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Downtown Associations backs off on making Pacific Avenue one-way all the way

Possibly the highest-profile supporter of making Pacific Avenue one-way all the way has now backed off.

The board for the Santa Cruz Downtown Association (DTA) has rescinded its support of making the downtown street run one-way southbound. The board’s initial vote to back the traffic change had caught business owners on streets like Walnut Avenue off guard.

“There wasn’t as much outreach as was warranted,” says Chip, executive director of the DTA.

DTA officials now say more study would need to be done before they would support a two-year pilot program of the switch, which would require also a direction change on Lincoln Street and Walnut Avenue, where four parking spots would be lost.

“This is going to destroy Walnut Avenue. We should be trying make all the other streets like Walnut,” says Mia Bossie, co-owner of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.

The one-way Pacific plan, which has the backing of both the Downtown Commission (separate from the DTA) and the Transportation and Public Works Commission, heads to Santa Cruz City Council next month. Supporters have wanted to make the street more navigable for locals and tourists alike, hopefully even leading to a boost in retail. Some thought the pilot program looked like a no-brainer, but enthusiasm was lukewarm at best.

“There was not a huge opposition, but there also wasn’t anyone that was hugely enthusiastic,” says Vice Mayor Cynthia Chase, who says things changed when people looked into the details and the Walnut businesses got more involved.

“It does make sense that we pump the brakes on this, so to speak,” she explains, “and get some more analysis about how one-way would affect downtown.”

Patrice Boyle, the owner of Soif, which is across the street from 99 Bottles, says the one-way proposal felt like it was rushed through, along with wayfinding signage improvements and possible contra-flow bike lanes—changes that could instead be done one at a time.

“There are a lot of people in town who are interested in giving the whole concept a really thorough look,” Boyle says. “The benefit of all this is it might create a broader base coalition of people to do that.” JACOB PIERCE

 

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