City Requests Community Input on Its Slow Streets Program

City Requests Community Input on Its Slow Streets Program

Sun Staff Reports

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city blocked 4.7 miles of “Slow Streets” to through automobile traffic. This has facilitated physical distancing and provided space for physical activity. To help the city decide what’s next for the Slow Streets program, the city invites the public to provide feedback at four virtual open houses this month and to take an online survey, available through Sunday, Aug. 29.

The survey, event details, and more information about the program are posted at www. SlowStreetsAlameda.org. The city has scheduled the four Slow Streets virtual open houses for: today, Thursday, Aug. 12, noon to 1 p.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 17, 6 to 7 p.m. and Monday, Aug. 30, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Beginning April 2020, the city designed and implemented many efforts to support the safety and health of our community throughout the pandemic. The Slow Streets program implemented soft closures of select Alameda streets by placing barricades along the streets to limit through automobile traffic.

This created more places for the community to safely walk, run, bike, scooter, roll and gather. From April to June 2020, the city implemented Slow Streets on segments of five streets: Pacific Avenue from Ninth to Oak; San Jose Avenue from Morton to Oak; Morton Street from San Jose to San Antonio; Santa Clara Avenue from Pacific to Sixth and Versailles Avenue from Fernside to Otis. This June, the city added a sixth Slow Street on Orion Street from West Midway to Pearl Harbor.

The City Council approved the Slow Streets program through the end of October 2021. City staff are now comprehensively evaluating the impacts these changes have had and developing recommendations for what comes next. The city’s Transportation Commission will hear staff’s recommendations and make their recommendation to the City Council at their Sept. 22 meeting. The City Council will consider the item in October.

Next steps for the Commercial Streets program: After conducting a similar survey and outreach events for the Commercial Streets program, city staff’s recommendations were taken to the Transportation Commission and were unanimously supported at their July 28 meeting. The full recommendations, which can be found on the Commercial Streets web page, will be taken to the City Council on Sept. 21. They include:

1. Maintain the existing striping on Park Street and Webster Street for at least the next two years.

2. Revise the temporary parklet program to allow for semi-permanent parklets that meet a higher safety and aesthetic standard.

3. Return to parking regulations that were in effect before 2020, while also adding some short-term parking, loading zones and disabled parking in select areas.

4. Maintain the half-block closure of Alameda Avenue between Park and Oak streets until the street is repaved (anticipated for 2023) or until the Downtown Alameda Business Association (DABA) no longer wishes to manage the space, whichever occurs first.

5. Allow the existing citywide conditional use permit for outdoor dining and commercial activities in private parking lots to expire on Nov. 1, 2021. Individual businesses that wish to continue to use their lots for commercial uses may apply for a site-specific permanent use permit.