For a few years North Park’s been San Diego’s most-talked about neighborhood. It’s basically ground zero for the city’s touted craft beer industry, makes national “hippest neighborhood” lists and functions as the proving ground for urbanist trends like parklets and bike corrals.
And for the last few years, North Park’s also been the battlefield for an ongoing fight over drive-thrus.
“It’s a classic case of a community re-imagining itself into a walkable, bikable community, and dealing with the legacy of its previous drive-thru, auto-oriented culture,” said Bruce Appleyard, a city planning professor at San Diego State University whose research focuses on bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets.
North Park has neighborhood-specific zoning that precludes drive-thrus from opening in certain areas and made it so getting a permit for any new one required a public hearing and community feedback. But those restrictions haven’t kept the community from fighting off unwanted projects.
Each of those fights has brought with it its own set of circumstances, mostly dealing with whether the city’s Development Services Department followed proper protocol.
But why, specifically, have residents and the local planning group drawn a line in the sand against drive-thrus, and why hasn’t that line effectively prevented new ones from opening?