Around Town | June 3, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 3, 2011

Around Town

THE SOUND AND THE FURY ... Downtown Palo Alto will thump and vibrate with the sounds of jazz, rock, blues, folk and choral music on June 19, when the city holds its third annual "World Music Day." This year, however, the one sound that will be missing from the cosmopolitan symphony is the honking of cars. That's because the city plans to take the event to the next level by closing University Avenue to traffic — a proposal that hasn't always been music to the merchants' ears. The most notable recent snafu was the "Palo Alto Promenade," a 2007 event in which the city closed University Avenue between 4 and 10 p.m. on a Friday. The road closure created traffic jams on surrounding streets, including Alma and High streets and Hamilton Avenue. The mirthful street atmosphere was quickly overshadowed by grumblings from disgruntled commuters and frustrated merchants. This time, the city is banking on a different result. For one thing, the event will take place on a Sunday afternoon rather than on Friday during evening commute hours. In addition, staff and officials from the Downtown Business Improvement District are devoting extra effort this time around on outreach to area merchants. Thomas Fehrenbach, the city's economic-development manager, said every ground-floor merchant on University Avenue will get at least two, possibly three, visits before the event informing him or her about the closure (which will take place between 3 and 7:30 p.m.). So far, each ground-floor business has received at least one notification, and the reaction has been positive, Fehrenbach told the Weekly. The city is also encouraging merchants to set up extra chairs, tables and merchandise displays. It is even offering tables and chairs to businesses and restaurants who request extra. "We've all been hitting the streets and trying to make sure we get the word out," Fehrenbach said. "We really hope merchants will have a positive experience and see this as an opportunity to get involved."

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