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.

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“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.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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(17) comments

Maxwell Vertical

The sanctimonious nanny state led by the mayor has taken over Santa Fe.

Nicoletta Munroe

The Santa Plaza is an historic site that is a community space, drawing visitors and residents to admire the nation's oldest state capital and oldest government building (Palace of the Governors). The Santa Fe Plaza roads are under siege from noise caused by vehicles that blare music and motorcycles zooming at dangerous rates of speed, causing air and noise pollution and interrupting pedestrians whom are strolling. Because the noise level is so egregious the drivers have lost the respect of the community. A quiet safe atmosphere from some road closures may bring more families to the Plaza who can enjoy ice cream and family time. Remember children's ears are sensitive to base music sound, blaring mufflers, and loud music. How can we learn about Native American art, architecture, and cuisine, if there is neon, noise, and a boisterous presence? Remember the Santa Fe Plaza is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, thus it is a privilege to spend time there.

Khal Spencer

My motorcycle has a stock muffler and is pretty quiet. My right to ride a motorcycle is not more important than someone else's right to be free from deafening and unnecessary noise.

David Martinez

So, this is being done to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. I call bull on that one. One is more isolated driving down San Francisco Street then they are parking in the city parking lot and walking to the Plaza. However, and the city won't say it, they don't make money when people just drive down the street, they do when they use the parking garages or meters.

Barbara Harrelson

"Designated cruise nights"? This muddled process is another example of the current chaos engulfing our rudderless city government. We have serious issues to address and the public needs to be listened to, not automatically dictated to. The intent to make more outdoor dining available to help local businesses is a good one, but I am doubtful that the necessary divisions of local government can get their acts together in order to make it work--and again, we have a mayor and his executive staff that act often on impulse instead of having clear plans that get vetted appropriately.

Khal Spencer

Ok, speaking for myself here and not for any government committee I might be on. All they really did was empower the professional staff in Public Works to decide whether to close streets. I guess that is a far better move than having city councilors make technical decisions since some folks with PTOE and other traffic professional hats will be worrying about transportation effectiveness. But still, with the city government essentially in a lockdown, its hard to show up and question the people making these decisions or see their rationales, so I see Councilor Garcia and Councilor Vigil Coppler's point and thank them for their dissent (I've worked with both on the BTAC).

Heck, the BTAC will not even be meeting till the Fall, presuming we ever meet again. I don't know what other public hearings have gone down the tubes as well. Back in normal times, one would have hoped for a public hearing to discuss specifics and I guess that is what rubs a lot of folks the wrong way.

As far as the Mayor and Council, as I said to a DPS technical person the other day, thanks for doing your best in these difficult times.

Christian Vanschayk

There is nothing irrevocable about this initiative. Let’s give it a try. If it proves unworkable, we cancel.

David Cartwright

Does this group have a clue what they are doing? Trying to figure out this article and the Council debate almost made my head explode.

Stefanie Beninato

Watching the discussion on this resolution was painful--definitely a sausage making experience. Maybe the council should have insisted on a public input before passing this resolution. And we should all know that the proposal to charge $100 for an undisclosed amount of public outdoor space (sidewalk or street) was dropped--without any discussion and now these restaurant owners and retailers will get to use these public spaces for FREE for several months. Does the city attorney or anyone else at city hall know how to say ANTI DONATION CLAUSE VIOLATION (emphasis)?

Judith Senda

Looking forward to watching the hilarity that ensues as stores fronting San Francisco try to get their deliveries, cars can no longer cross on OSF, and guests try to park in La Fonda‘s garage. This is going to be a hoot! Good job as always, Mr. Mayor.

philip kessler

How does closing San Francisco St eliminate locals?

Kathy Fish

Hear hear! The healthiest cities in the world have walking streets - and now we're joining them. Richard R seems to believe it'll make SF a ghost town....but he obviously hasn't been downtown recently. Our city's packed with out-of-towners and locals alike, and giving folks a place to stroll is just what everyone needs after months of being cooped up, staring at screens, and scorning our president. Hate all you want, but we walkers have got good health, fitness, and fresh air on our side.

Richard Reinders

You can and do walk San Fran with the street open as well as closed that won't change, only time will tell if this is a good idea or not, parking is already a pain this just adds to the issue. I had a business downtown in 2009 , 2010 and it was extremely hard to do deliveries without getting tickets this will just amplify the problem.

Lupe Molina

Hooray! Great victory for local small businesses. I'd encourage the two councilors who voted against this to consider what Councilor Garcia said: think carefully about how you vote. The shrillest and loudest voices do not always represent the majority. Neither provided very good reasoning for their votes. Let's have our city council make decisions based on evidence and research, not intimidation.

Nicoletta Munroe

Michale Garcia, when he was on the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Santa Fe County, was disinterested, seemed preoccupied, and even lobbed rude remarks toward at least one woman. He never prepared an agenda in advance of the Rules Committee he chaired. Once, he waxed to us (the Rules Committee) about how one does not need a law degree to be governor of this state. When I argued with him he tried to bet me "a cupcake". I declined.

BOB SCHWARTZ

i don't thinking closing downtown is necessarily a bad thing. I do think there should have been more discussion groups. Ghost town and alienate locals, maybe, it depends exactly how much of downtown is shut. Time will tell . I think they are catering to a tourist crowd that spends money and while i think some locals will go downtown to spend money, i think the net affect is negligible.

Richard Reinders

Can you say ghost town, you will finally have pushed all the locals out, Webbers plan is working.

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