A small slice of Fifth Street was transformed into an outdoor patio Friday by folks urging Santa Rosans to rethink how much urban space is devoted to parking. The Share Exchange and Greenbelt Alliance took over two parking spaces in front of their buildings, filling them with rugs, potted plants, patio furniture and board games.
Santa Rosa continues to lay the groundwork for the reunification of Courthouse Square despite having neither wide public support for the project nor the $14 million to build it. The city’s budget woes have slowed the project, but the City Council remains committed to seeing it through. ““It is one of the council’s top priorities,” Councilman Scott Bartley says.
The aroma of slow-cooking meat and a $1 million investment in downtown Santa Rosa proved irresistible to the City Council. It approved a plan by celebrity chef Guy Fieri to install a smoker oven next to a city parking lot. Councilman John Sawyer says the deal shows “our downtown is willing to take a risk … on something a little bit outside the box.”
When it comes to downtown parking, one can never under-estimate the city’s capacity to enrage the most peaceful of souls. Among the complaints: Over-zealous enforcement, high fees and costly fines, parking meters that don’t work, inconvenient pay stations, dark and dingy garages. PD columnist Pete Golis says there are no magical solutions that will make everyone happy and bring instant vitality to the downtown.
Mayor Ernesto Olivares has delayed a controversial plan to allow the Santa Rosa Plaza mall to charge for parking. The city will first reexamine its own downtown parking programs to see if they make sense. “This has really angered people” Olivares said. “It’s really turning into a big, big issue for our community.”
8:45 AM UPDATE: Santa Rosa’s downtown restaurants have succeeded in driving off the food trucks they viewed as unfair competition. The city announced Wednesday that it was suspending support for Munch Mondays, at least for now. A search is underway for a new location, but it probably won’t be in downtown.
The oldest redevelopment area in Santa Rosa will disappear at the end of the year. While plenty of work remains to be done in the Downtown Center district — where 68 percent of the properties meet the definition of blighted — city officials concluded it no longer makes financial sense.
Santa Rosa’s street food vendors are hitting the road. After two months congregating in a city parking lot downtown once a week, the taco trucks and hot dog carts taking part in the city’s Munch Monday promotion are moving two blocks south on March 7. Several downtown restaurateurs had accused the city of promoting unfair competition from out-of-area vendors.
Santa Rosa officials met Thursday with a dozen restaurateurs upset about the city’s support for Munch Mondays, which has brought mobile food trucks to a downtown parking lot. City officials said they would be open to moving the gathering of street food vendors to other locations after the eight-week promotion wraps up this month.
Downtown Santa Rosa restaurants are steamed that the city has been promoting the mobile food fair known as Munch Mondays, creating additional competition at a time when they can least afford it. To help street vendors get around a city ordinance that requires food trucks to move every 30 minutes, city staff helped organize, promote and permit the event. But Councilman Gary Wysocky says it’s not right for the city to subsidize out-of-town vendors to compete with local restaurants.