Taking A Close Look At Village Future

LA MESA -- The title of tonight's workshop was clearly the product of those who are a little too close to the government details. Downtown Specific Plan Update has all the sex appeal of, say, a long visit to a dentist who has run out of laughing gas.
Still, the gathering at the Community Center does include a discussion of policy issues that will shape the way the future Village of La Mesa looks and operates.
That plan -- the Downtown Sepcific Plan -- is sort of a constitution that will guide the city's oversight of development efforts and operation of businesses in a Village area that is about to undergo a major facelift.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, for example, City Manager Dave Witt warned that one of the subjects that will be discussed at tonight's meeting is the city's handling of commerce occuring in the city's right of way in front of La Mesa Boulevard businesses.

In recent years, restaurants have added capacity by adding outdoor tables and other retailers -- second hand clothing stores and antique dealers, for example -- have regularly added outdoor tables to display their wares.

That has resulted in some pretty tight spaces, including some areas where pedestrians are forced into virtual single-file. (Photo above shows the labyrinth-like passages in front of Swami's and Cosmos, two popular downtown restaurants.)

With the impending rebuilding of La Mesa Boulevard's streetscape, "we thought it was a good time to tighten up our oversight in this area and get back to the original intent of when the city first approved patios,'' Witt said.

That "original intent" was for eating establishments and those businesses with outdoor patios have been assured they will still have that privilege where it is possible in the new street configuations to come, city staff has said. However the restaurants and other retailers may face more size limitations and more rigidly enforced rules over how much encroachment is acceptable in the city's new sidewalks.

Tonight's meeting is at 5:30 at the Community Center. (See poster below).

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Comment by Sara Kazemi on May 31, 2013 at 6:28am

It would be amazing if the section of La Mesa Blvd between Acacia and 4th were a walking/biking boulevard. That would open up the space for pedestrians considerably. Walking can be cramped on the sidewalks as it is now and biking on the streets, one often gets pushed aside by car traffic or passed unsafely (cars cross over the double yellow lines) even though there are regular stop signs that should deter cars from going much faster than a bike in this area.

Comment by Kevin G George on May 30, 2013 at 10:38am

Gosh, it sounds like most would be happier in San Diego.

Hopefully you will all be at the workshop tonight.

Comment by Sharon Muczynski on May 30, 2013 at 9:11am

Give La Mesa outdoor seating and SHADE trees not palm trees. Look at other successful outdoor communities like North Park and Hillcrest, they have large outdoor patios overlooking the street and plentiful leafy trees to provide shade. Palm trees do not shade and are maintenance NIGHTMARES! 

Comment by Willamarie Harrington on May 30, 2013 at 9:11am

I say we need diversity and a facelift.  We do not need another antique store, thrift shop, bar or liquor store!!!  I agree with previous comment.  Outdoor seating is more welcoming and adds to the charm of downtown areas.  We need forward thinkers in charge, our downtown is drab and totally not inviting!

Comment by midge hyde on May 30, 2013 at 8:42am

I hope La Mesa takes an idea form San Diego and simplifies the outdoor eating area process. Here in this climate there should be fewer restrictions on outdoor eating areas and the ambiance they create not more restrictions. Outdoor patios are much more welcoming.  M

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