The Danville Town Council is set for a study session Tuesday in which they will review an update on the long-discussed Downtown Master Plan that includes the use of federal pandemic relief funds and plans for continued outdoor dining.
At their last meeting on the topic on May 17, council members sought to advance proposed projects that would use the town's allotment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for one of three projects set for further analysis. They also eliminated a proposed plan that would have converted Prospect Avenue into a one-way street.
The three proposed projects that could be funded through the town's ARPA allotment consist of a sidewalk expansion on Hartz Avenue, a Church Street Plaza and a Prospect Avenue "Public Realm" from Hartz Avenue to Front Street. Town staff were also directed to consider whether additional street lighting could be funded through ARPA as part of the next improvements to the downtown area, in which those funds will be available.
The Hartz Avenue Sidewalk Expansion, or Project A, has two proposed options: Area 1, north of Diablo Road, or Area 2, south of Diablo Road. Both proposed projects are meant to "increase the pedestrian realm," by increasing space for pedestrians and implementing measures aimed at enhancing traffic safety.
Each option would primarily benefit one downtown block, with 14 on-street parking spots set to be eliminated with either option. In Area 1, this would leave zero remaining parking spots, while in Area 2, 17 parking spots would be retained.
Staff have also prepared a partial expansion alternative, which would expand the sidewalk along Hartz Avenue at select locations, and a full expansion alternative, which would expand the sidewalks on both sides of the block and an existing small, public park.
The Church Street Plaza proposal, or Project B, would maintain the same objectives of increasing the pedestrian realm and enhancing pedestrian safety, by adding additional sidewalk space and implementing traffic mitigation measures. The project would benefit two downtown blocks, and see the elimination of 17 on-street parking spaces, leaving zero remaining in the area.
Staff also suggest considering expanding the proposed Church Street Plaza to connect with or complement a Theatre Plaza concept in the Arts District.
"One of the primary objectives of the Church Street Plaza is to improve the east-west pedestrian connection across the downtown," according to the staff report prepared by Jill Bergman, the town's business and economic development director, and assistant town manager Tai Williams.
"Consequently, it may be appropriate to consider the Theatre Plaza concept as either an extension of the Church Street Plaza project or a stand-alone project that could activate this underutilized public space," the report continued.
Of all the proposed projects and alternatives, the Prospect Avenue Public Space proposal, or Project C, would add the most pedestrian space: 7,195 square feet. It would expand the sidewalk in the northern part of the area and add tree grates. While eliminating the 17 on-street parking spaces on the northern part of the block, the proposed project would retain parking on the other side of the street.
With the exception of the full expansion alternative for Project A, Project C is the only one on the table for discussion in which its completion within the required timeline for ARPA funding is in question, with 18 to 24 months estimated for construction following a nine to 12-month planning phase.
Staff note that the council could also consider a hybrid project consisting of raised intersections at Hartz and Linda Mesa and Prospect avenues, and Church Street, and specialty lights aimed at offering artistic flair as well as enhanced visibility for pedestrians. This option would be attainable within the ARPA timeframe, with six months estimated for design and three to six months estimated for construction.
In addition to increased pedestrian space, town staff are offering suggested options for how to proceed with continued expanded outdoor dining.During the early months of the pandemic through the present day, increased outdoor dining and the construction of parklets was authorized in Danville via the use of temporary land use permits (TLUPs). This option is set to expire starting in January.
Staff are asking the council to consider whether to allow the use of TLUPs to sunset in January, returning outdoor dining to pre-pandemic norms, or to continue expanded outdoor dining and parklets by transitioning TLUPs to outdoor seating encroachment permits. The latter would require an amendment to the Downtown Business District ordinance, and the development of new implementation guidelines.
The Danville Town Council's study session is scheduled for Tuesday (June 14) at 8:30 a.m. The agenda is available here.
In other business Tuesday morning, council members will discuss a Housing Element Schedule update, the implementation of a hybrid format for public meetings in Danville, and the next steps and options for a planned playground replacement at Oak Hill Park.