Mauling K Street

The conventional wisdom regarding those people in Southern California is that they’re married to their cars.

So many people in Los Angeles thought the idea of a pedestrian mall in Santa Monica would be a failure. Californians, it seems, would rather drive right up to a store and jump back in their car rather than walk from shop to shop. But the city decided, for redevelopment reasons, to close down Third Street to car traffic anyway and open it up to people à pied.

The last time I was there on a weekend night it was packed with people looking for a good time and a place to spend their money. Restaurants, movie theaters, shops and nightclubs were all within a few blocks. When people couldn’t figure out a place to go, there was always the Third Street Promenade. Parking only once was a blessing.

The success of the K Street Mall hasn’t been as dramatic. And now Sacramento’s development people are examining the possibility of opening the street up to cars (see “God, cars and shoppers” by Cosmo Garvin, page 15). It seems business people think that bringing back cars will bring more shoppers.

I suggest they look at the mix of stores, entertainment venues and restaurants and suggest ways to offer incentives to bring in a better mix before we revert back to Southern California car culture.