Dramatic traffic changes coming to downtown Los Gatos as officials implement road diet

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KGO) -- As part of our efforts to Build A Better Bay Area, we're focused on sharing solutions to some of the challenges we face on a daily basis. In the South Bay, dramatic traffic-related changes will soon be coming to the heart of downtown Los Gatos as officials implement a road diet on one of the city's busiest streets. City planners hope it'll attract more business downtown by making a major change.

Starting July 8, Santa Cruz Ave. between Bachman Ave. and Elm St. will turn into a one-way street until Oct. 31. City planners are using the opportunity to re-imagine the future of downtown, one that they hope will lead to the main drag becoming more of a gathering place for the community.

"We're looking at potentially wider sidewalks in the future, to keep up with the times, and change the look, and help people to continue to enjoy the dynamic," said Matt Morley, Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Director.

The city is adding seven parklets -- protected areas converted from parking spaces -- which will provide more seating outside. A new bike lane is being added, as well as diagonal parking to ensure that no spaces are lost.

David MacGregor-Scholes, co-owner of the Redemption retail store on Santa Cruz Ave. believes the enhancements will help make the area more vibrant.

"It's going around that Los Gatos is dying, that people are leaving. But, essentially for us, we see it as every town has to evolve. Every town has to try and attract new business," said MacGregor-Scholes.

Many people are excited about the changes, but others are somewhat skeptical. Over the years, traffic on the weekends has become an unbearable mess for some, as drivers use downtown to cut through on their way to the beach in Santa Cruz.

"Most of the locals don't come down here because they know they'll be stuck in traffic most of the day," said Los Gatos resident Dave Vierhus. "It's gridlock across the neighborhoods."

The pilot will cost $225,000 and is being paid for with money from the city's general fund. Santa Cruz Ave. will return to a two-way street at the end of the program.

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