.West Cliff One-Way Pilot Project Rejected

City adopts ‘50-Year Vision’ document

The West Cliff 50-Year Community Vision is moving forward as the Santa Cruz City Council voted to adopt the document during a regular meeting last week. However, a city staff proposal to pursue a two-year pilot project to turn West Cliff Drive into a one-way road received pushback from local residents and groups. Ultimately, the council voted no on the one-way experiment.

After nearly a year of working on the vision document and months of public discussion, the draft document was published in late February of this year, followed by a final public input session before it was presented to the city council on April 9.

The 50-Year Vision was a response to the damage from the 2023 winter storms, which resulted in West Cliff Drive being closed to traffic from Columbia Street to Woodrow Avenue. Neighbors and local officials came together to address the biggest issues facing the iconic stretch of coastline. 

The plan focuses on prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle access; exploring nature-based solutions and one-way vehicle access. Safeguarding the coastline against the effects of climate change is a fundamental part of the vision, and hard armoring and seawalls are floated as possible long-term solutions.

City staff recommended that the city council adopt the 50-Year Vision—which is not yet an official plan—and received an update on the current infrastructure work on West Cliff during the April 9 meeting. 

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The council was also set to vote on pursuing a grant “to test and explore a transportation option that includes one-way vehicle access with dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes and neighborhood traffic calming,” according to the agenda report. If adopted, the city would apply for a $3.5 million grant from the California Active Transportation Program Quick Build Program for the two-year pilot project.

The pilot would have been a “quick build’, temporary project to study the impacts on traffic behavior and infrastructure concerns with a report every six months.

During that meeting, dozens of residents opposing the one-way spoke out during public comment, including surfer group Santa Cruz Boardriders Club and former local officials.

“I don’t know where it was that the decision was made to move to, ‘We are going to build a one-way roadway and then ask people about it,’” said former Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin at the meeting.

After hours of public comment, the city council voted to adopt the 50-Year Vision but not pursue the one-way pilot.

Bike Santa Cruz County, which advocates for safer bicycling and less reliance on cars, was one of the organizations championing the one-way pilot. Amelia Conlen, board chair for Bike Santa Cruz County said in an email that they hoped it had gone their way.

“We are disappointed of course that the pilot did not move forward, but we also understand that the council was in a tough position and did not want to overrule the concerns of neighbors.  Ultimately we were not successful in convincing neighbors that we all want the same thing, which is places to enjoy our neighborhoods and walk and bike without the disruption of car traffic,” Conlen said.

Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley said in an interview after the meeting that he understood neighbors’ concerns over the traffic impacts of a one-way.

“Most of the people who testified were from the immediate neighborhood. For them I can totally understand their view that every time there has been a disruption of two-way traffic on West Cliff Drive they take the brunt of that and I don’t think […] they were satisfied. And, frankly, I wasn’t either. Once you get to the end of the one way, now what?” Keeley said.

Council member Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson proposed that city staff come back to the city council later this year with more insight into the potential neighborhood, traffic and geological impacts of the one-way proposal. The council voted in favor of this motion instead of committing to the pilot program. Grant funding for a one-way pilot program will not be available again for another two years.

The West Cliff 50-Year Vision document still includes one-way vehicle access and traffic calming measures as part of its pillars, but it is yet to be determined whether these will be included in a future plan.


  1. Once you get the the end of the one way you are stuck there forever like a character in The Sims.

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  2. It seems to work well in Pleasure Point. I don’t see why it would be any different on west cliff.

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  3. Plesure Point folks have lot less millions than WC Drive, are farther from the actual coast line, have more perpendicular access roads, higher cliffs, less beach, and more usable brain cells.

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