WEHOville.com Staff Report
UPDATE: Scheduled to close at 6pm, the street closure of Robertson Blvd. actually began at 4:30 pm leaving confused city staff racing to re-open the streets and then close again at 6:00 pm. Pre-printed signs had the wrong time on them. The Abbey began to move on to Robertson Blvd. before 6 pm and had to pull the plants back and begin anew at the 6pm hour. The traffic was bumper to bumper along Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose at both ends of the closure by mid-day. West Hollywood’s shut down of Roberson Boulevard on weekends starts Saturday as the city tries to boost foot traffic to restaurants and stores to expand outdoor dining and attract more shoppers.
West Hollywood’s shut down of Roberson Boulevard on weekends starts Saturday as the city tries to boost foot traffic to restaurants and stores to expand outdoor dining and attract more shoppers.
A stretch from North Robertson Boulevard, south of Santa Monica Boulevard and north of Melrose Avenue. will be closed to vehicle traffic every weekend between 6 p.m. Saturday and late Sunday night.
The plan is designed to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. The closure will run every weekend from 6 p.m. Saturday through late-night Sunday. It’s unclear how long it will go for.
Only half of the street will be available for programming during these 32 hours since fire regulations require a lane for emergency vehicle access at all times.
The Robertson Boulevard block is already a hot spot for activity, lined with bars and restaurants and a busy hub for ride-hailing stops, the is already a hot spot for activity.
“If you step off the curb wrong, you could get hit by a car,” said Councilman John Erickson, a coauthor of the ordinance that brought about rhe street closure.
“Closing this highly trafficked and bustling stretch of Robertson will provide a pedestrian-safe space that allows for appropriate social distancing as the Public Health Department eases capacity restrictions while still monitoring the spread of the virus.”
Erickson is among those who hope the program will become a permanent fixture, believing it is imperative to develop safe spaces for a future with more bicyclists and pedestrians.
“It just is a perfect time to, I think, really re-envision not only what that street could look like, but how do we make it better for years to come?” Erickson said.
Some residents, though, have expressed concern about traffic spilling over into the quiet neighborhoods, taking street parking (despite it being a permit-only area after 7 p.m.) and leaving their trash on the street.
But city officials have assured there will be extra signage directing people to park in the parking deck adjacent to the West Hollywood Library. They would also put up more signs saying it was a permit-only zone and send parking enforcement into the areas more often to ticket people without a permit.
Assistant City Manager Oscar Delgado has promised city staff will work hard to assure the Robertson closure has minimal impact on the residents.
“We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact to the community,” said Delgado. “Our goal is not to impact the residential community that we value so much.”
The city has been expanding commercial space during the COVID-19 pandemic with the “OUT Zones” program. More than 60 West Hollywood businesses have been approved for temporary outdoor expansion permits, according to city officials.
“The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of our local businesses to drastically alter how they serve the public,” Councilmember John D’Amico said in a statement. “This has had a profound impact on the City of West Hollywood’s business community and has added to the economic challenges wrought by COVID-19.”
It’s part of a city program called OUT which began during the height of the pandemic last August to give businesses the opportunity to obtain permits that allows them to expand outdoor dining and shopping onto sidewalks, parking spaces and private parking lots.
The city has been expanding commercial space during the COVID-19 pandemic with those “OUT Zones” program. More than 60 West Hollywood businesses have been approved for temporary outdoor expansion permits, according to city officials.
The areas included are marked with colorful signs that say “Dine OUT” for restaurants, “Shop OUT” for boutiques, and “Werk OUT” for exercise and personal care.
“Creating safe, socially distanced outdoor spaces for expanded operations is a creative approach,” said D’Amico, “that will help West Hollywood’s businesses, residents, and visitors as we continue to respond to the evolving pandemic.”