City planners and private developers in Sacramento envision a downtown shopping and entertainment hub pulsing with revenue and pedestrians. The mind’s eye replaces vagrants with decorative park benches and rundown storefronts with shiny new facades. And rather than dispersing at sundown, restaurant patrons and theatergoers would linger into the wee hours.
Forty years ago, pedestrian malls became the rage across America. As cities tried to revitalize their downtowns to compete with fancy new suburban shopping malls, more than 200 cities and towns — including Sacramento — closed streets to traffic and parking, planted trees and installed fountains and benches to create pedestrian-friendly retail areas.
Work has stopped on a 40,000-square-foot conference center planned for Roseville. The city-funded project was supposed to serve as a springboard from which Placer Valley would dive into branding itself as a premier business and sports tourism destination. Now, city planners are in a holding pattern, waiting for timing, funding and manpower to realign, so the region can move forward with its plan to compete in California’s massive tourism market, which, in 2007, accounted for $96.7 billion in consumer spending.
If Napa County is wine country and Calaveras County is frog-jumping territory, where does that leave a place like Solano? Trying to catch up, perhaps.Thirty years ago Napa County was where Solano is today, says Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan. In 1992, Napa brought in $361 million in tourism revenue, and with $319 million, Solano wasn’t far behind. Fast-forward to 2006: Napa brought in almost $890 million, but Solano’s revenue only rose to $554 million.