San Carlos subcommittee to explore closing Laurel Street for outdoor café

San Carlos subcommittee to explore closing Laurel Street for outdoor dining

in Community/Featured/Headline

After hearing support for closing parts of Laurel Street to vehicular traffic in order to allow outdoor dining, San Carlos City Council formed a subcommittee Monday to further explore the plan.

At Monday’s meeting, council discussed two proposals, one to temporarily close the 600-800 blocks of Laurel Street, and another to implement a slow streets program on residential streets that discourages vehicular traffic in order to provide more open spaces for neighbors to be physically active while social distancing.

The Laurel Street closure proposal received strong support from council, which now aims to conduct extensive outreach with merchants and other stakeholders before moving forward. Some concerns were expressed about parking availability. Vice Mayor Laura Parmer-Lohan posed a question about the ability for businesses to social distance while operating outdoors.

City staff proposed a range of ideas that included closing the street during a certain time period, such as the late afternoon to evening. Along with business outreach, the city is also exploring the financial costs to close Laurel Street.

The council was less enthusiastic about implementing a slow streets program in residential areas, despite similar programs underway in other cities such as Redwood City and San Mateo. The city’s police chief Mark Duri expressed opposition to the plan.  Councilmember Adam Rak suggested implementing a Sunday pilot on Old County Road, an idea supported by Councilmember Sarah McDowell. Vice Mayor Laura Parmer-Lohan supports trialing slow streets on a certain day of the week.

Whether closing Laurel Street or implementing a slow streets program, among the city’s main focuses in exploring street closures are their impacts on emergency and delivery vehicle access, on existing businesses, homes and other facilities, and on collector/alterial streets, public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian routes.

Photo credit: City of San Carlos website.