louis martin
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Fort Bragg, California--

Citizens of Fort Bragg can now buy a cheap hamburger and fries and wash it down with a giant cola. But the cost to the city has been high--an $86,000 legal battle to squelch opposition to the American fast-food giant.

Friends of Fort Bragg, a citizens group opposed to the presence of McDonald's, fought McDonald's and the City of Fort Bragg on two main grounds: traffic and water.

McDonald's is located between Hare and Noyo bridges in the ``scenic corridor'' to the south of the city on Highway 1. The narrow bridges tend to act as bottlenecks to traffic into the city. Friends of Fort Bragg argued in court that the restaurant was going to make matters worse. They lost.

Said Roanne Withers of Friends of Fort Bragg, ``The Supreme Court had a decision that said, `If a local elected body wanted to do bad planning, they could do it.' It's called home rule.'' Thus, according to Withers, the court said traffic planning was poor, but it was up to local elected officials.

Friends of Fort Bragg also lost on the issue of water. While there was a water moratorium on taking more water from the Noyo river at the time of the suit, owner Jim Cummings was able to get around that for the proposed McDonald's location by trading water rights for his fish processing plant, Anchor Fish, at the Noyo Harbor.

Nevertheless, the legal battle that went on over a period of two years cost the city of Fort Bragg $86,000.

Said Withers, ``There is an incredible amount of anger in the city about the trading off of a fish processing plant for a McDonald's--those jobs versus McDonald's jobs.''

During the heat of the debate two years ago there was also another group that simply did not want McDonald's because of the McDonald's name. The case against McDonald's was argued in City Hall on the grounds of trash, tackiness, and dietary values.

McDonald's opened its doors on Thursday at 6 AM. It is the only McDonald's on the North Coast of California between San Francisco and Eureka.



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