As more “lower-risk workplaces” begin to open throughout San Luis Obispo County, officials continue to work together to promote public safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19. San Luis Obispo County is currently in stage two of the four-stage resilience roadmap outlined by the state of California.
The city of San Luis Obispo plans to temporarily use portions of public streets and parking spaces for walking, biking, outdoor dining and retail to help maintain safe social distancing in as soon as a few weeks, Traffic Manager Luke Schwartz said.
Schwartz said that this idea has been in the works since before the pandemic, but that the current environment presented a perfect opportunity to pilot it.
“Traffic is down and there’s a huge need for local businesses to get more space,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said Mission Plaza was originally planned to be a through street, but is now one of the most valued aspects in the city. He said that space might help people get a glimpse of the future possibilities downtown.
“This has been the direction that the downtown was always going to move in,” Mayor Heidi Harmon said. “There has been a lot of community engagement about that in previous years.”
Multiple factors will affect how long these temporary closures will remain, including community members’ responses, and how the pandemic evolves, Harmon said. While this project is moving at a faster pace than normal, it still must go through a process before it is safely implemented.
“It could be something that I think the community is really excited about and will want to keep going well after COVID is resolved,” Harmon said. “There is a lot of positive energy around it and I think the community [will] really want to see this on an ongoing basis.”
The city of San Luis Obispo is currently conducting a survey to gauge support and gather input from community members regarding how and where these temporary street closures should be implemented. The survey notes access to deliveries and emergency services will remain. Community members can participate in the survey until Sunday, May 31 at 5 p.m.
Harmon said she feels hopeful this new initiative will help individuals once again safely engage in the community and encourage individuals who can to walk or bike downtown.
“I think these street closures will be an aspect of still maintaining physical distance while creating [a] social connection,” Harmon said. “I think that’s really important now more than ever.”
To participate in the survey visit opentownhall.com/portals/189/Issue_8859. For more information about COVID-19 visit slocity.org/covid19 and to learn more about procedures and resources visit readyslo.org.