Watsonville Update: Main St Improvements Approved, McDonalds next?
Things are growing in Watsonville. At the last Meeting on September 23rd, City Council approved the first stage of its Main St improvement project. The plan includes more sidewalk space, public art and parklets, as well as reducing the number of lanes between River and Beach St from 4 lanes down to 2 lanes. Lane reduction may sound counter-intuitive, but it has been demonstrated in studies of successful downtowns that the optimal speed of travel on main streets is 23MPH – in Watsonville it is currently 40MPH. In other words, people currently drive through Downtown Watsonville, they don’t stop to smell the flowers and grab coffee, or lunch, or anything else for that matter.
City Council’s 5-1 vote approving this first phase of the project is a big step towards making the Downtown a destination and will serve as a pilot for the rest of Watsonville’s Main St. (Main St is also State Highway 152 and currently managed by the state with the exception of the segment currently selected for improvement. The State has agreed to cede control of the rest of Main St back to Watsonville in the next 18 months).
At the same meeting, the council approved construction of a McDonalds restaurant at Main Street near Riverside Drive with a 6-0 vote. But the project requires changes to an ordinance governing drive-through restaurants. The council is scheduled to take a second vote on that provision this Tuesday, Oct. 14. The agenda item reads as follows:
6.1 FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES OF APPLICATION (PP2014-175) FOR A REZONING FROM INSTITUTIONAL ZONING (N) TO CENTRAL COMMERCIAL (CC) FOR PARCEL A.P.N. 017-183-04 WITH CONSIDERATION OF A TEXT AMENDMENT FOR ALLOWANCE OF DRIVE-THROUGHS WITH A SPECIAL USE PERMIT IN THE CC ZONE FILED BY CORE STATES GROUP (MCDONALD’S) (Recommended by Principal Planner Boyle)
Argument Against by Jacob Martinez, DigitalNest founder :”There are many people in this community that have been working to make Watsonville a cultural hub along the Central Coast. We need downtown Watsonville to be a cultural center, which will draw in visitors and support our economy. Fast food is not going to bring visitors into Watsonville. What McDonald’s will be is a message that we support unhealthy food and lifestyles.”
Argument For by Councilwoman Trina Coffman-Gomez: “Replacing long vacant and neglected buildings with a McDonald’s isn’t a first choice, but it is the only option available after a Walgreens proposal fell through last year and no one else emerged to invest in the property. We have someone from our community willing to make that commitment and the reputation to make it successful.”
What do you think? Cast your vote and leave a comment under item 6.1 of the Civinomics interactive meeting agenda.