New Starbucks slated to replace two auto shops next to LBCC's Pacific Coast Campus

The Planning Commission approved the project, which includes a drive-through that can hold up to 17 vehicles in its queue, according to the city.

New Starbucks slated to replace two auto shops next to LBCC's Pacific Coast Campus
A rendering of the proposed Starbucks that could be built next to the Pacific Coast Campus of Long Beach City College. Photo courtesy city of Long Beach

A new Starbucks drive-through location has been green lit to be built next to Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus after the Planning Commission voted Thursday to grant the developer a conditional use permit to operate at the site.

The planned coffee shop would replace two existing car repair businesses that are located east of the college’s parking structure on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Walnut Avenue.

The two existing buildings will be demolished and replaced with a 1,775-square-foot coffee shop with a drive-through that could hold up to 17 vehicles, according to a city presentation.

While the existing businesses have driveways that exit out onto Pacific Coast Highway, the proposed layout of the Starbucks would require vehicles to enter the parking lot on Walnut and exit on Gaviota Avenue. The parking lot also includes 13 parking stalls.

Some commissioners raised concerns about the potential effects on traffic and whether a coffee shop was the best use of land given the proximity to the college and the need for affordable student housing.

“I just want to make sure that we’re not adding to what’s already a difficult commute on PCH,” Commissioner Michele Ware said.

A rendering shows the proposed Starbucks from the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. Photo courtesy city of Long Beach

City planning officials said there are no anticipated traffic issues that would stem from the proposed project.

Commissioner Alvaro Castillo said the two parcels would be prime real estate for an affordable student housing development.

“I think we need more of that than we need another coffee shop,” Castillo said, adding that the battle in the city’s housing crunch is going to be won “lot by lot.”

Alison Spindler-Ruiz, the city’s Planning Bureau Manager, said the city did assess the site for housing potential and it had been included in the city’s Housing Element, a forecast of where future housing could be built.

The two sites currently occupied by the car repair services were both tapped with the potential to have 10 market-rate units and three moderate-income units each. However, Spindler-Ruiz said building housing there would be a challenge given that the two lots are only 87 feet deep and because of the level of remediation work needed given their long history as an auto shop.

A coffee shop will provide a community space where people could gather, something that is lacking in the area and that residents have said they want more of during the city’s ongoing rezoning efforts in Central Long Beach.

The project also will provide some other community benefits like expanded sidewalks around the coffee shop site as well improvements to the traffic signals and crosswalks at the intersection of Walnut and PCH.