Chipotle Coming to Coronado? Planning Commission to Decide Feb. 11th

On January 24th, Coronado MainStreet posted on their Facebook page, “This week, the Design Review Commission approved the design and signage for Chipotle Mexican Grill on Coronado’s signature corner at Orange Ave and RH Dana Pl (the old La Salsa location). There will be a discussion regarding the Special Use Permit for the location at a Planning Commission meeting sometime in February.” The Planning Commission meeting is on February 11th and open to the public.

Does this mean Chipotle’s coming? Rita Sarich, Executive Director of Coronado MainStreet, shed some light on the story.

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Chipotle Location Discussion

The abrupt closing of La Salsa opened up prime real estate across from The Del. But is it the right location for Chipotle? Rita shares that since the news broke she has heard a 50/50 split in people’s reactions. “Some people think it’s a great addition. Some don’t like fast food next the the historic Del.” She adds in laughter, “Coronado is passionate!” Rita also stated that MainStreet would oppose Chipotle, but clarifies, “We do not oppose the restaurant itself, just that location.” At the Design Review Commission January 22 meeting, they addressed Chipotle’s exterior design for new signs, new outdoor seating and patio improvements, and a new pedestrian “pick-up” window for a commercial restaurant tenant space. The controversial “pick-up” window was approved but not without discussion. Items to be considered are the busy corner that includes a bus stop and potential loading zone issues.

Design Review Commission Agenda Item:

So why do we always hear that ‘fast food chains aren’t allowed in Coronado?’ Rita educates that they can be allowed, but there are guidelines for the location and operation. The goal, Rita shares, “is not to prohibit but to organize.” The downtown specific plan is a guiding document for the city’s decision makers intended to maintain Coronado’s village character. One of the guidelines states that fast food restaurants are not to be on corner locations in Coronado. In response to how La Salsa was able to secure that corner spot (an argument Rita foresees Chipotle piggy backing on), it was grandfathered in before the regulations. Although the zoning ordinance does state regarding formula fast food: “Location restricted from street corner locations except where the immediate prior use was a Formula Fast Food Restaurant.” To learn more and delve into commercial zoning, click here. Chipotle will go before the Coronado Planning Commission this month in an attempt to secure the Special Use Permit for the former La Salsa location.

Janine Zuniga is a Senior Management Analyst for the City of Coronado and shared these additional comments regarding Chipotle:

“Exterior changes proposed for Chipotle at 1360 Orange Ave. were presented to the Design Review Commission on Jan. 22. The Commission approved the proposed exterior changes, which included new signs, new outdoor seating and patio improvements, and a new “pick-up” window for a commercial restaurant tenant space. The next step is the Planning Commission meeting, scheduled for Feb. 11, where commissioners will be asked if they can make the required findings to approve a minor special use permit. Formula fast food restaurants are allowed in Coronado with a minor special use permit. The City Council will only hear this matter if the Planning Commission decision is appealed. Design Review Commission approval is required for any exterior alterations and for all new signs pursuant to Municipal Code Section 80.00.030.”

When asked about the process that “formula fast food businesses” go through for consideration, Zuniga shared:

“All proposed formula fast food businesses follow the same process called for in the Orange Avenue Corridor Specific Plan. In addition to Design Review Commission approval of any proposed exterior changes, the process also includes obtaining a minor special use permit from the Planning Commission for the operation of a formula fast food restaurant, an allowed use in Coronado with a minor special use permit. An application and plans must be submitted to the City for the minor special use permit. Community Development staff reviews the application materials to determine if the application is considered complete, and then schedules a public hearing before the Planning Commission. Commissioners are asked if they believe the required findings can be made to approve the proposed formula fast food business. The findings can be found in Chapter IV.H.4 of the Orange Avenue Corridor Specific Plan. The findings address formula fast food restaurant businesses. The first required finding says that a formula fast food business may only be established or relocated ‘on a site that is not located on a street corner; except such a restaurant may be located on a street corner where the immediate prior use was a formula fast food restaurant.'”

The Planning Commission meeting is on February 11th at City Hall – it is open to the public.


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Alyssa is a graduate of Coronado High School and was in the founding broadcast journalism class at CHS. She earned her BA in Communication from CSU East Bay and completed her MBA from CSU San Marcos. Her passion for writing and interest in the behind the scenes of business, leads her to write frequently about Coronado businesses. You can find Alyssa walking around the ferry landing with her husband and shih-tzu terrier or enjoying a cup of coffee at one of Coronado's favorite cafes.Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: manager@coronadotimes.com