Harbor Blvd.: Open for Pedestrians

Think of all the great people-oriented downtowns in Southern California. Old Town Pasadena and Orange. Westwood Village and San Diego’s Gaslamp section. Visit downtown Santa Monica or cruise PCH through downtown Manhattan Beach or Laguna Beach. Have you been on the main streets Beverly Hills or Balboa Island?

Think of the great people-oriented shopping and entertainment districts. Can you name just ONE that does NOT allow parking, passenger loading, valet service or even handicap access on its main business street?

There is only one: Fullerton.

After nearly a century of easy, convenient parking on Harbor Blvd. (called Spadra until 1960), parking was removed in 1982. The traffic engineers held sway then, and were more concerned about increasing traffic speeds than the survival of downtown businesses.

Now, 25 years later, their mistake needs to be rectified. Let Harbor be Harbor. Let it be a living, breathing people street by restoring access along Harbor Blvd! Let it be like Pasadena’s Colorado Blvd. or many other pedestrian oriented streets in thriving downtowns.

Downtown entrepreneur Sean Francis (Slidebar, Continental Room) has a plan to restore access on Harbor Blvd., between Wilshire and Commonwealth. This plan is supported by hundreds of signatories to a petition requesting a hearing before the Traffic Commission. Designed by KOA Engineering (who has done extensive work for the city) this plan would free up room for parking, loading zones, valet bays and handicap access in front of Harbor Blvd. businesses—while keeping 2 lanes of traffic.

This plan has been bottled up by mid-level City staff so far, but deserves a hearing before the Traffic Commission and City Council. And it deserves support.

Harbor Blvd. Parking Plan

Think if you owned Branagan’s.Your address is 213 N. Harbor, but when new customers find it, they can’t park there, or even stop to unload their kids or elderly grandmother. They must make a right on Amerige, another right into the rear parking lot, then try to find your rear entrance. This would all change with Sean’s plan. Opening Harbor would not add new parking spots, but it would allow room for valet service and passenger unloading. That convenience would mean a lot for business owners and their customers—as well as the general ambience of Harbor Blvd.

“Harbor Blvd.: Open for Pedestrians!”

Let Sean (who’s paying for the design study out his own pocket), your elected officials, your appointed traffic commissioners and the Downtown merchants know that you support restoring parking on Harbor Blvd.

A street is more than just a traffic pipeline. It must also serve the community through which it passes. Let Harbor be the street it once was—the kind of street it is yearning to be again!

32 Replies to “Harbor Blvd.: Open for Pedestrians”

  1. This is my first time reading your website. I heard about it from a friend that it was a bunch of hog wash. I have lived in Fullerton since 1948, I loved the way the downtown was before the city changed things. Its really is amazing that they keep braging about how much money they spent into make downtown beautiful. I remember when the city spent thousands on these strange concrete columns all along Harbor Blvd. And Then they removed the concrete collumns and put the trees. I support on street parking, I would again shop shop in our downtown. Thanks for the memories and the good information about things in Fullerton! I will let my friend know she is wrong about what you guys are doing.

  2. Old Time Fullerton, I’m glad to know that you liked the post, it was written by a long time Fullertonian, by any chance do you have any photos of the concrete columns that once lined Harbor Blvd?

  3. OTF, unfortunately there is hardly any place to shop. Just a whole Hell of a lot of restaurants and bars. You can thank the Redevelopment Agency (aka City Council) for convering the Downtown into an open air food court with lover-dense housing.

    Nobody was paying attention and the City killed a real downtown and created a monster.

    BTW, what kind of oddball would take his kids and elderly grandmother to a bar? Let’s start guessing who “Downtowner” is!

  4. I liked the concrete columns. And, I know what should be in every building in downtown. I think the after photo looks so much better than that old yuccie photo from the 50’s. I hate your Blog. 🙁

  5. What we need is a County Supervisor who could apply some political leverage to the situation and get some real results!

  6. This concept will NOT work. My wife will fight the city if they consider removing the twinkling lights in the down town trees. We love driving through downtown, it makes us feel like we are in Disneyland.

  7. I took my kids and elderly grandmother to a bar in Downtown Fullerton last night. Some creepy dude rubbed up against her on the dance floor. A skinhead came up and took my kids’ lunch money. Then some drunken slacker peed on my new shoes.

    Downtown Fullerton sure ain’t what it used be.

  8. a fullerton lifer since the fifties, downtown fullerton was not better in the old days. it was host to dumb stores like the pillowry, and a sea shell shop. as for quaintness, it was littered with dive bars known as the melody inn and my shrink, give me the future of fullerton over its past because it truly is an improvement

  9. addendum: in the good old days, the only restaurant on Harbor and amerige was a creepy coffee shop that bragged about its mayonnaise and banana sandwiches.

  10. van get it da artiste, pillows and sea shells “oh so nice”, what was the name of the coffee shop you thought was creepy, and why do you say “creepy”? I’m all about Fullerton’s future…. bragging about mayonnaise and bannana sandwiches, what’s that all about? That sounds creepy

  11. On street parking should be restored. If we can get even a few spaces, it will create a more accessible feel to the Harbor Bl. businesses. The street trees are nice, but not all would need to be removed.

    Many people have differing opinions about what DTF should become. My opinion is simple. We will never be a Birch Street, Block or Spectrum with homoginized corporate stores catering to “families” which really means pre-teens and teens being dropped off by their parents to hang out and spend $5 on coffee and soda.

    I think the future for Downtown is best left to organic growth. Let business’s open and close as the market dictates while encouraging the renovation and preservation of our historic buildings. This should eventually create a strong fabric of unique businesses more like Melrose in LA or Haight in SF. Now this may not be as “family” oriented as Downtown Disney. But there is value to creating a unique environment where people who would like an alternative can go to experience independent restaurants, entertainment and shopping.

  12. My plan does involve reconfiguring the center medians and narrowing traffic lanes slightly (to their legal minimum). But, it would keep all sidewalks and parkway trees as-is 🙂

  13. “I think the future for Downtown is best left to organic growth.”

    In other words there’s no more need for Redevelopment Agency assistance (interference)?

    I agree with that!

  14. BTW, those trees and medians on Harbor were the dumbest thing conceivable (except for those concrete arches everybody keeps talking about).

  15. Even though I would never admit it, we chose the worst street tree imaginable. Those wretched silk floss trees with their spikes have destroyed the sidewalks, skewered Fullerton citizens on their spikes, have dropped scrotum-looking pod bombs on pedestrians and motorists, and littered the street with their sticky pink flowers. Well, I guess if I knew what I was doing I could have gotten into a real architecture school.

    But our intentions were of so pure! Even though we got rid of parking we did put up those concrete columns and spandrels that everyone liked so much. Terry Galvin helped, a lot with that, too.

  16. matt, love your peripitetic thinking it reminds me of ralphie the bicycle boy-man. harbor blvd is crisscrossed by numerous smaller streets with less car traffic, making it easier for bicyclists to safely access any store on harbor blvd via these streets

  17. Cars can access those businesses in exactly the same way, but with more convenience, since there are almost no bike racks in the sea of parking spaces behind these buildings. Granted, persons with disabilities or the aged would be better served by on-street drop-off, but the example of parking in front of Branagan’s is laughable. When was the last time you drove your car to a restaurant and parked right in front of it on the street? Can you do that often at Steamer’s or the Twisted Vine where on-street parking is available on Commonwealth? I’m not saying that the street parking idea is a bad one, I just don’t see restaurants and bars benefitting much by having the few yards in front of their businesses available for customer parking (maybe it will help with the off-loading of beer). Frankly, I suspect that much of this on-street “parking” would immediately become valet stations for these same bars and restaurants.

    My original question pertained to cyclists using Harbor to commute. I would be interested in how a plan that somehow retains two lanes of moving traffic while restoring parking and loading zone access would affect bicycle traffic. Perhaps I won’t get this answer from someone hiding behind an anonymous moniker, but I would be interested in hearing it from Mr. Francis.

  18. Matt, I don’t do much bike riding but I think you’d be out of your mind to ride a bike along Harbor, now, or even if they put parking back.

    Note: it would still be two lanes of traffic, each way!

  19. matt, harbor blvd is not the only street in the world. maybe lemon ave or highland ave would be safer, saner and less congested. you could access harbor via whiting wilshire and so forth

  20. The installation of train over crossings on both Highland and Lemon narrowed lanes on both streets so much that riding a bicycle is not safe on either in these areas. How far east or west do I have to go to get myself south of the tracks? Brookhurst? Raymond? Do I have to carry my bike over the bridge at the train station?

    Like it or not, streets belong to cyclists just as much as they belong to cars, and if there is not room for a bike to be ridden safely next to a lane of traffic, a cyclist is completely within the law to “take” that lane.

    I look forward to seeing this plan, but I would like to ask, since it is mentioned specifically in the article, just where businesses might valet park the cars of customers?

  21. Matt, don’t worry about this. It’ll never happen.

    Why? Because Chris Norby is behind it. And when has Norby ever gotten anything done?

  22. Dear “bipolar skank”,

    Are you not aware of this section of the California Vehicle Code?

    “21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed
    less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction
    at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand
    curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following
    (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle
    proceeding in the same direction.
    (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a
    private road or driveway.
    (3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but
    not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles,
    pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes)
    that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge,
    subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this
    section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for
    a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the
    (4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
    (b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway,
    which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or
    more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or
    edge of that roadway as practicable.”

    If you don’t want bikes in automobile traffic then you should work to design roads with safe bicycle lanes instead of trying to squeeze us out. Bicycles have been around longer than cars, you know (or maybe you don’t). We aren’t here to make room for lazy fat-ass drivers who don’t even know the traffic laws.

    If you can’t safely change lanes while driving a car you probably shouldn’t be on the road. Give us all a break and take the bus yourself.

  23. “matt, get a real job”, what’s your point Bipolar skank? I’ve read your stupid comments, if I’m not mistaken Tony cut you off this blog a while back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *