Next steps for San Pedro pedestrian walkway

Restaurants fronting San Pedro Street and the City of San Jose are taking the next steps to create a permanent outdoor dining zone and pedestrian area that has proved wildly popular with most businesses and customers since the onset of the Covid pandemic in 2020.

On May 23, the City Council approved a design on the block between Santa Clara and St. John streets that essentially provides 20 feet on both sides of the street for restaurant seating and tables and the sidewalk extension fronting the MOMENT shops. A center strip along the length of the block that is also 20 feet wide will serve as a pedestrian zone and fire lane for emergencies.

The block is 60-feet wide from building to building, except for an additional 5-foot inset at Old Spaghetti Factory, District and Firehouse No. 1.

“We are excited about the new look,” said Randy Musterer, owner of Sushi Confidential.  “We understand that the City Council is trying to balance vibrancy in San Pedro Square and ensuring safety for our staff and patrons.  The mayor has been extremely active and we are starting to see some positive results.”

The adjustments under way include moving tables and chairs onto the sidewalks and part of the street, leaving the center strip open. During the pandemic, the sidewalks were left open to pedestrians on both sides of the street and the restaurants closest to Santa Clara Street leveled the entire width of the asphalt with temporary platforms for customer seating.

Though closed to passenger and commercial vehicles, the block will continue to have a temporary look. At the May meeting, the City Council also approved the beginning of a search by staff to find the estimated $10 million it could cost to transition the street into a permanent pedestrian zone.

“The current timeframe is 2-3 years until we have the formalized construction completed,” Musterer said. “In the meantime, all the businesses are coming together to help create an attractive layout and design prior to the city involvement.”

Discussions to close the street to through traffic have gone on for a decade or more. The City worked with businesses on a few pilot projects including closure of the block during the Downtown Farmer’s Market, Super Bowl 50 in 2016 and the College Football Championship the following year.

“The silver lining of the pandemic created a longer-term pilot study that allowed most businesses to not only survive, but thrive as we came out of it,’ Musterer said.

“This will be great for San Pedro businesses, especially when the city invests to beautify the street.  As it is today, San Pedro will be a destination for locals and visitors alike.”

Elements of the final design include:

City responsibilities:

  • The existing roadway replaced by concrete flush with sidewalk;
  • Colored concrete in the middle walkway;
  • Relocated fire hydrants;
  • Hydraulic bollards at St. John and Santa Clara streets;
  • Twenty-five additional street trees to enhance shade canopy;
  • Improved storm drainage system;
  • Modified traffic signals on Santa Clara Street.

Business responsibilities:

  • Sidewalk seating permit;
  • Design and installation of sidewalk seating in compliance with City regulations;
  • Maintenance of tables, chairs, landscaping and any barriers dividing edge of seating area from the walkway;
  • Maintaining Americans with Disabilities access.

Still to be worked out:

  • Some delivery and garbage pickup issues
  • Plans to changes to entrances and exits for the Market-San Pedro Square Garage. For now, The garage entrance on San Pedro Street will remain closed and the exit onto San Pedro Street near St. John will remain open.
  • Funding an estimated $10 million in improvements.

Council memo of May 12    City staff presentation

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