San Jose

SJ Councilmember Proposes to Keep Portion of Downtown Street Closed Permanently

NBC Universal, Inc.

Downtown San Jose made major temporary changes to accommodate COVID-19 concerns including closing off the popular San Pedro Square to traffic to help businesses operate outdoors.

But now, the city has to decide if it wants that change to be permanent.

Closing a section of San Pedro Street to allow for outdoor dining worked well to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic.

The emergency ordinance that allows it doesn’t run out until the end of the year. But San Jose councilmember Raul Peralez is proposing extending the measure until March 2023 to give the city time to make the closure permanent.

Many people NBC Bay Area talked to Friday like the idea, even though limiting access to the 1,200 space parking garage through San Pedro street is a concern.

“Well, the parking garage definitely has more parking than on the street and also, you don’t get ticketed heavily if you stay there too long,” said Desiree Humphreys.

“You’re gonna see hundreds, if not thousands of people enjoying the outdoors. Patronizing theses businesses. Whether they’re there to eat, grab a drink and just enjoy each other’s company,” Peralez said.

But not every business is on board with the proposal.

Tom McEnery, a former mayor, and a market square property owner said that easy access to parking as well as good traffic circulation is critical to a downtown and wants the city to make sure every business benefits.

The San Jose Downtown Association, which supports the closure, agrees it won’t be a simple task.

"There’s a number of properties that already have patios because of the pandemic. Because of different issues. They’re not at full capacity now and then, to go out and expand their territories. We’re trying to look a little bit longer term,” said San Jose Downtown Association CEO Scott Knies.

Peralez will send his first signal to the San Jose City Council's rules committee on Wednesday before it can go to the full city council.

“At the end of the day, I recognize we may not get a 100% of the businesses and property owners on board. I would still say this is the direction to go. That’s the signal I wanted to be able to give this week,” he said.

It will be a difficult road and Peralez said he knows he may have to settle for a partial closure.

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