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Patch Poll: Should Main Street Be One Way, Two Way or No Way At All?

On Wednesday, the City Council will host a community workshop to discuss reverting downtown streets, including the 500 block of Main Street, back to two-way traffic. What do you think?

On Wednesday, the City Council will host a workshop on downtown traffic flow. At issue will be whether or not to revert all of the streets downtown - including the 500 block of Main Street - back to two-way traffic. While the other streets are not really at issue, it is the 500 block that holds the key to the controversy.

Merchants there believe that the 1999 "experiment" to convert their block to one-way traffic and create outdoor dining extensions, called "pockets," has helped create a robust customer base for the restaurants and other businesses on that block. As a result of the success of outdoor dining, the city has agreed to purchase a number of wooden platforms for all the other restaurants downtown.

But now, the issue of traffic flow has surfaced as the latest controversy. City staff is recommending that all the downtown streets be converted to two-way traffic, for reasons including traffic safety and the ability for restaurants to install their outdoor dining platforms in front of their businesses, where parallel parking spaces would otherwise be. 

There are proponents - including Dick Duncan, who designed the 500 block pocket project - who believe that making Main Street one way would create a better ambience for businesses, including restaurants, based on the success of the 500 block. Duncan is proposing making one-way traffic eastbound from Alhambra Ave. to Ferry St., and one-way west from Court St. to Ferry St. Parking would be diagonal on one side of the street, leaving the other side yellow for loading. 

There are still others who believe that Main St. should be turned into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, and ban all vehicular traffic. 

The traffic flow workshop will take place at City Hall on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The issue will be discussed by the council at its regular meeting, which begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. Both meetings will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta St. 

So, Patch users, what do you think? Take our poll, and tell us in the comments. 

Jenny J Starmack June 04, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I would like to see Main street converted to one way if this means the addition of the Pockets that have been in controversy. However, the latest plans I saw did not include Pockets past Ferry Street. The one way conversion should include ALL of Main Street. People will adjust and adapt. Many Many cities have one way streets and seem to be able to deal with it just fine. Yes it will cause some traffic problems but nothing unbearable. Ive said it before and I'll say it one more time that I would like to encourage the residents of Martinez to NOT park on Main Street of they are able bodied to WALK a block. Leave Main street parking for VISITORS, Delivery Trucks, loading and unloading, and those unable to walk distances.
Withmar June 04, 2012 at 05:35 PM
In order to have room for parking and pockets a one lane street seems to be required and the two way traffic is precluded. Also the 500 Block experiment included free parking. This may be part of the draw to this area as well.
Chris Kapsalis June 04, 2012 at 06:36 PM
This is getting way out of hand imo. Agree to disagree and let's leave all this hate at the door please. It is very ugly and has no place in a productive debate.. I have to be honest and say I am ashamed and embarrassed how some people are acting right now. It's sad and it's coming from both sides of this issue. I love the 500 block the way it is. I do not like one way, but it works well for that small stretch of road, only 200 feet long. Plus the big street pockets are awesome.But the rest of Main I would like to keep two way with the small flex space decking things. I do business everyday downtown , work, bank, you name it, and one way the length of Main would make that difficult. It just would not work in a working city. This is not Disneyland. I am not alone. Many I talked to are very disapointed with how people are acting. GROW UP.
Patrick J. McNamara June 04, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I am undecided about the one-way/two-way controversy, except that navigating downtown seemed to get just a bit more aggravating with the one-way 500 block of Main Street, the three blocks of Castro Street from Marina Vista to Ward, and the one block of Estudillo from Main to Escobar. What is really impossible to say about the 500 block experiment is whether its success was due to the change in traffic flow, or the outdoor dining. Did it really require both? Would outdoor dining have done the trick sans one-way? Who knows? One way to find out is to expand the outdoor dining (as is planned) and revert to two-way streets.
Anne Mobley June 04, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Am I missing something? What is ugly about this conversation so far? For 14 years in August the 500 block has been in existence as a one-way street with outdoor dining and has been a successful model for downtown. Once permanent, the 500 block folks can pretty up their planters, etc. which have been waiting for some word from the city before spending money to do so. This successful project should have continued all the way down Main Street for ALL to have one-way traffic and outdoor dining pockets. Deliveries could be made in the early morning hours. Most businesses with deliveries don't open that early anyway. Why are we always trying to reinvent the wheel???? Even Todos Santos in Concord has a one-way street and it works for them too!
Linda Meza June 05, 2012 at 12:32 AM
It's not only planned, but it's happening. Look for at least two new areas to dine outdoors by this Friday, if all goes according to schedule.
Chris Kapsalis June 05, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Not in this comment thread , but the tone downtown and politically, personally. Some want two way traffic, some want one way, some want this and some want that. A healthy debate in my opinion does not include hard feelings and left over grudges, resentment, gloating. We have seen gloating in city hall meetings. Disrespectful. One is not dumb for example to wish two way traffic imo. I do, and I am not dumb. We have seen a lot of hostility when it should be a mutual respect for others opinions, even though we will fight for what we want, what we think is best for our downtown. This is almost like a war. Everyone that loves downtown , visits, shops, owns and so on has a say in this, just as important as the next. I have heard it all, and down to personal attacks that are completely irrelevant to the debate. Stating your opinion is one thing, being against say a one way street is one thing, trashing the people who want the one way is quiet another. I like to debate, battle it out then shake hands after and be friends. So many times in Martinez dating back as far as I can remember, much hostility was left over after an issue was long since settled. I just don't want this to turn into that. Humble in victory and gracious in defeat. I hate seeing this. I do like seeing the passion and care and involvement though. ( Sorry so long )
Paul L Wilson June 05, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Linda is right the outdoor dinning passes last city council meeting. Now the issue is do we have to remove existing outdoor dining on the 500 block buy turning it into a two way street thus removing the only marketing success that the downtown has seen in the last 14 years? I am not really sure that dinning is the only reason that this block is thriving? What’s the rush lets see if eating in a parking space on a wooden platform is what will bring outdoor dinner to town?
Producci McDerizzi June 05, 2012 at 05:17 AM
yes, let's "quiet another". Seems like Menesini is borrowing someone's Patch account. Suffice, or So fish it, to say..."impressive". So, Menesini, if this is not you, forgive me. Some of us don't cheat for a living.
Producci McDerizzi June 05, 2012 at 05:29 AM
I'm so happy I dont have to prove myself here, on Patch...at least directly.
Linda Meza June 05, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Paul, the saddest thing during this entire process is the complete and narrow focus of some businesses on what they'll be 'losing'. Will Haute Stuff need to compete on equal footing with surrounding as well as neighboring eating establishments? Yes. I don't see where this is unfair, isn't it more unfair to have a subsidized advantage? Since the council adopted the ordinance three businesses have leapt at the opportunity to enjoy exactly the same benefit and are willing to contribute to the cost of their own business success. Isn't more unfair for existing businesses to be absolved of this cost of doing business or have that cost absorbed by our general fund? People are sitting next to, and eating next to idling cars stopped at Main and Castro now, at La Tapatia. Ernie said he didn't need less seating to accommodate that demand, he needed more. The one thing missing from this is cooperation. Instead of grabbing for a competitive advantage to the detriment of neighboring businesses how about joining with businesses and creating a dining platform that is four spaces long, partitioned by either a rope or planter distinguishing the dining areas? That's how this was done on one street in Redwood City that had become a bit of a restaurant row. There was an opportunity for people to look at ways to be innovative, creative, even playful, instead this had to be politicized. It's a shame, really, and demeans us as a city.
Carolyn Duncan June 05, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Forgive the garden analogies... but if you have worked to help downtown come back, as so many people have over the years, we try and try and try and know how hard it is to get things to take root and grow here. I am sure there are many reasons for this, but the only thought I want to share here is that the 500 block, after 14 years has finally taken hold. Is it really necessary, at this moment, to pull it out by the roots when it is finally alive and flourishing? I am not saying it doesn't need to be improved and/or upgraded, but pull it up now? We finally have something that is successful. It has spread it's seeds and now other dining platforms are being planted. So what is the rush? Paving can be done without demolition. Add some dining platforms to the other cafes there that want them, study the effects, come up with data and make adjustments. But allow what is working now to grow and what is added to take root.
Marlene Lerner-Bigley June 05, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Make Main Street a lovely walking area where the restaurants and businesses can share the fruits of their labor. Eventually (and hopefully), other neighboring streets will be able to join in so that they too, don't get left out in the cold, The Marina will be hopping with a new restaurant and possibly housing or exciting businesses will also boost our town's profitability and display its charm. That's my wish and I approve this message!!
Paul L Wilson June 05, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Punish existing businesses by removing their pockets and increasing their overhead expense and be forced to use of city monopoly pockets is unfair? I wonder if this is really the best thing? Linda ‘’Will Haute Stuff need to compete on equal footing with surrounding as well as neighboring eating establishments? Yes. I don't see where this is unfair, isn't it more unfair to have a subsidized advantage?’’ This doesn’t sound like any kind of a free enterprise system I’ve ever heard of. If city really want to revitalize downtown than all pockets should be provide for free by the city or after all these years of talk it has been so much lip service?
Anne Mobley June 06, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Thank you Carolyn. I totally agree. But then there are some that seem to believe in socialist economics. No one said they would not pay their fair share of loss of parking meter monies by having outdoor dining. They just prefer what is there for the 500 block that has survived a flood and almost 14 years of use. Why is someone always picking on businesses on the 500 block with personal vendettas? Businesses on the 500 block want everyone downtown to succeed. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1999 a proposal was sent to the City to make all of Main Street alive with outdoor dining and a one-way street along Main but the City, not the 500 block, put a stop to it. I just wonder what this miss misinformation's employer thinks of their employee pissing off merchants to NEVER want to place ads in the local newspaper with this type of behavior and vitreol against merchants downtown.
Anne Mobley June 06, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Marlene, I totally agree with you. Wouldn't it be lovely to do just that?
Lawrence Risner June 06, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I vote for one-way but think walking only wouldn't be possible without a parking structure located close to Main Street. I also think it would be a wonderful asset to have all of Main Street the same as the 500 block as it is now. As far as parking is concerned by having one side diagonal almost makes up for lost spaces. I also have to wonder who is going to maintain the wooden platforms and how long will they last before they look horrible then become recycle material? The current 500 block configuration has been there for years and looks like it could last many more years if left alone. Why shouldn't Martinez look quaint and be inviting? Oh yeah, 2-hour parking without costly meters that can be re-fed to extend time is also good. I still say y'all need a grass roots city government that works with and for the city.
Jim Caroompas (Editor) June 06, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Against my better judgement, let me play devil's advocate, knowing that I'll be accused of having a dog in this fight, which I definitely do not. 1) The current configuration on the 500 block was supposed to be temporary, and was engineered to last for one year. It is out of compliance with any kind of engineering standard - the curb is barely three inches off the ground where the pockets are. The whole thing, while nice, needs to be done permanently and to engineered standards. It should NEVER have been allowed to remain in place this long. The city screwed up big time in that regard, because now it's a fact of life, and businesses have come to count on it. 2) If you put permanent brick pockets up and down Main St. at the site of present restaurants, what happens if and when those restaurants go out of business? You have to require those spaces to be replaced with restaurants. That's an iffy proposition. 3) I would love a pedestrian-only Main St. But my perspective is from a user's. I don't run a business there, or own property. And I'm not a traffic engineer. It's a shame that city staff doesn't weigh in on Patch. I'd love to hear that perspective, but since they are accused of being in the pocket of one particular property owner, I guess I can't blame them for not putting their heads on this particular chopping block.
Anne Mobley June 06, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Most of our downtown streets are substandard. The Council did not have the guts to approve the initial plan but the Fire District did approve of the configuration and signed off on the plans and they still approve the configuration for fire safety and emergency vehicles. The project which incorporated the rest of Main Street was brought to the Council in 1999 and they again did not want to take any action, even though, they saw the success of the project on the 500 block. When Café Romano closed and the building was retrofitted, the new tenant put in a 99 Cent store and they used the pocket there. It is now a deli and it used for their customers. Life evolves. Businesses evolve. That “non-engineered” job on the 500 block withstood the flood of December 2005 and remained in tact. There was no damage to the pockets. I would bet if there were wooden platforms there, that they may have floated away, who knows. But those bricks withstood 2-3 feet of flood waters. How is that for less than perfect engineering!! I vote for keeping the 500 block a one-way street.
Chris Kapsalis June 06, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I also vote to keep the 500 block one way, for the rest of Main two way, and yes, the bricks have stood the test of time. 14 years? a flood? massive use, still fuctioning and people love it. I love it. And it is very interesting as Jim and others point out, why the big interest now, now that the 500 block is successful? 10 years ago it was not even on the radar? hmmmm And does anyone rememeber where the big victory party by Mike and Rob was held in 2010? With gus and friends? Puppet strings? On the street pocket outside of Haute stuff on the 500 block, that is where.

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