Lois Fisher, PRESS DEMOCRAT
It is decision time again for Santa Rosa regarding the Courthouse Square reunification project. The street that currently bisects the square will be removed.
The Environmental Impact Report has options for including or omitting the proposed side streets, Hinton and Exchange avenues. Is this situation like buying a car? Are we trying to decide whether to add a sunroof or not to this proposal?
True plazas have one thing in common; they are economic engines of prosperity. Think of Union Square in San Francisco. It is a premier shopping district and the most visited neighborhood in the worlds most visited city.
In Sonoma County, Healdsburg and Sonoma’s plazas are the centers of commerce for those towns. All three of these successful squares (and towns) have public streets on all four sides.
Streets supply the lifeblood of economic activity to a square. If Courthouse Square was to have just Exchange Avenue (the western street) and not Hinton Avenue (the eastern street) it would become an “attached” plaza. Attached plazas can feel like they are the private front yard of the buildings that directly front them, instead of being truly public. Great plazas telegraph to everyone that they are public and open to all by their design — the public streets that surround them.