In May of 2020, city staff, in partnership with the Downtown Ventura Partners (DVP), presented a proposal to City Council to allow for a temporary, 30-day closure of five blocks of historic downtown Main Street to vehicular traffic to allow for outdoor dining and shopping in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilot project was a resounding success and provided a financial lifeline to many Ventura businesses. At the conclusion of the 30-day pilot program, staff and the DVP returned to City Council on July 13, 2020, to request an extension of the downtown program, known as “Main Street Moves”. In addition to Main Street Moves, the City provided an opportunity for restaurants and other businesses throughout the City subjected to temporary closures to expand their business footprint through the Temporary Outdoor Business Expansion Program. This program has allowed businesses to expand their footprint to allow for street/sidewalk dining as well as increased space for retailers to elevate shopper engagement.
In the summer of 2021, the DVP and the City of Ventura partnered with Sargent Town Planning to provide conceptual urban planning and design services for inserting outdoor dining uses within public spaces along building and street frontages. Simultaneously, public outreach was conducted, both in person and via an online survey, to gather feedback from business owners, residents, and visitors in response to Main Street Moves and the future of Main Street. The response to the online survey was overwhelming with over 11,200 responses, mostly affirming the desire to maintain a permanent downtown street closure to allow for continued outdoor dining and community gathering spaces.
Through a series of Council actions, Main Street Moves has been extended to July 2024. During this two-year period, various studies will be undertaken to determine the feasibility of a permanent, 24-7 street closure (Pedestrian Mall). Periodic updates to the community and Council will be forthcoming as studies are completed.