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Think Out Loud

Driving through Walgreens?

Pete Springer/OPB

At the intersection of César E Chávez and SE Belmont, there’s a Walgreens pharmacy and a large parking lot. In 2010, Walgreens was considering demolishing the building and replacing it with a new one. Walgreens now wants to shrink the pharmacy by 6,400 square feet so they can install a drive-thru on the store’s south side.

Some neighbors are unhappy with the plans. They’ve organized themselves and set up a website at They say that Walgreens hasn’t done enough to include them in the planning process, that the drive-thru would add noise and pollution (via idling) to the neighborhood, and encourage driving rather than walking and biking.

A representative for Walgreens, Robert Elfinger, says the company likes drive-thrus because its customers like them — especially, he says, older people or parents who may be picking up prescriptions for their sick kids. Walgreens has other drive-thrus nearby — one about two miles south at SE Holgate and two on NE 82nd within four miles. It’s unclear whether there was as much neighborhood opposition to the building of those drive-thrus. According to David Royster, a district manager for Walgreens and our guest, there was some opposition to the drive-thru at the Walgreens on Holgate.

In 2005, Walgreens canceled plans for a location near its headquarters in Deerfield, Ill. after neighbors voiced opposition to the proposed store’s drive-thru.

Would you patronize a drive-thru pharmacy? Or do you think Walgreens should reconsider its plans? Have you had a similar experience in your neighborhood?


  • Lois Leveen: Neighbor
  • Ann Masters: Neighbor
  • David Royster: District manager Walgreens
  • Jessica Richman: Senior Planner at the City of Portland
drive-thru neighborhood portland walgreens

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