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Promenade Action Plan

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After a year of study and community input, the Downtown Redding Transportation Plan was presented in greater detail at Community Workshop #2 on September 24, 2015. Drawings show Market Street open to vehicular traffic between Tehama and Placer Streets; proposed 4-5 story parking structure on the corners of California/Tehama Streets and California/Placer Streets to replace aging structures; and bicycle trails that connect Turtle Bay with downtown and the south River Trail at Diestelhorst Bridge.

Detailed schematics show what opening up Market street again to vehicular traffic might look like – complete with “raised pedestrian tables” at intersections, bollards, specialty paving, street parks, parklets, seat walls, cafe seating, bike racks, fountains, overhead lighting, shade trees/building canopies and more.

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I was impressed with the broadening and shifting of priorities among transportation engineers who admittedly used to just look at expediting vehicular traffic. An approved plan will help obtain grants through CalTrans to implement bike trail portions of the plan.

There is little question that reintroducing vehicular traffic to all of Market Street is essential. This was included in the Downtown Specific Plan back in 2001. What needs to be articulated, however, is a strategic plan of how to make some actual headway to implement segments of the plan over time.

It seems obvious that the kingpin in the proposal is redevelopment of the former Dickers department store property, now owned by K2. The developers seem amenable to dedicating right-of-way encroachments into Butte, Market and Yuba Streets, but financing for this venture is tied to market feasibility of a mixed use, mid-rise structure over what is now a subterranean parking lot. Opening up this “C shaped” section to traffic will put pressure on further opening up Butte and Yuba completely toward the west to again connect California and Pine streets with two-way cross traffic, but two buildings in the right-of-way would first have to be acquired and the existing parking structure modified.

Sale of city-owned parcels along the east side of California Street (currently used as one long parking structure) presumably would provide funds for further downtown improvements.

Building encroachments in the southern most section of Market Street between Yuba and Placer (including the Promenade building) make opening this section to vehicular traffic problematic and could undermine momentum for reinvigorating the whole of downtown Redding if not resolved.

One weak link in the proposed plan, in my opinion, is the notion of 4-5 story parking structures, which are estimated to cost from $7-10 million each. During the presentation I sat next to Craig Kaffert, who owns three properties in downtown and is a vocal critic of reintroducing paid parking in downtown Redding. Many cities such as Fresno have paid parking, but there first has to be reinvigorated business activity in downtown Redding. Let’s not let disagreements about parking details gut City Council’s desire to move forward and reinvigorate downtown.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle (or excuse) to implementation of a Downtown Redding Transportation Plan is the 2012 State dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies. There won’t be much of an “action plan” if there is not a strategic plan for staged implementation and financing the proposal. This needs more work.

It is my hope that the Transportation Plan’s beautiful drawings and appealing ideas for reinvigorating downtown Redding will create pressure for political leadership to make this a priority and find a way to make it happen, one step at a time, but soon.

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