By Zia Zografos
Huntington Beach will be extending its temporary closure of Main Street to continue assessing plans for an all-new redesign of Main Street.
The city council voted 6-1 with councilmember Erik Peterson voting against having city staff delve into plans for an outdoor plaza on Main Street. The plaza and the subsequent transformation will be complete with outdoor restaurant dining, art, new landscaping, and lighting.
An outreach to gather feedback will also be conducted to businesses currently operating on Main Street, as well as a cost analysis and general building plans. The cost will be highly dependent on the style of redesign the council decides to pursue.
“Quite frankly, it’s looking very tired,” said Mayor Kim Carr at the meeting in reference to Main Street’s current design.
The planning commission brought forth an option for al fresco style (a blending of indoor and outdoor), for a more unified-looking downtown. The first block of Main Street that spills onto the pier may also be enhanced for pedestrians, with the additions of murals or crosswalk art.
Another goal set forth by the planning commission and the city council is to make the first, second, and third blocks of downtown more cohesive. Inspiration that was used in a staff presentation from the Planning Commission included downtown examples from Seattle and Santa Monica.
A concern brought up by Peterson that echoed throughout the council was the lack of business outreach about the permanent redesigning of Main Street. Council member Peterson said that every single business should have been contacted about this prior to the meeting.
However, Carr argued that the city funneling millions of dollars into improving Main Street would be an asset to local businesses, not a hindrance.
“Quite honestly, if I had a business down there, I would be totally stoked if the city was looking at investing millions of dollars downtown right now,” said Carr. “Because I know that means more customers for me, more visitors, more money, I would be thrilled.”
Several members of the council mentioned that families simply do not want to come downtown anymore, citing crowding and safety concerns as a problem. Carr noted that the closure of the second block of downtown has slightly eased this issue, as the closure has not only been successful with outdoor dining, but has also proven to have made downtown safer, according to police officers patrolling the area.
“We definitely need to invest in downtown,” said Councilmember Rhonda Bolton. “Anything that we can do to make it more inviting and appealing to families, I’m in favor of…When you get locals inspired to come and hang out, where do the tourists like to go? Tourists like to go where the locals go.”
Ron Newman, operator of both Baja Sharkeez and Kilarny’s Pub on Main Street, is in favor of the new redesign. “We need to maximize the beautiful downtown and waterfront businesses…making the area more inviting for our local citizens as well as our tourists where they want to shop, eat, drink, and socialize in the outdoors with their friends and family,” Newman said in an e-mail to the city.
The planning commission stated in their presentation that a lack of crosswalks, resources for governance and maintenance, congested traffic, and oil operations may complicate construction operations.
Categories: Huntington Beach