Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Jack Simon
Observer Staff Writer 

'Main Street is a perfect backdrop for summer block party to support local businesses,' says Santa Monica Mayor

Main Street Closure Begins Next Weekend July 24-25. Some merchants and residents are skeptical

 

Mary Leipziger

Women dining outside at a restaurant on Santa Monica's Main Street.

A pilot program calling for the closure of a portion of Main Street during summer weekends will begin next weekend, July 24-25, city officials announced today.

The "Sharing an Open Main Street" program – called by many area residents a "hare-brained scheme" that will negatively impact their neighborhoods – will continue on the weekends of August 21-22, September 18-19 and October 16-17, the city also said. 

During these "Open Main" weekends, two blocks between Hill and Kinney streets will be closed to traffic and become a "pedestrian plaza where the Santa Monica community can safely enjoy al fresco dining, family-friendly activities, and other fun experiences with local businesses," said city officials in a press release.

The Main Street program was requested four months ago by the Main Street Business Improvement Association and Ocean Park Association as part of the city's economic recovery efforts. In May, the Council voted unanimously to direct staff to draft a street closure plan as well as assess the traffic impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. 

"This is a pilot that builds on the creative ways we've adapted our sidewalks and public spaces during the pandemic," said Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich. "Now that we can safely gather again, Main Street is a perfect backdrop for a summer block party in support of the small, local businesses that kept us going throughout the last year. I hope to see many familiar faces out on Main Street!"

"For years, merchants and residents have wanted to explore the possibility of making Main Street more pedestrian and cyclist friendly. This is our opportunity and we're very excited to be a part of it," said Hunter Hall, Executive Director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association.

However, many residents complained the pilot program will only benefit the bars and restaurants on Main and will "greatly increase traffic, pollution, congestion and noise" in their neighborhoods. 

"A handful of bars and restaurants on Main Street are pushing a hare-brained scheme to close the street to vehicular traffic on weekends so they can expand their seating areas into the entire roadway," said resident Karen Blechman. 

Vehicle traffic will be detoured from Main Street to Neilson Way, city officials said. The traffic light at Main Street and Ashland Avenue will remain operational to support pass-through traffic to and from the public parking lots. Here's the detour and parking map:

During the four weekends, bus stops within the "pedestrian plaza" will be temporarily closed.

Mary Leipziger

Map of Main Street Closures

Big Blue Bus riders will temporarily be served from the following three stops: westbound Marine Street near side Neilson Way; eastbound Marine Street near side Main Street; and southbound Main Street near side Ocean Park Boulevard. 

Bicyclists and scooter users will have to dismount within the temporary plaza. Parking is available in the public lots west of Main Street and, after 8 p.m. on the west side of Neilson Way.

"Sharing an Open Main Street is an exciting way for the Ocean Park community to celebrate coming out of COVID-19 and is a tremendous opportunity for us to collectively test out a more pedestrian friendly Main Street," said Sean Besser, Ocean Park Association Executive Board Member.  

 

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