In-N-Out Plans from Eureka City Staff Report

A Eureka In-N-Out is one step closer to reality.

At a special meeting tonight the Eureka City Council unanimously approved an estimated $450,000 in general funds for a traffic signal at the corner of Vigo and Broadway streets — the site of the proposed development for the fast food chain.

The decision includes a four-year revenue agreement with the Carrington Company, the developers of the project, meaning that if tax revenue doesn’t cover the cost of the traffic light within four years, the Carrington Company will cover the remainder themselves.

Gabe Hagemann, vice president of the Carrington Company, said during the meeting that he was so confident in the success of this project that they were “offering the city a corporate guarantee that we will cover 100 percent of all costs associated with signal.”

The company submitted development plans for the location at 2616 Broadway in October. The plans included two buildings — one that would house an In-N-Out and another that would hold three to four business, one of which has since been confirmed to be a Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Following the required CEQA analysis, city staff determined that a traffic signal would be absolutely necessary to accommodate the impact of this project. But the company said that a traffic signal was not in their budget and they would have to abandon the project if asked to cover the cost themselves.  

With an estimated $60,000 in annual revenue, city staff recommended that the City Council approve the $450,000 from general funds. But the council members were not convinced. At a meeting last week the City Council requested that city staff negotiate further with the developers before tonight’s meeting.

After negotiation, the Carrington company still wouldn’t offer any money up front to cover the signal. But the revenue agreement was enough to convince the council that this project is worth the costs. The four-year agreement is actually half the amount of time city staff estimated it would take to cover the $450,000.

The Council’s decision went against the pleas of close to a dozen citizens who spoke up at tonight’s meeting, most of them local restaurant owners who were concerned about the impact this project may have on local businesses.

Eureka Natural Foods owner Rick Littlefield told the council that although he wasn’t against the project, he was against the city providing what he considered a “corporate give-out.” Littlefield was joined in his view by owners of many other local restaurants, including Stars Hamburgers, Humboldt Soup Company, Surfside Burger Shack, Los Bagels and more.

But in the end, the potential impact an In-N-Out may have on local restaurants was not enough to outweigh the benefits listed by city staff and the developers, including an increased potential for future development, job creation, an increase in sales revenue and the “beautification” of Broadway. Also, in addition to the revenue guarantee, the developers are covering $100,000 in other improvements to Vigo Street.

Several council members wanted to be clear on how much they support local business. But, again, they simply felt that the pros outweighed the cons.

“I’m a small business enthusiast; I’m a true believer in shopping and buying locally,” Councilmember Natalie Arroyo said. “Even though this is a painful decision for me to make I think it’s the right one.”

You can view the full council meeting here.