Council wants to study idea of creating a pedestrian mall on University Avenue

Daily Post Staff Writer

Parts of University Avenue in Palo Alto may have a future without cars, City Council agreed during a discussion about an update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, a document governing land use in the city.

The council voted unanimously Monday night to study the feasibility of blocking off the avenue to traffic in favor of pedestrians and cyclists.

The idea has been executed in Boulder, Colo., at the four-block Pearl Street Mall and in Santa Monica at the Third Street Promenade, which Vice Mayor Liz Kniss lauded as “one of the most successful areas.”

A concern over a lengthy process

Mayor Greg Scharff proposed studying the idea separately from a larger coordinated area plan for the downtown area, as recommended by the Planning and Transportation Commission.



“If we put it as part of the coordinated plan, it won’t happen,” Scharff said, quipping that he wanted to see the University Avenue idea studied in his lifetime.

Scharff said that he thought the study might determine that one of the side streets downtown may be a better fit than University for a pedestrian-only strip.

Neighborhood traffic

Councilwoman Lydia Kou was concerned about diverting cars from University Avenue into residential neighborhoods.

“Traffic is already pretty bad on this street, and it’s a way in and out for Stanford,” Kou said. “If it’s a study, I can go along, but I’m still greatly concerned about just making the problem worse and just pushing it off to other places.”

Councilwoman Karen Holman said she also worried about the loss of parking on University.

Councilman Adrian Fine said that if the city wants to reduce traffic, it should “explore ways to get out of our cars.”

“Pedestrian zones absolutely work,” Fine said.