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Please Re-Open G Street

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By Adele Shaw

I’m sharing this letter with people in Davis who might not be aware that retail businesses on G Street are suffering from the street closure.

I’m an artist and one of 65 local artist/owners of The Artery Gallery located at 207 G Street. When the City issued “Temporary Use Permits” (TUP) and closed G Street, we supported it. But as an unsupervised, unkempt bacchanal unfolded we began to look forward to G Street’s re-opening.

The original re-opening date of August 5th came and went. No information came from the City of Davis as the closure was extended without a word to affected businesses. Today, our customers continue to rant with frustration over the street closure’s unkempt conditions and filth.

A permanent closure of the street will likely cause the death of many of the non-restaurant businesses on G Street.  The city issued TUP’s during “emergency” times but they’ve created another emergency all together- an inequitable restaurant takeover on G Street. It may look like a party when you’re picking up a pizza or having a beer, but it’s not an equitable, harmonious party.

Non-restaurant businesses on the 200 block of G Street outnumber the restaurants more than 2:1 (24 retail, consulting or other businesses to 11 restaurants). Yet the retail, consulting and other businesses on G Street continue to suffer. We’re experiencing diminished income and are losing customers because of the street closure. I expect this will get worse as the winter comes.

I wonder what’s the purpose of closing G Street?

Is it a thoroughfare for pedestrians from one place to another? No.

Does it provide pedestrian access a particular destination? No.

Is it part of a multi-modal urban network to develop and foster a downtown core with flourishing businesses of all kinds? No.

The closure of G Street seems to be a hastily planned and poorly executed response to the Pandemic that only addresses outdoor food service: mainly to the benefit a few chain-run businesses and to the detriment of the locally-owned majority of the businesses affected by the street closure.

During the daytime hours the use of the outdoor seating is minimal. While it appears the restaurants have doubled or tripled their seating capacity, the lunch crowds are light. Some restaurants don’t open until 5pm on weekdays. These daytime hours are when retail businesses are open on G Street, when customers are running errands and “shopping local”. Customer parking is a disaster and the sidewalks and street are a cluttered and filthy mess.

The closure of G Street has eliminated approximately 45 angled parking spaces and disrupts normal traffic flow throughout much of our adorable, but small, downtown. Conversations with retail business owners indicate they hate the closure. They complain that their customers can’t access the stores.  Additionally, G Street looks terrible. It’s been suggested the use of barricades makes G Street look like a third-world country or a crime scene. The G Street retail merchants agree that the barricades are very unwelcoming. It seems that the use of such unattractive barricades invites fewer people with money and more with less. G Street has become a magnet for the homeless and disenfranchised to glean what they can and set up camp. Graffiti tags are not being removed. Many people have experienced vile human excrements along G Street, especially in the morning, when our businesses are opening up.

To offer a solution I’d suggest people look at Winters, where they maintain two-way traffic on Main Street along with unified, attractive, weatherproof structures erected in the parking spaces in front of each business.  That example seems like an equitable solution and is very welcoming.

Other cities nestle pedestrian streets into the heart of the commercial zone, not along the outer edge of the Downtown Core flanked by railroad tracks. Being on the edge of town, G Street is not the best street to close to create a dynamic and healthy restaurant zone or pedestrian street. As California opens up, street closures and sacrificed parking spots do not inspire people to shop, buy gifts, get a hair cut, pickup print jobs, drop off their large bass guitar and attend meetings in real life.  People need G Street open for business and also for vehicular flow in and out of the Richards Blvd tunnel.

Additionally, emergency vehicle access is impeded by the barricades.

I’d like to see the City “Share the Love, and the Pain” with the rest of the downtown corridor. Please re-open G Street and find another downtown city block to experiment with.

As the oldest locally owned business on G Street, The Artery is a haven for students and residents alike, a vortex of craft and creativity, dynamic space that changes monthly thanks to the efforts of the remarkable artists in Davis.  This is not the Davis we have been part of for 45 years.

BTW:  is anyone looking down at the ground? G Street is in terrible need of repaving but the outdoor seating and haphazard assortment of tents, tables and barricades conceals it. Has the 200 block of G Street been skipped over? When will it be repaved?


Jeremy Taylor

I respectfully disagree. It's awesome to have people able to walk freely without concern of cars going by. In fact, I wish they'd shut down more of downtown to foot traffic only. Business would go up.

Ron O

I hate street closures and the commandeering of parking spaces for (selected) private businesses.

This also impacts traffic and parking on surrounding streets, and creates an unfair advantage for restaurants located on the closed streets and in front of the commandeered parking spaces.

I knew that once cities started closing off streets and parking spaces due to the pandemic, cities would be reluctant to return that space to the public at large. It was entirely predictable.

In the long run, businesses must provide space for their own customers, and stop demanding that it be taken from the public realm. And cities need to consider the community as a whole, not just selected interests.


Thank you for expressing your thoughts so well. I agree that the ham-fisted way this was implemented (with seemingly no improvements along the way) is ugly and frustrating and confusing and certainly uninviting to everybody.

Perhaps this is not an open vs. closed situation. When we think in those terms for a street (open means cars, closed means no cars) we lose ALL nuance and any chance to consider a middle-ground. The street wasn't closed, but BOY was it barricaded in an ugly, uninviting way as you point out. What if instead it was opened up in an inviting way that put people first, and still filtered out the constant barrage of car traffic? What if it were PLANNED to be inviting to shoppers... instead of whatever it is now?

I don't think that putting it back to how it was is the answer to all (or even most) of our problems. Just like keeping it in this ugly, inappropriate CLOSED state is not answering our problems. With some thought, perhaps we can make it BETTER than it was before, and certainly better than it is now. I am in fully support of that endeavor. I am *not* in support of simply returning it to a car-dominated area like the rest of the city remains.

Colin Walsh

I appreciate hearing your perspective on G street. It changed my opinion on the street closure.
I had already noted how badly Davis set up street seating areas as compared to Woodland and Winters. Both Woodland and Winters put in much more attractive and inviting structures than Davis.

Donna Lemongello

There is always a competition between accommodating parking/driving vs. pedestrian and bike "friendliness". People who shop drive, there is no denying that, they want to carry their purchases only so far. Also there is no excuse for how uninviting and aesthetically unpleasant the closure has been done, as well as at the expense and detriment of the other businesses and the advantage of the restaurants. Addressing this issue more wholistically has to become part of a bigger plan, but for now G St, is just that, a STREET with sidewalks, and should be used as one.

Ron O

I would (again) point out that streets are primarily used by those "passing through".

And if you prohibit drivers from doing so, they will simply use other streets (even if they resent having to do so, along with the businesses and residences which experience an increased amount of traffic as a result).

These people (who are no doubt "the majority") are also part of the public interest that cities (should) be considering.

The same thing applies regarding parking spaces, if eliminated so that some restaurant can commandeer them. Those who park in them are not necessarily patronizing the business that's right in front of those parking spaces. (In fact, I suspect that this rarely occurs.) So in that case, drivers will simply park on some other nearby street, thereby impacting those businesses and residences.

Bottom line is that businesses and residences don't own the public spaces in front of them. If they did, I suspect that every residence and business throughout the state would request closure of "their" streets and parking spaces, except for their own use (as they deem fit).

Todd Edelman

"STREET"s were mostly pedestrian-priority spaces from the time of their organic creation thousands of years ago until roughly 100 years ago, with the occasional horse drawn mechanism, and later streetcars (fast, with lots of mass, but in a fixed place on wider streets). Clearly this included G St, for a time. Sidewalks were originally a place to stay out of the muck and horsesh*t, only later the side ghettos for flesh and blood creatures. This history not taught in the City of Davis Auto Mall.

The Real Reason Jaywalking Is A Crime (8.3 million views):

G Street, - not G Car-street + sidewalk - is certainly a mess. Perhaps the eateries are too busy to notice, possibly one public toilet planned well before 2020 is not enough, likely some Staff are as negligent with this as they are with other things... do people on Council visit?, and it suffers from only being commercial, i.e. with not a lot of residences nearby. In short the Downtown's current foundation as a grid of public streets mostly commandeered by heavy, private vehicles is not ideal for a spontaneous or intermittent transformation. Structures that could be removed part of the time to facilitate car-access-by-a-very-short-walk will never look as good as something permanent. If there's a problem with walking further to a business on G St... similar to Target, Nugget... how 'bout we use some tech solution, like robot shopping carts? (Already patented..) I would be happy to use it with a big cargo bike that I would park outside of the ped zone!


Thank you, Adele, for posting your concerns. As you stated, *Retail* businesses are economically suffering from the street closure. Come on City of Davis, open up the street to allow cars to park. Reimagine the street for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars, when there is a plan (such as the Imagine Russell Road campaign currently underway). It is foolish to continue to hurt retail businesses on G street who outnumber the restaurants on G.

The City of Davis should be transparent about why the street is still closed.

Alan Miller

You had me at "an unsupervised, unkempt bacchanal". I stayed for "G Street looks like a third-world country or a crime scene." With the cherry on top of "vile human excrement" in the morning!

I was prepared to pan this piece, due to my long-time hope for a ped/bike mall in downtown. Instead I came away convinced. The worst way to plan something is from the ashes of a crisis. G Street closing served a purpose. It has also had some serious issues with excess partying and filth, and it really does look like sh*t about now. Let's open up G Street, and get serious about an attractive and sensical pedestrian mall space in downtown. G Street isn't it.

Marty Reynolds

It’s about time! Downtown Davis has become an absolute embarrassment and needs to be dealt with ASAP. As a resident of Davis since ‘73 (work in Sac), I have never taken for granted the gushing comments from out-of-town friends and colleagues complimenting our downtown—but no more. I now commonly hear disparaging remarks asking “what has happened to your downtown?” I even had a former Davisite friend and DHS grad return after 10+ years recently remark “when did Davis go ghetto?’ I laughed but really wanted to cry. I’m sure I’m not alone, but we rarely choose Davis anymore for our date nights, instead traveling to Winters to enjoy a far more charming dining experience. Who would ever had thought Davis downtown would be dueling for 2nd place in Yolo Co (although we may already lost 3rd place to Woodland). The other issues are parking and traffic. Not sure how many parking spaces have been lost with the G street closure but it must be many because I can’t find parking anymore. On top of that, the increased traffic is the final nail that keeps me from coming downtown—anyone ever go down on a Fri or Sat? Its time to move beyond the knee-jerk COVID concessions given to a few select businesses and revive our downtown. Davis is better that this—open G Street and lets bring the downtown back!!!

Larry Guenther

Tragically, this type of change in street use/traffic patterns got very little discussion during the existence of the Downtown Plan Committee. The difference between G St. in Davis and Main St. in Winters is an example of *precisely* what the people of Opticos (the lead consultant) tried to emphasize: place making. That part of the discussion kept getting derailed by, "sticking to the timeline" (though the timeline seems to now be fairly elastic). Note that the block of Main 'closed off' in Winters is done with removable bollards. They can be removed during the day and replaced at night. It takes, literally, one minute. Additionally - an artifact of our binary culture? - Europe has no problem with streets dominated by pedestrians still being open to cars. Not only is the execution of the G St. closure horrific, it's also not part of a larger plan - EVEN THOUGH WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A DOWNTOWN PLAN UPDATE!! Sorry if my frustration got away from me.

Fay G.

I completely agree with Adele and other's well expressed objections to the G Street closure. They certainly underline how detrimental the condition of G Street is to the businesses on G, other than restaurants. The Pandemic was hard enough on every Davis business, so now is the time to get local businesses back on their feet. There should be a variety of stores, shops, eating places in clean attractive settings. We should want to attract people, not send them away, perhaps to another city or mall. Diversity for our downtown should be the goal. If only restaurants can afford to stay in downtown Davis, the extreme result would be a downtown that resembles a food court!

Alan Miller

“when did Davis go ghetto?" -- when the 10:30pm to 1:45am Thu-Sat nightclub scene started, that ended in Ket Mo Murderee. The hung on a few more years, but good riddance to that place!

Ron O

This well-written article, along with the respectful tone of the comments (which are not particularly "political" in nature) is a perfect example of the type of community concern that is well-suited for the Davisite.

The same thing applies regarding the articles and comments related to the removal of trees (to be replaced by solar panels) in Sutter's parking lot.

Rosalie Paine

I am a former Downtown business owner and a long time Davis Downtown shopper. The condition of G Street is a public health concern and I'm surprised the DDBA hasn't taken this up with the city.

L. Zephyr

This, quite simply is not a good idea. As a pedestrian it is similar to navigating a gauntlet to get pass the throngs of people out in the street. It is dirty and blocks all of the retail store fronts. This was implemented due to the pandemic. There are numerous restaurants that do not have outside eating and they seem to have accommodated the protocols for safe indoor eating quite well.
And why G Street? Are we to consider this model for all of downtown Davis? Will the thousands of out of town shoppers and visitors leave their vehicles two miles away and walk in 100+ degree heat to visit all of the stores? I'm 72 years old, and I can tell you that I wouldn't. So while I am totally opposed to this current 'model', I suggest that there are other avenues the city might explore. One thought is to have the restaurants operate outside ONLY after 6:00 p.m. This is impacting a great many people who operate businesses as well as the restaurants. One must be fair to all residents, not just a few.

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