The City Council has introduced an Open Streets Initiative to help our local restaurants bounce back faster from this economic crisis.
Open Streets is a TEMPORARY program the City will be piloting to get our restaurants back to business in the new world of social distancing and limited capacity.
This program seeks to make more efficient use of our public streets and sidewalks in order to allow for these public spaces to be used to help stimulate our local economic recovery.
Yesterday, I met with our City Traffic Engineer and other City staff to discuss ways we can help businesses in Belmont Shore and Naples gain additional space, and seating due to social distancing guidelines that will be put in place before restaurants reopen. Currently, City staff are evaluating 2nd Street to come up with short term plans that make additional use of our public right-of-ways.
Pilots could include creating flex parking spaces or parklets in front of businesses or on side streets. The plan is to implement these parklets for a 4 month duration. THIS IS NOT A PERMANENT PLAN. Since telecommuting for many businesses will still be in effect, we are hopeful that traffic will continue to be reduced thereby lessening impacts to drivers.
One of my biggest concerns is the impact to parking that these flex spaces may create. However, our City Traffic Engineer feels strongly that by repurposing parts of our roadways, they could create additional parking along with these added parklets.
Please keep in mind these are short term pilot programs, and that we are in the planning stages. Moving forward we will have to develop traffic control plans, continue receiving essential input from police and fire, as well as evaluate and amend the program as needed if we identify necessary changes.
These steps are meant to take into account the difficult reality we find ourselves in today as we seek to manage significant impacts to public health, and work to repair our economy with practical and efficient solutions.