I’m always amazed when people send in letters complaining that the absence of cars on State Street has somehow been responsible for empty store fronts and an increase in the number of unhoused people. But these problems were very much in place long before State Street was closed to cars. I refer you to two articles from this publication, in 2017 and 2018, on the subject:

The reality is that the nature of retail has changed. Bringing back cars isn’t going to undo the Amazonization of shopping. It’s not like cars on the street made it easier to get to the stores that were there. We all still had to park in the same parking garages that we use now. And no one drove down State Street if they were actually trying to get somewhere.

As for being disturbed by unhoused persons, that too is not a function of the absence of cars. Cities and towns throughout the world are struggling with growing numbers of people who have mental illness and substance-abuse challenges. They are living on the streets and sidewalks of communities everywhere. You could argue that if you want to avoid such people, having the ability to walk in the street gives you more space to do so.

Our city faces a big challenge trying to figure out how to reimagine the downtown corridor. The recent City Council vote on repurposing Paseo Nuevo for housing and mixed use is an exciting opportunity. But whatever happens, bringing cars back wouldn’t bring back a golden age that has not existed for quite some time.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.