OCEANSIDE — Construction started on Mission Avenue on Nov. 12 and downtown businesses have already felt an effect.
Gumaro Escarcega, MainStreet Oceanside program manager, said the first two weeks of construction have reduced business sales.
“Businesses definitely saw a drop in revenue sales,” Escarcega said. “I have heard some businesses dropped in sales 30 to 40 percent since construction.”
MainStreet Oceanside has informed businesses about roadway construction and has invited city staff and the project contractor to three MainStreet Morning Meetings to answer business owners’ questions.
Information on the scope and phasing of the project was shared, and communication continues to remain open between the city, businesses and the project contractor.
Business owners say parking is still a concern.
The parking lot on Seagaze Drive is now used as a construction staging area and has pushed additional cars on to Mission Avenue to look for parking.
Many drivers are unsure of where on Mission Avenue they can park. Business owners say customers are used to parking in front of businesses and do not realize they can park behind safety cones set up on the road.
The city has been responsive. Nathan Mertz, city capital improvements manager, said signs are being printed to let drivers know where parking is allowed.
“Parking is still allowed on Mission Avenue west of Ditmar,” Mertz said.
Parking is also available on adjacent streets and in the city hall parking structure.
“There is an adequate amount of parking in the area,” Mertz said. “You may not always get to park right in front of the place. You may have to walk a block to get there.”
These are also concerns roadway construction, which is being done in two block sections, will have a bigger impact as it moves in front of service businesses and restaurants.
“We’re still concerned about how business will be impacted in a couple of months,” Escarcega said.
Most businesses that were contacted did not report a decline in sales, but did say it would be a wait and see until construction moved in front of their door. Restaurants with outside dining were particularly concerned.
“Business is slower than usual,” Rima Young, waitress and floor manager of Swami’s Cafe, said. “We’re hopeful in the long run it make us all busier.”
In the current construction area one traffic lane is being trenched up and temporary access bridges and paths have been added to ease pedestrian travel.
“Now business owners can see how construction is going to be,” Mertz said. “The city will continue to work with them and inform and educate them. And help them be ready.”
Mertz said businesses would be informed on how to protect building facades and awnings when construction moves in front of their block.
To help promote businesses during construction MainStreet Oceanside has accelerated social media promotion of downtown businesses and held events downtown to draw in customers.
“We want to make sure our businesses continue to be open,” Escarcega said. “We need to support local businesses. They’re small businesses and don’t have much capital. Customers need to come visit them and show them some support.”
Many business owners have also stepped up promotions to let customers know they are still open while construction is taking place.
All businesses owners seem to agree, that once finished, roadway and sidewalk improvements will benefit downtown businesses. Construction is expected to be finished in June 2014.