Two acres at the south entrance to Seaside eyed for three years as a potential site for an In-N-Out Burger may yet be a home to the fast-food chain.
The Seaside City Council on Thursday, acting as the successor agency to the city's defunct redevelopment agency, will consider a staff recommendation to declare a restaurant as the best use for the publicly owned parcel at 1350 Del Monte Blvd.
Over the years, the vacant land — once an auto wrecking yard — has been considered for a five-story office building, several different hotels and a restaurant. The parcel is next to the Holiday Inn Express and Laguna Grande Park.
The In-N-Out chain approached Seaside in 2009 about building an 83-seat restaurant with a drive-through window on the property, and the city began negotiations for the project. An environmental impact report was certified by the City Council, and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District approved a permit for 4.7 acre-feet of water for the restaurant.
But a change in the council membership put the project on ice in June 2011 when the council voted 3-2 to let the exclusive negotiating agreement between the city and In-N-Out expire.
The would-be burger restaurant was an issue in last month's mayoral contest between newly elected Mayor Ralph Rubio, who criticized the loss of the In-N-Out business, and defeated incumbent Felix Bachofner, who favored a hotel on the site.
A staff report prepared for Thursday's meeting says because of the physical and economic constraints on the property, a restaurant would be better than a hotel, which would need more water, additional sewer capacity, more parking and more capital.
"Several hotels have been proposed for that site. None of them has come to fruition," Rubio said Thursday.
He said moving ahead with the restaurant declaration for the site "would be a step in the right direction."
"Whether it's an In-N-Out or not, it has to go through the process," Rubio said.
If the council goes along with the recommendation, it may be awhile before anyone needs salt or pepper for a burger.
The dissolution of local redevelopment agencies and the process to deal with properties formerly owned by them has several wrinkles.
The city would request proposals from would-be restaurant developers, said Lisa Brinton, director of community and economic development services.
And In-N-Out likely would be part of that process, she said. "They have maintained interest," she said.
That's when things get a little cloudy, as far as what happens next and the timing.
The City Council, working as the successor agency, has to develop a long-range property management plan along with an oversight board representing property taxing agencies in the city. The plan must then be approved by the state Department of Finance, too.
"It's a little nebulous how far we would go (on a individual project) without an approved property management plan," Brinton said.
That part of the process could take until mid-2013, she said.
Rubio said: "It's a little more convoluted. We're not totally in control of our destiny in the way we can dispose of these sites."
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or email@example.com.
If you go
·What: Seaside City Council
·When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday
·Where: Council chambers, 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside.
If you go