Flex Streets

At the July 16, 2020 BPAC meeting, Warren Logan, Mayor’s Policy Director of Mobility and Interagency Relations provided an overview of the City’s Flex Streets program for business’ use of sidewalks and public rights of way for physical distancing during COVID- 19. The presentation also provides an update on next steps and coordination with Alameda County Shelter in Place orders.

The goals of the Flex Streets program are to:

  • Support local restaurants and retailers
  • Support Oakland residents 
  • Support local performers and artists 
  • Improve traffic safety 
  • Ensure and advance racial equity

The full presentation is below, followed by the summary of discussion:

Summary of discussion:

  • The permit process has been streamlined but does have typical requirements.
  • An SMS text-based survey was conducted allowing people without internet access to provide feedback.
  • Applicants are required to submit photographs taken from all directions to ensure sidewalk space remains passable. Staff also meets with business owners.
  • To help slow traffic in commercial areas, the City is applying lessons learned from Slow Streets/Essential Places. Slow Streets may morph into Flex Streets and have programming in collaboration with Parks and Rec, and other city agencies.
  • There was concern that the minimum widths are not sufficient for ADA access.
  • Of the 100 permit requests received, 65% requested both sidewalk and parklet space and 10% requested sidewalk space only.
  • Applicants should be encouraged to stay off the sidewalk.
  • There was concern that Flex Streets is being implemented differently in different neighborhoods, with signage disappearing.
  • The City should supply materials to disadvantaged businesses. The limited materials that the City will be supplying will be deployed to East Oakland.
  • Direct complaints / concerns should be sent to 311 or flexstreets@oaklandca.gov.
  • At present, small scale performances are allowed in the streets, in compliance with county health regulations. Interesting collaborations are emerging with arts groups.
  • The parklets installed through Flex Streets might become permanent. It will be an iterative process.
  • With few restaurants in East Oakland, streets might be used for farmer’s markets.
  • Chair Naylor encouraged engagement with BPAC as program is developed. Speakers other than commissioners: John Minot, Marisa Melo, Midori Tabata

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