by Katie Innes
I can see most of downtown from my window. A continuous sequence of boutiques, restaurants, and row houses frame the streets, and emerald colored trees gracefully line the sidewalks providing a shady retreat for nearby city dwellers. Streetlights are delicately weaved into the greenery of the landscape. Brightly colored awnings of orange, red and green adorn the windows and over-sized umbrellas shade the busy eateries that line streets like small, ornamental gardens.
It’s a beautiful day for a walk. I stroll down the sidewalk and come across a delicate café table quaintly situated on the sidewalk adjacent to the street. As I pull up a chair in this metropolitan refuge, the streets and sidewalks in this urban landscape spring to life. People whiz by on their lunch break, painting the air with bright splashes of black, blue and red. A mother walks by gently holding her child’s hand, a cyclist glides by on a nearby bike lane, and shop owners open their front doors to greet passer-byers “good afternoon.”
As I sit and observe all that unfolds before my eyes, I experience the human element that is inherently present in all “great streets”. People pass by, again-and-again, greet me hello, and acknowledge my presence in this otherwise anonymous metropolis. In this moment I feel a prevailing social connection to the greater community. I am one, but I am of a larger context. I am a creature of a culture that connects to the larger community, to the greater good.
This “great street,” made from the fabric of urban form and social connectivity, could be the future for the Jefferson Avenue in Temecula. If you have spent much time in Temecula you have undoubtedly driven down Jefferson Avenue. Jefferson Avenue is the primary north-south arterial running adjacent to Interstate 15.
Today, the City of Temecula hopes to transform Jefferson Avenue into Temecula’s very own “great street.” Recent visioning workshops for the Jefferson Avenue Study Area have asked interested community members how they imagine the future revitalization of this area. The 560 acres that encompass the Jefferson Avenue Study Area are located north of Rancho California Road, west of Interstate 15, south of Cherry Street and east of Murrieta Creek and Diaz Road. Three more visioning workshops will take place over the next 5 months to continue to establish a community-based vision for the future of the Jefferson Avenue Study Area. The next workshop will focus on the topic of transportation and complete streets. Workshop discussions will focus on bike lanes, trails, alternative transportation opportunities and walkability within the Study Area. It is anticipated that this workshop will acquire community driven direction for revitalizing the study area into a vibrant, walkable urban district with Jefferson Avenue at its central core.
Leading the Jefferson Avenue Study Area’s evolutionary efforts are members of the Jefferson Avenue Ad-Hoc Subcommittee Councilmembers Ron Roberts and Jeff Comerchero. Councilmember Comerchero encourages the public to continue to get involved in the visioning efforts for the Jefferson Avenue Study Area. He states, “Now is the time to dream. The public visioning workshops will be critical to identifying the area’s future potential. The visioning process will allow for the public to identify ways to transform Jefferson Avenue into Temecula’s ‘great street’ furthering the success and economic vitality of the area.”
There are many ‘great streets’ all over the world and Temecula is destined for its own.
The time has come to transform Jefferson Avenue into a ‘great street’ that defines the larger community and brings people together. Temecula’s future ‘great street,’ hopes to provide a unique experience and sense of identity that will spark revitalization and renewed interest in the area. As the visioning efforts continue for the Jefferson Avenue Study Area, one thing is clear, at the heart of every “great street” is its ability to bring people together, and bringing people together is at the heart of any great community. This is precisely what is anticipated for Jefferson Avenue.
To get more information about the Jefferson Avenue Study Area please visit the project website at www.envisionjefferson.org.