The old Jack in the Box at 2959 Upas Street
  • The old Jack in the Box at 2959 Upas Street
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On Friday, January 23, a superior-court judge will decide whether a lawsuit filed by a group of North Park residents over the renovation of a Jack in the Box restaurant should go to trial.

Last year, the City of San Diego and Jack in the Box executives filed a motion for summary judgment in hopes of preventing a case over what residents believe was an illegal renovation of a drive-thru at the North Park Jack in the Box.

For the city and burger chain, the case hinges on their claims that residents were 12 days late in filing their complaint over the proposed renovation project. Members of the North Park Preservation Coalition, the group suing over the development, say the city and restaurant executives duped them into waiting to file a complaint.

Friction between Jack in the Box and neighbors has existed for a number of years, long before the burger chain unveiled a proposal to reconfigure its nearly 50-year-old drive-thru restaurant. As reported by the Reader, neighbors' complained about late-night noise from patrons and delivery trucks, overabundance of litter, and traffic problems. Then, in 2011, residents learned of the burger chain's proposal for a complete remodel.

They objected because zoning laws implemented decades after the restaurant had been built prohibited drive-thrus. The existing drive-thru was grandfathered in — that is, unless the restaurant closed for a period of time or was torn down or rebuilt.

Residents approached Jack in the Box executives and the city with warnings that if any exterior walls were removed during the renovation, the new zoning laws would kick in and the drive-thru would not be allowed.

In May 2012, objections aside, the city's development services department pushed the project through the pipeline. Three months later, San Diego planning commissioners rejected the renovation plan. The city's planning department had other plans; they approved the plans, minus any major exterior changes.

By May 2013, representatives from Jack in the Box seemed to acquiesce. In an email obtained by the Reader, a construction manager assured then–North Park planning chair Vicki Granowitz that they "are not demolishing any of the exterior walls."

The admission was a partial victory for residents. On one hand, the restaurant was not going to pursue a complete overhaul — traffic and noise would not increase; but on the other hand, the drive-thru would continue to operate. Shortly after, however, residents watched as construction crews gutted the building down to the foundation. They contacted then-mayor Bob Filner to enter the fray; his office soon ordered the company to cease all construction.

City attorney Jan Goldsmith informed Filner that a stop-work order could not be issued without his approval.

"...[A] stop-­work order must be approved by the City Attorney’s Office (“CAO”) before it can issue," wrote ex-Filner aide Lee Burdick. "After the Development Service Department forwarded the Mayor’s request for a stop-­work order to the CAO for review and approval, the City Attorney advised that Jack‐in-­the­‐box was too far along in the construction, the company would likely sue the City if we stopped the development, and they very well might win. Consequently, the stop‐work order was not issued and, as you noted, the construction has moved on."

A few days later, on August 12, 2013, residents known as the North Park Preservation Coalition filed a lawsuit against the city and the fast-food joint.

More than a year has passed and the case is making its way through the courts. On Friday, attorneys for the city and Jack in the Box will make their case as to why the case should be thrown out. The city says that, despite the years of involvement and the assurances from construction managers, they waited too long to file a formal complaint, rendering their lawsuit moot.

The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in judge Ronald Prager's courtroom, department 71.

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Comments

AlexClarke Jan. 21, 2015 @ 6:12 a.m.

Jack and the Box has already won. The "remodel" is complete. The judge will have no choice but to rule against the Preservationists because their suit was filed late. Even if it is ruled to be valid what is the remedy? Jack is not going to be required to tear down their facility. I'll bet that many of the neighbors patronize the business.

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Founder Jan. 21, 2015 @ 2:42 p.m.

Most of the neighbors are against the drive through since it spoils their quality of life.

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northparkrick Jan. 21, 2015 @ 7:05 p.m.

So if you get far enough along in an illegal activity, you get a free pass to get away with it?Jack can simply close the drive through window, or make it a 'walk up' window, and carry on selling Jumbo Jacks. Nobody expects the facility to be torn down, just that the law be followed. There comes a time when accountability has to be a priority.

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AlexClarke Jan. 22, 2015 @ 7:04 a.m.

Northparkrick: Yes for the big boys with money and influence can get away with almost anything. There are many examples around of projects that did not conform to codes or laws. Build it and if you get caught then apply money and the problem will be resolved. If I were King I would fire everyone in the building inspection department that signed off on this project.

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northparkrick Jan. 22, 2015 @ 9:34 a.m.

AlexClarke: Then I nominate you for King.

Unfortunately, the Development Services Dept. (DSD) is revenue driven and the goal is to approve permits. Looking at little details like codes, zoning, community plans, laws are troublesome and bog things down. City Staff is currently nearing completion of the ninth update to the LDC (Land Development Code), in which they are supposedly 'fixing' the 'Maintenance, Repair, or Alteration of Previously Conforming Structures' section so that these "remodels" like Jack In the Box claimed "can never happen again" (those words have been thrown around by a lot of people of authority in this case). The new wording leaves things just as ripe for abuse as the original, and they won't include anything with real teeth to protect neighborhoods or residents.

Even when a permit issued is "inconsistent with the City’s Land Development Code" (Goldsmith's opinion on JIB permitting process), the mistake is defended rather than corrected. Fortunately there's residents who are willing to fight for what is right rather than roll over and take it. Sometimes (not often enough) justice really does prevail. Hopefully Judge Prager will see that this one needs corrected.

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Founder Jan. 21, 2015 @ 2:41 p.m.

Very sad that this project was pushed through DSD despite the fact that Jack In The Box (JIB) clearly scrapped their old building and then built what they wanted to, despite the City building codes that don't allow that to happen.

Seems that every BIG North Park project now has loopholes that were used to get it built, despite what the local Planning Committee and/or even the Planning Commission rules.

If the Judge rules to decide the case on just the timing of the filing their complaint, then it will be clear that the City has been playing both sides of this issues since they were the ones that told the North Park Preservation Coalition (not to be confused withe the other NPPC - NP Planning Committee) what was required.

Wear RED to show your support of the Care About North Park challenge of JIB

More on the History of JIB here: http://www.careaboutnorthpark.com/

Care About North Park Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DoTheRIghtThingJack

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slater619 Jan. 21, 2015 @ 10:12 p.m.

This JIB has been here in this location, probably longer than any of the residents who live around the location. Additionally, there was a drive-thru there and I don't think that just because they remodel the place should force them to no include a drive-thru. That is just dumb. It really should make no difference that they tore down the walls. The place was there and they can remodel if they want to. They were making the place look much better and residents should not have thought they were going to get rid of the drive-thru by some gotcha technicality. I support the JIB. When residents moved in there, that place had a drive-thru. There was no expectation that in the future the JIB would go away or remove their drive-thru. That place is hardly ever crowded so the traffic, noise and litter issues they speak of are overblown. But even still, the city cleans the streets not JIB. Also there are bars right across the street where people can sit outside and get drunk. That is probably where most of the noise comes from in that area, not the JIB.

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Founder Jan. 22, 2015 @ 7:48 a.m.

FYI See my comment at the top, it is too important to be listed under another comment as a reply.

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Founder Jan. 22, 2015 @ 8:15 a.m.

SD construction laws are very clear:

If you REMODEL you get to keep your drive through because it is grandfathered in BUT If you TEAR DOWN AND THEN BUILD SOMETHING BRAND NEW it must conform to the latest building code(s).

JIB scrapped their entire building site and then built something very different from what had been built before hence the NEW CONSTRUCTION rules apply.

Their designers knew the SD Building LAWS and they also knew that the neighborhood was against any new construction, having heard that over and over at a large number of facilitated JIB sponsored meetings where they were told LOUD & CLEAR to remodel their original building (along with their drive through) but don't expect to build an entirely new building AND include a new drive through in the design because it would be illegal because it does not conform to current building codes in North Park!

JIB then appealed their case to the SD Planning Commission (SDPC) on August 23, 2012 where they were AGAIN told, this time by an unanimous vote/decision of the SDPC, that NO, you cannot build a new building at that location in North Park that includes a Drive Through because it does not conform to current building codes!

So the real issue here is whether a BIG Corp has to follow the law or is it OK for them to just do whatever they want and be confident that they will be able to get away with it because of their political and/or City Government connections.

Hopefully, justice will be served at the hearing TOMORROW MORNING, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Judge Ronald Prager's courtroom, located in Department 71.

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SerraMesaBill Feb. 8, 2015 @ 8:37 p.m.

Really ? ARE YOU ALL BLIND IDIOTS. The complaints raised here are not likely generated by the citizens, many would have been addressed before this remodel. Wake up, all things already exist, they are predefined historically and presently will continue remodeled or not. People, you need quit falling into the trappings of solicited propaganda. Yes, Attorneys and your City encourages wasteful spending of big tax dollars, solicitation for litigation seeks your involvement and approval to legally intervene with Jacks legal rights. Nothing will change in the end!!!! All this creates an excuse to suck up taxpayer dollars. Don't jump on the band wagon so quick. BE SURE I AM NOT A SPOKESMAN FOR JACK, I DISAPPROVE OF AN WASTEFUL AND ABUSIVE GOVERNMENT.
Seriously look at what the issues are here. If Jack does not remodel, it will continue to operate as it does now. 1. Noise, well city ordinances already have provisions that prohibits construction work after certain hours, so how can that be an issue when its a forbidden ? IS YOUR CITY OFFICIALS ENFORCING THEM ?
2. The zoning law is set in place. Residential units adjacent to commercial property is written in stone, but Community Noise, SDPD is the designed city agency to address disturbing the peace and noise complaints, not lawyers. To make a change, complain, complain, and complain to the agency delegated to address noise complaints. NEIGHBORHOOD, you Ask Jack to post for disturbing the peace signs.
2. NO Drivethru at Jacks. THINK People, unreal and Legally that cannot be change. 3. TRASH. If the community, the neighbors, submits a written request to Jack to post trash cans within its parking area, I am pretty sure Jack would be Happy to do it. NOW GET THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD TO USE THEM.
4. Remember to look at what issues are raised by Members of the North Park Preservation Coalition and the city. They claim to be acting in your interest. But are they. What they are doing is badgering Jack about with trivial issues that ultimately prolong the completion of the project. This is how City government waste BIG TAX DOLLARS, CUT THE BS AND GET IT DONE !!!
5. Call TURKO!

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