Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

A series of events intended to gather public input on how to improve downtown Sonora commenced Wednesday with a walking tour of the Stockton Road corridor.

Nearly 20 people attended the hour-long event to voice their concerns and propose solutions. Among the participants were hired consultants, City of Sonora and Tuolumne County employees, a Mother Lode Fair board member, a Sonora business owner and other citizens.

"Visioning Week" also includes walking tours of other downtown corridors, discussion groups, mixers, presentations and workshops.

The events will continue through Saturday and the input gathered will be used to formulate a new state-funded revitalization plan for Sonora.

The Community Revitalization Plan, funded by a $225,000 Caltrans grant, will be developed by the City of Sonora, Tuolumne County Transportation Council and the RBF Consulting firm, which has multiple offices across the country, including Sacramento.

The plan aims to address downtown parking, traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, beautification, historic preservation, business development and other areas.

The most-discussed topics during Wednesday's walk along Stockton Road and around the Mother Lode Fairgrounds included tourism-boosting signs, pedestrian safety and beautification.

Several participants recommended implementing signs along Highway 108 to entice highway travelers to visit Sonora.

Tuolumne County resident Shelly Davis-King said that since the Sonora Bypass was built, people have "bypassed our historic community, and now they're wondering why it's not so good."

Community Thrift Shop owner Kathy Styre expressed similar concerns, saying visitors and residents are unaware her shop exists because of lack of signage directing people to businesses.

Councilman Bill Canning said the City of Sonora is working with the state to establish more "historic Sonora" signs.

Many attendees also recommended adding more sidewalks and bike paths to make roadways safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and walking in the city more enjoyable overall.

The "Vision Sonora" team will gather ideas from the public at additional events today and Friday and refine and build upon them at the concluding workshop on Saturday.

People who are unable to attend the events but would like to share their ideas can do so online at