibits drive-through restaurants. If the plan is approved, some residents contemplate selling their homes and leaving the neighborhood.

“If the current restaurant redesign is permitted to go forward, we will probably not stay,” writes Nail.

At the intersection of 30th and Upas, the commercial area abuts the residential neighborhood. To mitigate impacts on residents, 12 years ago the City approved commercial regulations for businesses within a one-block radius of the intersection. The CN-1-2 zone prohibits “drive-in and drive through restaurants.” (Only two other blocks on 30th Street in North Park are zoned CN-1-2.)

However, those regulations do not apply to businesses that operated with their current land-use permit before 2000, when the zoning designation was established. That is the case with Jack in the Box, which opened in 1961. The regulations do not apply, that is, unless the restaurant closes for an extended period or the building is torn down and rebuilt. In that case, the permit expires and the company is subject to current zoning regulations.

“I’m absolutely disgusted to find out that the City is willing to ignore its own rules about zoning and grant Jack in the Box variances for the hours of operation, the drive-through, required parking spaces, and building-to-lot-size requirements, among others,” says Nail. “I purchased my home in good faith that the City would follow its own rules.”

The proposal appears to have support from the City’s Development Services Department. In a November 4 email, development project manager Michelle Sokolowski informed residents that staff supported extending drive-through hours until 2:30 a.m. “Staff supports the hours of operation with conditions to mitigate potential noise impacts from drive-through operations, including message board confirmation and courtesy signs.”

A Jack in the Box spokesperson says the renovation will only enhance the neighborhood and promises that the restaurant will not extend its hours. The restaurant is currently open from 6:00 a.m. to midnight and the drive-through from 5:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

“We have 30 years remaining on our lease and would like to replace the 50-year-old building with a new one,” says spokesperson Brian Luscombe. “The proposed design will significantly improve the area. There will be more landscape, and [it] will be more pedestrian friendly.

“Our options are, continuing to operate the restaurant in its current condition for many more years or enhance the entire property with a new restaurant. We’ve met with neighbors and modified our original plans as a result of those discussions. For example, we initially submitted plans for a 24-hour drive-through, but after concerns from residents we will maintain current hours of operation.”

Nail denies the rebuild will enhance the neighborhood. “As much as everybody would like to see a pretty new building there, it boils down to quality of life, allowing exceptions, and opening doors to issues that are already regulated. Those regulations were enacted for a reason and weren’t meant as suggestions. They need to be upheld. By tearing down the existing building, they are starting at square one, just like they had never been there.”

Rick Pyles lives near the restaurant and serves on the North Park Planning Committee. Pyles says he hopes that the zoning codes will prod the City and Jack in the Box to come up with a plan that complements this neighborhood of Craftsman homes, near the edge of Balboa Park. “The [zoning] designation provides nearby residents protections against allowing commercial emphasis in this residential neighborhood,” he says. “Many current residents purchased their properties with this zoning in mind and fully believed that these laws would be upheld.

“And I still hold fast to the idea,” Pyle continues, “that Jack in the Box could do something incredible there that would be fully embraced and supported by the community, but it won’t be the typical stucco box with drive-through operation as its main goal.

“But I guess Jack is just too stuck in the box to think outside of it.”

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Comments

Javajoe25 Feb. 1, 2012 @ 11:12 a.m.

Why would that matter? If a rebuild voids the grandfather element, wouldn't that put Jack under current regulations?

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Ponzi Feb. 1, 2012 @ 11:54 a.m.

You have a point. I was just thinking that the people that bought new the JBX in recent years really can't complain.

However, if that building is torn down, then it must met current zoning regulations. Is it certain that they lose their “drive through” rights when they rebuild or is there something in the fine print? Some kind of variance they can seek.

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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 1, 2012 @ 4:34 p.m.

Ponzi, After reading the planning docs, it seems that the drive-thru was going in regardless of the CN-1 designation. The City was willing to overlook the designation, at least the part about allowing a drive-thru, in order to keep the business from closing or moving to a different location.

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Ponzi Feb. 1, 2012 @ 7:16 p.m.

Dorian, I looked at that Jack on Google maps. It’s in an established neighborhood right next to some nice homes. I bet when it when in 50 years ago and many years thereafter it was not open 24 hours.

I’m only speculating, but Jack in the Box, as a local company and with former founders embedded in city politics, would require litigation to stop it. However, a lawyer might take it on because it seems pretty black and white, and if they prevailed they would demand reimbursement of legal fees from Jack In The Box.

If the city "overlooked" the designation, who signed off on it? Someone has to take the responsibility for either granting a variance or approving the plans against the current zoning.

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Hardcover Aug. 4, 2013 @ 10:09 p.m.

Yes, 50 years ago the 7-11s were really open just 7am to 11 pm. The issue is "what qualifies as a remodel?" It has been the City's policy that if you keep just one wall, and no roof material, and mostly the same footprint. In a sane world, it would be based on a percentage of the building's value. However, Jack lied to the neiborhood and said that no exterior walls would be changed, this does not bode well for their legal chances, should anyone sue.

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jelula Aug. 5, 2013 @ 1:43 p.m.

"If the city "overlooked" the designation, who signed off on it?"

The answer is Kelly Broughton, director of Development Services (DSD) under Jerry Sanders. He left the employ of the city after signing permits for several other developments that did not meet existing regulations (although he would probably claim he got a better offer in Chula Vista).

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Urab_Oat Feb. 2, 2012 @ 9:42 a.m.

god some people. go live in the country if you have a problem with noise and traffic because i want my tacos at 2am

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Facebook Feb. 2, 2012 @ 11:54 a.m.

Antonella C. says: To me, fast food chains are never a good thing, no matter their size.

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Facebook Feb. 2, 2012 @ 11:55 a.m.

Ken R. says: I can understand being upset about cleaning crews coming in at two in the AM. But.. to an extent... you bought a house next to a fast food restaurant.

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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 2, 2012 @ 11:57 a.m.

Ponzi, There is no mention of variances in the cycle issues from development services dept. There is mention, however, of the CN-1-2 zoning which does not allow for drive-thru's. So, I'm not sure how they got around it and I think that is what neighbors are so upset about.

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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 2, 2012 @ 12:02 p.m.

Urab_Oat, personally I am all for tacos at 2am, anytime for that matter, but I also don't live next to a drive-thru. So, I can understand how it might change things a bit.

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David Dodd Feb. 2, 2012 @ 12:51 p.m.

Two points. First, I fail to have much sympathy for people who purchase homes near existing businesses and then proceed to whine about the traffic. If you buy a home next to a dairy farm, you had better expect a lot of flies and not mind the smell of manure. Second, what's the alternative to an enhanced drive-thru and an outdoor dining area? A mess of parked cars where consumers are more likely to toss their trash right out the window. If you consider the rebuild from a different perspective, wouldn't a more robust drive-thru enable cars to move through and out faster? And wouldn't an outdoor dining area with trash cans near the tables encourage a cleaner site? As the old Japanese proverb goes, the other side of the coin also has another side.

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Gregory May Aug. 4, 2013 @ 9:21 p.m.

Comparing Jack-In-The-Box to a stinky dairy farm... PRICELESS!

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JustWondering Feb. 2, 2012 @ 1:16 p.m.

I was just wondering if the Nails noticed the large fast food restaurant next door across the street when they made their offer on the home some 12 years ago? I'm also wondering in the last 12 years how many times they patronized the establishment, knowing it was only a few convenient steps away? With that said, if Foodmaker demolishes the existing structure then as discussed above all of the existing regulations should apply. Rules are rules and both parties are obviously aware of them.

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Facebook Feb. 2, 2012 @ 1:27 p.m.

Robert H. says: The first question you have to ask as a reasonable person is "Was the Jack & the Box there when they moved in?" I really don't understand why it is the responsibility of the restaurant to keep noise down or move cleaning crew times to a more convenient time for the people living in the area? It is the City who sets the zoning parameters and guidelines the companies in that area must follow. If the people in that area have a problem they should be complaining to the zoning commission NOT the company.

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Founder Feb. 2, 2012 @ 1:52 p.m.

Please consider these concepts:

  1. Living next to a business that changes radially after you move in, in no way makes sense, if the business is sold and the new owners suddeenly remodel and make it into a another type of business! This has happened in NP and is part of the problem!

  2. A poorly run business "new" owner can make the entire neighborhood less livable by any number of changes like loud noise, loud customers and different hours of operation; this to has happened in NP!

  3. Jack wanting to remodel "breaks" all grandfather rules yet they keep trying to "push" the neighborhood into allowing them to make it bigger; who want a late night drive-through next to their house..

ORDER PLEASE?

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nostalgic Feb. 2, 2012 @ 2:57 p.m.

The municipal code is the law. Not what you think is OK and not OK. Or is it?

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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 2, 2012 @ 4:39 p.m.

*CORRECTION: The restaurant, if and when it's built, will be 234 square feet larger, not the 500 as reported in the story. I apologize for the error.

Dorian

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JustWondering Feb. 2, 2012 @ 4:47 p.m.

It appears from comparing the proposed remodel to the existing site, the major bone of contention is ALL entry is made from Dale street whereas now most probably enters from Upas street. Additionally, the site is flipped with all on site parking to the Dale side of the property, whereas today, all parking is on the East side of the property adjacent to the alley way and other commercial property. The new plan uses the public alley way, some might say, as it's private driveway for vehicles exiting the drive thru service window. Since the US Supreme Court has ruled corporation are people too, maybe Foodmaker, DBA Jack-in-the-Box, should be a good corporate citizen, and a good neighbor and consider its neighbor's health and welfare. Since the proposed plan would call for the lot to be scraped down to the dirt, its grandfathered exemptions should expire and, considering the proximity of the neighbors, no variance applied.

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Ponzi Feb. 2, 2012 @ 8:22 p.m.

My first question, was “Who was there first.” I, along with RefriedGringo, don’t hold much sympathy for people who move into a neighborhood and then try and change the business environment that existed around their home before they purchased.

The denial of the Fat City Lofts is a good example of the system working. Because sure as history’s shows, people would complain about Solar Turbines. Just as people who purchased condos downtown turn around and complain about a railroad line that has been there over 70 years.

However, laws are laws. If there was not a variance for this Jack and the Box rebuild, this is an assault on our system of laws. This is a typical David and Goliath fight. It sounds like the neighbors are not up for the fight and will sell their homes and move. But I would suggest they keep up the fight, if at least for justice. Perhaps picketing the restaurant would be a good start.

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zahara Feb. 3, 2012 @ 3:55 p.m.

The homes were built before the Jack int he Box. most were built in 30s and 40s.

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xians421 Feb. 3, 2012 @ 7:04 p.m.

If you don't want to live next to JBX, don't move next to JBX. If JBX truly wants to circumvent the rules, they could build a third of the new restaurant at a time and not close at all.

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Ponzi Feb. 3, 2012 @ 9:52 p.m.

"There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal, we will control the vertical..."

WTF are you saying, xians421?

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northparkrick Feb. 4, 2012 @ 1:30 a.m.

In a perfect world, the posters on here would actually CHECK the facts and do a bit of research surrounding the issue before blessing everybody with their pearls of wisdom: It doesn't matter who was 'here first', or 'if you don't want to live by a Jack in the Box, don't buy a house near one'. The FACTS are: SD Municipal Code, Land Use Code, NP Community Plan, and City Zoning for this location all prohibit what Jack wants to do. Even DSD has stated in their Cycle Issues Report, that if the current building is demolished, Jack will lose all pre-conforming rights. Simply put: They will have to follow the rules, obey the laws, be a good and responsible business.

In a perfect world, Jack in the Box would want to follow the rules. It's the right thing to do. But no--not only are they wanting to break the rules, they want to do it with even worse impacts on neighbors who deal with Jack getting away with violating noise ordinance now---(and yes, Robert H. neighbors DO expect Jack to keep noise down-- just like the law says. Have you ever tried to get Code Compliance to enforce the zoning law after regular business hours? And please inform as to how to contact a "zoning commission"? Again, do some research before you speak, please.

In a perfect world, DSD would not even be considering this redevelopment unless their own rules were followed. But instead, they will suck thousands upon thousands of dollars from Jack while 'staff' pours over how to let them get around the rules and give them a free pass, despite the law.

In a perfect world, if you don't like the laws, you get them changed through a civic process, and don't expect special rights in order to skirt them.

In a perfect world, ---Oh, wait, this is San Diego. What was I thinking?

And please, the rest of you that have all the answers but none of the facts, PLEASE don't tell me to move if I dont like it. I'd much prefer to stay, and make a difference by actually doing the research, knowing the facts, and insisting that the rules be followed.

Doesn't matter who was here first. The ones that don't want to follow the rules can be the ones to move.

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Hardcover Feb. 7, 2012 @ 2:39 p.m.

Is the City afraid they will move the place to Los Angeles and we won't be "World Class" anymore? It really is a poorly sited location, stuff like this should be on University or El Cajon Blvds.

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dwbat Feb. 15, 2012 @ 10:39 a.m.

JITB is building a new one at 2886 El Cajon Blvd., replacing the old crappy one.

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MisterRogers Feb. 7, 2012 @ 2:55 p.m.

What I find really interesting here is the accusation that JITB is "breaking the rules." JITB appears to be following all Land Development Process protocol. Just because City Codes and zoning don't currently allow for the requested project doesn't mean they can't request a variance/special permit to do so.

Projects like the one proposed by JITB require discretionary review by the City via the Development Services Department. DSD takes all zoning and City Code information into account, along with neighbor feedback and property history to reach an informed and unsentimental recommendation on the matter. Right? It seems likely that DSD's "discretion" took into account that this was a very well-established business, and that it wouldn't be judicious to decide that the only way JITB could improve their building was to give up a main component of their business (like their drive-thru, or their hours) just because of historic zoning changes.

I understand resident frustrations at the relocation of entrances and exits, of adjustments to hours of operations and things of that nature. But accusing a business in this situation of not "following the rules" is ridiculous. Homeowners also get variances from zoning and codes--to make garages into livable space, run businesses, to add second or third stories to their homes. Neighbors can petition DSD and the Planning Commission to protest that it takes away street parking, adds too much noise, or ruins their view, but in the end the decision lies with the City. If you don't like the City's decision, it doesn't mean your neighbor has broken the rules!

Why should telling unhappy people to move be off the table? Everything changes. To me it seems shortsighted to imagine that anyone would purchase a home next to a business and expect that the operation would always remain the same. Nail said she believed that the "City would follow its own rules," when it comes to JITB, but I somehow doubt she looked closely at what the norm is for City rulings on this type of scenario. Also, if she did her due diligence then she must have been informed of the extended length of the JITB lease. Would she prefer that the quality of the building across the street continue to deteriorate for another 30 years and continue as business as usual instead?

I have yet to hear anyone give a legitimate example of "something incredible" that JITB could do to appease the residents that doesn't involve cutting the business off at the knees or moving it to someone else's backyard. Perhaps we should try getting a zoning variance to put a stable full of unicorns there…

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Founder Feb. 10, 2012 @ 3:34 p.m.

Consider this:

Someone at the City should tell Jack to leave their business the way it is or they have to follow the current Laws for new remodeling construction...

Most of the nearby neighbors I've spoken to are fine with Jack just the way it is.

Bye Bye Jack

Problem solved...

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Badhand Feb. 15, 2012 @ 9:12 a.m.

Take a look at the JIB on 24th and Market, 2404 Market, 92102. Craftsman style building. If you are stuck with having a fast food joint, that's a decent one to look at.

The local community worked with JIB to obtain that design when JIB was looking to relocate from across the street.

Have JIB build something similar if you want to retain the look of the neighborhood.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=2404+Market+St&gbv=2&gs_sm=13&gs_upl=1953l1953l0l3906l1l1l0l0l0l0l125l125l0.1l1l0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x80d9536455200693:0x53464a5dc2884375,2404+Market+St,+San+Diego,+CA+92102&gl=us&ei=tOU7T8T1H4eyiQLZ0fySDA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ8gEwAA

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qpodad Feb. 16, 2012 @ 2:21 p.m.

@MisterRogers, You seem well-informed, but you miss the point when you you focus on why JITB is not, in fact, 'breaking the rules' if the city lets them do this. Since JITB is seeking a variance to avoid the impact of a clear and unambiguous, pre-existing zoning ordinance, it is JITB's duty to justify why they deserve this variance. Here is where the rubber meets the road: JITB essentially has no argument. They claim the building is old, but it is in perfectly fine condition and far from decrepit or an eyesore. The real reason is they want to make more money. But that is true of EVERY business that is impacted by zoning laws, and thus "We want to sell more burgers and fries" is not grounds for a variance. Especially in light of the vociferous opposition of the residents. JITB does not have to deal with the external costs it imposes on the neighbors, so they don't care if expansion will drive down the value of dozens of nearby homes. More and better landscaping? Wow, thanks for taking us for fools JITB! Under the criteria for variances, JITB is dead in the water. But JITB is a local heavy, so residents are rightly concerned with improper influences on what is supposed to be an objectively fair process, as special favors for those with $$$ is our sad legacy in SD.

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qpodad Feb. 16, 2012 @ 2:24 p.m.

Plus, I tried to order a Jumbaco there and they said they don't actually exist, which made me mad, which makes me hope even more that they don't get a variance.

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qpodad Feb. 16, 2012 @ 2:32 p.m.

Plus I am pretty sure @MisterRogers has an stake/interest JITB of some sort. Accord to SDReader, he has one comment (the on above) and joined this site the day he posted the comment:

USER PROFILE: MISTERROGERS Joined: Feb. 7, 2012 Comments posted: 1 (view all) Favorites: view

So if I am right, please go troll somewhere else. If I am wrong, my apologies, you must just genuinely love JITB and/or special treatment of multi-billion-dollar companies to the detriment of communities!

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Gregory May Aug. 4, 2013 @ 9:24 p.m.

UGLY. THE BUILDING IS UGLY... too bad there's no city ordinance for UGLY.

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danfogel Aug. 7, 2013 @ 8:34 p.m.

reponse to dwbat Yeah, really. Has anyone ever a JITB that's NOT ugly. LOL

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helblo Aug. 5, 2013 @ 7:21 a.m.

I hate fast food. I hate ugly buildings. That said, I remember when there was NOTHING along that road BUT the Jack In the Box.. when the neighborhood was pretty scary. I lived there. Then again, I could afford to rent there at that time. Why do people move in and then whine about the neighborhood?

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rosijoni Aug. 5, 2013 @ 8:40 p.m.

I find this a fascinating argument. I wonder just how many people still own homes in that small radius that were there in 1961 when Jack-in-the-Box built their original restaurant? Probably not many. We've bought and sold many homes in our lifetime, and it just seems that it should have been pretty obvious that this restaurant was there, that there was the subsequent traffic, odors, trucks, etc., that would naturally be a part of that reality. I can't second-guess the residents who are up in arms over this (re)building, but I also can't sympathize too much for them. If you didn't want to live near a Jack-in-the-Box, you shouldn't have purchased a home there. And personally - if I lived near that intersection, I'd be a whole lot more upset about the ramifications of the bar that is across the street at the corner of Upas and 30th. I mean, aren't there drunks at all hours of the night, cigarette odors, and probably people upchucking their beers in your yards? That would upset me more than someone wanting a taco at 10:00 PM. And while we're considering the pros and cons of this particular intersection, has anyone protested the large condominium project being built on the opposite corner? Do you have any idea where parking is going to be, how many restaurants and/or stores will be in that building? Any protests about that? I've noticed they certainly were willing to attach a large "Do the Right Thing, Jack" banner on their fence!

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McLovin Aug. 18, 2013 @ 9:34 p.m.

Rosijoni, I’m glad you finally pointed out what everyone pointing fingers at JIB has been tiptoeing all along. 30th Street is the busiest north/south artery through North Park with thousands of cars and the #2 bus line navigating those two awkward intersections on a daily basis. Jack in the Box does not add to the traffic problems here. And now what is surely going to be a big sore thumb, the North Parker, is only going to add to the traffic problems at this intersection. I can only imagine what it will be like once it is finished, but it scares me to see what is happening on that construction site right now http://blog.architectasdeveloper.com/. What gall to actually put the “Do The Right Thing Jack” banner on the their fence! Hey Pot, Kettle calling. I’m sure Bluefoot is finally glad to have some of the heat taken away from them. I don’t think any JIB customers park their cars in front of the neighbor’s homes. JIB customers don’t throw up and urinate on peoples lawns or the alleys behind their homes. I wonder is the protests would be as loud if there were a brewery going in instead of Jack in the Box? I guess it’s fine as long as it doesn’t have a drive-thru.

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rosijoni Aug. 20, 2013 @ 10:45 a.m.

Further, since a lot of the protests are about the crosswalk in front of JIB, the city COULD drastically improve that. Right now, it looks like they're leaving it "as is", with a tree growing out of the middle of it. Now, I'm not a frequent customer of JIB, but I would imagine their drive-thru is vital to their business. So in essence, what the neighbors REALLY want is for the restaurant to go away, despite all the niceties of "We like you, Jack, just not your drive-thru." Maybe they could put a Starbucks drive-thru there?! Now, THAT would be awesome! Then the drunks from Bluefoot could cross the street and get some good strong coffee before heading out into the neighborhood to do all their nefarious deeds.

One person did respond to me about the North Parker, and said that while "the neighbors" do not like the project, they are not protesting, because the builder has filed every single permit and followed every single code.

I was also crucified for calling this a "NIMBY" attitude. Forgive me. If it isn't, what is?!

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