In-N-Out Burger Sign Looms Large Over San Carlos Neighborhood

SAN CARLOS (CBS SF) – Call it a sign of the times.

Despite the success of a new business in a weak economy, people in one city are not happy with their popular new neighbor. Residents of San Carlos are upset over the burger behemoth In-N-Out that recently made a new home in their community.

CBS 5’s Kiet Do reports that neighbors are angered by the restaurant’s brightly lit sign that was hoisted in front of the business, and in plain view from many of their yards.

As if the Bay Area housing market wasn’t bad enough, homeowners in San Carlos said this is the last thing they need.

“I mean, that is one giant sign when you’re back here,” said Dan Toms, who laughs in disbelief as he takes a gander at the sign that stands six-and-a-half stories tall from his backyard. You can also see the sign from his front yard.

The new restaurant was built in June, and residents knew that there would surely be a large sign to identify it…but they had no idea it would stand 65-feet tall, and visible from more than a half-mile away.

Toms said he believes the value of his $500,000 house has gone down at least 10 percent because of the structure.

“Let’s say I try to sell my house, the first thing you’re going to do is go right for that, no matter what I do to my house,” he said. “You’re going to see that, so it’s just intrusive.”

Neighborhood association president Ben Fuller said it’s even worse at nighttime. The sign lights up Fairfield and Springfield Drives. Fuller said In-N-Out is violating it’s Use Permit, in which the last line states, “The illumination from the signs shall not spill over onto adjacent properties.”

“It’s a blatant invasion into your home to have that light literally shining through your curtains. One of the families mentioned that every day is like the Fourth of July,” he said.

In-N-Out said it is trying to be a good neighbor. The San Carlos location is the first in the country to have air scrubbers installed to control the smell of fried food.

And when neighbors said the speakers were too loud, they stopped using them.

The company said the city of San Carlos approved their plans with virtually no complaints. They told CBS 5 they’ll listen, but any changes now are completely up to In-N-Out.

“It would be exceedingly difficult and not likely that we would be able to lower that sign and still make our business work there,” said Carl Van Fleet, In-N-Out Vice President of Planning and Development.

Fuller said the association is not anti-business and that he enjoys eating at In-N-Out. He said the company has always acted in good faith, and that he has one last request:

“If they put some trees in, if they were to put some sort of screen up to cover the sign so it’s not so visible from our neighborhood, and if they were to lower the luminocity, all those things would really make us happy,” he said.

Another issue is the deliveries that the restaurant gets at 4 in the morning. Residents are hoping to get some relief from that as well.

As for the lit In-N-Out sign, that turns off daily at 1 a.m.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Sam Mallory

    well your not trying to sell your house and the sign is an eyesore. Maybe they should just give you coupons…

  • Jeff.L

    I love In-N-Out, but they are being disingenuous here.

    There are, in fact, In-N-Out branches with much smaller signage.

  • someJuan

    If the sign wasn’t that tall, I would never have known there was an In-N-Out restaurant in San Carlos as I drive on Highway 101. It needs to be that tall in order to attract business.

    • JP

      Seems that they could shield one side of the sign, like blinders, as on some traffic lights. And/o a lower sign could possibly be supplemented by smaller signs beside targeted roads like 101, so they don’t have to try and get every road with one sign, that is something the city could offer to help with. There are solutions.

      • philvich

        or the nimby crybabies could move to oklahoma. i live nearby and i LOVE the fact that they opened up there.

  • Peter Oliver

    Are those people nuts? Invasion of what? Don’t look at it. the speakers are out already, now they want the sign. tomorrow they will need the pasrking, free food. Entiledments…. coupons…. free food…. take it to the city who approved thier construction plan. dont go after people trying to help the economy, giving people jobs. or should we take them away from the neighborhood. what about the revenue the place is giving to the community by creating jobs, taxes and all. those people don’t have anything else to do?

    • Brad

      Peter. Jobs? So you’re a jobs person? You think that the minimum wage jobs will ever allow a In-and-Out employee to buy a home in San Carlos? Before you open your yapper about jobs and taxes, why don’t you think 2 seconds more.

      The issue is the sign is glaring in people’s faces at night when they are trying to sleep. Do you sleep with a sign in your face? Or are you just a comment-bot developed by a programmer paid by the GOP to tell concerned people that their concerns aren’t valid?

      Let’s do this. Knock on the door of one of the people who lives next to sign. Invite yourself in. Then spend the night next to a window facing the sign.

      Until then, crawl back in your GOP loophole and tell yourself that companies are people and wait for the day when one of those people wants to invade your home.

      • Nathan

        I would like to clear a few things up here.

        First, In N Out doesn’t pay minimum wage, but always starting at $1/hr above current minimum wage. Besides, that is starting salary, and upward movement happens rather quickly. Store managers almost always make $100k+.

        In regards to the deliveries, when else would you suggest deliveries are made? During business hours, when parking lots are packed with customers? Then they would be dealing with complaints that deliveries hindered customers ability to get served in the first place.

        These people don’t have much of a place to complain, in my opinion, considering there is an airport on the other side of the 101. This affects an incredibly small number of homes, and In N Out has been more than flexible.

    • auntie94

      Have you ever lived near any type of establishment like this? I have and it is intrusive to have the light from the sign come through the windows, not to mention the loud deliveries starting at 4 am. I don’t blame them for being upset.

      • philvich

        it is located on INDUSTRIAL road, where there are tons of other businesses. this is just a bunch of nimby’s and haters that will hate on any progress. there are 8 million people in the bay area, move to sleepyville, kansas or bugtussle if you want to be 3 miles away from your nearest neighbor

  • auntie94

    They didn’t to build an In-N-Out in this location, there is already in Redwood City on Veteran’s. I hate seeing that sign every day on the way home, I live in Redwood Shores and that sign is in your face. I realize they want to grab people off the freeway, but come on. The city council doesn’t care they don’t live in that area, they is why they approved all of their plans.

    • philvich

      there is a burger king on the opposite corner of that interchange, but nobody complains because nobody goes there. they should have put the in n out where that useless burger king is

  • Debbie

    I used to live in this area of San Carlos and the In n Out isn’t what would hurt their property values. It is a very industrial area with 4 blocks of cinderblock houses. Anyone who thinks they are worth $500,000 is high.

  • 2cents

    Drop by 10%? Give me a break! Your house price increases by 10% because of the convenience to get these awesome burgers.

  • William

    I have a hard time sharing his concern when I look at his yard.

  • GFU

    Live in a metropolitan area, next to an airport, and complain about commercial enterprise? Surprise! You are a unintelligent person.

  • Connie

    Take a look at Dan’s front yard and back yard and the fence being propped up with boards. Now lets discuss what is hurting his property value.

    • philvich

      the sad thing is that he probably did clean up a bunch just to get it to that level, i say we picket that nimby jerk until he moves to bugtussle

    • C DeMoss

      Right on, Connie, I made the same statement, yet to be posted!
      Claude DeMoss
      Licensed RE Broker

      • Cynical Sam

        No doubt! You’d think dude would have pulled some weeds and put the garbage cans away before allowing the news crew in. I would have been mortified to have my yard immortalized on the internet if it looked like that!…And $500K?? Please.

  • Addy

    I live on Holly St, extremely near the In-N-Out. Nothing has changed for me at all. I do not hear a single thing coming from the restaurant. Traffic feels the same. I can’t even see the sign from my house because of the trees.
    I guess my house happens to be on the perfect spot.

  • Jan

    Maybe Mr Toms needs to look at his own property. What a Dump.

    If you live on the East Side you know that the potential of something like this happening is very great.

  • Ben Fuller

    There are numerous extremely nice homes in this neighborhood – some worth nearly a million dollars and many over $600K. I should know. I live there. Whether Mr. Toms home is a mansion or not, he certainly takes a big property value hit by having this mega-sign in his backyard. I think it’s not very friendly to criticize Mr. Toms who has already suffered enough with this sign lighting up his home. There are other neighbors who are extremely distraught about how this sign is affecting their lives. This 81′ foot sign was approved by San Carlos in spite of our reservations and official letter to the City which were totally ignored. In-N-Out needs to fix this problem by addressing the neighborhood’s concerns. At least 50 homes now have to look at this sign from their homes. The light of their sign now illuminates our streets and shines through our trees. We have no problem with In-N-Out as a business. I personally enjoy their food and appreciate the restaurant’s stand on many issues. I wish them nothing but success and will continue to patronize them. But please fix this problem by erecting a screen to your sign or lowering it, and planting trees to shield the view of this sign over time.

  • philvich

    ive been waiting for them to open up that in n out for a long time. i love it.
    im sick of jerks that think they get to live in a metropolitan area of 8 million people and think that there should be no development ever. move to a small town in the midwest, nimby jerks

  • ralph

    YOU all Had your chance before a hearing to appeal the planns, but you people sleep on it and so this is what you deserve. you get alot of public notice for this. INO is not violating its contract. Does your neighborhood have street lights? If so this would be equal to the street lights. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH REVENUE AND TAXES THIS SILL GIVE YOUR CITY AND TO YOUR SCHOOLS? ARE YOU GONNA COMPLAIN ABOUT THE MONEY GOIN TO THE SCHOOLS? I guess not. Your city itself consolidated its fire dept / pd… shame on you! overly up tight community get over it.

    • Ben Fuller

      Ralph: You are one of those people who has to shout in all caps. Is your writing too ineffective for people to read without it? First off, we did write a letter and appear in person. They denied us our chance to influence the project and rammed it through. Second, the City totally ignored us but certain conditions were put in the Use Permit. Third, In-N-Out is in violation of their Conditional Use Permit which says that light shall not spill over onto adjacent properties. Fourth, the amount of tax revenue for the City of San Carlos is projected at $40,000 a year, which is probably less than the City of San Carlos will lose from lower property values. Do your homework Ralph. You are uninformed. And finally, Ralph, easy for you to say since it wasn’t your home. Shame on you.

  • EN

    Everyone, please stop whining like little children. So what.

  • pat g

    Take a close look at his backyard and the front of his house; the neighbors should be complaining about the condition of his home

  • philvich

    that sign is about the size of his neighbor’s chimney in his field of view. plant a couple of trees and it wont be visible. i hear there are houses for sale in bugtussle for cheap if you want to live 3 miles away from your nearest neighbor

  • philvich

    they live right between the caltrain line and the airport, and these nimby’s and haters are complaining about the in n out located on INDUSTRIAL road located in the middle of tons of businesses? hmmmmm

  • Bean

    Love the HOA whining about the impact. PLEASE, there are about 10-15 homes right next to it that are impacted. If you are buying a home right off the exit of 101, where their is an airport on the other side, and Caltrain nearby you have gotten what you paid for. Major Freeway, Airport, and Train are you kidding me? In N Out is the biggest improvement to this neighborhood in a long time. At least his kids won’t have far to walk to get a job serving fries. Poor sap should be lucky he doesn’t actually live on Holly street which is worse because of the traffic–long before InNOut. Anybody that lives above El Camino Real in San Carlos doesn’t really care about you–which would be the entire city council.

  • allister

    like a bad neighbor in n out is there!

  • Brad

    The City of San Carlos is so corrupt. Who do they represent? In-and-Out or the citizens of San Carlos? They obviously didn’t listen to the citizens of San Carlos otherwise this wouldn’t have happened. And In-and-Out is a just as lame by saying it would be “exceedingly difficult” to turn the sign to face the freeway and not stand over a neighborhood that doesn’t want the sign.

    It sounds like the “representatives” of the City of San Carlos are following a lame pattern by meeting with a corporation, In-and-Out in this case, behind closed doors and then present an “edict” to the citizens they purport to represent.

    I wonder if In-and-Out opened on Alameda de las Pulgas if the consumers, oops, citizens west of El Camino would be happy. Doubtful.

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