By Elizabeth Klinge

CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — Citrus Heights city leaders are faced with a drive-through dilemma.

The fast-food takeout option is popular with many customers who prefer to stay in their car.

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“Sometimes you don’t have time to go inside and wait in line to order,” one customer said in a local drive-through.

Citrus Heights currently has 69 drive-through businesses, but community concerns surfaced earlier this year when a new Raising Cane’s restaurant opened on Greenback Lane.

“This needs to be managed in some way,” Vice Mayor Tim Schaefer said.

In February, Schaefer said he wanted to consider a five-year moratorium on drive-throughs.

“We just want to slow this down a little bit,” he said.

Long lines of cars cause problems for other nearby businesses and concerns that the bumper-to-bumper traffic in some drive-throughs could spill out onto busy city streets.

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So what are some of the potential solutions to prevent drive-through problems?

City leaders are considering:

  • Reducing hours of operation or prohibiting 24-hour drive-throughs
  • Increasing space between businesses
  • Requiring a special permit for any new ones
  • A total ban on any new drive-through businesses

“We would be opposed to that,” Kathilynn Carpenter said.

Carpenter represents more than 350 businesses in the Sunrise Marketplace District.

“If there are too many, then the market will drive how many there should be,” she said. “We don’t think the government should say that there should be a certain amount of any kind of business.”

Any limit on drive-throughs could also impact the city’s annual budget. Restaurants generate about 10% of the city’s sales tax revenue—an estimated $1.5 million a year that goes toward paying for essential services.

“We are the city’s economic engine,” Carpenter said.

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Business leaders say the backups at Raising Cane’s are better now with more signs and employees helping direct traffic.

Elizabeth Klinge