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Pick-up windows should be allowed

No one wants to cloud the pristine air of the Lake Tahoe Basin, but let’s use a little common sense when we make policy.

Businesses are being kept out of the South Shore because of a ban on drive-throughs. However, there are conflicting facts when it comes to whether an idling vehicle in a drive-through spews more harmful particles than an engine revving up as it turns over for the first time.

We applaud Councilman Tom Davis revisiting this issue.



The McDonald’s on the west end of town had to be built with a walk-up window, not a drive-up window.

In-and-Out Burger said no thanks when it was told about the drive-through ban.




Rumor has it an Outback Steakhouse was interested in setting up shop where Applebee’s is being built. Their big thing these days is to have a pick-up window for drivers. Thus, Outback said see ya later South Lake Tahoe.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is the group that imposed the ban. It was two decades ago that TRPA started its quest to limit the number of drive-throughs. The drive-throughs that exist today in the basin were built before 1987.

TRPA has taken such a heavy hand that an existing drive-through cannot be transferred to new business owners.

TRPA needs to back up its decisions with concrete evidence that the environment is better off with the ban. A report is expected in the next couple of months by TRPA as to whether the science favors the drive-through ban.

Perhaps it would behoove others to do some research on their own to figure out what is scientifically correct. Vehicle emissions have been reduced through improvements to vehicles. Additives in gasoline make for less harmful emissions.

Perhaps the evolution of the car industry has been great enough to change TRPA’s mind when it comes to banning drive-throughs.

Yes, the Lake Tahoe Basin is a unique place, with unique issues. Perhaps it is time for unique solutions to problems. There is no doubt that drive-throughs — whether it be at banks, restaurants, or pharmacies — are a convenience for people.

Could it be that drive-throughs could be operational certain hours of the day? Certainly weather, atmospheric conditions and the like contribute to how much pollution lingers.

Perhaps there should be a cut-off for the number of vehicles waiting in line. A sign could be posted that says, “You must order inside. Environmental concerns prohibit us from allowing you to line-up for drive-up service this far back.” An ad exec is bound to come up with more clever verbiage.

The point is that a compromise needs to be worked out where people in the basin can access establishments via a drive-through so the environment is not adversely affected.


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