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Busy Solvang thoroughfare could reopen to car traffic

The street closure means the loss of 60 parking spaces in the busy tourist area.
Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 04, 2022

A busy thoroughfare in the heart of Solvang could reopen to traffic following a nearly two-year-long closure.

In a 5-0 vote, the Solvang City Council decided on Monday to start looking into reopening part of Copenhagen Drive.

A block and a half stretch of Copenhagen Drive has been closed since the start of the pandemic to allow for outdoor dining.

The closure means the loss of 60 parking spaces in the busy tourist area.

"If you take a look, there's four, five businesses that put the tables out on the street and get the advantage of it," said Mayor Pro Tem Mark Infanti. "The retail businesses don't have the tourists down the sidewalk looking in their windows, they're out in the middle of the street where they can't see it."

The closure allows for expanded outdoor dining.

"I'd rather keep it, it's bringing us more business," said Norma Quintero, owner of the Red Viking Restaurant.

Quintero says that many customers still prefer the option of eating outside.

"There's customers that don't wanna eat inside, they prefer outside so it would be sad for them to close it down," she said.

With restrictions on indoor dining lifted, others say it's time to re-open the street to traffic and increase accessibility. Others are simply looking forward to a tourism rebound.

"Business has been really good. This is a tourist economy and people have been coming up here and spending money and we're very happy about that," said Nathan Piesto, owner of Sear Steakhouse.

It's important to note that nothing has been finalized. The city wants broader community input and even if it reopens, Copenhagen Drive could close to traffic again in the future.