The San Juan Capistrano Planning Commission wasn’t totally lovin’ the latest design for McDonald’s, but commissioners decided the franchise owner deserved a break anyway.
Ross Pollard wants to tear down his 1970s version of the golden arches and replace it with a 21st Century Micky D’s. Construction is supposed to coincide with the construction of the new Ortega Highway bridge over the I-5 so that both can make their debuts together.
Tuesday’s request was the fast food restaurant’s third iteration to come before the Planning Commission. Although staff called the latest design “Spanish revival,” planning commissioners said it still had elements of the very first go-around 15 months ago, which was criticized for being too modern for historic San Juan Capistrano.
“I’m not sure what we can do with this much more than we have,” said Commissioner Roy Nunn.
The commission voted 4-0, with Evan Chaffee absent. It will next come before the City Council for final approval.
Tim Neely said he believes the McDonald’s project became the “litmus test” for determining whether the commissioners would keep their jobs.
In June, the City Council replaced two commissioners. Two weeks later, the council disbanded the Design Review Committee, which helped developers and builders hone their projects’ architectural design before coming before the Planning Commission.
“I for one am getting clear signal from the council that enough has been done with the design and they want to move forward,” Neely said.
One of those former planning commissioners, Rob Williams, spoke out against the McDonald’s design.
“Certain elements of that [first] very contemporary building are there. All they’ve done is laid Spanish style pieces over it,” Williams said, calling the latest proposal very flat. “It doesn’t really blend in with anything we would want in San Juan.”