Mountain View, Los Altos to close downtown streets to let restaurants have tables outdoors

Restaurant patrons dine on Stone Street in Manhattan. AP file photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Mountain View City Council decided last night (June 9) to close four blocks of Castro Street to cars to let restaurants serve customers outside. Los Altos also closed their downtown streets despite pushback from retailers.

Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and San Carlos plan to close downtown streets for the same reason.

Mountain View Councilman John McAlister pulled the street closure off of the council’s consent calendar, where many items are passed at once, because he was concerned that the city didn’t have a cost associated with the street closures. The city will be providing outdoor tables for the restaurants.

Public Works Director Dawn Cameron said the city hasn’t finalized costs because they are trying to keep costs down by borrowing tables. She said one school district has already offered to loan tables for the street.

The street closure otherwise passed without issue.

Los Altos City Council spent a longer time discussing closing Main and State streets before deciding to close the streets on June 18. City Manager Chris Jordan will update the council on how things are going on June 23. Unless there are issues with the program the streets will remain closed.

Some residents spoke in support of the closure.

Steven Aldrich, a 20-year resident, said he visits downtown restaurants and retail nearly every day. He urged the council to close the streets because he said most downtown restaurants are too narrow to serve enough customers with social distancing requirements. He said the only way for the city to work out unknowns is to give the street closure a shot.

Bill Shepard, a 13-year resident, said restaurants will suffer and some won’t survive without more space. He said more feet on the streets will mean more customers for retailers.

But some business owners said they don’t want the streets closed.

Julie Brown of Brown House Design at 101 Main St. said forcing her clients and employees to park far away will kill her business. She said it will be less safe for her office if people are serving food and skateboarding six feet from her door.

Khatchig Jingirian of Smythe and Cross Fine Jewelry at 350 Main St. said businesses suffered in 2011 when streets were closed for construction. He said he thinks closing the street is the worst decision the council could make for merchants.

Councilwoman Anita Enander said she is concerned that closing the street will make things less accessible for disabled people who can’t walk and for people who want to pick up food without spending a lot of time out of their cars for COVID-19 safety issues.

Engineering Services Director James Sandoval said the city will work with restaurants to figure out how people can pick-up take-out food.


  1. Wow… I recently moved to MTV and while I do not feel like I have any say in what long term residents should want, but I can tell from experience, coming from a city which hated cars and loved to close streets for bicyclist and pedestrians, that this killed a lot of shops.

    The reason is that in general, the number of local people is not enough to support the shops. People who live farther away will be diverted to other areas.

    This is even more true in Mountain View where the population density is low (there is no high rise building in the city center).

    I understand the willingness to help shops and restaurants – but this type of city closure is definitely the last thing to do.

    For sure families living right next to restaurants and shops were happy (cars? other people? NIMBY!), but the overall revenue of the shops/restaurants went down significantly.

    • Agreed – often times pre-pandemic you couldn’t find a spot within several blocks of your final destination. These merchants still got by just fine. The only difference this will make is that cars can no longer use Castro to transit between the highway and El Camino / Central. This is a good thing if you ask me – cars passing through downtown contributed nothing but congestion, noise and exhaust. As long as cars can get across the tracks and make their way on to Evelyn I can’t see much of an impact to businesses.

  2. I’ve been going downtown MTV for take out almost every day. It was so nice and convenient. If I can’t find parking and have to hike to the restaurants to pick up my food I might think twice about ordering take out.

    • @Anonymous oh please. When’s the last time you could find parking on Castro street? Be honest, you park in the structures near Villa and Dana, or you park a few blocks away on side streets just like everyone else. Closing Castro itself will do nothing to the parking situation and will dramatically expand the space for people to enjoy outdoor dining.

  3. I’m so glad to see all the cities on the Peninsula working so hard to support our restaurants and retailers. Almost all the restaurants and retailers are supportive of the closures.

    The restaurants basically said that if they don’t get more spaces for tables they are going to go out of business. Many already have, unfortunately.

    The retailers are hoping that bringing back some vitality to downtown areas will generate cross-traffic to their stores. For now, parking issues are way down across the Bay Area, as many office workers may be gone until 2021. That should give us some time to sort out parking and traffic impact.

    As a restaurant patron, I am just excited to have a safely-spaced option to eat out. I’m so tired of doing takeout and eating at home.

  4. Partially close the streets and customers can still park nearby. If you are selling what they want, they will still come to you. But very selfish to not allow restaurants and all of their employees not to have a chance to generate some real revenue for a change.

  5. I’m hopeful this is something that sticks post pandemic. Castro has always been a wonderful place but if you want to sit outside you’re stuck choking on exhaust fumes and talking over the noise of the traffic. Let’s build a real public space where people can dine and socialize without being cramped between the sidewalk and a busy street.

  6. Close Castro, no don’t close Castro…like the saying goes, “you can’t please everyone”.
    Close Castro…for the overall end results, it’s worth the shot. For those of you complaining it’ll be a “hike” to get to your restaurants, well the definition of “hike” is not 3-4 blocks of walking. What you are complaining about is your out of shape self getting winded because instead of getting our an walking 5 steps to get your food you now have to “hike” maybe a block two. Which IMO will do you some good. For the disabled I understand it will add more travel time but perhaps it’s the lesser of two evils versus that handicapped person not being able to enjoy their favorite restaurant well because it had to shut down due to not enough revenue.
    And I too would go to downtown to get take out and thought it was sweet to find parking right on Castro, but pre pandemic I never even looked for parking on Castro. And guess what, I did fine.
    People start getting use to some “new normal” else you will live in frustration while the rest of the world adapts.
    “So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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