Restaurants and other businesses in Santa Fe trying to survive under occupancy restrictions imposed by the state as part of an ongoing effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 will be allowed to expand their footprint outside.
Mayor Alan Webber and the City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday to approve a resolution that establishes a framework for the closure of city streets to vehicles through at least Halloween.
“You guys went against the voice of the community, and I have to vote ‘no,’ ” said City Councilor Michael Garcia, who proposed an unsuccessful amendment to keep San Francisco Street open between Galisteo Street and Cathedral Place.
While at least one street bordering the Santa Fe Plaza must be accessible to vehicles “at all times” under the measure, an effort by Garcia and City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler to exclude San Francisco Street failed.
“My whole thing here with the San Francisco Street staying open is I have a belief that we have enough controversy in this city right now — we have enormous controversy,” said Vigil Coppler, referring to divisions over historical monuments, among other issues. “We have petitions every which way, and one of them is this one.”
The possibility of closing San Francisco Street generated strong objections from some native Santa Feans and also sparked a petition started by former City Councilor Ron Trujillo and signed by nearly 3,000 people opposing such a closure.
“We as councilors, we listen to the people when we’re out there asking for their vote,” Garcia said. “But we’re not out there listening to that when they’re asking us to do the work on their behalf. So think about your vote.”
Garcia urged his colleagues to not be “dismissive” of the public, who he said in some instances were “shouting from the rooftops, ‘Do not close San Francisco Street.’ ” He said he received “overwhelming requests” to keep the street open.
Webber, who sponsored the resolution, which initially called for the closure of San Francisco Street, said it was “premature” to presume the roadway would be closed.
“We won’t be voting on what gets closed or not. This would be a professional decision based on the expertise of the city staff,” the mayor said. “We won’t be taking it into our own hands.”
Under the resolution, temporary street closures will be established through the issuance of an “obstruction of streets permit” issued by the city’s Public Works Department. At least 75 percent of the businesses and residents whose primary access is on the street must support the proposed street closure. The proposal also calls for all streets surrounding the Plaza to be open to vehicular traffic during designated cruise nights.
Streets deemed as “major arterials and collectors,” such as Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive, will not be eligible for street closures.