Do fast food drive thrus belong in Downtown/Midtown Reno? They are prohibited as a new use in both the Downtown Reno Regional Center Plan and the South Virginia Transit Oriented District / Midtown Commercial Plans. These Plans emphasize walkability, pedestrian/ bicycle amenities, and support local Mom and Pop businesses. All noble goals.
This is the line up this morning at the new Starbucks at the US Bank Building. The queueing is over twice the code minimum 140′ based on this photo from Downtown Dude (and is there another world in the English language with 5 vowels in a row?). Reno Community Development “Fredfathered” the pre-existing bank drive thrus for fast food use, and in this case, the runaway success of the drive thru is only impacting the building owner and his site circulation. It might not be the case elsewhere, like the Wells Fargo at California and Arlington pictured above.
Here is the paradox. The restrictions on drive thrus are meant to promote small local businesses – 20 carloads of latte fiends in line at Starbucks equals 40 people not patronizing the Hub, Dreamers, or Bibos. But give the populous their choice, and they will line up for 20 minutes in Idle and catch up on their email while waiting.
Do the Downtown Plans need to be revised to meet the desires of the residents, or do they need to be stringently enforced to promote the intent of the long-term community planning goals? I’m torn, and that’s why I’m posting this and asking for your thoughts.