April 8, 2010

Parklets and Plazas: Notes from the April 8 Noe Valley Community Meeting

The Noe Valley Community Meeting to discuss the proposed parklet and plaza at 24th and Noe Streets was at least as well attended as the Whole Foods community meeting with a serious turnout from all sides of the debate.

Bevan Dufty kicked off the meeting with a contrite apology for declaring the project dead before this community hearing. He also noted he hadn't seen this much division in the community since the Real Foods/Neutraceutical dispute and recommended more community meetings about big issues like this, as well as smaller issues like parking striping or homelessness (oops on that last one, but we get the idea).

For those who missed the meeting or want a recap, here are the highlights:

Parks to Pavement

Andres Powers of the planning department gave a short presentation of other Pavement to Parks projects around the city. He then described what a trial means, and in carefully-worded language outlined the main concerns of some neighbors (a trial would not move forward without responding to these concerns):
  • Traffic
  • Noe is one of the fastest thoroughfares from Noe to Market St
  • Loading trucks for Starbucks and Toast (where will they go?)
  • Impacts to local businesses
  • Emergency vehicle transit (ambulances, fire trucks)

Don't Block Noe
Mary, a 4th generation Noe Valleyean outlined the main points for those against the plan:
  • Measure first, try after we have data
  • Other places need more beautification than Noe (Bernal, Mission - zing!)
  • Let's do something bigger that everyone can enjoy

Just Try It!
John Murphy went for PowerPoint on the Plaza for the People:
  • Tables and seating!
  • Significant outdoor space for people to gather
  • No business has gone out of business due to too many customers

Audience Questions
Answered by Andres and Bevan (heavily paraphrased for brevity):

Will property owners be compensated for the change in value of their house? Anecdotal evidence from other trials is that property values in the park areas increase not decrease.

Why did Noe get this money?
The Noe Valley Association (a coalition of property owners in the commercial district) applied for a grant and got it. They also put up some money for it.

Why Noe Street?
Community input from the NVA deemed this the best spot.

If the next step is a traffic assessment, how long will that take?
1-2 weeks.

What's the cost of a 2 month trial?
$30K with $8K set aside just in case. Another $20K+ is donated in design services and materials.

How much will it take to take the parklet/plaza it down if the trial fails?
Insignificant cost – few hours of time.

Plaza, parklet… are there any other designs in this proposal?

What about bongos and street music?
No acoustics in the plan.

If Noe fails, are Sanchez and other streets on the table?

Why not beef up existing parks?
They are not part of the Pavement to Parks charter of reclaiming more vehicle space for pedestrians.

What about the Radio Shack parking lot?
Good idea but ditto question above. A different city organization is looking for sites like those to acquire and convert to parks but it's outside the charter of Pavement to Parks.

Why is this a Starbucks boondoggle – what about homegrown coffee shops?
Good point – send your suggestions.

Open comments from the community
People then lined up stage left and right and said their piece in 2 minutes or less (alternating for and against). Most people were civil, but there was some grandstanding and emotion, and a lots of venting about the process.

Bevan's wrapup:

Need more data collected and analyzed before a trial.

2. There will be another meeting soon to present the data to the community. Send an email to Andres Powers if you want to stay involved.

Did we miss anything? Add it in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I thought Mary did a nice job speaking on behalf of the "no" crowd but I found the part about "doing something bigger that everyone can enjoy" to be totally disingenuous. Where is that proposal? What is the "bigger" alternative?

That one little statement made it seem like the "no" crowd wants the same things that the "yes" crowd wants but they followed that up with 2 hours of "testimony" to the contrary... (They also didn't seem interested in helping to set up chairs. Nice community involvement, guys!)

Just $0.02 from someone in attendance last night. Good discussion. I hope we get a plaza.


Laney said...

So, this is what I noticed about last nights' meeting. Everyone on both sides seem to like the idea of public space. However, the people against it are all saying "yes, let's get some public space, but please don't put it in front of our houses, find a place that doesn't impinge upon people's personal space." I find that point well taken. The other P2P programs, which have been successful are not right under people's windows.
All of the people who are pro-plaza live upwards and away from the proposed plan. So, it's easy for them to say, "yes, let's put the park in there."
Again, the pros are from people who don't live in the immediate area and won't be negatively impacted.
The people who live right there on top and near the plaza are all against it because they fear it will negatively impact them, not because they are against public space.
Those who did want the plaza seemed to have very valid reasons for wanting it, and one even stated, "I live on 27th & Church, please close my street!" I thought that was great because that's what is more needed, "fine you don't want a p2p project on your block, let's find a place where we can all agree on."

I highly doubt that the residents of 24th and Noe & Jersey would be this vehemently against the park if it weren't in their front yards. So, unfortunately, they are giving every excuse under the sun as to why the park won't work and shouldn't be put in- some of them totally bogus "think about the children, the children will die."

The truth of the matter is that this issue was thrust upon the residents and that's not fair. They were forced to host a party that they never wanted. Of course they are going to be on the defensive.

Chiming said...

I was at last night's meeting which in my opinion, was well attended and organized. I agree with one of the major "no" concerns about how did this project get so far, so fast, without even the most affected contacted in advance for input. Most people I talked to heard about this project by word of mouth, street petitions or the recent article in the Voice.

I don't support a trial as I firmly believe removing a park is the equivalent of political suicide and who would want to be "the" person to remove a park when half the people at last night's meeting clearly supported one? We need a decision either way as a "trial" in my opinion is the same as a "yes".

In my opinion, such a project should have a heavy majority either way (say 75%) and from what I seen and read, we're closer to being equally divided.

Anonymous said...

Hey Noe Valley:

That was a GREAT meeting last night with a FABULOUS turnout (150+)and thought-provoking questions and comments by so many of you who attended.

For me, it was ALL good and made me proud to be a Noe Valleon

And to the noevalleysf folk: Great job in your reporting of last night's neighborhood event of the month.

Ciao for now


Zac said...

I was present at last night's community meeting and I've attended several other community meetings in other neighborhoods related to the city's Great Streets program.

I expected opposition - many people just aren't comfortable with shifts in street use or design - but the level of rancor displayed by many in attendance was not something I've seen in these kinds of forums before. I think Bevan's reference to health care debate was apt, because similarly a lot of the anger seemed to come from misinformation or intuition rather than fact.

I was surprised nobody last night reiterated that this was a community meeting with the purpose of discussing a proposal. Nothing is being sprung on the residents. This is community input. There will be study. There will be more community input. And then a decision will be made. Many argued that the community was not well informed of this process. This was the most well attended meeting I've ever been to. Additionally, I would submit that a new, central public plaza would be an ideal place to post community information in the future. The two existing parking lots with benches are not interesting public spaces and do not invite community gathering.

And I think that's a takeaway message here. I saw a lot of my neighbors last night. There aren't as many opportunities for that kind of engagement as there should be. We need a public space.

Lastly, I just want to speak to Laney's comment above. Both the 17th/Castro and Guerrero/San Jose parks are in fact right under the windows of neighbors, and as we heard from several of them last night their streets are quieter than they were before the park.

Carrie said...

I thought both Mary and John did really well up there. I thought both sides had great advocates on their sides.

The "yes" side had several residents speak in favor that live right there, corner of Noe & Jersey, so it was good to see some people in the immediate vicinity in favor of the trial. The "no" side had some excellent points which I very much agree with- the process for deciding if the trial moves forward to become permanent is far too vague. If those of us in favor or against hate the thing once it is put in, who exactly decides if it stays or goes? Can five people that absolutely love it make it become permanent? I'm concerned about this myself, and if I were on that block I would be even more concerned with the process.

I do think the idea of conducting a traffic impact study without a trial is absurd. We send MTA out to count cars pre-trial, and then we implement a trial and count cars through the 90 day period. If the number of cars on Jersey does or doesn't increase, then we've got a factual data point about traffic.

I don't think (or at least I hope) that those opposed would be as staunchly negative about conducting a 90 day trial if they clearly understood how a decision of permanence would be made. Someone last night mentioned the trial of closing down the street in the Presidio. They did try it, it negatively impacted traffic, and it was removed. Who voted on that? How many people had to weigh in? Did immediate neighbors get a stronger voice in the debate?

The City needs to step up here and clarify the process for deciding upon permanence. Then perhaps our neighbors will feel more comfortable about trying out an innovative new public space for 90 days.

Richard Mlynarik said...

Any statement that begins with "As a Native Born San Franciscan" or "As a Fourth Generation Noe Valleyan" is a good indication that it's time to reach for one's revolver.

Enfranchise only second or more generation caucasian property owners!
(Hey! That's Bevan Newsom's key electoral demographic...)

Renters, latinos, asians, immigrants, pedestrians, begone with you! We'll consider listening to your opinions only when you've got a couple more generations' standing.

One Californian grandparent, one vote!

Anonymous said...

blunt but obviously true..

Anonymous said...

good point Richard...yes, blunt but also true.

" if you're not heterosexual, white, married with two kids a dog a stroller and a volvo suv, then you're obviously against this plaza, and not for Noe Valley..."

ooeygooey said...

"I highly doubt that the residents of 24th and Noe & Jersey would be this vehemently against the park if it weren't in their front yards."

But what *IS* in their front yards, by their own admission, is never ending delivery trucks, a very busy pedestrian AND vehicle intersection, and what they claim (laughably) to be a very important and fast road all the way to Market Street. The claim that a small, temporary plaza is somehow going to destroy this "urban bliss" is utterly fantastic. A perfect example of fear, self-interest and blind ignorance of the world around them. You can't live in a business district and then complain about all the business and people.

Walker Driver said...

Ooeygooey clearly doesn't drive or have any need to traverse this city so is of course in favor of closing an intersection on "what THEY claim (laughably)to be a very important and fast road". Laughably? Perfect example of the new mentality (rampant in San Francisco and particularly Noe Valley) that says "I don't need to use this [fill in the blank] so you don't either." Yes, let's put a park in the middle of a busy intersection because I don't like cars driving through the neighborhood. Are you people kidding?? Yes - let's make it impossible for people to drive in the City because they should be all be on bikes because I am. And because I don't like looking before I cross the street, I will blame those darn motor vehicles for any pedestrian accident. Talk about NIMBYism, this is a perfect example of it: "No cars in MY backyard/neighborhood!"

And in case you need a reminder of what a street is:
Thoroughfare: "A course affording passage from one place to another: avenue, boulevard, drive, expressway, freeway, highway, path, road, roadway, route, STREET, superhighway, thruway, turnpike, way."

Nothing about park, parklet, resting place, plaza, mini-plaza, place with benches for relaxing, etc etc. For better or worse, we live in a city where public transportation is a joke and cars ARE allowed, and in fact, necessary.
I am a "card-carrying Noe Valley liberal" (lived here for 22 years) but I am really disgusted by this new "thinking". If you don't like cars and you like open spaces, you need to not live in a city, particularly this 49-square-mile one. And please stop telling me that I must live according to YOUR desires.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I liked the guy who lives above Starbucks and Toast yet honestly can't seem to understand why there's so much noise outside his windows. I also liked the guy who mockingly raised the prospect of losing four parking spaces and just possibly changing a few people's transportation habits as tantamount to revolutionary change, and his comparison in contrast, the guy who was concerned what would happen when a truly divisive issue comes up. I even liked the old tanned guy with bleached hair for his stamina and vigor, both here and against "those damn buses" driving his neighborhood's economy - may I only have such strength then! The piece de resistance, though, had to be Dufty's taking of credit for the Real Foods "success" to kick off what was sure to be a spirited debate. Noe at it's shining finest.

Why the stark age difference between sides of the room, though? Are old people really that scared of community places? Are young people really that hell bent on turning roads into green spaces?

Anonymous said...

Nothing prevents streets from turning back into parks if the people want parks more than streets.

Momentum for real change grows.

Anonymous said...

Young people do like public spaces, and judging from the divide in that room, seniors most definitely do not.


Anonymous said...

There are a lot of things old people like that young people will use their energy to fight for if they feel the old people aren't willing to try to disenfranchise them at their convenience. Old Noe Valley is trying to cling onto their neighborhood by their fingertips. The end result may be that they foment the crystallization of New Noe Valley with their intransigence. The recent arrivals have so far been preoccupied with getting into pre-schools. Pretty soon there may be a rift. The newbies would win.

Anonymous said...

Cool "I Love Plazas" printable sign, in the form of a .pdf file:


(Simply click on the "Free User" button, then click on the "Download" button!)

Anonymous said...

Bevan's wrap-up:

"Need more data collected and analyzed before a trial."

I would like one person to explain what data could possibly be unearthed that would prevent a trial plaza? Wouldn't you need to compare before and after data?

Anonymous said...

I am in favor of the plaza. As a non car owning Noe Valley resident, I would indeed like to see all of 24th from Church to Castro pedestrianized in typical European fashion. Is that so radical a thing to do? Or is it another case of rampant socialism (or is that fascism, perhaps communism, or maybe just too Obama?) It is a short trial on one stinking block of a traffic dominated street. Give us all a break from the tea-bagger knee-jerk rhetoric and just try it.

Anonymous said...

Ah..guess what? This isn't Europe...we like and use our cars. 24th St. is a street, in case you forgot: it's for vehicles to move thru and around on. we have sidewalks for people. Just because you don't own a car doesnt mean we have to live your lifestyle. Cars are not evil.

The plaza will not happen; maybe more landscape, benches and trees, yes. If a plaza were to happen, even temporary, we first need an EIR to study the impact of it on surrounding streets and traffic patterns.

No sense bringing in the tea partiers, or socialism, or Obama. Has absolutely nothing to do with a street closure.

murphstahoe said...

This picture isn't Europe either.


That's New York City. Huge pedestrian usage. Safety for pedestrians in a previously dangerous intersection - no matter how much you love your car, if you want to go to Bernie's, sooner or later you are on foot. Merchants in Times Square are making serious bank. And the traffic around Times Square IMPROVED by removing pedestrian/motorist interactions.

The plaza would improve traffic on 24th Street by removing those interactions, and to use the major artery meme, 24th is the most heavily used artery in the neighborhood and one of only 2 which goes from the Mission to Grandview or Diamond Heights, uninterrupted. Improved traffic flow there would be very beneficial for everyone.

Regarding EIRs. The city spent $1 Million and 4 years now on the bike plan EIR. Just the EIR! The paragraph regarding Clipper St probably cost $50,000. It was done by a traffic engineer using statistics which in the end can be inaccurate and miss unforseen issues.

Then they painted the stripes with $200 in paint before lunch one day. There is no defined process to measure and determine the impacts to see if the bike lane isn't really working out. Someone would probably have to sue the city, at great additional expense, to get rid of it. For $200 in paint.

Whether you love or hate cyclists, you have to hate the fact we could have gotten those lines painted for a fraction of the money and figured out experimentally if they were worth putting in or if we should just pull the paint back up.

The plaza project skips the EIR process, puts in the plaza, and has a defined set of metrics - including metrics outside the scope of an EIR, and subjective feedback! We save money, get more useful data, and make an educated decision.

The best part about this project is that the process of installation, evaluation, and removal/permanence is a rare example of good government. Unfortunately, I think we can all agree the initial outreach does not exactly qualify for that same accolade.

Anonymous said...

Your comments illustrate exactly why we need and EIR to study the impact of the plaza idea, temporary or permanent, that it will have on traffic increases to the smaller side streets. You offer no data to prove that traffic will improve on 24th, nor do you offer any data that traffic will stay the same or decrease on Jersey and Elizabeth Street. As a resident of Jersey St. I do not want to see more traffic in front of my house. The closure of Noe at 24th will cause that.

EIR's are for a purpose. They allow experts, such as traffic engineers and other consultants collect detailed data on the impact plus or minus that a particular project may have on the public realm. Opinions, like yours do not replace the EIR process.

The worst part of this plaza project is how city government does not inform the taxpayers and residents in advance, for discussion, feedback and transparency. I am in contact with Bevan Duftys office to discuss the merits of a full EIR if the plaza project begins to move ahead.

Anonymous said...

This plaza is a temporary TRIAL. It doesn't need an EIR. If it did need an EIR it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and would never happen. You just want to kill it. Be honest.

The plaza trial allows us to test traffic patterns on a temporary basis at much much much lower cost. It's good government.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do want to kill it, like many others, trial or temporary. It does not make sense, it's not good for the larger community, but only benefit a small amount of people who seem to think that there is not enough seating and stroller parking around.

YES to keeping Noe open. NO to any kind of plaza.

Anonymous said...

The plaza trial benefits everybody who thinks there are not enough opportunities to develop real community in downtown Noe Valley, everybody who wants a public space to get to know their neighbors.

Judging from selfish, myopic, fearmongering posts on this comment thread and the others, I'd say they're right.

If you want to kill it, keep saying "I don't think public space is valuable and I don't want anyone to cause a microscopic amount of inconvenience to me and my car. Driving across town on this minor cross street is my absolute civil right by virtue of my tenth generation Noe Valley birthright." Because that's what you all seem to really mean.

Just don't start complaining about the EIR instead of saying what you really want to say.

Anonymous said...

Huh? complaining about the EIR? No, I didn't say that. I am in support of an EIR for the plaza study. You need to read more carefully.

I am all for more public spaces. I am all for more trees, more street side landscaping, and more seating.

But creating a new public amenity (plaza) by removing another public amenity (street), I believe is not the right approach. Using that logic then, other citizens all over the city would begin asking for their own neighborhood plazas by closing off streets. Crosstown streets are for the benefit of all, not just those who live in the immediate neighborhood. Taking away that necessary amenity for the benefit of a few is not part of the democratic process.

Look at all of the the "Keep Noe Open" signs in the windows on Jersey, Noe and Elizabeth. We are not selfish, myopic, or full of fear.

If you want more, new open space, then how 'bout beginning the process of making the two suburban parking lots on 24th st. into permanent public parks? This would promote a more transit friendly area, get rid of some cars, and create two beautiful, sunny areas for development into parks.

Think of the possibilities!

Anonymous said...

I read your post accurately. You mis-read my response. I should have said "don't start demanding an EIR," when you actually don't want an EIR to be done. Do you really think the city should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an EIR for a plaza at 24th & Noe? No, you don't. You just think they should kill the trial and go home. And you're using the EIR demand as a threat to block it.

If you truly believe, "I am in support of an EIR for the plaza study," then I will eat my words. But I doubt you want to spend the money on it. I sure don't. Not until we know if the trial will work.

"Benefit of the few" = Thirty people on Jersey Street who think traffic will increase dramatically on "their" pet street (they're wrong, by the way, and if they're right the trial will end in a snap) + Another thirty people who like to drive north on Noe Street and can't be bothered to take any of the alternate, more efficient routes.

"Benefit of the many" = Hundreds, possibly a couple thousand, people who will use this plaza to increase their social bonds with other human beings and improve the quality of their lives + Thousands of drivers who will benefit from less congested traffic traveling east-west on 24th + Businesses who will see increased revenue.

Let me know when you come up with the $6 million to buy the privately-owned farmers market parking lot for a plaza & I'll support that too.

In the meantime, we can do it a lot cheaper with public land that already belongs to the people.

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm opposed to the trial plaza as well. Closing off the street to traffic temporarily, will result in the same findings if the street were closed permanently: that of increased traffic and congestion on the adjacent cross streets and 24th St.

But! If the trial closing were deemed successful (without any substantial data) I would most certainly support a full EIR for the more permanent closing of the street. Money will be found, if necessary.

Tell the residents of Jersey St. that the street is their "pet" street..are you serious? It's a public street for ALL to use, as a street for cars, and perhaps bikes.

If people were to use this new, proposed plaza to actually "increase their social bonds and improve the quality of their lives..", then I'd say they have pretty empty lives to begin with.

Sit on a bench now on 24th St. Say hi to someone, chat, have coffee, enjoy the street energy:

Result: social bond increased. Life is better.
Value: priceless.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, we agree. If the trial plaza happens and if it appears to succeed on some level, I support an EIR before it becomes permanent. If the EIR shows that is harmful, I support removing it and returning Noe St. to a through street. Simple as that.

I thought you were calling for an EIR before a trial can even begin. Someone else anonymous was doing that above ("We need an EIR to study the impact of the plaza idea, temporary or permanent"). Guess that wasn't you. Or maybe you've changed your mind. In any case, we agree. An EIR for a temporary, trial plaza is too expensive.

I agree also that Jersey Street is a public street for all to use. I personally believe that the people opposed to the trial, however, are trying to pretend like it is "their" Jersey St, "their" Noe St., "their" block. I was ironically representing their position. That's how it sounds to those of us who live on other streets in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

No, we don't agree. I am opposed to any plaza, trial or permanent, and the closure of Noe St.


Jersey Street said...

For the record, this project - either temporary or permanent - wouldn't require an EIR. That's not to say there won't be an environmental review; it's already underway. But state CEQA guidelines would determine the necessity for EIRs not public demand.

What's more, a park/plaza/parklet is the kind of development that would mitigate environmental impact not exacerbate it.

murphstahoe said...

"What's more, a park/plaza/parklet is the kind of development that would mitigate environmental impact not exacerbate it."

This logic makes sense but that's not exactly how CEQA seems to work....

Anonymous said...


Great. Now we're back to what I said yesterday. Please stop talking about an EIR if you don't actually care about it. You are just grasping for ways to kill the trial.

Anonymous said...

Wow. if one person can "kill the trial"..he or she must wield a lot of power..

Anonymous said...

>>if one person can "kill the trial"..he or she must wield a lot of power..

That's exactly why it was an affront to all stakeholders - pro and anti plaza - when Bevan Dufty preempted the democratic process by meeting with a small, imminently self-selected group of members from one side and declaring publicly, "I sense enough division and opposition that I don’t even feel that it can work on even a trial basis."

Huh?! Did anyone else feel that breeze when whatever leadership remained here snuck out the side door?

Does the plaza even stand a fighting chance after the Great Decider has already depth charged the prospect of it?

Let's hope all this democracy in perceived action is more than just vote baiting, and that it somehow actually yields whatever most of the people want.

Now that would be refreshing!

Anonymous said...

Do any of you know when the next meeting on this issue will be held?

Anonymous said...

TBD - mid to late May.

Laney said...

It's not a democracy when an angry mob (who lives nowhere near the plaza) decide to forceably impose this in people's front yards. The "small, imminently self-selected group" that you refer to are the people who are going to be directly affected by the plans.

Anonymous said...

I know I shouldn't even bother to respond but... First, half the neighbors on Noe, Elizabeth, 24th, & Jersey support it (they're the ones without signs in the windows). Second, the rest of us live a few blocks further away support it almost unanimously, and we have as much claim to the public streets in the neighborhood as you do. We drive and walk these streets every day. Third, it's not your front yard. It's public property in a commercial district in one of the densest cities in North America. Fourth, nobody is forcibly imposing anything. Fifth, since you are directly affected by the plans, why don't you help shape them instead of trying to shout down even the idea of a trial. Sixth, "angry mob"? You should be more careful with your hyperbole. Those of us in the neighborhood who support a trial are listening carefully to your concerns and trying to respond with reason, but the farther you get from reality, the less weight your opinions have. You have legitimate concerns about blocked through traffic on Noe St., a possible increase in traffic on other streets, and noise from people using the plaza at night. All of those concerns can be ameliorated. Let's have a trial and let's have your help in implementing it. Everything else you guys come up with is just crazy talk. "If one child dies as a result of this plaza" etc. Please be respectful of people with other opinions, and recognize that you don't own the street.

Otherwise the angry coffee-drinking, bagel-eating, homework-doing, neighbor-chatting, baby-totin', community-minded mobsters are going to win and you won't be part of the conversation.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a threat to me.And yes, it does sound like an angry mob.

Of course Noe is a public street. That does not mean it should be turned into any kind of plaza just because some want it that way. A public street is designed for VEHICLES, not for sitting in the middle and looking cool drinking your latte.

This entire notion of suddenly taking over streets because the "cars are evil" mentality is ridiculous. 5 or 10 years ago that idea was unheard of, now it's become a mostly urban trendy thing to do. Pavement to Parks is doing some good things by bringing more landscape and greenery to SOME areas of the city that need it. But that doesn't mean every street suddenly must become a plaza because a few find the idea so "cool, urbane, and Eurocentric"..

Plant all the trees you want, add sidewalk benches and greenery all you want. Work at creating more of sense of community if you want, but let's leave Noe St. as a street.


Anonymous said...

Looks to me that the 'angry mob' are those few people who chatter on this blog on this same subject....over and over.

Anonymous said...

Pedestrian mall info, facts and figures, in the form of a .pdf file:


To download, just click on the "Free User" button, then click on the "Download" button.

Anonymous said...

“This entire notion of suddenly taking over streets because the "cars are evil" mentality is ridiculous. 5 or 10 years ago that idea was unheard of, now it's become a mostly urban trendy thing to do.”
- Anonymous comment quote from above.

The Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade is an example of a vehicular road turned pedestrian corridor in a commercial zone built over 20 years ago.

The idea of shutting down public roads to vehicular traffic is not new nor trendy. It has precedent examples in this country and more importantly this state and has proven to be a successful tool for the enhancement of urban commercial districts.

“The Third Street Promenade was developed in the late 1980’s by the City of Santa Monica to revitalize the deteriorated downtown area and create a vibrant center for community life and retail activity. The renamed Third Street Promenade opened on September 16, 1989.”

“A three-block segment of Third Street was closed to vehicle traffic to enhance the pedestrian experience on the Promenade. Shop owners said that they initially felt that preventing cars from accessing their front doors was destroying their business. As a result, when the project was built, the City constructed a road through the Promenade, but placed removable bollards at the ends of each block. The bollards were put in place the first weekend to test it as a pedestrian mall, and the experiment was so successful that it was eventually closed for good. Now, Third Street competes with local shopping centers by providing a festive pedestrian space protected from auto traffic in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, which is a frequent destination for tourists visiting the Los Angeles area.”

(quote above)
-Prepared by Kathleen Rawson, Bayside District Corporation.