Arcata City Council Advances “Formula Restaurant” Ordinance and Town Channel Capping Debate | Lost Coast Outpost

Papa Murphy’s in Arcata will be considered a “formula restaurant” under Arcata’s Amended Order.

PREVIOUSLY: Arcata Town Wonders: Should Papa Murphy’s and Chester’s Chicken Really Be Considered “Formula Restaurants”?


Following a somewhat convoluted discussion on Wednesday evening, Arcata city council voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that changes some of the city’s regulations on restaurant chains.

In a recent review of Arcata’s existing formula restaurants ordinance – which was passed almost 20 years ago and limits the number of restaurant chains authorized in Arcata to nine and prevents them from opening in some neighborhoods – city staff determined that there were inconsistencies between the definitions of “restaurant formula” and the businesses the ordinance was intended to regulate. Specifically, two restaurants included in the city cap – Chester’s Chicken and Papa Murphy’s – technically did not meet the definition.

When the matter was brought to council in April, council members agreed that Chester’s and Papa’s should be regulated as formula restaurants and called for staff to change the definition. The ordinance now regulates restaurants, cafes and cafes that serve food “to order” and offer counter, table or drive-thru service. To be considered a ‘formula’, the restaurant, cafe or café must have ‘menus, ingredients, food preparation, decor, uniforms, architecture, signage or similar standard features, which makes it substantially identical to over 11 other restaurants. “, at national scale.

The ordinance now also includes a subsection on “accessory” restaurants. Community Development Director David Loya told the board that “if the primary use is not a restaurant and the accessory is not a franchise, it is not considered a formula restaurant.” . This definition excludes places like Safeway deli, but still includes Chester’s Chicken, which is inside the Chevron gas station on Giuntoli.

There was a debate during the meeting as to whether the number of locations included in the definition of “formula” should be increased. Loya told the board that several local businesses – including Ramone’s Bakery and Jitter Bean Coffee Co. – “are doing very well” and may expand to include 12 or more locations in the future.

Board member Sarah Schaefer questioned whether it was possible for the ordinance to exclude local businesses from this definition, but Loya said this type of “blatant favoritism” would pose legal problems and the prosecutor. city, Nancy Diamond, agreed. Ultimately, the board decided that it would be best to keep the number of locations included in the definition of “formula” at 12 and potentially revisit that number in the future.

In addition to changing definitions, the new ordinance increases the number of formula restaurants allowed in Valley West from five to six and allows three more in Arcata’s other shopping districts, including Northtown, Uniontown Mall and on Janes Road. . Loya said at the meeting that a formula restaurant could also open in the Creamery District, but that would require the company to obtain a license to use.

The total cap of nine will remain, at least for the time being, in effect. But there has been a debate among board members over the strict enforcement of business regulation regulations being opened in Arcata. City staff review of the order was sparked by new restaurant chains trying to open. A Domino’s Pizza has filed for building permits for a location in Northtown, and Subway Sandwiches is trying to open a second location in Uniontown and third, a mystery business – which staff have refused to reveal because the permits don’t have not yet been filed – is looking to open in Valley West.

Once the order goes into effect, Papa Murphy’s and Chester’s Chicken will again be considered formula restaurants, meaning there would be seven formula restaurants in total in Arcata. If those other three companies were to then open, that would bring the total number to 10, which is above the cap.

Board member Stacey Atkins-Salazar and Deputy Mayor Brett Watson were in favor of opening all 10 restaurants – essentially making an exception for businesses that have already spent a lot of time and money opening before the entry into force of the ordinance. Mayor Sofia Pereira, however, said the city should be strict about meeting the cap and the intentions of the Arcata ordinance.

Ultimately, council voted unanimously to go ahead with introducing the amendment and will discuss gray areas at the next meeting – June 16 – when it returns for adoption.

“I really appreciate that we took the time to discuss this,” Pereira said after the vote. “We did not have any members of the public to speak to this article, but I know we have received communications from people who have expressed that this policy that we had in Arcata is truly historic policy and sets Arcata apart. . So I think the deliberations we have here are extremely important.

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