February 6, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica City Council Gives Green Light to Pursue Main Street Closures

Lawmakers instruct staff to develop proposal that would close Main Street to vehicles on weekends

By Sam Catanzaro

Santa Monica’s Main Street may soon be open only for foot traffic on weekends.

“Some people think that this is an absolute disaster and others think it’s going to be the best thing since sex,” said Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown about a recently approved plan that would close Main Street to traffic on weekends. “The reality is it’s probably going to be something in between.”

McKeown was speaking at an April 27 meeting where Council unanimously approved a motion that calls on city staff to develop a pilot program for the temporary weekend closures of Main Street to automobiles and bus traffic.

According to Councilmember Gleam Davis, the motion’s co-author, the partial closures would be limited to two to three blocks. Davis, speaking at the meeting, cited similar ideas in other cities, including State Street, Santa Barbara and three blocks in Munich, Germany where Davis said “retail revenues increased by about 200 percent and restaurant revenues increased by about 300 percent. People love these open streets.”

Councilmember Christine Parra, who also co-authored the motion, explained the goal of the proposal, known as Al Fresco 2.0, is to help local businesses while facilitating a safe shopping and dining environment.

“The main goal here was to stimulate the economy on Main Street to create another opportunity for gathering…in a safe way,” Parra said. “I know a lot of people are concerned about going indoors, whether it is going indoors to shop (especially in smaller stores), indoors to go to a restaurant.”

Councilmember Phil Brock, while voting to move forward with developing Al Fresco 2.0, expressed concern that it may lead to overcrowding on Main Street. This, according to Brock, may create a retail environment that some may perceive as less safe. In addition, Brock worried not all Main Street businesses will benefit from the street closures.

“I want us to have outdoor dining forever but I am concerned that for instance Jameson’s [Pub] at that corner, their parklet goes way beyond their restaurant border and continues down the street. I am hearing from retailers that they’re concerned that people will not be able to see their stores and that their business is actually going to plummet rather than increase because restaurants already right now on Main Street are packed. Chinois is busy every night. Jameson’s is busy every night,” Brock said. “Many people are afraid to take long walks or bicycle rides, even though we are being vaccinated in the city, because they are afraid of that close contact with other people.”

At the meeting, Councilmembers noted that they have received many emails from residents concerned that such a plan will lead to increased traffic in their residential neighborhoods. One of these residents was Roger Genser, who has lived at 2nd and Hill street for the past 44 years.

“Where are the cars going to be diverted to? 2nd Street is a narrow, one-way street headed south. Ashland [Avenue] and Marine [Street] are very steep hills heading east from Main [Street]. And Hill [Street] is a hill street. The OPA [Ocean Park Association] survey that has been cited is limited in its scope. Most neighbors have no idea this has been proposed. There needs to be a formal public notice to the residents who are affected by this proposal,” Genser said. “This could now become the Promenade number 2.”

Genser was speaking on behalf of himself at the meeting, though he currently serves as Chair of the Landmarks Commission. The survey he referenced was carried out by the Ocean Park Association [OPA], which has been pushing for the pilot program along with the Main Street Business Improvement Association (MSBIA). Hunter Hall, MSBIA Executive Director, at the meeting touted the success of the initial Al Fresco program rolled out at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Outdoor dining has been crucial to all businesses throughout the country, everyone knows that, not just restaurants, but all businesses. Every business on Main Street has benefited measurably from our current Al Fresco program, without giving much at all. We want to double down on it,” Hall said. “We want to move Main Street to a more pedestrian, cyclist and shopper-friendly environment for our retailers too.”

At the meeting, Hall expressed a preference for beginning the pilot program at the end of June. Deputy City Manager of Santa Monica Anuj Gupta, however, noted that perhaps a launch at the end of summer would be preferable to account for anticipated summer crowds. Council has not yet established a start date for the proposal.

Danile Londono, the owner of Alfalfa, a new Main Street cafe specializing in salads and donuts, was the only Main Street restaurateur to speak at the meeting, said he supports the proposal. The restaurant, located at 2309 Main Street, was founded in Hoboken, New Jersey before opening its second location in the space that used to be home to the Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.

“One of the reasons we decided to open our second store all the way across the country in Santa Monica was because of how forward-thinking and progressive this community is,” Londono said. “We feel that the world is changing really rapidly and we think that these types of bold ideas are what we need to succeed as a startup and have our fellow businesses around us succeed.”

At the meeting councilmembers repeatedly emphasized that whatever plan is implemented will be temporary and could be ended if it does not work.

“I think this an idea worth evaluating and pursuing if the roughly 75 percent who think it’s a great idea are right. If the 25 percent who think it’s going to be a disaster turn out to be right, I will be right there with you to pull the plug,” McKeown said.

in News
Related Posts

Tishman Speyer Announces Basis Investment Group as Equity Partner for Santa Monica Collection

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

BIG’s $30 million commitment — 11 percent of total equity — to the 3.1-acre mixed-use development will help create 617...

Two Industry Titans Invest $30M in Lavish Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica Homes

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

David Bonderman and Christa Campbell recently acquired two lavish homes By Dolores Quintana Private equity tycoon David Bonderman and his...

Four-Year-Old Mountain Lion P-81 Found Dead on PCH

February 2, 2023

February 2, 2023

P-81 found on Pacific Coast Highway near Las Posas Road On Sunday, January 22, the California Department of Fish and...

Rep. Lieu Secures $2.5 Million for Local Projects in Santa Monica

February 2, 2023

February 2, 2023

Funding will go towards Santa Monica Behavioral Health Center and Ready to Succeed Scholarship program  By Sam Catanzaro ​​Congressman Ted...

Steve Marcy, Beloved Lincoln Middle School Teacher and Scoutmaster, Passes Away at 77

February 2, 2023

February 2, 2023

Longtime Lincoln math teacher passes away  ​​Steve Marcy, beloved Lincoln Middle School teacher and Scoutmaster of Santa Monica Boy Scout...

California Referendum Postpones Controversial Fast Recovery Act That Would Increase Hourly Wages for Fast-Food Workers to $22

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

AB 257 would create a board of 11 appointees to negotiate on behalf of fast food workers in California Last...

Highly-Anticipated Downtown Santa Monica Restaurant Close to Opening

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

Bar Monette close to opening at 109 Santa Monica Boulevard By Dolores Quintana Bar Monette is almost ready to open...

SMC Receives Grant to Expand Access to Critical Support Services for Foster Youth

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

New NextUp program will provide academic & comprehensive support, plus direct financial aid to foster youth enrolled at SMC Santa...

Find Inspiration in Moses Sparks’ Latest Collection of Tree Portraits in the Santa Monica Mountains

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

The exhibition and sale run from February 1st – 26th at the King Gillette Ranch Visitor Center  Internationally-acclaimed wildlife photographer,...

Pacific Park Joins The City Of Santa Monica To Recognize ‘Black History Month’ With Ferris Wheel Salute

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

Display of red, yellow and green colors, patterns and transitions beginning at sunset February 1 On Wednesday, February 1, the...

Girl Scout Cookie Season Returns to Los Angeles With New Cookie

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Cookie lovers throughout Greater Los Angeles can now support local Girl Scout entrepreneurs by ordering from the iconic lineup Girl...

Boris Allakhverdyan, Ben Hong and Talon Smith Unite in Santa Monica for Special Performance of Brahms’ Trio Op. 114

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Concert will take place on Sunday, February 5 The world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Principal Clarinet Boris Allakhverdyan and Associate Principal...

Metro’s Choice for Purple Line Muralist Sparks Veteran Concern

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Veterans concerned over disturbing painting by commissioned metro muralist at the purple line stop on the West L.A VA Soldiers...

Los Angeles Sees Increase in Kia and Hyundai Thefts Fueled by TikTok

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Social media platforms exacerbate vehicle thefts through security flaws Kia and Hyundai vehicles have become a major target for car...

Phil Brock Appointed to Serve on National League of Cities’ Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Brock will help shape NLC’s policy positions and advocate for America’s cities, towns and villages before Congress Santa Monica City...