Broadway in Redwood City and Laurel Street in San Carlos could soon become spacious outdoor cafes as part of a proposal to support local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local officials and the business communities are considering plans to block off the central merchant corridors to traffic in order to allow restaurants to serve food and beverages outdoors. Ideas include providing rent-free outdoor spaces with tables to every local restaurant, and making sure to space them out to promote proper social distancing.
“Once restaurants re-open patrons will likely be required to distance within the restaurant,” said Redwood City Councilmember Giselle Hale. “This will make it difficult for these businesses to make enough revenue to stay open.”
A city in Lithuania has implemented a similar plan, according to CNN, using “outdoor cafes” on city plazas, squares and streets to boost economic activity for local businesses during the quarantine.
“We’re already part of the way there with Theater Way,” Hale said. “If they can do it in Lithuania, why not here?”
A proposal for Laurel Street is scheduled to appear on the May 13 San Carlos City Council agenda. The idea has received broad support across the city council and community feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Councilmember Adam Rak said.
Council is trying to listen to residents and business owners to come up with solutions that best suits their needs, Rak added.
Meanwhile, San Carlos plans to implement a program similar to Redwood City’s recently approved Slow Streets program, which temporarily discourages traffic on certain streets with the aim of providing spaces for residents to be physically active while social distancing.
“As we go through this gradual lifting of restrictions and changes, we have to look at how we can take advantage of these opportunities to help our businesses and residents,” Rak said, adding, “Downtown San Carlos is a life blood to our community and makes San Carlos what it is.”