Walnut Creek "mobility" gripe No. 2: Where the sidewalk ends on Newell Avenue, and it shouldn’t…

First, I should explain the use of the term “mobility” in both these post and the one prior.

“Mobility” was the catch-all term that arose during the city-hosted Community Conversation workshops this fall to apply to all issues that pertain to how cars, trucks, buses, bikes, and people move in around town.


And, so here is one of my Walnut Creek mobility gripes. It has to do with how you’re strolling along Newell Avenue, or South Main Street, and you come to the southeast corner of the Newell Avenue and South Main intersection. If you want to walk east on Newell, along the south side of the avenue, between Newell and San Ramon Creek, you immediately lose the sidewalk once you come to the Terrace Shops strip mall.

If you want to walk between Newell Avenue and San Ramon Creek, you have to leave the sidewalk and pass through the mall’s parking lot. This is true for anyone passing from downtown, the Kaiser medical center, and Pacific Bay Coffee Company or George’s Giant Hamburger in the Terrace Shops mall towards Whole Foods and the northern entrance to Las Lomas High School.
Sure, coming to the end of the sidewalk and passing through the parking lot is not that big of deal. But there are cars coming and going and backing in and out of a bustling small mall.
And the thing is, this gap in a pedestrian walkway in a downtown commercial area runs counter to the goals of Walnut Creek’s General Plan 2025. In the Plan’s Chapter 5, the Transportation section, the city established some guidelines.
The plan says that the city should require “full-frontage” curb and sidewalk improvemtns in all commercial areas, and that these sidwalks should be a minimum of 10 feet wide.

The Terrace Shops were built a while back. The center has been in Walnut Creek from the time I was a kid. So, no doubt, the city government, way back then, probably didn’t impose any sidewalk requirements on the original developer. In the General Plan 2025, the city says it wants to require that sidewalks be installed at the time of development. However, it acknowledges that “the burden to install as well as maintain sidewalks in most cases rests with the property owner.”

Still, the General Plan makes it clear that the city hopes to correct the development mistakes of the past, and presumably that would one day include adding a sidewalk to the Newell Avenue frontage of the Terrace Shops mall. On the other hand, that’s a pretty narrow parking lot. Making room for a sidewalk would take serious width away from an already narrow, crowded parking lot.

7 thoughts on “Walnut Creek "mobility" gripe No. 2: Where the sidewalk ends on Newell Avenue, and it shouldn’t…

  1. How about where main crosses over 680?

    Maybe if people gripe enough the city can employ eminent domain via “blight” (you know when things dont match current code) and low ball the property owners and build more condos and multi level commercial spaces. Since there just doesnt seem to be any commercial real estate available in the city. The cool part is the various commissions council(s) can meet with the their friendly developers ahead of time to grease the skids and make it all a done deal before the citizenry knows what hit them.


  2. Oh drat and I forgot that would be a GREAT way (eminent domain) to get rid of those pesky home owners that have a low property tax base (the ones that bought their house years ago) and live in one of the many neighborhoods that don't have sidewalks. Just think, of all the fresh kick back money for the “deciders” and new condo's and apartments the WC can have. (just not in northgate where the deciders all live)


  3. That little parking center has always been my least favorite in WC. It is always so tight, low visibility, and it's always busy! Not a very safe lot.


  4. S Mom,

    You do have a very short memory in regard to the 2025 General Plan. All the work and money spent on it was an exercise in futility in that it flew out the window with the first request for a variance that came along……Neiman Marcus. I seem to remember that you supported that variance as being good for the city.

    Now you have the audacity to cite the goals of the 2025 General Plan because you don't like the fact that there is a break in the sidewalk on Newell Avenue.

    I have lived here for over 40 years and never remember there being a sidewalk on that stretch of Newell and don't think that it has ever been a priority for pedestrians or the city planners and council. Go figure…..


  5. Anon 4:32,

    If memory serves me correctly, four zoning variances a year are specifically allowed by the General Plan. Get real – it's a General Plan not the Ten Commandments. The process has by no means been abused.

    And, over 71% of the voters approved the project when the evil Taubman Corporation (and the locals that they duped) forced the Neiman-Marcus project on the ballot. The local supporters said that they would honor the decisions of the voters. Why don't you?

    Taubman Corp. also tried by their their evil means to manipulate local government in West Hartford, Connecticutt. Taubman was forced to pay $34M for their crimes last week.

    Let's get over this now.

    Happy New Year.


  6. 6:44…

    I do not need a lecture on the evils of rival mall companies. All I was attempting to do was point out that the aim of the 2025 General Plan was yes, being ignored in 2008 when our local mall company came to the council with their original plans for Neiman Marcus that required extensive variances to the GP.

    I do not wish to rehash the merits of the addition of another department store to our downtown area as that chapter in our towns history is closed.

    You are mistaken in believing that I do not honor the decision of the voters in this matter. I, for one, am very pleased that we did have the opportunity to vote on this issue and in the end we got a much better project because of the evil mall companies' squabbles.

    Merry Christmas!


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