Close West Cliff Drive to motor vehicles, reader suggests

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Everyone knows how incredibly beautiful and special West Cliff Drive is. See, that's the problem. The place is packed and even more so on weekends. What has the potential to be a place of both quiet reflection and work-out training ground -- and everything in between -- becomes neither, as each attempts to accommodate the other. What could so easily restore the enjoyment this unique area has to offer? Simple. Close the street to motor vehicles between Lighthouse Point and Natural Bridges Park on weekends. Then keep bikes, boarders and skaters on the street; joggers, walkers and strollers on the sidewalk. Allow the coast to be the natural haven that everyone seeks to enjoy, while maintaining safety and goodwill. Anyone who's been to Central Park or Golden Gate Park or dozens of other city parks with high weekend traffic knows how they create a safer, more enjoyable outdoor park experience, both for locals and tourists. Why can't we do the same? J. Summer, Santa Cruz A: This issue was put to rest several years ago, said Chris Schneiter, of the city’s public works department. “The Council established a West Cliff Drive task force some years ago and the outcome of the task force was to not close the street,” he said. Anyone who is interested in this topic can research the records at the city clerk’s office, 801 Center Street in downtown Santa Cruz, he said.
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13 Responses to Close West Cliff Drive to motor vehicles, reader suggests

  1. CJ Parke says:

    Your response that the issue was put to rest several years ago does NOT fly. Things have changed. The issue needs to be reconsidered.
    It is backwards and utterly crazy to continue to have bikes, strollers, dogs on and off leash, drummers, walkers, runners, bladers, surfers carrying boards, toddlers, elderly and more all on the same small paved strip. We have grown and will continue to grow both in tourism and population. This is an issue that needs to be acted upon now. Most people who have ever been on West Cliff on the weekends would agree!

  2. Hayduke says:

    Nothing is ever “put to rest” in a democracy. If you want West Cliff drive closed to cars, go to City Council meetings and make your case. If enough people want it, our public servants must do it!

  3. Yikes says:

    I don’t think Street Smarts is saying that the case is closed. Instead, she is saying that the issue you bring up has a history and so check out the details of that history by going to City Hall. In order to re-hash and already hashed issue, you need to go through its history to understand why a certain resolution was taken at that time. It doesn’t mean the final word has been said. It merely means that if you want to bring up the case and work towards the results you want, you need to do homework to lay your own foundations.

    Now, regarding closing of West Cliff drive, I don’t really see how that could happen. There are LOTS of houses on West Cliff drive. What are you going to do with families who live on West Cliff drive and have out-of-town guests? Perhaps give them special permits? Okay, if you do that, then visitors of West Cliff drive who do not know anyone who live on West Cliff drive, where do they park? There are no lots large enough in the area to hold all the cars of visitors who visit West Cliff drive. If you say well, they can park on the side streets, I can foresee that the few popular streets where visitors park will be so jammed that those residents complain.

    I live one block from West Cliff drive and run on West Cliff drive almost everyday. Personally, I don’t see a big problem with overcrowding at all. Yes, there is improvement possible with the paved trail of which first that comes to my mind is widening of the path.

  4. Chris Jordan says:

    Although closing West Cliff Drive would be heavenly, it will never happen. Another chunk near Woodrow Street will probably fall into the ocean, the city will gripe and spend millions propping it up; and we will be right back to that bumpy rutted 2 lane road with a few more uneven and dangerous patches. Same old/same old attitude. Right back to an embarrassment to Santa Cruz- a home for the homeless-by-choice, with constant parades of klunkers with shot mufflers and deaf drivers who cannot hear their boom-boxes; which is annoyingly disgusting.

    I would truly enjoy closing it just leaving a level lane for an ambulance or fire truck.

  5. Shawn says:

    No, MOST people that have been on West Cliff WOULD NOT agree! That is a very assuming and self serving statement. Closing it to traffic would be a HORRIBLE idea. On of the reasons that I chose to reside on the West Side was my daily drive to and from home down West Cliff. I am out there daily and never once though that cars should be banned. If there are too many people for you, PLEASE go somewhere else and be part of the solution and not the problem!

  6. Al Diablito says:

    Or how about at least make a detour for bikes to take along Pelton instead of on the walking path? I’m so sick of them hauling along at full speed assuming that everyone on the path is going to quickly respond to “on the right”. They realize many of the people walking are tourists who speak little english and some may be deaf? Most likely they just don’t care. How about SLOWING DOWN when you have to pass pedestrians?

  7. James Anderson Merritt says:

    I drive through there on a Sunday morning at least once per month, in order to attend the regular meeting of a civic group that I joined several years ago. While it can indeed get crowded, I haven’t found it ever to be overcrowded unless there is some special event going on (a surf competition, for example, or a foot or bicycle race). I look forward to that guarantee of enjoying the West Cliff Drive experience, and would be sad if the street were to be closed on the only day I actually have a reason to use it. I do agree, however, with the sentiment that different types of traffic need their own dedicated, physically separate lanes, not just on West Cliff Drive, but throughout the City. The admonishment to “share the road” does not stand up to physics.

  8. Caelum Sinclair says:

    I posted an alternative in the Forums 3 weeks ago:

    I’ve always thought that making West Cliff one way would be a great thing and not all that expensive. Have the sidewalk be pedestrian only, the outer lane a two way bike only lane and the inner lane a one way vehicle only lane heading towards Natural Bridges(still allowing cars to cut across the bike lane to use parking). Delaware acts as a major parallel artery, so I don’t think the impact on residents in terms of home access would be a big deal. West Cliff is pretty special as is, but it is a pain for both pedestrians and cyclists to coexist on that path.

  9. Randi says:

    Street Smarts believes the road belongs to cars, and only seldom mentions any other mode of transportation. So that is the perspective. But Wealthy home owners are certainly not going to all of Westcliff to close, despite how wonderful it would be to not have cars there. The best we can hope for and work for, is changing it into one way, with bikes and skaters given the other lane, making walking safer, especially to seniors, who don’t have the best reactions to dodge fast moving bikes or skaters!

  10. Ray Gwyn Smith says:

    Caelum Sinclair above has a viable solution. Whatever solution is decided, something must be done in the meantime. It’s insane to have bicyclists and skaters flying by pedestrians at top speed as if they have no right to be there. Some people wander Westcliff to enjoy the view and the sea. Others use it as a way to get across town. An simple solution would be to have a speed limit on the path. Bicyclists and speed- skaters going above say 8 miles an hour should use the road. If State Parks Rangers have enough time enforce the off-leash law with $300 tickets, they can certainly cruise Westcliff Drive looking out for speeders on the “bike path”.

  11. Tim Hawkins says:

    I believe that making West Cliff a pedestrian and bike route would be great. The ability to walk those two miles without cars would be incredible. We need more places that are for people only. Cars have plenty of options in that area.

  12. J. Summer says:

    I wrote the original post to this thread and am glad to see a vibrant discussion around it! I just thought i’d clarify one point — my suggestion is ONLY for a closure on weekends, during peak hours (ie: noon to 6pm) and only during high-use season (ie: memorial day through labor day). I also think west cliff drive homeowners might actually prefer the proposed arrangement over the current noise and toxic fumes of weekend summer traffic, actually adding value to their homes and quality of life. 🙂

  13. B. Peters says:

    J.Summer’s proposal is very similar to something I saw in Cambridge, MA — across the Charles River from Boston.

    Most Sundays, (not during the winter), they close a scenic segment of Memorial Drive to motor vehicles, leaving the street along the river free for people. The area quickly fills with skaters, bicyclists, runners, walkers, strollers, skateboards, etc. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Memorial Drive on a few such Sundays and it is great fun. Santa Cruz would definitely benefit from a similar arrangement on West Cliff Drive.

    (For more information see:

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