SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a popular tourist destination but as businesses try to get people to visit again they say too many cars are getting in the way. The idea is to transform San Francisco Street in downtown Santa Fe into a destination for shopping, food, and live music like something you would see in Europe.
“They want something where they can have an intermingling with people. Real people to sit down and talk,” says Joe De Bella.
San Francisco Street shop owners Uli Campbell and Joe De Bella created a petition to make the street a car-free zone. “It will help all the merchants because social distancing is so hard, look at the sidewalks they are very narrow,” said Campbell.
With dozens of local businesses on the street, they hope making it pedestrian-friendly will entice people to get back outside and boost businesses that suffered during a stay-at-home order. “Really get it to where we can have locals come back and be able to mingle with each other and be safe,” De Bella says.
They also believe it could become a destination long term during big events nearby, “We could have music, we could have theater, I think theater in the streets would be amazing, dance yoga, you name it,” Campbell says.
Right now the city is working with local restaurants, allowing them to expand dining areas on to the sidewalk, streets, and parking areas. Campbell says closing an entire street creates new opportunities. “It would be life and we need life again,” Campbell says.
So far more than 30 stores support the petition. The proposed closure would run from the Sandoval Municipal Garage entrance to Old Santa Fe Trail.
The petition also includes a request to close down other nearby streets including parts of Don Gaspar Avenue. The city will meet Thursday to discuss the proposed pedestrian zone.