A block of West Hollywood’s busiest downtown will be restricted to pedestrian traffic on weekends as part of a pilot program designed to make more room for social distancing and expanded alfresco dining.
West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously at its Tuesday meeting to approve the test plan, which will close Robertson Boulevard on nearly a block south of Santa Monica Boulevard, effectively widening West Hollywood Park across the street. The closures will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday and will continue until 2 a.m. Monday. The board will reassess the program after three months.
Imagine a Sunday morning yoga class along Robertson Boulevard with 50 or 60 people doing yoga. Imagine we could, in late spring, start AA meetings in the parking lot … Imagine we could have food trucks with carts from West Hollywood businesses along Robertson, Councilor John DAmico said , who proposed a similar measure in 2012. I think the opportunities are so great and so great.
Lined with bars and restaurants and a bustling hub for race stops, the Robertson Boulevard block is already a hotspot for activities.
If you step off the wrong sidewalk, you could be hit by a car, said Councilor John Erickson, another co-author of the ordinance.
Erickson said he hopes the program can become a permanent fixture in the community. While Greater Los Angeles still relies on automotive culture, he said, creating safe spaces for a future with more cyclists and pedestrians is imperative.
It’s just the perfect time to, I think, really reconsider not only what this street might look like, but how can we make it better for years to come? Said Erickson.
He said the street closure will allow better access to West Hollywood Park, with its newly renovated recreation center.
Residents said closing a trial during a pandemic would not yield precise results on the effects on the neighborhood in the post-coronavirus period. But Mayor Lindsey Horvath defended the timing, saying it offered a unique opportunity to test the closure on a small scale.
It’s an opportunity right now when there is traffic slowing down and some of the impacts slowing down … for us to try something new, Horvath said.
At least one resident complained about the potential increase in noise and traffic.
When we bought our property many years ago it was a quiet residential area … We saw our quiet area become overrun with traffic, said Midge Barnett, who spoke at the meeting of the Tuesday. This program will be a nightmare for our community.
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