Laurel Street Closed for Good: Downtown Ideation Workshops

In last week’s gatherings (online and face-to-face) for the Downtown Ideation Workshop, residents of San Carlos came together to imagine the future of Downtown Laurel Street, a section of which will be permanently closed to make way for a lovely Pedestrian Mall: the first in San Carlos. San Carlos residents gathered in the former address of the Livin’ Room at 677 Laurel Street for a hearty meal and lots lively discussions. Large boards with diagrams of the proposed Pedestrian Mall were present in the venue and participants were encouraged to write their ideas on sticky notes and stick them on the different diagrams.

For a short recap, it was on Monday, November 27, that Councilmembers in San Carlos unanimously voted (5 – 0) to permanently close the 700 block of Laurel Street between Cherry and Olive streets to cars. The decision formalizes a program that was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to support struggling businesses and encourage residents to spend time outdoors.

A lot of interesting points and suggestions were made during the meetings, and we have picked out the following in particular:


Central Plaza Transformation: A Water Fountain Oasis

One standout idea that captured the imagination of attendees was the proposal for a water fountain in the heart of the Central Plaza, right in front of Harrington Park. Envisioned as a central gathering point, the fountain would be surrounded by comfortable perimeter seating, creating a relaxing oasis for residents to enjoy and socialize. This addition aims to infuse a sense of tranquility and beauty into the heart of Downtown Laurel Street.


Expanding Play Areas: A Haven for Families

Recognizing the importance of family-friendly spaces, the discussion emphasized the need for more play areas in the downtown district. These spaces would cater to families with children, creating a welcoming environment that encourages community engagement. By incorporating additional play parks, the aim is to foster a sense of unity and enjoyment for residents of all ages.


Addressing Parking Woes: More Spaces for Accessibility

Parking concerns are a common challenge in bustling downtown areas. The meeting addressed this issue by proposing the creation of more parking spaces. This practical solution aims to enhance accessibility for both residents and visitors, ensuring that everyone can easily explore the diverse offerings of Downtown Laurel Street without the worry of finding parking – for both vehicles and bikes.

A diagram of the proposed traffic flow in the area was also present.


Expanding Outdoor Dining: A Culinary Experience Al Fresco

Another exciting suggestion from the community was to create more outdoor dining spaces. Encouraging local restaurants to extend their offerings outdoors not only adds to the vibrancy of the street but also creates a unique culinary experience. This move aligns with the growing trend of outdoor dining, allowing residents to savor delicious meals in the open air, fostering a lively and convivial atmosphere.

In relation to outdoor dining, residents also expressed excitement in having more pop-up shops and food truck restaurants on the street.

Prioritizing Local Businesses: A Commitment to Community

The meeting underscored a collective commitment to supporting local businesses over big chains when allocating commercial spaces. By prioritizing local entrepreneurs, Downtown Laurel Street aims to maintain its unique character and preserve the charm that makes it a beloved community hub. This strategy reflects a dedication to fostering economic growth within the community and creating a more personalized shopping and dining experience.


More Bookstores: Nurturing the Love for Literature

In response to the community’s cultural interests, there was also the suggestion of introducing more bookstores. Increasing the availability of bookshops not only caters to avid readers but also contributes to a more intellectually stimulating environment. Bookstores can serve as cozy retreats for residents and visitors, offering a diverse selection of literature to suit various tastes.



The recent meeting to shape the future of Downtown Laurel Street in San Carlos has set the stage for an exciting transformation. With a focus on enhancing public spaces, supporting local businesses, and catering to the diverse needs of the community, the proposed ideas promise to breathe new life into this cherished district. As these plans materialize, Downtown Laurel Street is poised to become not just a destination but a thriving community space that reflects the unique spirit of San Carlos.

To keep in touch with updates on this, please sign up at the City Council’s Official Website at San Carlos Downtown Plan.

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To read more about the latest in San Carlos, visit the San Carlos Life Blog

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