And some don't ... Sywest Development, for example ...
But here is the good news: last week, In-N-Out told the City of Pleasant Hill it was finally abandoning plans to build a drive-through restaurant on the far north end of North Main Street -- next door to a neighborhood that lies within Walnut Creek city borders.
If you remember, back in 2010, residents in the neighborhood on the border between the two cities organized protests about In-N-Out's plans to build its second Pleasant Hill location on a vacant parcel that backs up against their homes. Neighbors believed that an In-N-Out at this particular North Main Street location, near the Oak Park Boulevard overcrossing over Interstate 680, would bring unwelcome traffic, noise, odor and even crime.
I agreed with the residents. I thought this location also was poorly thought out because of it was not all that accessible to the freeway, which I understand In-N-Out thrives on. The closest freeway exit from northbound 680 is the other side of Treat Boulevard. A concern of residents was that In-N-Out customers would get lost trying to get to and leave the restaurant, and they would wind up wandering around their neighborhood.
On June 10, the City of Pleasant Hill received this email from Kim Kennedy, the In-N-Out project manager:
INO would like to withdraw our application for the proposed IN N OUT BURGER project at 3131 North Main Street, Pleasant Hill. INO believes it would not be in our best interest to move forward with this site. We at INO would like to thank all the members of staff for all the help and guidance during this application. The city has been very patient and we at INO thank you.
So, kudos to In-N-Out for acknowledging that they were putting forth a not-very-good idea--a view that was affirmed by the residents in the community. And kudos to them for having the decency to say, yes, this isn't the right project for this location.
So refreshing after the actions of Sywest Development, which moved forward with its plans to demolish the beloved, historic Dome movie theater in Pleasant Hill on May 8 and replace it with Dick's, a generic, big box-style chain sporting goods store. Pleasant Hill leaders, maybe a bit too cozy with Sywest and saying they felt locked into this years-in-the-making plan, rejected appeals to save the Dome by residents who crowded their City Hall chambers during meetings from March to May.
So, now, we no longer have the Dome, but we in Central Contra Costa County will be getting a Dick's.
I can't help but think about Sywest's disregard for the community in which they want to work and do business when I read about public upheaval in Turkey that started with people there saying, no, we don't want to lose a park in central Istanbul to a shopping mall, with Ottoman-style garnishes.
Oh, yes, I know it is in many ways a big stretch to compare Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to SyWest Development president Bill Vierra or to Pleasant Hill city leaders who favored the Dick's project; or to compare the protests to save the Dome with the violence and unrest that have broken out in Istanbul's Taksim Square and in cities around Turkey--which, by the way, happens to be the world's 17th largest democracy. And, of course, Pleasant Hill, unlike Turkey, is not boiling over with tensions over a government's increasing authoritarianism, move to institute conservative policies, and Islam's role in a secular society.
But, as with the situation in Turkey, the fight to save the Dome did raise questions about a government's relationship to developers and the extent to which a government is putting those interests over the wishes and aspirations of its constituents.
And, both the outcry over the Dome and the protests at Taksim Square started with a bad development idea. Yep, a bad development idea is a bad development idea is a bad development idea. To paraphrase the great philosopher Sarah Palin: No way to paint lipstick on that Dick's.