News

Mountain View's downtown to stay closed to vehicle traffic

Castro Street closure in effect through January

Many of Castro Street's outdoor picnic tables have been removed, as seen on Jan. 4, but the downtown stretch of road will stay closed to vehicle traffic through January, in anticipation of outdoor dining being allowed again. The winter COVID-19 surge and regional shortage of available hospital ICU beds has forced a halt to even outdoor dining. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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.

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"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.

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Mountain View's downtown to stay closed to vehicle traffic

Castro Street closure in effect through January

by /

Uploaded: Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 8:27 am

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.

Comments

A Talking Cat
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jan 10, 2021 at 12:15 pm
A Talking Cat, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Yay! Keep it closed permanently! Castro Street is SO MUCH BETTER without cars! It's cleaner, more pedestrian-friendly, safer, etc.


Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on Jan 10, 2021 at 5:37 pm
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 5:37 pm

"The current ICU capacity is 3%, according to Santa Clara County public health officials."

They've been repeating this number for a while. Hospitals maintain 3% ICU capacity by placing patients in emergency rooms. The truth is, we are OVER ICU CAPACITY and the county is fudging the numbers. They are simply not being honest.

Per the latest town hall, hospitals received 140K vaccinations and used about 1/3 of them. There is really no excuse for this. Blame certainly starts with the failed efforts of Dr. Cody and goes up from there.


Matt
Registered user
another community
on Jan 10, 2021 at 9:16 pm
Matt, another community
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 9:16 pm

I'm from Woodside. I love the closed streets. Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mt View are all better for them. Keep them closed forever.


Haroon
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Jan 10, 2021 at 11:52 pm
Haroon, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 11:52 pm

Keep it closed! Good for the restaurants, good and safe for people. A win win!


Bernie Brightman
Registered user
North Whisman
on Jan 11, 2021 at 9:50 am
Bernie Brightman, North Whisman
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 9:50 am

This is wrong. Why should the votes of businesses be the only ones that count? This is a hardship on all the drivers who live in the area. The smart money says the lockdown isn't going to end any time soon. People are dreaming.


AC
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jan 11, 2021 at 2:35 pm
AC, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 2:35 pm

I think the implementation as it is has solved the problem which was debated a few years back, with regard to access across Castro. The fact that cross streets can still go through has solved it. I don't see the need to reopen the Castro Street blocks.

That said, I've noticed some careless pedestrian behaviours. Perhaps we should reconsider implementing walk signs.

Aside from that one problem, it seems to be doing great.


Jeremy Hoffman
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on Jan 11, 2021 at 4:48 pm
Jeremy Hoffman, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 4:48 pm

I found the barricades blocking entry to some blocks of Castro St to be too restrictive when pushing a large stroller. If the street isn't even being used for dining, can some of those bollards be removed to facilitate pedestrian and bike traffic? It's annoying to have to walk my bike down all of Castro St when I used to be able to bike down it.


Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Jan 11, 2021 at 6:54 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 6:54 pm

The restaurant closure is unfortunate since we seem to be having nice warm weather these days. The outdoor separated dining tables when used by members of the same household are not likely to be a COVID transmission vector.


Dave Smith
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jan 12, 2021 at 12:20 pm
Dave Smith, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 12:20 pm

This is just a underhanded attempt to keep Castro closed permanently to please all the yoyo's who think killing traffic to downtown will help the struggling businesses when outdoor dining isn't even using it. Next we will see some stupid City council person ask to put trees and make it a park like crap that will ruin all commerce. Yes I'm sick of all the ANTI CAR talk in MV... It was that talk that killed Chick Fillet in MV and gave the Tax revenue to Sunnyvale...


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