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?