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Westfield restaurant concerns

Mary Dougherty

Westfield Santa Anita’s request of the City to allow the mall to convert 13,500 sq feet of space designated for retail use in the newly opened Promenade expansion area to restaurant use was postponed again and placed on the Arcadia City Council agenda for a public hearing Tuesday, July 21, at 7 p.m., for which public input is welcome.

Westfield is seeking a categorical exemption, which, if granted, avoids even a cursory environmental impact review.

Westfield Santa Anita Promenade Grand Opening May 7

That exemption would mean that the City would have to absorb all the costs of any adverse impacts.  As I understand it, this entitlement would be continuing, not just for whatever restaurant is currently proposed.

I also understand that, if approved, the 13,500 square feet of restaurant space could be relocated to any place in the mall without further study or approval; therefore I believe it behooves the City to require further environmental study of such things as:

Traffic – if there are additional traffic impacts, Westfield should pay for those impacts for such things as signals and other traffic system improvements.

Water – restaurants use substantially more water than retail. Should limits be placed on water usage?

Sewer – restaurants generate far more sewer waste than retail stores, both from restroom use and in food preparation and cleanup.

Trash – solid waste from a restaurant use might be 30-40% higher than retail uses. Garbage, grease and food waste is likely to attract pests. What pest control measures will be used, and what impact on the environment will those have? What recycling measures should be implemented?

Employees – restaurants tend to have many more employees, and each one contributes to additional water, sewer and trash use. (I believe restaurants have about five times the number of employees in the same space as retail.)

Air quality – exhaust from restaurant cooking may contain grease, smoke and particulate. It is a substantial change from a retail use and might require air pollution mitigation.

Hours of Operation – these could be changed once the approval is granted, and a bar and restaurant might be installed with extended hours of operation.

Police – It appears the greatest demand for police services at the mall has been at a current restaurant location. Another 13,500 square feet of restaurant use is likely to further increase the need for police services substantially.

Paramedic Services – Paramedic services are more likely to be needed at a restaurant for choking and other such incidents.

Fire – With grills, broilers, fryers and other cooking equipment there is a greater chance of fire than with retail.

Parking – What specific arrangements would be made to accommodate the extra employees’ and customers’ parking during the Holidays?

The point of enumerating all of these things is to show that there is a substantial difference between a retail use and restaurant use. The Arcadia Planning Commission’s concern for generating sales tax revenue for the City and a more profitable business for the mall is understandable. However, that is a short-range view.

The Arcadia City Council needs to look at the long range, and recognize that there is a potential for significant environmental impacts.

Plain and simple, Westfield needs to study and address all of these issues. Any impacts that this project may have, should be reduced to less than significant, and that should be the responsibility of Westfield not the City of Arcadia and its citizens.

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