Traffic snarled due to downtown 'Promenade'
Original post made on Jul 20, 2007
Read the full story here Web Link
on Jul 20, 2007 at 3:35 pm
More PAWAR - Palo Alto's Wishful Alternate Reality - to the people. ;)
Good grief! No wonder we get mocked in the national press.
It's imformative that the only comment with any context of experience came from the New York resident Allison Sands (ahh, it's soooo refreshing to hear from someone who actually knows what she's talking about!) - "This is a town with streets; it's not a park." Bingo!
Insight borne of experience is worth far more than dreams borne of a wish (can I coin that phrase?)
An occasional promenade on University is nice, but that's as far as it goes.
Note that the "retailers" who were quoted as liking the idea of a permanent promenade on University were NOT the owners of the stores mentioned - they were employees.
Those retail workers quoted might have been asked "would you be willing to see a permanent promenade on University Ave. if it meant that you would most likely lose your job within a year?" I wonder if the answer to that question would be "cool"? I wonder what the merchants who employ retail workers would think of that? Has anyone thought to ask?
I would LOVE to see a poll of merchants on University Ave., about turning it into a pedestrian promenade. Why haven't we seen that poll? Could it be because most of the merchants don't live in Palo Alto? Hmmmmmmm.....
I support the Mayor in most of her "greening" efforts, but imagining how "nice" it would be to be able to walk down University - and then promoting that utopian impulse into action WITHOUT considering the logistical and economic displacement fallout is mind-boggling. [on a more cynical note, I suppose - for some politicians - it's convenient to say that a lot of dreamy wishes would be "nice", and then take credit for "having been there first", or saying "it was my idea from the beginning" if 5% of those things ever happen...it pads one's personal future]
Look at the traffic displacement today. How much of an ADDITIONAL CO2 load did that add to the air that we breathe, or the residents on Middlefield Road breathe?
How many of those who will be able to lollygag downtown this evening are those who can walk from their homes, anyway? Will there be a survey? Just an informal survey would be helpful.
Long-term, how many locals vs. out-of-towners would come to University Ave. if we converted it to a pedestrian thoroughfare? THAT would be a survey worth taking.
How many of the almost 40% (soon to be almost 50%) of Palo Altans who are seniors would enjoy walking the entire length of University Ave. to get what they want?
How about offloading merchandise to stores? Are the alleys behind big retail on University big enough to handle that, 100% of the time? If not, better start planning how to widen those alleys.
How does the "Palo Alto University Mall" experience compete with the Stanford Mall experience? Someone better put their thinking cap on, and sharpen their pencil, because the result might not be as blurry as the original version.
How about this? How about our Mayor, who sits on the VTA board, hammering out something with other mayors to get some SERIOUS mass transit happening in our region, so that people could use the streets in convenient ways WITHOUT having to get into their cars? I'm talking SERIOUS mass transit here - accessible, affordable, and goal-oriented (gets you where you want to go, WHEN you want to get there, including the middle of the night)
Again, occasional promenades on commercial streets that are normally occupied by cars is a nice thing. Properly promoted, lots of people will come out to enjoy the festivities and have a good time - that's wonderful.
How do you maintain something like that, long-term - without massive retail displacement? Could it be that retailers are considered dispensible? That seems to be the case.
How do you, as a landlord, justify high street-facing rents to a lessee who wants storefront parking (proven to be - in our age of pathetically poor mass transit - something that people actually want - which is EXACTLY why thre mass-transit solution HAS to happen before you wan turn downtowns into bucolic promenades)
What's even more telling is the quote coming from the Downtown Association (BID) president, Sherry Bijan:
1) "Bijan said University is too crowded for most drivers hunting for a parking spot and that passersby on foot would be more likely to stop in a store or restaurant than someone driving through"
2) "Bijan said she thinks merchants along Lytton and Hamilton avenues would be pleased because the closure would bring additional traffic by their businesses."
Ms. Bijan, why on earth would merchant on Lytton and Hamilton be pleased about more traffic, while merchants on University would be more pleased with less? Never mind that a significant percentage of merchants downtown think that the downtown BID (Business Improvement District) is worthless to them.
This is the kind of logic that gets thrown around in Palo Alto, usually without a thought, especially when it comes to dreamy ideas that a few people think would be "cool"?
I may attend the promenade this evening; it should be fun - but when I see things written in the paper that appear to reflect PAWAR, it puts me ever-so-slightly on edge, like the retailers who will read that article and wonder what in god's name ever landed them in Palo Alto to begin with - because if University Ave. turns into a permanent pedestrian promenade anytime soon (especially before we have ubiquitous mass-transit), the merchant's respective gods are going to be the only ones that will help them (as no one with any PAWAR around here appears the faintest idea about how to do so).
See you at the promenade!
on Jul 20, 2007 at 7:25 pm
Provide adequate signage and traffic direction to eliminate backups.
on Jul 20, 2007 at 8:40 pm
This was not probably published / communicated to a wider audience .. I got to know about in on the TownSquare forums - however, three of my colleagues who pass through the downtown had no clue about this closure. They thought that there was a problem with the Walgreen's building !
I agree with Walter - this needs more communication to the people passing through on a regular basis. How about those big signs at strategic locations a week ahead of time indicating the time / date ?