Palo Alto Brings Car Traffic Back to Streets Closed During the Pandemic

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A man glances into ZombieRunner coffee shop as he strides along a quiet sidewalk in downtown Palo Alto on March 12, 2020.  (Glenn Chapman / AFP)

Palo Alto officials next month plan to reopen University Avenue and some other streets that had been closed to car traffic during the pandemic. Some retailers say turning streets into outdoor dining areas has hurt their businesses by reducing parking spaces and covering up storefronts.  Meanwhile many restaurant owners, especially those who invested in furniture and parklets, want to keep streets closed to continue serving customers outside. Various cities are facing similar dilemmas about whether to reopen streets and effective ways to support businesses. We’ll talk about how cities and residents are rethinking uses for public roadways and spaces. 


Tom DuBois, mayor, Palo Alto

Mistie Boulton, owner and CEO, Oren's Hummus, Israeli restaurant with six Bay Area locations, catering company and packaged food maker based in Palo Alto

Vibhu Norby, founder and CEO, b8ta, a retail-as-a-service company with nine stores including one in downtown Palo Alto

Benjamin Grant, urban design consultant, practictioner and teacher, former urban design policy director for SPUR, a regional planning and urban research association