Students, councilman unhappy with zoning decision to allow Chick-fil-A to open near PCC
By André Coleman 03/25/2014
A Pasadena City Councilman said he will ask his Council colleagues to review a decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals that would allow a controversial restaurant chain to open a local outlet.
Meanwhile, Pasadena City College officials and students have expressed different concerns about controversial statements about gay marriage made by the company’s CEO.
Councilman Terry Tornek, whose district includes the site of the restaurant at Bonnie Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, across the street from PCC, told the Pasadena Weekly that he has yet to review the Pasadena Board of Zoning Appeals 3-2 vote on March 20 to allow Chick-fil-A to open.
According to the city’s zoning laws, businesses on Colorado Boulevard are not allowed to build new drive-thru lanes. Chick-fil-A wants to add a drive-thru lane, in addition to the one already at the site, which once housed a Burger King. Tornek opposed the zoning board last year after it approved the business at the site.
“I have a concern about nonconforming uses being expanded,” Tornek said. “They can move in and open up tomorrow. The only reason they had to go through this process is they want to expand the building and add another drive-thru. This building is an issue.”
Tornek said his potential opposition had nothing to do with controversial statements made by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Kathy regarding gay marriage.
Kathy came under fire in June 2012 after he said the nation was “inviting God’s judgment” by supporting gay marriage. After the statement became public, officials in Chicago and Boston announced they would block all efforts by Kathy to open more restaurants in those cities.
Shortly after the controversy, Kathy’s company began efforts to bring a Chick-fil-A to Pasadena and was denied six times before finally receiving approval last year. However, the latest proposal was sent back for further consideration after the company announced plans to expand the building.
Officials and students at PCC told the Weekly they were concerned about the restaurant moving near the campus, which has a growing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
“While we respect the decision of the Pasadena zoning board, as a corporation, Chick-fil-A has not shown themselves to be friendly to the LGBT, gay, and lesbian communities,” said PCC Interim Director of Public Relations Valerie Wardlaw. “Their stance makes it difficult for the college to support their efforts given PCC’s respect for our LGBT students.”
Six students showed up at the zoning board meeting to voice their disapproval of the restaurant.
“I have no problems with organizations believing what they want,” said PCC Student Trustee Simon Fraser. “My problem is they have donated to organization that has recruited young people for reparative therapy, which is junk science that damages the psyche of young people. That is my hugest concerns. [Kathy] has made it clear that the only thing he regrets is speaking out about it.”
Officials with Chick-fil-A’s corporate offices did not return phone calls seeking comments for this story. In a story in the PCC Courier, officials with the company said they would bring 60 jobs to the area. Tornek said his only concerns are the zoning issues.
“Those issues have nothing to do with why I am calling it up to council. They could move in today if they didn’t want the drive-thru and to expand the building,” Tornek said.