Castro Street will remain closed to traffic through at least the end of January, despite a countywide prohibition on outdoor dining that eliminated most foot traffic in the normally thriving downtown corridor.
City officials announced Friday that traffic will be blocked between the 100 to 400 blocks of Castro Street during the state's regional stay-at-home order. Mountain View was among the local cities that elected to shut down public streets to make room for outdoor dining, which is temporarily banned under the order.
While other cities, notably Palo Alto, have removed traffic barriers and reopened roads while outdoor dining is banned, businesses along Castro Street overwhelmingly called for the closure to continue. What's more, it would take significant time and effort on the part of city staffers to remove all of the outdoor dining infrastructure and reprogram traffic signals.
The stay-at-home orders don't have a definitive end date, and are based on the Bay Area's regional hospital capacity. Outdoor dining restrictions will remain in effect if Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed capacity is under 15%. The current ICU capacity is 3%, according to Santa Clara County public health officials.
With the eventual return of outdoor dining on the horizon, city officials said it didn't make sense to reopen Castro Street to traffic just to close it back down again, costing both businesses and the city money.
"The City of Mountain View's decision took into account local business feedback, making it easier for businesses to resume outdoor dining once permitted," according to a statement by the city.
Castro Street was closed to traffic in June last year as a means to save struggling downtown businesses, many of them restaurants crushed by the coronavirus pandemic and a public health ban on indoor dining. While outdoor dining was permitted to resume in June, many businesses had little to no outdoor space available, leaving many dependent on street closures.
The original closure of Castro Street was intended to expire on Dec. 31 last month, but was later extended to the end of the city's emergency declaration.
Mountain View is currently studying ways to revamp its downtown transit system, including a redesign of Castro Street that would close off traffic at the Caltrain tracks similar to the temporary closure.