Much of the block between Second and Third streets has been closed to vehicle traffic for more than a year in order to create outdoor dining space needed to keep restaurants in business during the pandemic when indoor dining was prohibited. A section of outdoor dining also takes up one lane of G Street south of Second Street.
That should change this month, according to the city.
“There will also be some clean-up efforts happening through the end of this month and also some decorative landscape features near those bollards also coming this month,” according to Davis City Manager Mike Webb.
On Wednesday, removable yellow bollards were installed on either end of the closed block and concrete barriers were removed Thursday morning.
The council had asked that the concrete barriers used to close off a block of G Street be removed and replaced with removable bollards while the area be cleaned up and made more aesthetically pleasing.
But the space, while very popular with Davis residents, was never as aesthetically pleasing as the outdoor dining areas created in downtown Winters and Woodland.
The block will remain closed to vehicle traffic but space is expected to be created down the center of the block for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Some downtown retailers had sought to restore traffic to that block, saying the removal of parking spaces as well as a lack of cleanliness had reduced the number of customers frequenting their stores even as restaurants benefited.
The Davis Downtown Business Association earlier this month recommended reopening G Street to two-way traffic as a result. But the council was divided at their Nov. 2 meeting, with Mayor Gloria Partida and Councilman Will Arnold favoring the closure and Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs and Councilman Dan Carson favoring reopening.
Councilman Josh Chapman, a downtown business owner, recused himself from the discussion. Unable to reach accord, the council instead directed staff to improve the appearance of the street closure and make it more accessible.
Council members expressed hope that making the area more attractive would alleviate the concerns of business members. “If you look at it from a marketer’s standpoint,” said Carson, “creating an inviting, attractive place will do the most good for everybody and I don’t see it as restaurants versus retail.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.
Webb tipped his hat to city staff on Tuesday, especially Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney, for springing into action quickly “to help make some immediate aesthetic improvements to that area of downtown.” That work got underway this week.