As a retired city and county planner with 34 years of local government experience, I feel compelled to voice my strong opposition to the proposal to open the Tenth Street pedestrian plaza to automobile traffic.
The notion that auto traffic within the plaza with no onstreet parking or access to offstreet parking will assist businesses within the plaza that cater to downtown employees, entertainment and lodging is shockingly shortsighted and ill informed. Are businesses further south on Tenth Street doing that much better than those in the plaza?
Providing for cars within the plaza will not improve downtown circulation and will only lead to more congestion as movie patrons are dropped off and picked up. It also will result in dangerous conflicts between cars and pedestrians walking across the plaza to Brenden from the parking garage, especially at night.
The city should be encouraging more pedestrian activity downtown, not restricting it. Businesses are suffering not because of a lack of cars driving in front of them, but because of the overall downturn of the economy.
The economic engines near the plaza are obvious: Tenth Street Place and the DoubleTree. The city should focus its efforts to improve pedestrian access across K Street to the hotel, not reducing it from city and county employees and the public.
I encourage the City Council to reject this proposal and look for broader solutions that make our downtown an enjoyable and pedestrian-friendly place to do business.