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.