Monday, August 4, 2014

Lesser of Two Evils, Drive-Thru Edition

My mom wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes but I didn't want her to. It was either:
1.) I let her drive drunk to get them herself.
2.) I get her the pack of cigarettes.
I chose to get her a pack of cigarettes because it was the lesser of two evils.
Cigarettes or drunk driving? Gas station or drive-through Starbucks? Are there no better options?

The Richardson City Council will consider a request for a permit to build a drive-through Starbucks (no inside seating) at the corner of Belt Line and Central Expressway, replacing a gas station that's there now.

After the jump, how to choose between two evils.

What's there now is a gas station. It's on the corner of two busily traveled roads. So it's a good location for providing a service to a car-addicted society. But I want us to break that addiction. The addiction hampers redevelopment.

The property is in a revitalizing neighborhood shopping center and within walking distance of a soon-to-be revitalizing Main Street neighborhood (if the powers that be don't screw it up). So, it's a terrible location to put a new car-centric business that will interfere with walkability in that neighborhood for decades to come (that's how screw-ups happen).

So, what to choose? Cigarettes or drunk driving? Gas station or drive-through Starbucks? Fret, fret, fret. The existing gas station is bad. Replacing it with a drive-through coffee shop is bad. Marginally less bad, but still bad. Is there reason to hope that if Starbucks is turned down, something better will be found? Not with this city council's track record. So, resignedly, I guess I'll order the Starbucks "tall" (by which I mean in this case, of course, "small").

Still, let's wring concessions out of Starbucks before we give in to this evil. The City Plan Commission wants to make the permit conditional on Starbucks providing at least some outdoor seating, as well as changing the location and spacing of driveways to ease congestion. The City Council should back up their City Plan Commission. Starbucks prides itself on brewing a perfect cup of coffee. Surely they can serve it in a setting that doesn't mimic the gas station it replaces.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

The city council approved the permit, which includes a patio for outdoor seating, contingent on Starbucks negotiating a mutual access agreement with the shopping center so Starbucks can close the existing entrance on Belt Line Rd. for safety reasons. All in all, an improvement over a gas station, but still an impediment to walkability. The lesser of two evils, I guess.