In 2005, the Agoura McDonald's remodeled the exterior of their building and reconfigured the parking lot to accommodate new access driveways and drive-thru lanes required as a result of the Kanan interchange reconstruction.
At the same time, the fast food chain began updating their restaurants to a more modern look. New interiors offer lounge areas with wifi and flat screen TV's. The design change coincides with healthier menu choices. Now the Agoura McD's wants to completely remodel the restaurant inside and out. Last week, the City Planning Commission categorically rejected their plans.
For their Agoura McDonald's, franchisees modified the corporate approved design (pictured) based on guidance and recommendations from the Agoura Hills Planning staff. While the plans submitted offered a more muted color palate and a stone veneer, they proposed that a yellow colored "swoosh eyebrow" top the structure. It was this "swoosh" that was the deal breaker for the city planning commission.
The architects for the franchise owners Ron Underwood and Jessica Steiner, argued that the yellow swoosh eyebrow was an architectural element, and not a logo or sign. The city staff also called the swoosh an architectural element in their presentation. The commissioners disagreed.
Since the City sign ordinance prohibits roof top signs, and since the swoosh was a non-negotiable element of the McDonald's remodel, the City denied the project.
McDonald's also applied for a variance which would replace their 25 foot sign on the side of the building facing the freeway, with a 46 square foot sign. The city did not see a compelling reason to grant the variance in light of McDonald's approximately 100 foot high pole sign that can be seen for miles.
The pole sign is a sore subject to the City of Agoura Hills. In 1985, the City enacted an ordinance that prohibited new pole signs and would phase out existing pole signs over a seven year period. McDonalds, with several other co-plaintiffs, fought the ordinance in court and won. The City picked up a fat tab for legal fees, and the pole sign remains.
The city expressed concerns that if they allowed McDonald's special treatment to put their logo on top of the restaurant, an unacceptable precedent would be set. Other establishments would apply to similarly adorn their buildings.
Agoura Hills older strip malls and iconic restaurants could use a facelift. Is it too much to ask that they do not stick out like a sore thumb?