After closing off its main street for almost five months due to the pandemic, Pleasanton will reopen the street to vehicle traffic and parking starting Tuesday.
The planned reopening has generated mixed feelings. Downtown will still retain some of its pop-up outdoor dining areas, but diners will once again have to share the area with cars.
City leaders first created the closure so shops – mainly restaurants – could open areas called parklets for curbside activities such as outdoor dining.
The so-called "Weekend on Main" closure first started in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. It resumed again on April 30 of this year. Recently, the city council decided to allow the parklets to remain until the end of the year but voted to reopen Main Street to traffic and parking after the holiday weekend.
"I’m kind of disappointed," Bill Wilcox of Pleasanton said. "I think it should go another few more weeks at least, I think. Let the shop owners and restaurateurs have a few more weeks at it anyway."
Others said they'll miss the atmosphere.
"I would hate to see the parklets go," Nancy Marks of Pleasanton said. "I know they’re talking about December at this point, but I think it’s a win-win for the city."
While restaurants generally benefitted from the street closures, other retail shops said there are pros and cons.
Studio Seven Arts owner Dirk Christiansen said it isn’t just cafes utilizing the curbside space.
"We put artists outside on the street too on Friday and Saturday nights," he said. "They came out and they paint or show their art. They’re demonstrating their artwork, whatever it may be. So, we’ve had a lot of success with that."
Eric Edgar from the Wine Steward shop said the closure didn't work for them.
"I feel good about them reopening the street," Edgar said. "For a retail business downtown here, this has really hurt us in that we’re selling wine, we’re selling boxes. We want to sell cases of wine. This is not something that you’re going to lug three blocks to your car for parking."
In making their decision, city leaders said they wanted to open up access to businesses since many make most of their money during the last part of the year and the holidays. Plus, a number of upcoming downtown festivals need the street parking.
No one has ruled out closing Main Street again if the COVID-19 situation doesn’t get better.