The addition of round 4,000 new housing items over the course of 25 years. Two-way visitors on Lake and Seashore streets. A totally reimagined industrial district on Walker Avenue. A community of pedestrian “paseos” that gives secure strolling paths. The discount of 1 lane on Primary Avenue.
All of those concepts are a part of a wishlist included within the draft of the Downtown Watsonville Particular Plan, a complete planning doc within the works for the previous two years that can information improvement downtown, reviewed by the town’s advisory committee at a digital June 30 assembly.
A coalition of public officers, builders, enterprise homeowners, nonprofit leaders and neighborhood organizers, the committee requested questions and gave suggestions to the land-use advisor—Raimi + Associates—and Metropolis of Watsonville representatives on the gathering. Amongst their greatest areas of concern: The implementation of a “street food regimen” on Primary Avenue, the proposed plan for Walker Avenue, the discount of parking necessities and new land-use restrictions.
The discount of lanes, generally referred to by planners as a street food regimen, on Primary Avenue has been a scorching subject because it was first launched in 2019.
Metropolis workers says that the California Division of Transportation (Caltrans) is not solely tentatively on board with the challenge however is displaying curiosity in utilizing Watsonville as a street food regimen case research for different similar-sized communities which have a freeway thoroughfare operating by their downtown space.
“That is one thing that [Caltrans] want to discover as a part of their very own challenge,” Watsonville Principal Planner Justin Meek stated. “This might be one thing that the state would tackle, would design, would fund, would construct. It’s a very good profit for the town, itself, that the state would do on our behalf.”
The street food regimen included within the draft plan would change Primary Avenue from 4 lanes to a few lanes, with one lane in every path and a center turning lane and median. This might permit the addition of motorbike lanes and prolonged curbs and sidewalks alongside the road.
To ensure that that plan to maneuver ahead, the town should conduct an environmental influence report (EIR) to measure what impact it’s going to have on the realm. That EIR is underway and might be accomplished by the autumn, in accordance with Watsonville Neighborhood Improvement Division Director Suzi Merriam.
The street alterations don’t finish there. The draft plan additionally suggests altering East Lake Avenue and East Seashore Avenue in downtown to permit two-way visitors. Different streets equivalent to Union, Brennan and Rodriguez are listed within the plan as roads that can should be improved with bike lanes and bigger sidewalks if the street food regimen is authorised and visitors begins to spill into different areas.
One other bold plan included within the draft: A snaking pedestrian path linking the hall by companies, parks and housing developments. These so-called “paseos” would offer pedestrians with a solution to navigate downtown with out having to stroll alongside avenue visitors.
These walkways can be prime areas for avenue artwork, out of doors eating and leisure, the draft plan said.
The draft additionally lists a handful of “alternative websites” that, if redeveloped by the town or present landowners, may assist deal with housing and financial improvement downtown. These websites embrace Watsonville police headquarters and the outdated metropolis corridor between Union and Primary streets; the location that homes Ramos Furnishings and Habitat for Humanity ReStore subsequent to Financial institution of America on the nook of Primary and fifth streets; and the city-owned parking zone off of Union Avenue between East Lake Avenue and East Seashore Avenue.
The draft additionally suggests a wholesale makeover of a number of properties off Walker Avenue across the historic rail station. The stretch of Walker between Lake Avenue and Seashore Avenue may accommodate alternatives for housing, and business improvement that, planners say, would match the rising development of putting extra providers round transportation.
A number of committee members stated that with the latest defeat of Measure D which means plans for the rail path will probably transfer ahead, the redevelopment of websites throughout the road from the station is essential for the town’s progress and environmental sustainability. However earlier than that improvement happens, committee members urged that the town deal with pedestrian security within the space.
“Walkability between Walker to Primary Avenue is a bit difficult for seniors and folk with mobility points,” stated committee member Felipe Hernandez, the previous mayor of Watsonville and present candidate for Santa Cruz County Supervisor. “Right here on Ford Avenue, I see individuals attempting to stroll with walkers, with child carriages or on wheelchairs, they usually have to maneuver on the road due to phone poles and slender sidewalks.”
Parking & housing
In all, the draft plan tasks that the hall—with the initiatives recognized—may add roughly 3,910 housing items over 25 years.
A giant purpose why this could be a risk is the discount of parking necessities for housing developments. Builders would now not have to fulfill the present requirement of together with at the very least two parking areas for every studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom items included of their challenge. As well as, inexpensive housing tasks can be wholly exempt from minimal parking necessities, in accordance with the draft plan.
The plan additionally suggests the town change parking cut-off dates and pricing all through downtown to funnel guests to less-frequented spots and maximize the usage of city-owned parking tons.
One more reason why the variety of housing items may shortly improve: Initiatives within the core of downtown can now be constructed six tales tall—the utmost peak falls to a few tales as one strikes away from Primary Avenue into the adjoining neighborhoods to the east and west.
The committee additionally had issues concerning the land-use restrictions steered within the draft plan, which states that thrift outlets and vintage outlets would now not be allowed downtown.
Raimi + Associates planner Simran Malhotra stated that the draft plan excluded these companies—which additionally embrace pawn outlets—as a result of there are already a number of of those institutions downtown.
“The will is to encourage extra eating places, cafes and different sorts of makes use of inside that core space,” Malhotra stated, including that present thrift and vintage shops might be grandfathered into the hall.
However native artist Judy Gittelsohn stated that this might deter eclectic companies from shifting downtown. Gittelsohn, who final 12 months established Studio Judy G downtown, highlighted the success of classic houseware retailer SHEF in asking that these companies be included within the hall’s future.
“How do you permit for funky, little artisans to be within the city when you’re going to do that?” she requested. “I feel what you’re doing right here is slicing off your nostril to spite your face.”
The draft plan is open for public remark by July 14.
The advisory committee can have one other digital public assembly on July 21 wherein it’s going to go over the draft plan and the general public suggestions it acquired.
The plan, together with the EIR for the street food regimen, will probably go to the Watsonville Metropolis Council for approval within the late fall.
For info on the plan and to offer suggestions, go to cityofwatsonville.org/1626/Downtown-Particular-Plan.