West End Pearl Street Re-Opening
During the pandemic, restaurants and retailers had to find a way to keep their businesses open, after originally being forced to close. Many restaurants, in particular, got creative and leaned into the al fresca dining culture. One way City Council temporarily facilitated this transition was through closure of the west end of Pearl Street, from 9th to 12th Streets, to auto traffic.
As impacts of the pandemic have begun to fade, it was time to reconsider the closure of west Pearl Street. We find that many businesses in that area were seeing a decrease in profitability attributed to reduced customer access to their locations. Even with the outdoor dining opportunity, customers weren’t frequenting restaurants or retail establishments as much as they did prior to the pandemic. It is with these business impacts in mind and recognizing the vitality they bring to the West Pearl zone, that the Boulder Chamber supported the re-opening of that street to auto traffic.
We wrote a letter to City Council on this topic where we emphasize the clearly evident loss of business that the West End is still experiencing compared to the rest of Pearl Street and the City as a whole
The Boulder Chamber’s policy framework emphasizes developing spaces and creative policies for small businesses to locate, grow and flourish. Our framework also asks for a comprehensive review of any processes impacting these qualities. A decision to permanently close West Pearl would clearly violate our policy tenants, as well as the City of Boulder’s historically deliberative model. Forcing local area restaurants and retail stores to re-evaluate their viability when there are no public emergency places political trends over thoughtful analysis.
This is aside from the sign of disregard it would evidence for the parking impacts in residential areas and the access challenges for those with limited physical mobility.
We applaud the commitment from the City to engage with stakeholders for a thoughtful engagement process that will bring people, businesses, and communities together to discuss how to best create viable public spaces for our entire city. You can read more about the City Council deliberations on this issue and the decision to reopen West Pearl to vehicle traffic here.
City Council member Wallach noted during a mid-September meeting, restaurants operate thin margins and are a labor of love, yet we now see many vacant lots on the West End. Let’s recommit to our business owners who have invested their capital into a business they love and remember that our community thrives on their success.