These days, Walnut Creek is the hip place to be. But at its heart, our city is still the little town of 60,000 suburban residents, nestled in the shadow of Mt. Diablo. So, with the influx of visitors to Walnut Creek, one of the issues that have cropped up has been especially glaring: parking.
Or, rather, the lack thereof. With a rising demand in downtown parking options, Walnut Creek has started offering long-term street parking in “underutilized” areas outside the downtown core center.
We actually have some long-term meters just outside our offices here at Better Homes and Gardens, which are marked with purple poles. The new meters will cost $1 per hour, and do not contain the 2-hour limit imposed by regular meters downtown.
It will be interesting to see if this move pays off to unclog the downtown area during peak hours. I haven’t personally noticed a difference yet, but the idea is a bit retro. Another thought, how about outside the core downtown parking is free on Sundays? I can’t park in my office garage on Sundays, but can still get a ticket. You can see more about the long-term street parking below.
In a recent survey given by the Walnut Creek City Council about proposed land use and circulation concepts, we saw some interesting results about what citizens want to see in the future. Take a look at the survey results here.
For example, people really seem to like the idea of bike lanes, but want landscaping and extra parking even more, and most don’t want additional living spaces.
One theme throughout the results was that people want more creative, walkable spaces. One question asks if facilitating a “Makers’ Row” along Pine St. for hand-crafted manufacturing spaces like brewing, ceramics and jewelry-making was a priority. An overwhelming 75.1 percent of respondents supported that idea.
Most questions regarding more office or living developments were either split evenly or heavily disfavored. It seems like residents of Walnut Creek are more interested in retail and restaurant spaces, publicly usable areas and space that encourages outdoor activity than just another apartment building.
In fact, 74.2 percent of respondents support an arts-entertainment-hospitality district that might include an outdoor plaza for events and with a focus on public art. A general question about enhancing the public realm with small public plazas, parklets and seating areas received a whopping 79 percent approval on the survey.
When the survey then asked what that proposed arts-entertainment-hospitality district would look like, hotels, conference facilities and mixed-use living/work spaces were all not supported by the majority of respondents. Anywhere from 65 to 81 percent of people who responded did support restaurants, retail, art galleries and theaters in that section of the survey, though.
This is an interesting glimpse into the potential future of our great little city. What do you have to say about the poll? Do you agree or disagree with the results?
I have some unsurprising news, fellow Walnut Creekians: another block of high-rise apartments is expected to go up in the downtown area soon.
This time, it’ll be where the Newell Promenade is (360 Burritos, former home of Taxi’s, etc.), across from Kaiser. A developer bought the commercial space and they want to develop it into a mixed space with retail on the bottom and more apartments above. It would include a 5-story, 120,574-sq. ft. building with 102 residential apartments, more retail than is currently in the plaza, plus two levels of parking.
There have been discussions about utilizing the creek in that area; I can see a restaurant with a patio overlooking the creek, but then where would the front entrance be?
The developers who bought the buildings in the Newell Promenade have had conversations about presenting ideas formally to the Parkmead and other surrounding neighborhoods. So far, they’ve had two conversations with members of the Parkmead Community Association but only got some basic input and opinions; not a representation of the entire community. There have also been some informal meetings amongst home owners and attendance at the planning committee.
Walnut Creek City Council asked the group to prove more what they want to do and to make the presentation more user-friendly. Then we will see how it works out. I asked my favorite cleaners – Vogue, who currently are doing business in the Newell Promenade, what their thoughts were. They think it will be a few years out before anything happens and they have another two years on their lease, so they can’t worry about what will be and only continue to focus on their business. My biggest concern will be how much the rents will go up and whether my cleaners will be able to stay at that location.
Also, on a sidenote, the city is finally putting in a z-shaped crosswalk to make it safer. We won’t have to worry about running over people scurrying across that busy road between Kaiser and Newell Promenade!