OCEANSIDE — Some Oceanside residents are concerned a new Starbucks 24/7 drive-thru will only worsen already congested traffic at the intersections of Neptune Way and state Route 76 along North Coast Highway 101.
Recently, the Oceanside City Council unanimously approved construction and operations of the global coffee chain’s single-story storefront on a vacant 1/4-acre lot at the southwest corner of Neptune Way and North Coast Highway.
In the 2000s, the site was home to a gas station, but all underground gas tanks have since been removed.
Starbucks will have eight parking stalls, five of which will be left open for patrons and the remaining three for employees. The coffee shop will have about two to four employees working at any given time depending on peak business hours.
Nightingale also noted that Starbucks provides incentives to its employees to use public transit or rideshare services and to ride bicycles or walk to work.
The project site is located near what the city considers one of its gateways where North Coast Highway, a major transportation corridor, meets the interchange of SR-76 and Interstate 5.
The drive-thru itself would wrap around the building’s east, north and western-facing outside perimeter and would hold about nine or ten vehicles with room for five additional vehicles behind the menu board. According to the city’s staff report on the project, the drive-thru’s design will prevent traffic queuing from impeding traffic circulation within the neighborhood.
Several nearby residents who spoke during the council’s Jan. 12 meeting weren’t convinced the project wouldn’t negatively impact traffic, especially with the city’s future plans to build a roundabout at the North Coast Highway and SR-76 intersection.
“I live off Neptune and it’s going to be so impacted, and the traffic… coming off 76 onto Coast Highway is bad enough,” said nearby resident Patty Gershwin. “There’s a roundabout scheduled somewhere near there, so I don’t know what that’s going to do to the traffic on the corner of Neptune and Coast Highway.”
City Traffic Engineer Hamid Bahadori assured residents and the council that the Neptune and North Coast Highway intersection will safely accommodate the Starbucks traffic as it currently exists. If things change once the roundabout is built, staff will reevaluate and change restrictions as needed.
“If there is a need we will reevaluate the access restrictions at the intersection of Neptune and Coast Highway, but that is a decision for when we actually get into the detailed design of the Coast Highway corridor.”
Bahadori also noted that Starbucks’ applicant is aware of the potential changes in the future.
The Coast Highway Corridor Study originates from the city’s adoption of the Coast Highway Vision and Strategic Plan, which serves as a blueprint to revitalize and enhance the Coast Highway corridor between Harbor Drive to the north and the Buena Vista Lagoon to the south.
The study is focused on making improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, improving access to transit, adding roundabouts to help with traffic flow, and encouraging economic development through improved mobility along public streetscapes.