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Open Thread: What Happens to Streets Post-Pandemic?

8:33 AM PDT on March 18, 2021

In a blatant end run around process, SFMTA staff eliminated the “no thru traffic” aspect of Slow Streets and installed these new signs. Image: SFMTA

Hopefully, the combination of increased vaccinations and declining case numbers means that the pandemic is indeed starting to wind down. Amongst the thousands of decisions that cities, counties and other government agencies will have to make is the one about what to do with street space that has been repurposed.

Where I live in Los Angeles, the city Transportation Department (LADOT) recently reached out to the volunteers that have been maintaining the Slow Streets program. The program has been a implemented in dozens of neighborhoods, and now LADOT is interested in discussing ways to make these temporary improvements more permanent. In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed announced an online portal for businesses to apply for a permit to make outdoor seating permanent in places where temporary seating was created during the pandemic.

Over the coming months, Streetsblog California be looking for some of the best, and worst, examples of cities/municipalities deciding what to do with temporary infrastructure and programs that were put in place. Will they keep these programs in place and build on them? Will they find ways to address the unequal way many of these programs were created and rolled out? In the comments below, let us know about your local experience with projects such as Slow Streets, Shared Spaces or similar programs. And whether or not your local government has announced what's happening to these projects when stay-at-home orders end.

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