Move to close Santa Cruz Avenue to cars advances

Cars would be blocked where the light blue lines are shown.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

The Menlo Park City Council yesterday (May 12) gave City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson the go-ahead to come up with a plan to close a portion of Santa Cruz Avenue, despite one councilman’s fears about the project given the history of other downtown projects.

Councilman Drew Combs said he is interested in the idea, but is a bit worried how previous Santa Cruz Avenue projects wound up being rejected and detested by residents.

Combs referred to the pop-up park at Curtis Street and Santa Cruz that riled residents in 2016 and 2017, and a so-called traffic-calming that was installed, and later ripped out in 2002.

Councilman Ray Mueller said he understands Combs’ concern, and said one thing that has hopefully been learned is how to execute projects along Santa Cruz better.

“The way this is different from times in the past is we are not doing this for aesthetics. This is to help businesses survive, this is a different motivation,” Mueller said.

Mueller, along with Councilwoman Betsy Nash, have been working on a proposal to close Santa Cruz Avenue between El Camino and Evelyn or University Drive in order to enable businesses in the city’s downtown to operate in the street or sidewalk.

Chamber of Commerce head Fran Dehn told the council that 50% of respondents to a poll she took of downtown businesses said they would have no problem or would endorse the plan. She said that her poll didn’t ask merchants to say “yes” or “no” about the idea, however.

Most respondents to Dehn’s survey said they want to be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines for businesses to reopen, and said they want a date for when the closure would end.

Ultimately the council told Jerome-Robinson to work with her team to come up with a formal plan to be brought back to the council for final approval. The council is not in a huge rush to close down the street since restaurants are not allowed to reopen just yet. The idea is in preparation for when they can reopen.

Jerome-Robinson said she plans on bringing a formal plan back to council on May 26.

6 Comments

  1. I think Ray is sincere in saying he’s doing this to help the restaurants that have been hurt by the SIP. But he doesn’t realize he’s being used by the anti-car people, who have been trying to close this street and narrow El Camino for years, maybe a generation. Now those radicals have a pretext: covid-19.

  2. How did this idea get this far without a traffic study to evaluate the impact on neighboring streets? If this gets approved, somebody ought to sue the city for ignoring CEQA.

  3. Go after the a****** landlords. Rent is insane and most are a******s from what I hear. That is the most stressful part for the owners of the shops and restaurants.

  4. “The way this is different from times in the past is we are not doing this for aesthetics. This is to help businesses survive, this is a different motivation,” Mueller said. “

    I don’t know how closing down a major street downtown will help business survive. There are so many issue that has not been addressed. Top of the list is Parking. Where are people who can’t bike or walk to do downtown suppose to park with now more parking spaces eliminated ? Employee parking take most of the parking plaza area ! There are many service business and non restaurants business who rely on patrons who want fast access to nearby parking. As a downtown business owner we need to address the real issue PARKING

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