The Open & Out program, which kicked off in Downtown Santa Rosa on July 10, is moving into its next phase effective October 16. Informed by survey results from business owners and community members, the next phase keeps some portions of 4th Street closed to vehicular traffic through at least January 31, 2021.
Over three months, Open & Out focused on creatively infusing Downtown with beautification projects, outdoor dining, over twenty temporary art installations and safe social distance opportunities for the community.
More than 360 members of the public responded to the survey, with 85% showing a preference for the streets remaining closed to vehicular traffic on a regular basis. Many cited the positive, lively atmosphere and community feeling Open & Out created, and some suggested the Fourth Street closures happen every summer.
Business response to the program was largely favorable. Many restaurants credited the program with salvaging their business and some retailers saw the benefit of increased foot traffic. Survey results showed that the majority of businesses on the 500 and 700 blocks wanted the streets to remain pedestrian zones with expanded dining to allow for better social distancing. Almost 60% of businesses on the 600 block preferred to reopen to vehicular traffic citing weather, the importance of the holiday shopping season and the need for street parking, though many are eager to see the program return during the spring and summer months. Restaurants on the 600 block will be able to keep operating outside, but within smaller dining footprints and at a reduced capacity.
“With the summer months ending, the focus now will be on helping our restaurants winterize their outdoor spaces with rain cover and heating. This will continue providing safe dining options for Santa Rosans and allow our restaurants to operate at a capacity that can sustain their business,” said Raissa de la Rosa, director of economic development for the City of Santa Rosa.
The Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce has shifted its traditional Downtown Winter Lights tree lighting event into a multi-week winter celebration which will take place on Courthouse Square and the closed blocks of 4th Street. Peter Rumble, CEO of the Metro Chamber said, “we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to support small business in Santa Rosa and keep so many of our restaurants open over the last few months. Winter Lights will capitalize on the momentum of Open & Out and provide the community with a much-needed festive holiday atmosphere to safely shop, dine and social distance while continuing to create opportunities for our small businesses during this difficult time.”
Parking will continue to be free after 5pm and on the weekends in all City Garages through the end of the year.
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