BY SARA TABIN
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.