Covid Recovery – Proposal
May 19th, 2020
To: Santa Monica City Staff, City Council, and Planning Commission
From: M.S.B.I.A Board of Directors & Executive Director
CC: Ocean Park Association, Main Street Merchants, S.M. Spoke, S.M. Safe Street Alliance
RE: Main St. Covid Recovery Proposal
Dear City Staff,
Thank you for taking the time to consider the future of Main St. in a post Covid-19 world. As we all know, we will have to rethink what’s possible not only for Main St., but for all of Santa Monica. We’ve involved OPA in this process and they look forward to collaborating with us and The City to craft the future of our neighborhood.
We envision a transformed Main St. with open space from Pico to the City limits in which restaurants, and retailers can utilize Main St. as a way of dramatically expanding their commercial footprint and allowing for customers and staff to more properly practice social distancing and comply with other, as yet unknown C-19 best practices.
The key to this initiative is fast implementation, with the ability to pivot in the face of new data or unforeseen issues that may arise. Obviously, we will have to address public education and communication with things like wayfinding, and signage in redirecting traffic.
Without this dramatic step, economic devastation, crime, and blight are certain.
As many of us know, restaurant margins are already razor thin. If we simply cut down capacity, restaurants operate at a loss. The economics of food & beverage concepts entirely depend on capacity, volume, and high profit items like soft drinks, coffee, and alcohol. This is precisely what the A.B.C. had in mind with its Fourth Notice Of Regulatory Relief and we hope The City of Santa Monica rapidly adopts processes and procedures to allow for the commercial use of public spaces, streets, parks, parking lots, and other non-traditional spaces to allow for this, and other innovative uses.
Without these crucial elements, it won’t make sense for many existing restaurants to reopen at all. Delivery and To-Go was just a temporary fix, not a long-term plan. Retailers face a similarly challenging landscape and will need equal consideration.
Time is not a luxury we have. We must take any and all measures to ensure our commercial districts thrive as we re-enter an unknown economic climate. Furthermore, a paradigm shift in how local government approaches this monumental task must prioritize business activity over the concerns of an overly vocal minority who will surely try and derail this process with outspoken, but unfounded concerns about trivial inconveniences.
We look forward to working with you collaboratively alongside the business community and it’s residents.
Thank you for your consideration.
Option 1: Full Main St. Closure
This would transform Main St. into a pedestrian & cyclist centric street. This is likely the shortest path to economic recovery for Main St. businesses, and would also quickly produce the most sales tax revenue.
Specifics & Notes:
- Water barricades would be utilized at all side streets similar to what we do with the Summer Soulstice.
- Deliveries could be scheduled for early AM each day (6-9am), with the street closing off to cars at 9am.
- Employees and customers that chose to drive could park in City lots or on public streets.
- Big Blue Bus can be re-routed to Nielson or 4th st. This would also solve the issue of speeding on Nielson and 4th, which has become an issue since there is greatly reduced automobile traffic now.
- We’d like to incorporate a few permanent bike valet’s or larger bike racks at key intersections
Option 2: Partial Main St. Closure
This would only close certain sections of Main St. to traffic, with a focus on blocks with the highest density of tax generating businesses.
- Hollister – Ocean Park
- Ocean Park – Kinney
Specifics & Notes:
- Ocean Park Blvd. would remain a thoroughfare, similar to how we organize the Summer Soulstice.
- This would allow the farmers market to also expand it’s footprint if needed.
- In addition to this selective block closure, restaurants not in the closed section would be granted 4 parking spaces to use as an outdoor dining room.
Option 3: Full Parking Space to Open Air Dining Conversion
This ‘hybrid-street closure’ would entail blocking off all parking spaces on Main St. for use by restaurants and retailers.
Specifics & Notes:
- Water barricades would run between repurposed parking spaces and the bike lane
- The bike lane and sidewalks would remain accessible
- Automobile traffic would continue on Main St.
- No businesses would pay for lost parking revenue. The gains in City Taxes would more than compensate for it.
- There is ample parking in City lots for customers who choose to drive. Many of the City lots have not been full for years, even on summer weekends.
Option 4: Partial Parking Space-Open Air Dining Conversion
This would entail granting each F&B business 3-4 parking spaces directly in front of each establishment to use as a fully functional outdoor dining room or for display of merchandise.
Specifics & Notes:
- Water barricades would be used to enclose the dining space
- The sidewalk would still remain accessible to pedestrian traffic.
- The bike lane would still remain accessible to bike traffic.
- Retailers would be given one space. Restaurants would be given 4.
- Consider allowing merchants to use the sidewalk and parking spaces in a contiguous fashion. Pedestrian traffic could move to the street, and the bike lane could remain where it is.
Option 5: Side Street Closures
This would have the least impact from a recovery perspective. Essentially, many (not all) side streets along Main St. would be completely closed to through traffic.
Specifics & Notes:
- Specific closure boundaries would be chosen depending on side street particulars. (alleys, parking lots, private property, driveways, etc.)
- This should be a long-term plan. Not something to roll back in 6 months or as soon as things start to look up. Ideally, this can be an opportunity to reset Main St. as a healthy and vibrant part of Santa Monica.
- This pilot program can serve as a new model for the rest of Santa Monica.
- Alcohol needs to be able to be served in outdoor spaces for this to be beneficial to restaurants and viable as a business plan. Serving food only simply does not cut it for the vast majority of restaurants.
- The overly vocal minority opposition (businesses & residential) needs to take a back-seat on this recovery effort. They are not paying the bills and cannot be allowed to derail these crucial initiatives.
- Restaurants will pay for the tables and chairs they choose to use. They will also maintain them and enter into an agreement with The City to responsibly clean and maintain their assigned area.
- All businesses must enter into this plan with the understanding that it will be constantly evaluated by staff. If it goes awry, it will be dismantled.
- The City, County and State should not allow overly zealous risk management concerns to stop these ideas before they see fruition.
- Retailers will pay for outdoor display of merchandise racks, tables, etc.
- Deliveries will have to continue. In the case of a total closure, merchants can take deliveries during early morning hours (6am-9am).
- Pick-Up & Delivery zones for restaurants will be more difficult on the East side of Main St. if the street is closed. This is a fair trade-off for enhanced outdoor dining. Pick-Up and Delivery zones can be installed on all side streets. 2-4 spaces or a ‘loading zone’ would likely be sufficient.
- Parking lots, city parks, and other public spaces should be incorporated into this plan to help capitalize on the benefits to the business district.
- Close Kinney Street to traffic for communal outdoor dining
- Areas in front of restaurants would be parklet style. With 6 feet between tables.
- Side streets to close south of OP between Main & Nielson.
- Side streets north of OP closed between Main and 2nd street.
- Side streets could be public dining rooms for take-out. In the case of Strand, and other select side streets the restaurants could serve at the tables depending on proximity.
- In the case of Via Veneto, all of Pier could be an outdoor dining between Main & 2nd.
- La Vecchia could use parking lot #10 under the big trees which is next to their kitchen.
- Fish Co. could service all of Kinney.
- Public parking lots, or sections of them can be large outdoor dining rooms for take-out.
- Remove on-street parking just on the East or West side of Main St. to widen sidewalk with K-rail and allow for outdoor dining adjacent to some, but not all properties. Focus on dining room density.
- Allow permanent outdoor display of merchandise and sidewalk sales to help allow businesses to conduct more business in compliance with social distancing.