Settlement Over Raising Cane’s Drive-Thru Will Protect Elementary StudentsMarch 1, 2022
SMW attorneys successfully represented a community group in blocking construction of a drive-thru restaurant right across the street from a school in Brea, California. The plaintiffs, a group of staff and volunteers at Laurel Elementary School, were concerned that increased traffic and long lines of cars outside a new Raising Cane’s drive-thru restaurant would pose a significant danger to students walking to and from school, especially half-day preschoolers arriving or departing during the lunchtime rush.
The City’s zoning code barred restaurants on the site, but the City approved the project anyway. Filing the lawsuit in Orange County Superior Courts, the plaintiffs argued the City Council’s approval of the project violated the City’s planning and zoning laws and improperly exempted the project from the California Environmental Quality Act. .
Immediately after SMW filed its opening briefs in the case, Raising Cane’s opened settlement discussions. Eventually the City of Brea and Raising Cane’s agreed to a settlement, the terms of which called for the City to rescind prior resolutions that would have a allowed a drive-thru at that location. The restaurant chain withdrew its development proposal and agreed to cover the plaintiff’s legal fees.
The settlement outcome sends an important message to the City about prioritizing public safety. The City’s General Plan is due to be updated soon. The plaintiffs intend to seek clarity in the zoning code to continue protecting Laurel Elementary.