LOS GATOS, Calif. (KTVU) - Starting Monday, part of the City of Los Gatos’ main thoroughfare North Santa Cruz Avenue will be converted from two lanes into a one-way street. The city hopes it will revitalize downtown and boost business. Some merchants think it will only make traffic worse.
For four blocks drivers can only head one way southbound between Bachman Avenue and Elm Street. For some residents, it's a friendlier feel.
“To see this starting today and it being a weekday, I think it's great,” said Manoj Walker of Los Gatos.
“The idea is to create a bigger sense of place for Los Gatos and to really bring people, invite people into the town,” said Director of Parks & Public Works Matt Morley.
Morley said the goal is to attract tourism dollars to the city's main drag. The town has seen seven downtown businesses vacate in the last six months.
Morley points to added angled parking as part of the makeover. Come this Wednesday, the city will install five new parklets, essentially parking spaces turned into outdoor dining and seating areas.
“We want people to know that we are open for business in Los Gatos and it's a great place to be,” said Morley.
The main reason why many people drive through Los Gatos as a shortcut onto Highway 17 to Santa Cruz.
“I don't get it,” said “Out of the Envelope” Owner Mary Guercio. “It makes no sense in the world to me. The traffic has been horrendous every summer. I don't think it's going to help at all.”
Guercio said the change will do little to fix the bigger problem of traffic.
“This is kind of crazy,” said Bryce Bandish of Los Gatos. “It’s only one lane now you can't go both directions. I don't know how you can go back unless you are on University.”
Bandish worries the new configuration will make University Avenue, a parallel street, worse especially for cyclists. City officials said the program isn't intended to solve the city's traffic problems.
“Give it a chance, work with it for a couple of weeks, people will get used to it,” said Morley.
The city said it’s an experiment for four months and North Santa Cruz Avenue will return to a two-way street on October 31. If it’s successful, the city could look at a more permanent project to include installing wider sidewalks.