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3 more drive-thru windows
Air officials ID drive-thru as avoidable pollution source
A rendering of the fifth McDonalds proposed for Manteca. - photo by Image Contributed

Drive-thru windows – the bane of efforts to reduce San Joaquin Valley air pollution – are a prominent feature of three new businesses advancing through the municipal approval process.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is being asked to approve the tweaking of a previously adopted site plan for Kitchell Development’s Stadium Square Shopping Center on the northeast corner of Airport Way and Daniels Street.

Originally plans called for a fast food restaurant and a drug store - both with drive-thru windows - along with 13,000 square feet of store front.

Kitchell has since secured Chick-fila-A and McDonald’s to locate restaurants on the parcel. Both want drive-thru lanes. The drug store site is still included and will continue to have a drive-thru lane attached to it.

There is no drug store tenant secured although at one point before the recession developers had a strong interest from Walgreen’s.

The plan extends Fishback Road as an interior street in the center. The Fishback Road and Daniels Street intersection will have traffic signals. The changes will allow a 3,915-square-ffoot McDonald’s at the Airport Way and Daniels intersection and a 4,319-square-foot Chick-fil-A that would face the 120 westbound off ramp at Airport Way.

There are four existing Chick-fil-A restaurants within 100 miles of Manteca. Two are in Fairfield, one is in Elk Grove and the other is in Sacramento.

Manteca already has four McDonalds - one on Lathrop Road, one on East Yosemite one on West Yosemite, and a fourth inside Walmart.

Air quality alerts

Manteca and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley experienced air quality alerts on Thursday and Friday.  The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District urged residents to minimize smog-forming emissions by carpooling, using buses or by bicycling or walking, combing errands, reducing vehicle trips, and eliminating vehicle idling.

Drive-thru lanes tend to be a major source of vehicle idling emissions that air quality control officials indicate can be avoided.

The developer was not asked to address the impact of an additional drive-thru lane for a second fast food store and its potential impact on air quality. When Lowe’s Home Improvement was going through thru the approval process for land immediately to the east they had to do a $60,000 air quality study on the impacts of semi-trucks idling for short periods of time in the delivery bays.

Lowe’s has put any plans to expand into Manteca on hold due to the Great Recession. The specific air quality study was part of a state mandate.

Manteca - just like other cities - is mandated to adopt policies that strive to reduce vehicle emissions caused by idling traffic. That is accomplished in part by pursuing policies that keep traffic moving such as the use of timed traffic signals and incorporating roundabout wherever possible.

Some jurisdictions have pondered banning drive thru windows to reduce emissions but haven’t implemented them.

The federal government, meanwhile, is turning up the heat with a threat to impose a moratorium on new businesses or the expansion of existing ones unless San Joaquin Valley air quality improves by nearly 90 percent.  Other potential sanctions for failing to meet new federal air standards include losing all federal highway and federal takeover of the air quality control district.

That edict has been made despite the progress during the past 10 years in the San Joaquin Valley that has:

•reduced emission from stationary sources by 83 percent.

•scored an 83 percent reduction in unhealthy days.

•recorded the cleanest winter on record in 2010 with only two unhealthy days.

•is enjoyed the cleanest summer on record with over a 50 percent reduction in the number of times ozone levels exceeded standards by 8 hours or more.

The valley averages 625 tons of nitrogen oxides being released in the air on any given day. The new standard is to get it to 80 tons a day or less.

Heavy duty trucks account for about 250 tons daily. Passenger vehicles and off-road equipment each account for about 80 tons while off-road equipment is about another 70 tons. Other off-road sources such as trains account for around 30 tons. The balance - or nearly 120 tons - are from stationary and area sources that the district has control over establishing rules. Mobile sources generate 500 tons a day and are under state and federal regulations.

Working against the valley are the surrounding mountains and meteorology create ideal conditions for trapping air pollution. Chronic poverty and unemployment rates hamper efforts as well as the high population growth.