“Out on Robertson” has outlived its usefulness.
The 90-day pilot program, which brought restaurant and retail operations out onto city streets when COVID restrictions were toughest, is set to end on July 17 unless City Council renews it. The program closes N. Robertson Blvd. south of Santa Monica Blvd. and north of Melrose Avenue to vehicular traffic each Saturday and Sunday evening.
The larger OutZone program allows for the temporary zones (OUTZones) to provide outdoor space in public rights-of-way for restaurants, shops, and personal care establishments to operate outside.
In its three-month run, the program has had little participation from local businesses. The street never “transformed” into a pedestrian friendly zone as intended. Project Angel Food, Black Woman Lead were the only two non-profits who participated over the first ten weekends. This past weekend a post by local resident Jordan David revealed frustration at the failure of the “Out on Robertson” program when a right-wing booth occupied Robertson Blvd.
City Council approved the “Out on Robertson” street closure without public input or understanding the public safety budget to close the street. Each weekend numerous city staff can be seen monitoring the street. In addition many sheriff officers are deployed to monitor the street closure.
The program is expected to be on City Council’s July 19 agenda.
Council should do away with “Out on Robertson” but leave the “Outzone” program intact.
The Abbey can still have their “Outzone,” but Robertson Blvd. can also be open to allow traffic to flow and support the other local businesses.
“Out on Robertson” was not without its success story. On the Abbey’s 30th anniversary, Lady Gaga unveiled a giant “Born This Way” Pride-themed street mural painted on Robertson Blvd. It was a memory for a lifetime and will etch “Out on Robertson” as a success despite the setbacks.
This past weekend, crowds flooded the Santa Monica Blvd. for the July 4th holiday. The previous weekend crowds flooded the streets for Pride. But ‘Out on Robertson’ had little additional traffic. All the shops and restaurants on Robertson are open for business but residents complain about access to some of the establishments along Robertson Blvd. such as Anawalt Lumber.
It’s time for the City Council to land this pilot program and re-open Robertson Blvd for all the residents and businesses.
West Hollywood City Hall remains the only major building in West Hollywood that is still closed despite the lifting of all county health restrictions on June 15th.