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Chick-fil-A drive-thru continues to cause traffic congestion in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — One of Santa Barbara’s most popular fast food restaurants is under scrutiny for causing constant traffic on upper State Street.

Everyday around lunch and dinner, a steady stream of cars full of hungry customers slows down upper State Street. 

Although Chick-fil-A is working with the City to fix the troublesome traffic- patience is wearing thin.

Some residents, such as Larry Bickford, are very upset.

“It has created an attractive nuisance and a clear and present danger, I don’t think we should wait until someone gets killed," said Bickford, a Santa Barbara resident.

For several years now, vehicles turning into Chick-fil-A's drive-thru have caused chaos along upper State Street.

A long line of cars can spill down the street, blocking the bike lane and presenting a problem for pedestrians.

The traffic backup has also caused some accidents.

Janice Bowie, who works in the area said, “I’ve seen people go into Chick-fil-A in the wrong way in the exit and I’ve also seen them park across the street in my lot and jaywalk across the street to go get their food at Chick-fil-A because they don’t want to wait in line.”

To accommodate complaints, Chick-fil-A created a second drive-thru while adding additional staff.

Signs are also posted so drivers are aware that its illegal to block the sidewalk or stop on the street.

But some such as Bickford believe that those signs are ignored and he's upset that this situation still hasn’t been solved.

“I brought this to the attention of City Council and the City Administrator two and a half years ago, and in two and a half years nothing has changed," said Bickford.

City planners say they’re working with Chick-fil-A to improve the traffic congestion.

Shelly Cone, City of Santa Barbara Spokeswoman said, “This remains a concern it does pose a safety hazard to pedestrians, bicyclists and causes a disruption of the traffic circulation.”

The Chick-fil-A store owner declined an on-camera interview but told us he submitted plans to the City last December to widen the parking lot with a goal to ensure easier access in and out.

According to Chick-fil-A, one-third of its customers aren’t using the drive-thru service but instead, they are stuck in the long line trying to park or pickup delivery orders.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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