Thursday, April 21, 2011

K Street Mall Traffic

Tonight the Sacramento City Council will act to approve the implementation of a $2.7 million project  reintroduceing cars back onto K street between the 8th & 12th Streets.

The project includes:
• Two-way traffic
• Passenger Drop-offs (no parking)
• New signalized crossing at 11th and K streets
• Addition of edge treatments (possibly bollards, planters or street furniture) to fill large gaps
• ADA improvements at intersections

In my opinion, this is a terrible idea. The city has now thrown away another opportunity to provide pleasant, pedestrian, patio, public space for new businesses. The focus on K Street should be creating more affordable places to live with reasonable prices and removal of trouble makers and bums that have made this stretch of street worse than it really is. A densely populated area will change the atmosphere and draw more new business into the area. I’ve said all this before, so it really does not matter at this point.

Ordinance Amendment: Pedestrian Malls


Damon Lyon said...

Yes, 90% of the problems with the K street mall, which includes the lack of patronage to most businesses, would vanish if we could remove the riff raff somehow. People think of it as such a bad environment, a McDonald's did even last there.

The entire idea of adding additional patio space and housing is a great. In my opinion, opening the mall to traffic would be a costly and time consuming gamble.

Through traffic would make some businesses more accessible, but it wouldn't guarantee continual intrest in them ~ especially if it meant a long drive and problems with the people that frequent the area.

Zwahlen Images said...

I just see the City tossing money at K Street again hoping this will change things. How many millions upon millions have they spent over the last 30 years? IMO, I would say K Street was better in the 80's than it is today. If both the Crest and IMAX were not receiving a subsidy to stay open right now, K Street would have virtually nothing to draw people in.

I wonder if we have reached that point where companies are no longer going to be willing to gamble on K Street. How long now has the City been telling us about this mythical story of a thriving K Street? I hope the new housing on the 700 & 800 blocks work, if not what else can be done at this point?

Anonymous said...

Definitely see your point. While I think this will have a positive impact on K Street, the money could have been spent elsewhere...such as stronger security and additional housing.

In terms of benefits, the few existing retailers that remain will have increased visibility. Additionally, if you're local, a cab can now drop you off in front of your destination (big benefit for me and my friends). However, will "cruising" become a problem again? I can see hoodrats taking advantage of the low speed limit/high foot traffic for their need to hoot and holler.

The housing on K can't come soon enough - hate to think we won't see the final result for another four years. If future residents can get around the planned lack of parking and the noisy light rail/crosswalk signals, I think the value is there. Regardless, the city needs to seriously devote more security to the district...are cameras out of the question?

Zwahlen Images said...

City subsidies have been the only way any new business have opened along K Street for years, not a good sign now that the cities broke along with State funding about to dry up too.

wburg said...

It's always a bad sign when a city staff report's first sentence is a lie. The "vibrancy" of K Street was already diminished by the time the idea of a K Street pedestrian mall came around--the decline started after World War II with the growth of suburbs, white flight, opening of suburban malls, highway construction and the end of streetcar service.

That being said, I actually am warming up to this idea. It's a bit like a concept the Dutch call a "woonerf"--a space where cars, pedestrians and bikes are all on equal footing, with traffic calming measures including narrow lanes, street furniture and textured surfaces like brick. Top speeds are typically about 20 km/h (about the same as the 15 MPH proposed for this project.) No parking will be involved--just three turn-out areas to drop people off or transfer a car to a valet.

Speaking of which, aside from those three turnouts, reintroducing cars won't take away any space currently usable on K Street for patios or other pedestrian space; the cars will travel in the same lanes as light rail. Considering that light rail already runs there, and people already drive down K illegally all the time, it won't really make much difference.

While I don't think reintroducing cars will fix everything, at least one investor has been so encouraged by the promise of cars returning that they bought the Kress Building with the intent of rehabbing it (from the Shallit column I read, retail ground floor and offices above, but I'm still hoping condos, so I can buy one!) Both the developer teams working on the 700 and 800 block projects (the ones that will add hundreds of units of housing, increasing eyes on the street and business activity) are supportive of the cars on K Street idea--even the developers of the 700 block, which will not get cars.

Incidentally, have you been to Mayahuel, the new Mexican restaurant/bar/venue on 12th and K? It's very nice--but no subsidies were required. Since January I have noticed a lot more evening and nighttime activity along K Street, especially on the weekends. Very curious how this summer is going to turn out...and if you think the Crest and IMAX are the only things happening there, you haven't been there recently.

River said...

The only part of K Street that is vibrant with positive activity is between 10-13 Streets and now the City is going to kill that with autos. It's a bad idea. IMO if they want to add autos to K Street they should do it between 7 and 10th where you have a bunch of 1-way streets, but since the City just finished millions of dollars in construction improvements at St. Rose that option is out and because the City intend to convert the 1-way streets to 2-way, it isn't much needed in the long term either. Cathedral Square is a great amenity for Downtown and it will be a shame to see it squandered. Oh well, I suppose.

wburg said...

River: Actually, the auto area they plan is between 8th and 12th, not 10th and 13th, and the improvements to St. Rose of Lima Park are limited to between 7th and 8th. And no, there are not currently plans to convert 7th and 8th to fact, the money to convert K Street for autos is coming from a former fund that would have been used to convert P and Q Street from one-way to two-way, but the city has decided against doing that.

Anonymous said...

I must interrupt. This street was once vibrant when it had traffic. The moment it was closed down was the moment "bums" and "trouble makers" found a safe place to make trouble. What was once the main artery of Sacramento had been clogged by the idea of an urban patio. This is a wonderful idea in my opinion. How would new comers know how to easily find new businesses like dive bar, social, or district 30. This street could become a great attraction again! Imagine driving down the k street strip and seeing the bright lights of Crest and IMAX. There is so much to do on this street, but it's very hard to tell on a dark lonely street without car headlights.