Is this one block on G St. the best choice?
January 16, 2023
Is the one block on G St. the only area in downtown Davis suitable for a community gathering spot? Don’t we have the accessible E St. plaza that was converted from parking spaces to a community gathering area, complete with staging for entertainment and communal activities, that would better serve the downtown and the public? Public funds were used to make this happen in 2000. Did I see an announcement a year or so ago, either from The Davis Enterprise or from the Davis downtown business association, of plans for a remake of E St. plaza at considerable cost paid for with federal funds? Wouldn’t that project and space make better sense, financially and economically, for redevelopment by the city with the very same goals in mind for making a safe and comfortable gathering spot for the community in downtown Davis?
Another possible area for the city of Davis to consider in their quest to develop community friendly space is to enhance an area of Central Park with user friendly spaces that would promote community. Wait! There’s already something there: Davisphere! “What is The Davisphere? It is a vibrant, eclectic & electric communal atmosphere where there is entertainment for all ages. The idea was based on the simple premise that positive energy builds when people get together and enjoy themselves. The Davisphere symbolizes community encompassment, vibrancy, the Earth we share, and a place of belonging.” It’s located right here in downtown Davis thanks to the efforts of DDBA.
What about having the city work alongside the property owners of Davis Commons on 1st and Richards Blvd. to create the kind of open air community space the city is striving for? The one-acre, semicircular park bordering the businesses located in the heart of downtown Davis could be a spectacular gathering spot. This could happen without hampering local business with undemocratically government enforced street closures.
I’m thankful to Davis for providing the 63 miles of bike paths and 102 miles of bike lanes throughout the entire city so that cyclists are able to navigate our town safely. Do we really need to take one more block for bicycles if it means damaging local businesses to the point of endangering the entire downtown? The time and expense it takes to operate a business is huge and when it all goes south the independent owner is devastated! Are you aware of how many businesses have closed in the last 2 ½ years in downtown Davis? At last count there were multiple dozens! How many more before the lights go out in downtown Davis?
Reopen G St. and look for a better alternative that make sense.
I totally-agree with this article, but I think she falls into a "manufactured trap" in regard to this comment:
"Do we really need to take one more block for bicycles if it means damaging local businesses to the point of endangering the entire downtown?"
Bicycles were already allowed on that block, before the street was closed to other forms of traffic.
This isn't about bicycling at all. I have yet to see anyone claim that they're "suddenly" biking to (or on) that one block, and weren't doing so before the street was closed to other forms of traffic.
Closing off one block to traffic does not create a "bicycle route". Especially when the "free-up" public space is taken-over by restaurants.
Posted by: Ron O | January 16, 2023 at 10:01 AM
"...damaging local businesses to the point of endangering the entire downtown" What nonsense.
Posted by: Crilly Butler | January 16, 2023 at 10:09 AM
Why no last name Diana? Do you have business interests on that block of G street??? I am appalled at the efforts to reopen the block between 2nd and 3rd ion G street. It was and is an excellent place for people to be able to eat outdoors for the vast majority of the year during Covid, and many did. That whoever was responsible for not cleaning up, and I think this is exaggerated, did not do so, can and should be rectified, but it is minor point in the greater scheme of things.
And, by the way Covid is far from over despite the neglect of it in the press, but one only needs to read the SF Chron (not to mention the NYT) to know that the XBB 1.5 variant is spreading like wildfire. But even if Covid had disappeared, which it won’t any time soon, the case for keeping the street closed is overwhelming. To begin with, for some peculiar reason, there are few places to eat outside in Davis despite the favorable weather. And shouldn’t our environmental goal be to reduce traffic in the town center?
That is what is happening (and has been for decades now) in many European major and even small cities and towns, and most almost all studies show that pedestrianization boosts sales of a formerly trafficated street. And, I have observed this in various, even numerous European countries that I have been to over the years. And no, usually there are not fights in Europe about pedestrianizing a street unlike stodgy old Davis stuffed, apparently, with business Democrats.
Posted by: Dan Cornford | January 16, 2023 at 10:11 AM
Appalled as you are, there's still reason for manners.
I disagree with you about the workings of European cities - Look at the demographics, size of the cities, and locations of ped streets: most are in city centers, not the outlying edge - and most will allow traffic in until a certain hour. Delivery is a necessity for businesses.
I agree with what Diana, and the photo is spot on. E Street Plaza is the perfect location for a pedestrian mall/park. The history of G street is for vehicular transportation around the outer edge of the city center.
Posted by: Adele | January 16, 2023 at 11:57 AM
I agree, singling out 1 street and letting some businesses use a large amount of what is public space for their own use is unfair, and then jeapordizes other businesses in that area, while taking away parking.
Posted by: Donna Lemongello@ucdavis.edu | January 16, 2023 at 12:08 PM
I agree with your comment about manners, Adele. No one should have their ideas called "nonsense" (and that's it -- no explanation) or be called a "business Democrat" simply for expressing their views about which areas of Davis might do best as a pedestrian focused area. And no need to wonder in light of comments like those why someone wouldn't use their last name. Can we all take a deep breath, please? Those were borderline comments for our no-personal-attacks policy. I decided to let them through, but let this be a reminder that we should stick to the issues.
And let's all recall that it is certain businesses who have been pushing to keep the streets closed to cars. I don't think either "side" is more or less business-oriented. Personally, I wish we could take the time to come to a solution that most businesses and customers and people just hanging out could be happy with or at least live with. Instead we seem to be headed for the latest in the series of ill-studied decisions by the Council. Why don't we have a proper study of different options, how they affect the local businesses, how they affect traffic, how likely to be well-used by pedestrians and cyclists?
Posted by: Roberta L. Millstein | January 16, 2023 at 01:21 PM
I agree regarding "manners", Roberta and Adele.
For a minute, I thought I was reading the Vanguard. :-)
I try to behave differently myself, on here.
And truth be told, I don't think this one issue is "extremely important" in the first place - other than perhaps for some of the businesses impacted.
But it was entirely predictable that some would attempt to make a pandemic-era measure "permanent". I could see that coming from a mile (or several miles) away. :-)
Posted by: Ron O | January 16, 2023 at 01:34 PM
While I really like having G st. Closed to traffic because it’s nice to eat and drink outside and not have cars driving all around, I do wonder if G St is the best street to close off? I would be open to the city council having a robust discussion on closing streets off. Pros and cons. Personally I love the idea of getting cars out of downtown in the evening. It feels unsafe driving, walking and biking down there. But certainly this perspective would discriminate against groups like the those with disabilities and possibly shops that rely on drivers from Uber Eats to deliver food. I think if I was encouraged to walk downtown as opposed to driving I would go into shops and spend more money. So I don’t see the opinion of parking availability leading to more shoppers for shoes and art work as totally accurate. But there should be more discussion and hopefully the city council (that always votes together as a single opinion it seems) can find it in themselves to dive into differing points of view and give this topic its deserved due time.
Posted by: Nikki | January 16, 2023 at 01:53 PM
Good points, Roberta.
Some history for people: Many of us affected by the City’s over-night decision to close the street have been ready to compromise since the City’s planned reopening in 8/2021. It’s been a long road of attempted compromise and conversations. But lack of response from the city, and lack of transparent progress made us pull back to a conservative opinion because, as we can all see, there are many opinions. All the solutions we’ve offered have been ignored except minor aesthetic ones. Our message to try to work together was left on the table, so we pulled back.
I think I can speak for many who experience the negative effects of the pandemic band-aid Street closure first hand and say we’d be happy to engage in a compromising solution IF the street is opened up for vehicles UNTIL that solution is found.
Everyone wants to be part of the next big thing but we’re pissed at the hostile take over. That really stings when we’ve tried so hard to communicate respectfully and offer compromise.
Having the street’s fate decided in by two City Council members who have articulated being fond of the complete closure while the business district has no Council member to represent them is a sham.
Open the street to pre-pandemic status. Form a council on the matter which includes valid commissions like the Planning Commission, G St businesses involved and interested parties. Come up with a plan, a budget and an implementation calendar. Do this fairly. Democratically.
Or utilize E Street plaza, or Davis Commons which are really ready for these ideas at little cost to renovate.
Posted by: Adele | January 16, 2023 at 02:05 PM
Delivery drivers for e.g. Target and Walmart often have to park quite a distance from the store entrance if they're doing a shop and deliver order.... and the back of the store where the expensive eggs are kept is like the distance from 3rd St to 2nd St. As far as others go, who is complaining that it's too far to walk to back of e.g. Nugget from halfway across the parking lot?
Davis Commons is not a public space so shouldn't be part of the discussion. It was great when part of the (opinion: ugly, undemocratic) E St parking lot was closed to allow a few parking benches. The permanent rest of the space is just a patio, certainly not a plaza by any popular definition. With more parking removed this space could be better activated -democratic way in a "double-democratic" way - meaning people deciding democratically to open up the space to use by all, NOT only for people to store their vehicles for cheap in public space. It should be open without furniture that can't be moved in a second for music, or spontaneous children's demonstrations when they encourage us to look into our souls more often, etc.
But a linear carfree street with businesses on either sides is a different kind of place. Its size is more intimate, the buildings provide some cover from the sun (and wind), and everything's very close in several directions. The best European cities, in my opinion, have both a carfree central square and one or more carfree streets. Again, the uses are not the same. The carfree streets are generally attached to the square, and motor vehicles cannot normally cross any of it. G St is close to the train station and it's little problem to take H or F by car if necessary. It's also been established for a couple of years - that counts for a lot. Arguing that every "closure" only benefits certain businesses is not an argument for a solution in only e.g. E St plaza-parking lot, it's one for a large, completely carfree area, composed of venues for the mind and wallet, the heart and banker, in both streets and squares. Places like this do really, really well if allowed to flourish.
Didn't Downtown do pretty well before much of it was bulldozed 60 years ago? Did cars always exist? Did car parking always exist?
Posted by: Tuvia ben Avraham Aharon ve Sima Rivka | January 16, 2023 at 03:40 PM
I have pointed out in other similar threads that G Street is not closed, and has not been closed. G Street is Car-Free. And it now being used for far more purposes and by more *people* than when it was NOT car-free.
And as a good friend has pointed out... cars don't shop, people do.
Posted by: Darell | January 16, 2023 at 05:59 PM
Bicycles don't shop, either. Though there are bicycle shops around there.
And the street has never been closed to bicycles, though I suspect it would be more difficult to traverse via bicycle if it became busier with pedestrians.
But actually, has shopping "increased" at all?
Posted by: Ron O | January 16, 2023 at 06:22 PM
@ Ron: Actually for a time there were indeed "walk your bike" signs posted at both ends. Back when there were also huge "ROAD CLOSED" signs that made it Oh So inviting. Ug. I have pictures if you need them.
So yeah. It wasn't "closed" to bicycles, but for a bit there we weren't supposed to ride them.
Of course none of this has relevance to calling the street car-free (or inappropriately called "open" or "closed." And I'm not sure who's said that bicycles shop?? The only contention that I've heard is that without cars, nobody can shop!
Posted by: darell | January 16, 2023 at 09:15 PM
"Especially when the "free-up" public space is taken-over by restaurants."
I find it funny that many in the bicycling community would always cry that public parking spaces cost so much and are a giveaway to car owners and then turn around and want to give up those spaces for free to restaurant owners.
Posted by: Keith | January 17, 2023 at 07:55 AM
I would agree with Darrell that closing-off one street to traffic and parking (probably) isn't going to make much difference in regard to those visiting downtown. The reason being that it's still easy-enough at this point to simply park somewhere else.
But let's not pretend that this is about "getting rid of cars", or creating a "bicycle utopia" on that one block (as Darrell himself noted).
It is about a takeover of public space by select private businesses (at least, one particular "type" of business). It's also a disruption to traffic flow (as a result of redirecting traffic and parking to surrounding streets).
Likely not resulting in increased sales (overall), downtown.
I do realize that some people like eating in ramshackle wooden structures in oil-stained parking spaces in 100 degree (or 40 degree) weather, but I'm not one of them. I do find it irritating when I mistakenly try to pass through a public street (in a vehicle, or even as a pedestrian) only to find it essentially blocked off. (Again, this also occurs with businesses essentially taking-over sidewalks.)
It was entirely predictable that some would seize-upon a pandemic measure to try to make it permanent. (As predictable as a "100% Housing DISC" proposal.)
Posted by: Ron O | January 17, 2023 at 09:39 AM
I believe comments made by one commissioner about catering to the restaurants is causing a misunderstanding of what most advocates of a pedestrian area are getting at. At this point me and other advocates for a pedestrian space aren't interested in serving the restaurants with private outdoor patios. That was the initial intention two and a half years ago during the worst of the pandemic shutdowns. That purpose has been served and is no longer of interest. Advocates for the pedestrian space generally want a completely public space where anyone can hang out leisurely with or without food. Or they can bring food from outside of G street and utilize the space. I'm not in favor of giving special treatment to G street restaurants or granting them private patios. If anyone is saying that they are going to pollute the message. The message should be about open spaces, bicycle friendly community, an opportunity to increase our tree canopy and start in our journey to reduce driving downtown considering climate change.
Posted by: Aaron Wedta | January 17, 2023 at 04:33 PM
Aaron, that Woodstock's poll that was posted to NextDoor a few days ago very clearly shows a private dining area specifically for Woodstock's. It will be interesting to see what they do with the responses that they received, but that poll was not at all clear what people would be saying that they wanted. But clearly, for Woodstock's, keeping the street closed to cars means they get a pretty private dining patio. Would they pay for that space to the city?
(I don't want to link to the poll because it was highly biased and I don't want to give it any more air time than it has already received).
Posted by: Roberta L. Millstein | January 17, 2023 at 04:44 PM
Yeah that Woodstock's Poll was a load of crap. You can't call a survey that you post on your own instagram remotely 'scientific' or 'representative'. That is the very definition of a biased poll. The owners should be ashamed of themselves trying to pass off their "90% positive response" as anything but representative of their own customers who like all the City space they have been given to party in, especially in a town with college-level statistics courses where they teach (or at least did 40 years ago) statistical polling ethics & science. On the ethics of the Woodstocks Poll: FAIL.
I am for a large part of downtown becoming a pedestrian-friendly mall. In the center, allowing for vehicle circulation around the outside with nothing more than one-block from an auto street. That would be good planning. As well, G Street is not very flat and is not conducive to a good plaza space -- at least not without spending a lot of money to get it there. The reality is, G Street remaining blocked to auto traffic is likely going to semi-permanently prevent progress towards a much larger and more sensical center-city pedestrian mall and bicycle-friendly path through downtown. The advocates in their blindness are going to create what none of them want -- the continuation of auto-culture in 95% of downtown Davis -- all for one block of shallow victory now.
The arguments presented on safety and climate were laughable. 3-year-old won't get run over by a car? But is your 3-year-old and you only going to hang out at G Street Pedestrian Pizza? I'm sorry, I meant Plaza, or did I ? :-| What about the other nearly three-dozen intersections in downtown with automobiles? Will you and your three-year-old tesser into G Street Ped Plaz ? -- or will this three-year-old be run over by a car on the way through the rest of auto-town? Probably, as poorly designed as the 'bulb outs' are.
And the statements that G Street was going to help with Climate Change -- Excuse me people, have we -- no YOU -- freaking lost our -- no YOUR -- minds ??? Y'know what *really* matters to Climate Change? Convincing India and China to stop their massive expansion of burning coal (including coal that the US exports to them). That's what. The fact is, without a traffic circulation study, it is possible that cars are having to circulate more around the outside of G Street Pedestrian Pizza, to find fewer parking spaces further away, and use MORE GASOLINE and the associated MORE EMISSIONS. Or not, but don't tell me this is about climate change -- it's about the best place for a better, more pedestrian friendly downtown.
And did you hear what Will Arnold said about G Street between 4th and 3rd -- add diagonal parking to get more parking spaces! How's that "G Street Plazapizza will save the world" advocates? G Street 3rd to 4th is already pretty unfriendly to bicycles, no lane or nothing. So that block will now have narrower lanes and cars backing out of diagonal spaces. Great job "bike advocates".
I would consider this an improvement if it was balanced by one improvement for ALL diagonal spaces in Davis: BACK IN diagonal parking. When you do this, drivers are on the same side as parallel-direction bicycles and can see bicyclists before they pull out (it isn't about if you back up first or last, it's about car orientation).
People -- the law of -- say it with me -- 'unintended consequences'. Unintended, maybe, but not unpredictable.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | January 17, 2023 at 11:15 PM
SUBJECT: “Council Commits To Car-Free G St; Permanent Features” [Today's Mavis Blanguard]
David Greenwald January 18, 2023 at 12:39 pm
Seems like a lot of speculation without much evidence to back it up.
Sounds condescending, without much evidence to support the condescension :-|
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | January 18, 2023 at 12:47 PM
Posted by: Ron O | January 18, 2023 at 07:10 PM
I agree that there are arguably better choices than G St for car-free spaces (3rd St as bike corridor would be great as someone here posted). However, given that "The city should create a better car-free space somewhere else" wasn't one of the options the council was considering, keeping G St car-free and improving it is the best outcome that was considered.
Davis largely doesn't expect private vehicle owners to pay to occupy the public domain (most public parking downtown is free for at least a few hours). So I don't think it's outrageous to allow private businesses to do the same. Charging a fee for restaurant's use of the space would be defensible—but then again so would charging for car parking.
Posted by: David W | January 18, 2023 at 08:50 PM
David W: The "difference" is that parking spaces are open to anyone with a vehicle (including passengers in those vehicles), while dedicated restaurant spaces are only available to particular restaurants (and their patrons).
Allowing select businesses to occupy public space is a subsidy for those select businesses. It's a privatization of public space for select businesses, pure and simple.
A valid comparison would be if the city only allowed "some" private vehicles to park on a given street.
Now, if they allowed anyone to use the infrastructure, that would be somewhat different. But if those businesses ban anyone else from using that infrastructure (or simply overwhelm the infrastructure with their own customers), it has the same effect.
Banning vehicles entirely from a street is a subsidy for those businesses at the expense of an even broader range of travelers, compared to those who are only banned from parking.
People talk about vehicles as if there aren't people inside of them, or as if they're never using them personally (directly, or indirectly).
Not sure if this impacts deliveries to any of those businesses, as well. Or if they then have to park on other streets to make their deliveries.
Give 'em an inch during the pandemic, and they'll take a mile. Entirely predictable, as is the response.
Shutting off 3rd Street to vehicles entirely would have an even larger impact on residents, businesses, deliveries, and those traveling-through. But at least it would be an "honest" benefit to bicyclists, unlike shutting down this single block.
Posted by: Ron O | January 18, 2023 at 09:36 PM
Roads and auto parking spaces were paid for by the taxpayers for a purpose. That purpose wasn't designed for restaurants to take over and serve pizza and beer.
Posted by: Keith | January 19, 2023 at 11:56 AM
KO, I have no problem with pedestrian malls -- I'd like to see this for Davis. But this was a pedestrian-mall-leftover-after-an-emergency-that-benefitted-a-few-businesses-and-hurt-other-businesses, or a PMLAAETBAFBAHOB. Down with PMLAAETBAFBAHOBs!
Main reason I wanted this studied for best location was for transportation for all modes -- auto, bike, ped, others -- for auto and circulation, and for COST. There was no mention Tuesday who was paying for this undefined improvement, or how much businesses were expected to contribute to the City for the benefits they will receive from the City. That these issues exist wasn't even touched on. That is outrageous!
But over 90% of people in a biased bogus survey by the main benefiting business want it, so that passes as evidence for the evidence-based crowd. Hallej-f*cking-lujah!
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | January 19, 2023 at 12:53 PM
The Enterprise noted that federal government "largesse" may be tapped to pay for the "improvements" (essentially benefiting select businesses).
"City staff will now return to the council with plans for improving the block, possibly using grant funds or American Rescue Plan funds already allocated by the council for downtown improvements."
So, the next time you encounter a public space essentially off-limits to anyone except customers, you can thank the federal government for that.
And you can thank the council for directing these funds for that purpose.
Posted by: Ron O | January 19, 2023 at 01:15 PM
Yay, because we wouldn't want to spend money on being able to have more resilient responses to storms/heatwaves or anything. Much better to shoot from the hip and throw money at this project without even first determining whether there are better locations for it (which there seem to be).
Posted by: Roberta L. Millstein | January 19, 2023 at 01:37 PM
Yay magic money! Free federal money!
And do you know who is paying for it -- all of us! It's call inflation mother f*ckers, and it is THE most regressive tax out there. And what does that mean? It mean it hurts low income people, dare I say it? -- dis-pro-por-tion-ally. Why progressives aren't fiscal conservatives I'll never know. What is the purpose of City/County & State government politicians? To find federal magic dollars for their jurisdiction, so they can bask in the applause.
And what is it for? Everybody sing: Pizza Plaza!!!
I hope the Artery sues the City. Yeah I said it.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | January 19, 2023 at 03:10 PM
"But over 90% of people in a biased bogus survey by the main benefiting business want it, so that passes as evidence for the evidence-based crowd. Hallej-f*cking-lujah!"
I wonder if a question about the popularity of Vanguard might have gotten a better response in that survey than it suffers in the city sponsored ones? LOL
Posted by: Keith | January 19, 2023 at 03:42 PM
KO, was the survey 'evidence-based' ? :-|
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | January 19, 2023 at 05:06 PM
"KO, was the survey 'evidence-based' ? :-|"
Or from some obscure left wing think tank where the questions were designed to support a predetermined outcome?
Posted by: Keith | January 20, 2023 at 05:29 AM