Main street is getting slimmer so that businesses can hopefully fatten their wallets.
City Hall has approved a plan to remove the center and parking lanes from the street and use the available space to expand retail and dining.
Starting next week, workers will grind out the existing lane markings and repaint the street to include one traffic lane in each direction with a corresponding bike lane. Concrete barriers will be installed along the edge of the current bike lane and the area between the barriers and existing sidewalk will be available for business use.
The approximately 13 feet of usable space will encourage outdoor dining and retail options that will allow businesses to make up for the coronavirus imposed restrictions on indoor spaces.
County health rules restrict the number of people that can be inside a store at any given time. The outdoor experiment on Main Street is an attempt to keep local businesses profitable. While the change isn’t considered permanent, it’s not a short term project either.
“This is focused on the situation we’re in and it’s driven by the requests from the neighborhood association and the businesses,” said Francie Stefan, Santa Monica’s Chief Mobility Officer. “We’re being responsive to the urgent need to create recovery for businesses. We will monitor it, see how it goes, make some adjustments over time and we will also see how well the street functions and if people think it’s a better way, we’re open to future talks.”
While parking will be removed from the street, some delivery spaces will be available for businesses that need them. The repainted area will run from Hollister to city limits. There will be some changes to the streetscape north of the new zone where appropriate.
“North of Hollister there are a few areas where businesses expressed interest,” said Stephan. “We’re not going to move the bike lanes, but we are putting in (barriers) in some places but it will be more sporadic and instead of providing the 13 feet that is south of Hollister, it’s just taking the parking lane.”
The repainting will begin next week and the entire project is expected to be complete by July 9.