Fullerton city council agreed on Tuesday to the removal of the Walk on Wilshire bike lane alongside updated guidelines for outdoor dining.
The lack of use by bicyclists and the refinements that it could provide, including improvement of traffic flow, was a major point of discussion, ultimately leading to the council members to 3-1 vote with Mayor Fred Jung voting against the removal.
Minor updates involving the application process and updated business requirements were unanimously approved by the council in a 4-0 vote.
Lease rates per square foot will increase for businesses that have beer, wine, and full liquor licenses to match the council’s suggestions.
In the revised rates, restaurants that have a Type 42 Alcoholic Beverage Control license, which authorizes the sale of beer and wine for consumption on or off the premises where sold, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, will have to pay $1.14 per square foot, an 84 cent increase from the current rate.
Businesses with a Type 47 license, which authorizes the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits for consumption on the license’s premises, will have to pay $2.52 per square foot, 81 cents more than the current rate of $1.71 per square foot.
Businesses that operate without a liquor license will have to pay 58 cents per square foot, a 28 cent increase.
Councilmember Ahmad Zahra was in favor of the decision, mentioning the possible traction that businesses could receive and how people are excited to explore them.
“People are excited about this. It tracks people whether they’re going to dine in that particular spot or not”, Zahra said, “And that benefits the entire downtown”.
Pro Mayor Tem Bruce Whitaker agreed with Zahra, adding that it’s a “competitive advantage” for businesses to be in the downtown area where the Walk of Wilshire is located, a project during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed local restaurants to use the public right-of-way for dining space.
“There was minimal, if any cyclist use in there” Whitaker, “It was a flop, an absolute flop. Not to blame anyone, but we need to discontinue that.
Despite city council members and the public agreeing on the bike lane removal, Vince Buck, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton and current member of the city’s Active Transportation Committee, disagreed with the idea. While acknowledging the lane to be dangerous for cyclists, Buck said the idea could work and sent photos to the council members of how the system works in Santa Barbara.
Councilmember Jesus Silva hopes that a permanent closure of the bike lane could be decided by August.