By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – As I wrote earlier this year, the city ought to consider making the closure of G Street between Second and Third permanent and create a permanent outdoor pavilion and eating area. Clearly not everyone agrees with that view—which is the great thing about democracy.
I read this letter in the local paper: “The closing of G St. between Second and Third is a major eyesore in Davis. I understand the need for outdoor eating space was necessary during, last year but this area looks like a major accident just occurred. The retail stores are hard to get to and one of the most visually attractive stores, The Artery, is hard to see, let alone visit. G Street looks unkempt. What are you trying to accomplish by closing off a major road?
“Please open it again so we can stroll, shop and enjoy G Street.”
The writer acknowledges the obvious—that by creating the outdoor eating space it was a lifeline to businesses that otherwise did not have outside eating capacity. For long periods of time, that was the only place that people could go safely and have a semi-normal eating experience.
Indoor dining is back open, but, as someone who works on that block, I can tell you that the outdoor eating is filled most days. You see people outside on the street in that area all of the time—and people are around and able to safely congregate in a public outdoor space.
The writer acts like things have returned to normal, but that’s simply not true. Some people are clearly comfortable eating indoors now, but with the Delta variant, the area around G Street in the outdoor area there as well as the tent along 3rd Street by Temple coffee both continue to be quite popular.
The stores are hard to get to? It doesn’t impact the ability for people to get to the stores. If she is referring to the inability to park along G Street, it was hard to find parking on G Street during peak hours before, and there is the parking lot where Ace used to be that normally has a number of spaces.
Occasionally one might have to park a block away and walk, but if that is what she is talking about, that hardly represents hard to get to.
Even now I suspect G Street would be very dead were it not for the outdoor eating. This has definitely been a huge boon to the city. And with the climate as it has been—lack of rain, warm most of the year, the outdoor area is probably accessible and comfortable nine months out of the year, with a few exceptions when the smoke was really bad.
G Street looks unkempt?
I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. From my perspective the businesses have gone out of their way to make the area nice, adding tents for sun cover, greenery, TVs, and lighting.
The whole area is quite clean.
I would, in fact, argue the opposite. The way G Street was before was unkempt. Homeless people and debris next to the parking lot. Homeless people and their belongings in the doorways of closed-off businesses.
Probably a number of factors have reduced those problems, but it is actually a lot nicer now than it was two years ago when G Street really was an eyesore.
She asks, why we are closing off a major road?
G Street was never a major road. In fact, I would argue that it was ill-suited as arterial. One of the major problems is that it narrowed at the parking garage, which created all sorts of traffic problems. There were always vehicles backing out of parking spots. At midday the delivery trucks would partially block the street.
F Street is much better suited for arterial traffic than G Street ever was. I go down there every day and actually don’t miss being able to drive down G Street.
The city does have some decisions to make about the permanent arrangement here. When I spoke to the city a few months ago, they had not decided. The city manager indicated that it was something they had never contemplated.
The businesses along there that I have spoken to like it, not just the eateries that are directly benefiting, but many of the other businesses feel they get more foot traffic because of it.
If the city is going to do it permanently, they do have options for a more permanent structure which might better suit the letter writer. I know they still have not passed the downtown plan and this occurrence may change the way they look at the downtown. But even in the plan that was largely completed pre-pandemic, the city was looking at more public spaces—this would fit perfectly into the concept.
Parking might be an issue, as I think I estimated about 50 or so spaces would be consumed by this. The city might have opportunities to recoup that by restructuring the parking space across the street. During the pandemic that has not been an issue, but with the students back, the downtown streets are looking much more normal than they did last year at this time.
All of these are issues to decide in the future, but I think, from my perspective, this has been a big plus.