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Council Puts Off Decision On One Way Vs. Two Way On Main Street

A workshop will be scheduled for the near future.

After a long and sometimes-contentious discussion on Wednesday, the City Council  put off a decision on turning the 500 block of Main Street from a one way to a two way street.  A public workshop will be scheduled soon to debate the merits of one way versus two way traffic and its effect on outdoor dining, pedestrian safety and emergency vehicle access.

Toward the end of the public testimony, Dick Duncan, who designed and help build the experimental pockets on the 500 block of Main Street in 1999, accused the council of thwarting the desires of downtown merchants and instead bowing to the will of major property owner Earl Dunivan.

“I’ve sat around too long and seen him control you people,” Duncan said. “It makes the staff look like fools, it makes you look like fools, it makes us all look like fools. You’ve got to stand up for everybody in this town.”

Dunivan did not respond Wednesday to Duncan’s remarks, but when contacted earlier this week about similar charges leveled against him on the Martinez Patch comment stream, Dunivan said that “people can believe what they want to believe. I support what supports successful businesses downtown.”

A number of speakers supported keeping the 500 block a one way street. Mitch Avalon, a civil engineer with Contra Costa County, urged the council to keep the one way configuration in place.

“It’s narrower, and feels more intimate,” Avalon said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re in the middle of a city street. We should replicate it rather than destroying it.”

Changing the block to two-way traffic would be “a deadly form of social engineering,” said White Rabbit Boutique owner Anne Mobley.

“You’re really going to hurt something very special that you’ve got there,” warned Pat English, owner of Haute Stuff restaurant.

“This is not about anybody controlling anybody else, regardless of what anybody thinks,” said Mayor Rob Schroder. He said the two way configuration would ultimately prove to be better for all the businesses on the block.

Councilman Mike Menesini agreed, pointing to streets in San Francisco that had been turned into one way, and wound up “killing whole neighborhoods” because they became defacto freeways. He said two-way streets would create more intimacy.

Councilwoman Lara DeLaney said that she and councilwoman Janet Kennedy promised the community that there would be at least one special workshop on downtown traffic flow, and urged the council to keep that promise.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to a better place tonight with shallow analysis,” she said.

“If it ain’t broke, I don’t know why we’re trying to fix it,” said councilman Mark Ross.

Stay tuned to Martinez Patch for updates on the traffic flow workshop. 

Paul L Wilson June 01, 2012 at 05:25 PM
OK I get it Linda you really don’t like anything about the 500 block and you will continue to find reason after reason to change every thing just so you can remove any trace of the their identity that has make this block a success. You not being a stakeholder in the 500 block or in the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown make me wonder why you are such an expert every thing downtown after just seven short years? Gambling with other peoples lively hood and businesses well I guess that OK to.
Snafuli Patchouli June 02, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Thanks for the resources. Do the really apply to the particular case of the success of the 500 block? And the pockets? And as a reminder, it is interesting that people will talk about tearing out historic properties one moment, and sit on a general plan update and support formation of a plan that does the same, and the lean to historic preservation urban planning in the next instance. It's not a wholistic approach to planning. While the resources are valid, the reason for their presentation seems to be argumentative or at best incremental. Maybe we should get the National Trust to come out and look at the situation, and then look at what the City and Main Street do with Historic Preservation. There's a phrase "if you're always right, you have nothing left.". Thanks, though, I learned alot.
Linda Meza June 02, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Let's take a close look at the 500 Block, which by the way in '09 both the proprietors of Main Street Quilts and White Rabbit wanted to see revert back to two-way traffic (see 500 Block Revisited, April 15, 2009 Martinez News-Gazette) with a caveat that outdoor dining should be maintained. But if it's true that the 500 Block is the most active, most successful, of all of Main Street, then why aren't we maximizing that appeal? Right now, if guests have county business on Court Street and they drive down Main believing this is the way out of town and to Hwy 4, what happens? They miss the one block that is buzzing with activity and are forced to turn left on Castro. So this guest to our city, this infrequent guest, sees what at that turn? Geraniums and eternity plants run amok, boarded up buildings and graffiti, this is the impression they are left with as they drive out of town. Personally I'd rather the impression they're left with is that of an interesting block filled with people eating and drinking and having fun. As a tourist, I might be persuaded to come back and see what's going on there.
Anne Mobley June 07, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Well, Miss Misinformation is at it again. Please don't presume to know how merchants on the 500 block feel about anything. We certainly have benefited from being in business three more years since April 2009 and are entitled to change our minds because our customers love it and want to keep it the way it is and so do we.. Do you actually expect merchants to purchase new containers and plants when they may be for naught if the Council makes those merchants get rid of them? Who are you to make that comment when you don't know what the conversations were with the city and those merchants. Castro should be two-way and it will solve the problem that you perceive on our 200 foot block. Why don't you spend your energy on the Kassels building next to the bakery that has been vacant and an eyesore for the past 6 years and get off our backs. Does your employer know how you have pissed off the merchants with your ranting, misinformation, and grudge? I guess you must be upset that no one wanted to partake in the marketing business you wanted to start up while on the payroll of the Gazette selling ads. You would never be successful with your attitude towards the merchants by telling us how we should spend our hard earned money.
Lawrence Risner June 07, 2012 at 05:00 AM
With the recession taking its toll on so may businesses everywhere why on earth would anyone do anything to jeopardize the health of the businesses in Martinez by expecting them to pay anything for Main Street when it is for the good of the entire city to have more businesses - everyone wins!. Do the city officials have marijuana cards and ash trays by their seats at the town hall throne? If they do that would at least give us some understanding for their thinking.

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