In her Sept. 7 "Off The Beat" column in the San Mateo Daily Journal, Michelle Durand made light of the controversial whirlwind triggered by the city's decision to welcome In-N-Out Burger into their neighborhood.
"Undoubtedly, there will be lewd activity calls, what with the constant flashing of buns and sightings of meat," joked Duran.
And yet, the fast-food restaurant – known for it's Double-Double burgers and milk shakes – has been the topic of conversation and concern among San Carlos residents, despite the city facing, what assistant city manager Brian Moura called "one of the most difficult periods in its entirety."
The burger phenomenon plans to build a 3,654 square-foot drive-thru restaurant on the northeast corner of Holly Street and Industrial Road. Mayor Randy Royce called the addition of In-N-Out a "good source of revenue" and "an answer to an eyesore of weeds that exist on the corner of Holly Street."
To appease concerns from residents about smells of grease and food until 1 a.m, the restaurant has agreed to add air scrubbers to mitigate unwanted odors, according to city officials. Although In-N-Out believes the air scrubbers are unnecessary, it called the installation "a good neighbor practice." But many residents, especially those living nearby, don't want to call the fast-food chain as a neighbor at all.
In an email to associate planner Jill Lewis, resident Jake Freudenthal wrote, "I am practically apoplectic at the thought of an In-N-Out 100 yards from my house."
Another resident, Pat Bell, closed a different email saying, "If the planning department thinks there are no strong feelings on this subject, you should get out more."
Bell used a recent city council meeting regarding police outsourcing as a forum to discuss In-N-Out Burger. Mayor Royce interrupted Bell, reminding her burgers were not on the the evening's menu. Five days later Bell again voiced her opposition at a planning commission meeting.
"I have not finished reading your report, but I got far enough to be seriously offended that you think a huge red and yellow sign and a burger joint are consistent with the character of our neighborhood," Bell emailed Lewis.
Bell and other residents have raised concerns over the smell, traffic problems, and safety due to the restaurant's 1 a.m. closing time.
But for San Carlos officials, In-N-Out Burger is just another food option.
"It's a fast-food restaurant," said city manager Mark Weiss. "It's very popular. I am very surprised by both the enthusiasm and the opposition. I am a little taken aback by the contention this restaurant has caused."