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Merchants Not Happy About Changing Main Street 'Pockets'

Returning the 500 block to two-way traffic is a priority for the council, the mayor says.

Some merchants on the 500 block of Main Street are not so sure they like the city’s idea of returning the block to two-way traffic, and changing the layout of a block they say is working just fine the way it is.

Last week, city engineer Tim Tucker sent downtown merchants a letter about proposed changes to the 500 block, which for the past 13 years has been a one-way street, with extruding brick “pockets” that allow outside dining and planter boxes. Parking is diagonal, and there are no meters, though there is a two-hour limit.

The block was an experiment in 1998 by a group of 35 volunteers, designed and engineered by Dick Duncan. The experiment, which cost slightly over $6,000, was intended to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment for Main Street. The hope was to extend the experiment to the remaining blocks, though that never happened.

At the time, 1998, stores on the 500 block were struggling. Now it is one of the most successful blocks on Main Street, and some merchants say that is largely the result of the pockets experiment.

But Tucker said that the City Council has made returning the 500 block to two-way traffic a high priority, and $200,000 in gas tax funds will be available in July to revamp the pockets, fix drainage problems, and return the street to two way traffic. That means reducing the size of the pockets, making less room for outdoor dining.

City Manager Phil Vince said Wednesday that there will be meetings with the property owners and merchants in September and October, and nothing will be decided before everyone has a chance to voice their views on how best to make the changes work.

“There surely must be more projects that need the city’s attention other than our block,” said Char West, owner of Char’s Flowers. “The expense is crazy in our eyes. They need to get us together and tell us what’s going on.”

One restaurant owner said she favored what she has heard from the city so far.

“The city’s been talking about doing this for years,” said Pat English, owner of Haute Stuff restaurant, who has taken advantage of the pockets to provide outdoor dining. “It sounds like they’re going to do a really good job. It sounds like a nice thing for the existing restaurants.”

But Luigi Daberdaku, owner of Luigi’s Deli, who also provides outdoor seating, said he believes the city should make all of Main Street into pockets.

“I wish they would make all of Main Street like this, and provide free two-hour parking,” he said. “They’re destroying the downtown, taking away our pockets.”

“I don’t see how a one-way street is a problem,” said Richard Stahlberg, of Stahlberg’s Photography one block over, and one of the volunteers of the pockets project. “I think (the project) was a great idea. If they have a nice design with outdoor seating, I’m all for it. I would like to see that happen all the way down Main Street.”

“Let’s use that $200,000 the City has earmarked for the 500 block of Main Street on something else that is needed,” said Anne Mobley of White Rabbit Boutique. “Why fix something that is not broken? Now is the time to do something different.  It worked on the 500 block and it can work all the way down to Court Street.  Our customers love it.”

“I don’t get it,” said Suzy Northrop of Main Street Quilts. “The city just makes a decision without asking anybody. Our block has full occupancy. It has a great feeling. It should be a model for the rest of the street. The city should just fix the drainage and leave us alone.”

“Improving Main Street is a high priority for this council,” said mayor Rob Schroder. “The consensus is, the council doesn’t like one way streets. Making the 500 block two way will improve traffic flow. The thought is to redesign the pockets and make them permanent, and change the parking to parallel. There will be changes, but there is no intent to eliminate the pockets.”

“I love outside dining,” Schroder added. “But (the merchants) have to remember that there is no entitlement to use city space. Using those sidewalks for outdoor dining is adding a lot of square feet to their business, at no cost to them. I’m glad they’re doing it, but the way it is now can create traffic problems.”

City engineer Tucker said that the one-way street has caused problems – he has seen cars go the wrong way and try to make a u-turn in the middle of the street, and said it can create a problem for emergency vehicles as well. There are also drainage problems as a result of drainpipes being too small.

“I’m not aware that the pockets are a problem,” said councilmember Mark Ross. “They’re not a priority for me. It’s something we probably need to take a look at, and maybe they need better engineering. But they’ve been very successful.”

MIKE ALFORD July 09, 2011 at 03:30 AM
and yes baron adams --- she grabed a couple of pom poms and shes been dancing and following the yellow brick road ever sence !!! signing if i only had a brain !!!
Chris Kapsalis July 09, 2011 at 03:49 AM
Well you are a bit animated Mike. And Linda is a beautiful woman, which means nothings really as far the pockets go. But I understand. I sometimes think some people hate me because I am so good looking.
MIKE ALFORD July 09, 2011 at 03:51 AM
that no problem alex cortlund -- i can see your grammer is farbetter than mine -- but i live in the real world -- not in a classroom -- in our own way we both know how to servive in our own ways --- ive had to learn what life is about -- ive learned to stand up to pompas asses --- no you have the right idea -- know your limetations alex cortlund --- stay in the dark -- in the classroom -- a man has to know his limetations --- its good that you can see yours and not play ! -- i like your anolagey -- of sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me ! thats very good see even you can learn --- i remember my grandmother telling me those same words when i was in the first grade --- see you have learned something that you carry into a debate ! theres another old term -- it goes if you cant run with the big dogs stay on the pourch (in youre case The classroom) where your more at home or safe !! now you set back and you enjoy the reality !!!
Chris Kapsalis July 09, 2011 at 03:59 AM
This is all news to me. The worst thing that ever happened to me from reading was a paper cut turning a page.
MIKE ALFORD July 09, 2011 at 04:05 AM
chris --- Your not just good looking -- You are the best looking hobbitt that ive ever seen i just dont see why you have to always come to the aid of the damsel in distress -- if this were loard of the rings chris she would be gollium (meza) following leann perterson -- yes what ever you say my pretty -- please the ring -- whatever you say -- i need an idenity -- yes whatever it takes -- i need an idenity -
Jim Caroompas (Editor) July 09, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Ok, folks. With the exception of Mr. Wilson, we have managed to turn this thread into a chat room, beauty contest, poetry treatise and fantasy fiction. I would now ask if everyone can please stick to the topic at hand, which is the Main Street pockets. Thank you.
Linda Meza July 09, 2011 at 04:49 AM
Nor can you point to an instance where I said I did, quite the contrary, on any number of occasions.
Chris Kapsalis July 09, 2011 at 04:53 AM
When they ( Dick and crew ) made the pockets way back, I heard they were temporary. I was thinking, why? Unless it means temporary as in not concreted, fixed, unmovable etc. You have to be careful of word play here if they say, "we said they were temporary." I may have misunderstood. I hated one way streets back then, after having almost met an unfortunate end in SF turning onto a one way street and into a cable car. Also, one way streets sometimes get you in this loop that you can't get out of, and you just want to turn right, but every turn is left. There is probably a computer model we could get of downtown with the proposed one way from Court, and One way from Alhambra, converging at Ferry, and see what happens when you put it in motion. Also with Islands, and we could also look at the parking issues that would create. It couldn't be that hard. I will check google for a web "free" online traffic program. OK, I need sleep. This thread about pockets might get pulled by Patch as we have beat this to death again, but don't let it rest. We all have interest in the pockets and it is for the better of our city and us, who enjoy these pockets and the people they bring in who also enjoy the pockets and eating outside.
Linda Meza July 09, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Nice of your to chime in now, after MA has smeared many more people. Where were the admonitions when an in-artful letter from the city became a personal MSM vendetta against the 500 block? Granted you pulled down his earlier bile where I was implicated in this grand conspiracy, that is after I flagged it, but he merely continues with his barrage of innuendos, lies, and smear tactics.
Jim Caroompas (Editor) July 09, 2011 at 05:35 AM
I'm not admonishing anyone, Linda. I'm asking that everyone stick to the topic at hand.
MIKE ALFORD July 09, 2011 at 08:15 AM
why would the city counsel make such a incompatent dicision-look facts are we havent compleated one project-not one in over 10 years-and the only project that was compleated that has been a sucess is the 500 block of main street ! but that was compleated by our private citizens - dick duncan,shar, and other people on yhe 500 block-now they actually did this without 1 penny or a hundred dollar consulent ! can you imagein that ! you have to think for a moment-think !our mayor,city counsel,our crack city staff their over 6000,000 dollars that they have spent on these high powered consulents (in the last 15 years) now do you think for one moment -do you think that our mayor city counsel or the queen bee of main street martinez le ann peterson could or would acknowalge that-the merchants-dick duncan shar or any comman privet tax paying citizen-actually have put these pockets together by themselfs-mind you without a counselt ? not using city taxpayers money actually putting this together making the whole block work bringing more people to the 500 block and making it a winner?can you imagane what progress these people could do what a sucesfull group of coman real people-what they could do if they were running the main street merchants of martinez !now mabey you people might ask -hey if they can do this- why do we keep hireing these high paid (do nothing) never finnished a project yet in martinez consulents ? and why are we paying leann peterson 50,000 dollars a year why?
Alex Cortlund July 09, 2011 at 09:28 AM
Sorry, Jim. Mea culpa.
Chris Kapsalis July 09, 2011 at 07:38 PM
"Greasy Wheels..." If they, the council, don't want city council meetings tied up for ever, they will bend. The post I got in email didn't show up here, but people control those pockets like I said, short of a public hazard or law, we decide, people . It aint a threat, it is just what happens when you go against the wishes of enough people , they speak in public comment, and tie up the process, so the council has to listen, and bend. No choice really. That is democracy I think, and the vote, oh ya, the vote coming up. The pockets will stay. And to that poster, I respect your opinion, but the majority usually rules when they feel strongly on something, and they do about the pockets, and it is Local bi-partisanship" issue, that have even foes agreeing on the pockets. They will stay or be made terminate ( etc. as to the plan Dick had.) guarantee we have not heard the last of changing Main Street and having more sitting, dinning outside and pockets. This is only the beginning. ( Sorry for all the song references.)
Anne Mobley July 09, 2011 at 09:41 PM
Statistics show that one-way streets slow traffic down and INCREASE sales. People driving by can see your businesses better without a car coming in the opposite direction block the building facades. This can only HELP merchants on Main Street. And pockets for all restaurants or where food served will increase sales as well. It is a win-win because the more successful businesses are, the more tax the city gets for revenue. (Sorry for caps, Jim, but there is no way to highlight or emphasize otherwise.)
Paul L Wilson July 09, 2011 at 09:42 PM
I wonder how many people know that all the brick pavers that were put on Main Street were under and paid for by a BID witch is a business improvement district. Witch means that property owners voted for the pavers and agreed to pay for their part of this project through an additional property tax. Maybe that’s why they feel a little entitlement for the sidewalks. Public right of way is one thing but is still privately owned. Ask the city. They won’t fix your sidewalks if it’s broken.
MIKE ALFORD July 09, 2011 at 10:52 PM
It doesnt matter how much sence or logic you ann ! you heard the comment greasy wheels ! well while you people there on the 500 block of mainstreet have shown that you have been productive & have brought more revenue made giant strides to make martinez look good ! and while you people have done this -without asking any money from the tax paying citizen- not one red cent- see you are going to have to open your eyes -this block has on crime -it has no drunks out in front of its busness ! it brings in trade and people from all over every day ! now when the dead beats that have their hands out all the time for more money clameing that they run main street and all the good they do in reality they could put all the rest of main st together and it doesnt come close to what you guys have done-there is no way it can compeat !so now you hear that these people dont own the streets !When you people have made such a positive jump out from under local goverment spending !its no wonder The mayor,city counsel,le ann peterson,main street martinez & the chamber are upset you people have showen them-how to run a city-how to be sucsesfull -how to actually have pride in your city- and you did it all together without hireing a consulent paid for by the taxpayers-do you see why your hearing these cry babeys and losers -saying what they are saying ! theres no way in hell they can admit that you people have made a positive step forward for martinez - why is main street martinez being paid 50,000?
Sofa King July 09, 2011 at 11:36 PM
As the mayor noted, merchants DO NOT have an inherent right to use city property to expand their businesses. The sense of entitlement some of these merchants display is amazing, especially since they pay not one penny to use the pockets. Yes, the pockets make or nice places to sit and eat. But making the 500-block a one-way street keeps people from going there. More and more cities and towns across the country are eliminating one-ways streets for this very reason. I would think the merchants who are in opposition to their removal would understand that being situated on a one-way street does not increase their business.
Linda Meza July 09, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Again, I'm curious how the meeting with Dave Scola went. I heard it was pretty productive. To watch this thread, people could be confused into believing nothing was being done to find a solution.
sonja snavely July 10, 2011 at 03:58 AM
dave scola wants to see a proposal block by block how we propose each block would look like with pockets. we need to find the old plans or find an architect that can drw it up in a way that will be accepted by the city .
MIKE ALFORD July 10, 2011 at 04:15 AM
jim you know you have gotten on me more times than anyother person -- doing the capital thing -- and ive changed -- you have told us to stick to the subject more than once -- but -- and jim i do think that you try to be fair - that even if you dont like me - you give me time to say whats on my mind -- which is what patch is all about --- but jim this hiding your idenity -- sitting there causing total hate & discontaint --- hiding behind a name of sofa king -- say it real fast jim ! they are turning patch into a joke ! sitting there hiding -- being the cowards that they are and you know what im talking about ! now see for 6 straght years -- ive never missed a meeting --- over 173 meetings -- ive been to over 14 debates ! ive went head to head -- with rob ,mark ,janet , --- the point is is than never ,never never did i lose my compousher -- never did i drift from any question -- and the fact is if you watch any one of those debates you will see that i answered every question --- now go back and listen you will see that at no time did mark,rob,or janet ever answer any one of my questions on things like where did the marina money go - because they knew -- that i had went to sacramento they knew that i started with harold flood back in 2006 - than when lucia breceria came in and took over she brought everything right up to date ! i had all the information that would have proved what happend to the marina -- what im trying to say is i never once tried to hide my name --More
MIKE ALFORD July 10, 2011 at 04:20 AM
ive got up at public comment at every meeting -- in the last 6 years ! --- now to where im going with this --- when we all pached in to the main street pockets -- when i gave my side of the story all of a sudden here comes a dam fool coward that uses
Linda Meza July 10, 2011 at 04:39 AM
Sonja, did Dave give a timeline?
MIKE ALFORD July 10, 2011 at 04:51 AM
ive got up at every meeting - in the last 6 years ! now to where im going this when we all patched in to the main street pockets - when i gave my side of the story all of a sudden here comes a dam fool coward that uses a bougess name doesnt look at any of the facts of the 500 block doesnt or will not look at the facts -- this is what the same two people that walk lock step with our city counsel & nainstreet martinez -- this is what they do jim--- now linda has said many times that i make up things --- jim i would love to be in a room with you as a meadeator -- i would love to take these people on about the city of martinez its problems -- the issues -- i would love to get meza,chris,leann peterson hell you can even bring alex courtland -- in fact bring everyone that says just how ignorent and un educated i am --- you ask the questions jim -- in fast bring mark & rob -- bring it all on -- see eather show me up as a fool once and for all -- if i dont know what im talking about expose me ! -- but let everyone know that its a real debate -- see i get to ask questions also ! --- It wont happen jim -- because much like --- sofa - king -- you will see the truth --- you couldnt hold a gun on this gutless bunch of cowards -- hell jim just this last week -- two of these nut cases tried to go down to city hall and get a restraining order -- they were laughed out of the building - really jim when we patch -- we as well as you should know who is saying what -- and who they are !
Bill Schilz July 10, 2011 at 02:43 PM
I want very much to use the Patch comments for constructive ways to voice our opinions and find solutions, but quite frankly, it seems like every thread I look at has reams of castigation, chiding and criticism. When I see attack and counter-attack, all it makes me want to do is leave the thread. Take the fighting somewhere else and let's keep this to short and sweet comments.
Carolyn Hill July 10, 2011 at 04:01 PM
M. Alford is totally out of line by bring up the alleged statements about Linda Mesa. It has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand. Also, the conversation regarding Main Street has gotten completely off track. Go back and reread what Carolyn (Boone) Duncan wrote about the initial vision for the street. It worked, it got done in one weekend and has exceeded all expectations. The total problem we continue to experience in this town is the city council, who take years and years to accomplish something that most could do in a fraction of the time and continue to propose and support ideas and projects that most businesses and citizens are against. For years we have asked the City and MSM to expedite the placing of benches on Main Street; many customers see our Main Street area as very customer "unfriendly". It took MSM over three years to just procure and place new trash cans. Absolutely no reason for this type of management. Also, I am sure the city could have passed ordinances to ensure that our local slum-loards at lease make some cosmetic improvements to vacant buildings. Let's get the pockets moving and the street one way.
Carolyn Hill July 10, 2011 at 04:06 PM
The meeting went very well. All parties exchanged views, past and current history and ideas. Great suggestions were made and it is hoped they will be fruitful.
Anne Mobley July 10, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Dave Scola is one of the nicest people in the city. Our meeting of just a small group mostly of 500 block folks was productive.
MIKE ALFORD July 10, 2011 at 06:59 PM
bill -you are absoulty right -- today between hill mouthimg off and her buddy sofa king -- well you know what -- jim asked us to stick to the subject --- thats excatly what im doing -- iv said just about everything about the pockets that i can -- but jim you should make people identify themselfs
MIKE ALFORD July 10, 2011 at 06:59 PM
bill -you are absoulty right -- today between hill mouthimg off and her buddy sofa king -- well you know what -- jim asked us to stick to the subject --- thats excatly what im doing -- iv said just about everything about the pockets that i can -- but jim you should make people identify themselfs
sonja snavely July 11, 2011 at 04:17 AM
I dont know of a time line but it would be good to have someone work on it. I

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