A proposal to create a pedestrian zone on Robertson Boulevard near on Saturday nights during the summer was shot down at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
Councilmember John D’Amico suggested the city close off Robertson Boulevard south of Santa Monica Boulevard to the entrance to the pay parking lot adjacent to on Saturday nights to create a pedestrian zone.
Noting that foot traffic already routinely spills into the street due to the narrow sidewalks in front of The Abbey and Here Lounge, often leaving cars incapable of moving, D’Amico proposed having street vendors in the area or putting up tables and chairs in the street to add to the pedestrian zone atmosphere.
Other council members weren’t thrilled by the idea. Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land said that since the area was already busy on a Saturday night, there wasn't much reason for the city to try to bring more people there.
Councilmember John Heilman said that Robertson Boulevard already has plenty of excitement on a Saturday night, suggesting a better place for a pedestrian zone might be a block west on La Peer Drive or in West Hollywood Park. Heilman also suggested doing it on a slower night of the week would be better.
Mayor Jeff Prang, who co-sponsored the proposal, defended the idea, saying that having open public space would be a good amenity for the area.
Public weighs in
During public comment, several business owners along that stretch of Robertson Boulevard spoke against the idea, saying it would hurt their business, especially the valet parking lots there.
Councilmember John Duran suggested if they were to do the idea, the city could lease the lot from King Valet on Saturday nights and extend the pedestrian zone into that lot.
Another public commenter said that seeing sheriff’s deputies in the area with guns on their belts would scare people. Another commenter said that having deputies there would make people feel safer.
Santa Monica Boulevard Business Improvement District
Land, Heilman and Duran all suggested that the proposed Santa Monica Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID) should be the one to tackle such an idea. The city has long talked about creating a BID for the businesses in the Boystown area, similar to the BID along the Sunset Strip.
“If the city does everything, why would the BID get created?” Land asked, pointing out that if the BID were to initiate it, the idea would be more organic than if the city did it.
Not sensing enough support, D’Amico never called the item to a vote. Instead, the Council instructed City Manager Paul Arevalo to study the idea and report back to the Council in July.