Before the project was started, shop owners expressed the importance of maintaining public accessibility.
Construction of the long-term project known in La Mesa as "Streetscape" will continue, including after Oktoberfest.
Regarding Streetscape, according to the city's website, “The objective of the project is to revitalize and beautify the downtown area, to enhance its sense of place, to improve its status as a destination, and to solidify its identity as La Mesa’s city center.”
In April and June of 2009, public-comment workshops on the concept for Streetscape Improvement Project were held by the City of La Mesa. During the April 20, 2009, meeting, over 90 percent of the attendees responded “Important/Very Important” to this question: "How important is it to keep access to all businesses during construction?" Additionally, at the June 29, 2009, meeting, a stated project goal was, "minimizing construction impact to downtown businesses."
According to Greg Humora, director of public works/city engineer, “The city’s goal from day one has been to minimize construction impacts as much as possible. We have done our best to move as quickly as possible, minimize direct impact to properties, and when necessary make changes. The construction phasing was determined following stakeholder input at public workshops held in 2009. Summaries of the workshops are on the [city’s] web page.”
A review of city website information indicates that 19 self-identified merchants (21.6% of the attendees) participated in the April workshop, and 13 self-identified merchants (21.7% of the attendees) in the June workshop.
In a November 26, 2013, report to the mayor and members of the city council from the city manager, approval was sought for proceeding with bidding. The report stated that, "over the past year staff has held some 30 meetings with stakeholders to review the construction phasing and gather input."
The project was approved and construction began on July 7, 2014.
It is now more than six years since those initial public workshops.
On September 3, the Reader carried a piece on the closings of Cosmos Coffee Café’ and O’Dunns’s Fine Art in La Mesa as it related to the Streetscape Improvement Project. From recent comments, other local merchants are less than thrilled with the process or progress.
Frank Dittmer of What-a-Dish on La Mesa Boulevard observed it has been a challenge just keeping doors open, citing the negative impact of “Streetscaping” at the height of the construction, during which there was “no parking and no sidewalks.”
Rick Bucklew of Don Keating's Used Cars, also on La Mesa Boulevard, commented that what was to be a nine-month project is stretching into 18 months. When asked if Streetscape construction will be completed in time for the city's Octoberfest, he expects the streets to be usable.
However, after Octoberfest, construction will continue, as confirmed by Humora, the director of public works. “Yes, after Oktoberfest we will be installing trees, new crosswalks, grinding down the old asphalt street, and placing a new layer of asphalt.”