Car-Free Streets: California Ave & Ramona Street

Uplift Local

Project Description

There are several efforts underway that focus on enhancing the community experience and economic vibrancy of Palo Alto. These efforts also support the City's Uplift Local initiative.

The City is seeking community and business input on Cal Ave. and Ramona St. street configurations and other visioning and programming. A Request for Proposals to study street configurations is set for late spring 2023. Input will inform the study focus.

Uplift Local Car-Free Streets Introduction

The Uplift Local Car-Free Streets: Cal Ave. & Ramona St. project is a Council-supported effort enabling outdoor dining, retail, and personal services in business districts such as California Avenue and the downtown core. Currently, California Avenue is open to pedestrians and closed to through vehicle traffic from El Camino Real to Birch Street. Ramona Street is also open to pedestrians and closed to vehicle traffic for a half block in between Hamilton Avenue and University Avenue. The City Council authorized Car-Free Streets early in the COVID-19 pandemic as an economic recovery effort and to provide community members with outdoor spaces to gather. 

In May 2022, the City Council extended the program through the end of 2023 and directed staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to study various alternatives and impacts of different street configurations. Prior to RFP issuance, staff will engage key stakeholders and the community to better understand priorities for California Avenue and Ramona Street, and to determine the topics and themes to study and include as part of the RFP.

Scope of Work

  • Preliminary stakeholder and community engagement
  • Issue a Request for Proposals
  • Onboard a Consultant

Project Status

Demonstration Projects

The City is looking to implement four demonstration projects this summer as a response to feedback received from the public and stakeholders. The four demonstration projects are:

  • Flexible Community Spaces: free public gathering places
  • New barriers: replacing the orange water-filled barriers
  • Public art: ground plane and building murals
  • Pedestrian and vehicular signage: directing people to nearby destinations and parking areas

Request for Proposal

Feedback received from the community, stakeholders, and the City Council informed the scope of work topics for the RFP. City staff is currently drafting the RFP and anticipates the procurement process for consultant services to occur over summer 2023. Staff plans to present a contract with a preferred vendor to the City Council after Council's summer recess.   

Project Timeline

  • Phase 1

    11/2022 - 12/2022

    Preliminary engagement with the community and impacted businesses

  • Phase 2

    01/2023 - 04/2023
    • Compile and Analyze the feedback received & develop projects list
    • Follow-up engagement with the community and impacted businesses
  • Phase 3

    04/2023 - 06/2023
    • Implement demonstration projects
    • Prepare and Issue RFP/RFI
    • City Council approves the contract with preferred vendor(s)

Past Meetings: Summaries and Materials

In late 2022 and early 2023, the City hosted a series of meetings to solicit local stakeholder and community perspective regarding current issues, opportunities for change, and potential near-term projects for Cal Ave. and Ramona Street. The City also presented and received feedback on the scope of work topics for the RFP. The input received informed the City's next steps, including the selection and development of the demonstration projects and topics to study in the RFP. Below is a summary of the engagement efforts, plus survey data and meeting materials from past community meetings. 


Cal Ave Existing Conditions Map Cal Ave Existing Conditions Mimosa Lane to Birch Street