Pleasanton's mainstreet is fairly authentic. There is only a hint that the nature of the space and its use is contrived to a certain feel, as opposed to the aesthetics and function developing totally organically. What is lost in the effort to be authentic is well balanced by geography and key elements of the neighborhood.
You can go a block off the main drag and find cool historic homes. Look close to see the apple pie cooling off on the windowsill.
Lame infrastructure elements are mostly hidden or screened.
There are just a few blocks of storefronts. You can park at one end and comfortably walk the whole stretch even in 30 minutes, even with midday heat. The trees help.
The variation in the store front designs is an asset. American mainstreets that I like reflect the American spirit of can-do entrepuneral spirit and individualism. I've not figured out why a mainstreet group would want to have all their storefronts conform to the same color or canopy designs.
Storefronts are nice, but the people, the products, and the doings inside should be interesting and unique.
There is a museum at the end of that sidestreet.
Good eats in a local cafe is requisite for mainstreet. Dean's cafe was super friendly and there was a good balance of locals and tourist types, all striking up conversations with the staff about local stuff.
Pedestrian reminder in a crosswalk. People driving in cars and pedestrians cohabit the mainstreet.
Most of the people walking on the mainstreet appear to have driven to the mainstreet as a destination. Pleasanton had stop lights and popouts.
The cool old gas station is a Pleasanton landmark. Not long ago the City of Encinitas dozed the city's historic gas station and built a parking lot caddy-corner to Pacific Station. Maybe that was highest and best use of the location. Maybe.
The decision making was not the best. First the council decided if they wanted to spend money on repairing the building. They decided they didn't want to spend money on the building (at the same time there was strong lobbying behind the scenes for more parking spaces in that zone) and the City turned around and spent money to build a parking lot. It all smelled like it was orchestrated to allow the council to give up on the historic building and give them cover for trading it for a parking lot.
It would have been better if the decision had been made by putting out all the alternatives with their costs/benefits and then selecting the best.
We do need parking because Downtown Mainstreet is a drive-to destination. What would happen if the city held no-drive saturday(s) and made all parking anywhere near downtown illegal? Bus, bike or walk to downtown ONLY! Now that would put Encinitas on the map. Other events that shut down streets to autos make the walking/biking a recreational element of the event. This could be an event that challenges the "sustainable" movement to consider utility mobility (U-mobile).
I'm an experimentalist and like empirical data. We should try it out a few times, just for fun.
I think we would find that the merchants like their customers who don't have excess time or physical capacity to walk or ride long distances. So we have to park them. In Pleasanton they had small, clean, treed lots on the mainstreet AND the merchants provided parking on their properties.