October 22, 2006

Rodeo Pedestrian Walkway, Beverly Hills?

A Beverly Hills official wants to consider banning cars from a portion of the famous upscale shopping street Rodeo Drive. "In addition to contemplating a pedestrian-only block, [Vice Mayor Jimmy] Delshad would like to see stylish food and beverage kiosks up and down Rodeo, where people could stop to enjoy cappuccino, gelato or finger sandwiches," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Hmm, sounds a lot like the Grove, next to the Farmers Market at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue," the article continues. "In fact, the Grove, Century City and other high-tone retailing destinations have been siphoning customers from Beverly Hills, city officials have said. Seeking to spiff up their most opulent street, the city and merchants recently invested in a nearly $18-million, two-year makeover that included new and wider sidewalks."

Yes, even in that capital of car-oriented living, southern California, officials are starting to realize that people like pedestrian-appealing streetscapes.

Not surprisingly, not everyone likes the idea of banning vehicles altogether. In fact, some argue that high-priced cars are part of the appeal of the ultra-upscale street. However, even opponents of the pedestrian-only promenade note that without banning vehicles, other improvements to give the street "charm and warmth" would be worthwhile.

"The street has to be more fun to walk," Fred Hayman, who promotes Rodeo Drive, told the Times. "It must be more of a destination."

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