Urban Planning

La Mesa Starbucks


In 2017 the Starbucks prototypical building located at 2644 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego (El Cajon Blvd. & Oregon St.) received the Onion award for Urban Planning. This Starbucks project was given the Onion because the drive-through lane was placed between the sidewalk and the building (see photo). The jury commented, ” More an issue of planning, the development clearly prioritized vehicular accessibility and service over people. It’s socially irresponsible to do this along a transit corridor.”

Taking a lesson from the El Cajon Blvd. & Oregon St. project and the SDAF criticism, we planned our project, using the same Starbucks prototypical building. However, we placed the building and outdoor patio adjacent to the sidewalk and located the drive-through lane back behind the building.

This allows pedestrian access to the building entrance directly from the sidewalk into the building. To prioritize pedestrian traffic over cars, Starbucks had to agree to a “reverse queue” site plan, a very non-typical layout for the company. It was not easy to convince Starbucks to accept this layout as it forces cars entering the drive-thru to make a U turn to access the drive-through lane.

We thought it would be appropriate for the SDAF to acknowledge the developer and Starbucks efforts to learn a lesson from the 2017 Onion and create good urban planning.

(Included is a photo of the El Cajon Blvd. & Oregon St. 2017 Onion awardee)

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  • Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    4209 Spring Street, La Mesa

    Project Owner/Developer:

    Shawn Schraeger

    Owner Contact Name/Email:


    Project Architect/Designer:

    McKently/Malak Architects

    Image Credit:

    Shawn Schraeger


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P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

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