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An Integrated Pedestrian Network

Plaza LaneIn 1994 the City of Santa Cruz and the Redevelopment Agency began the implementation of the Downtown Alley Walk Plan with the drafting of the Alley Walk Concept Plan. It was recognized in the plan that the downtown alleys played a significant role for businesses and pedestrians in the downtown. In addition, the alleys in Santa Cruz have a rich history.

Santa Cruz's alleys have a variety of purposes. Many of the alleys serve as "back doors" to businesses and some even as "front doors." All are used as alternative entries for service vehicles, employee access, emergency access, and perhaps most importantly as key pedestrian connections between major portions of downtown. Due to their prominent uses, it was decided early on in the process that the alleys should be redeveloped as pedestrian-oriented pathways providing alternative routes throughout the downtown, while still retaining their usefulness as service alleys. The result was the Alley Walk Concept Plan prepared with the assistance of Joni L. Janecki and Associates, a local landscape architecture firm.

To date, the Redevelopment Agency has completed the development of Plaza Lane, Pearl Alley, Birch Lane, and Commerce Lane. Murals by local artists add ambiance and beauty to the alleys while incorporating the history of the area into the alley design, most notably reflected in the design of Frazier Lewis Lane.

A key factor in the design of the alleys has been the incorporation of retail establishments which use the alleyways as primary or secondary entrances into their businesses, as well as many entrances to upper-story office spaces. This helps to define the alleys as key centers of retail and pedestrian activity in the downtown.

A list of businesses that utilize the alleys as entrances is given below for reference.

Existing Businesses Fronting on Alleys

Frazier Lewis Lane Plaza Lane Commerce Lane Birch Lane Pearl Alley
Borders Books Chef Works Bon Voyage Travel Gear Kuumbwa Jazz Center Hair Gallery
Costa Brava Image Smith Camouflage Poet & Patriot Pub Pearl Alley Bistro
Dell Williams Rhythm Fusion Riordan Winnett Travel
Jackson's Shoes Santa Cruz Title
Marini's Zam Zam
Pacific Trading Company
Rosie McCann's Irish Pub

Process Drives the Design

Birch LaneAs with the creation of the Alley Walk Concept Plan, the actual planning and redevelopment of the alleys themselves is a highly participatory process. We work closely with the public, Public Works, Planning, and Parks and Recreation departments in developing the alleys. The first step is a planning meeting with the local merchants, property owners, and businesses who use the alley the most. This meeting formulates a set of goals for the alley's redesign. The next step is for the Agency to develop schematic design drawings of the alley.

These drawings are then taken back to the public at another planning meeting for review and further comment. A final concept plan is then rendered, cost estimates are developed, and construction documents are drafted. The Redevelopment Agency/City Council approves the design and costs, and other City departments and commissions provide comments. Finally construction commences and several months later a new alley emerges!

As the Alley Walk Plan has been implemented and the alleys physically developed, the result has been an intricate pedestrian network of back streets, directly off of the main Pacific Avenue, enhancing the public urban space and enhancing the unique environment of the downtown district. We invite and encourage you to stroll the Alley Walk and see another face of Downtown.
Last updated: 6/28/2010 3:33:27 PM