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This is the 37th Weekly Message to Businesses from San Jose Downtown Association since the end of the COVID-19 "tier" system June 15.
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​​To our members: 

The “In the News” portion of this Weekly Message to Businesses certainly serves as a barometer of the receding impact of COVID.  Perhaps nothing is more of a symbol of recovery than construction restarting on Boston Properties Platform 16 project in Downtown West.  There’s much positive news – we try to provide you with the top line of what’s happening in case you’re not a subscriber to the various news outlets.  

Two of the big stories of the week aren’t included in our “In the News” section below.  First, the return of students to San Jose State University for classes.  Whew, that was a long winter break since mid-December.  We’re so happy to welcome back students to downtown.  

Second, Valley Fair started charging for parking (!) and customers and employees are not happy (!!) – even with three hours of free parking for now.  It’s a reminder of downtown San Jose’s leadership in the regional transportation ecosystem and our support of the city’s “first 90 minutes free” parking policy at Park SJ garages.  

Let the positive vibes flow.  Onward and upward!

In Today's Message
City Council Updates

Council updates Cannabis zoning code for downtown

Read SJDA position letter here

Supporting the Planning Commission’s vote of Feb. 9, the City Council made several cannabis zoning code changes at its meeting Tuesday.  One change allows new retail storefronts in commercial areas, not in industrial areas.  That would include downtown, where the distance requirements will be changed.

In its letter of support, SJDA agreed that the city has reached a point in time to “safely increase the permits and allow areas like downtown to accept – and model – new retail stores in this expanding and well-regulated industry.”  

The City Council also approved special provisions for equity owners to be a part of the retail expansion in the city.  Up to 10 new cannabis retail businesses will be registered by equity owners, with five of them considered in storefronts.

Cannabis items 8.1 and 10.2 are on this agenda.

Two electronic billboards to be added to airport
On Wednesday, Mayor Sam Liccardo offered his thoughts on the Council’s 9-2 vote to allow two electronic billboards at the airport in exchange for Clear Channel tearing down 12 other static billboards in low-income parts of the city.

Liccardo writes in his Rest of the Story installment:  “Tuesday night, the Council voted 9-2 to move forward with a proposal that would require Clear Channel to tear down 12 billboards in predominantly low-income neighborhoods, in exchange for the erection of two larger digital freeway displays at our Airport, along 101.  In addition to the teardown requirement, the public gets much more:  

  • According to our Airport Director, the deal will provide 55% of the signs’ advertising revenues directly to our Airport—or an estimated $4.5 million—to pay for critical Airport operations and to reduce fees.  
  •  The company will also have to plant 215 new trees in tree-deprived neighborhoods—a 5:1 replacement ratio--and to pay to water and maintain the trees for three years, to compensate for the 43 trees they’ll tear down.  
  • Many other changes were made to address environmental concerns raised by an environmental impact report, including the requirement that the digital displays use 100% GHG-free electricity (by subscribing to a “Total Green” account with San Jose Clean Energy).
  •  While one news account raised concerns about privacy-invading technology that could track drivers, the Council required (and Clear Channel readily committed) that no sensors, cameras, or other devices could be associated with the billboards to track anyone.     

“In short, the agreement achieves a win-win for the community and our Airport.”

Read more of the Mayor’s post.

COVID Updates

County Masking Requirements Remain in Place
Santa Clara County Public Health Department officials have announced that local indoor masking requirements remain in place this week.  Though lifted in other parts of the region, most people chose to keep their masks on. 
Santa Clara County will continue to base decisions on whether and when to lift indoor masking requirements on the risks posed by COVID-19, using defined metrics related to vaccination, hospitalizations, and COVID-19 case rates.

Of the three metrics, only one has been met – more than 80 percent of the County’s population is fully vaccinated. The other two metrics have not been met – COVID-19 hospitalizations in the County are low and stable, and the seven-day average of new cases per day is at or below 550 for at least a week. The County anticipates it will be able to lift indoor masking requirements in a matter of weeks, as case rates continue to decline.

Meetings / Feedback

Loans for small businesses webinar
Feb. 24 | 3:30-5 p.m. | Free | Register
Hosted by City of San Jose

Interest rates on new commercial loans are expected to rise soon. Hear from experts from the Small Business Administration, TMC Finance and Access SBDC. Learn the latest updates on low-cost government loans for expansion, refinancing of existing debt, and more.

SJDA:  You can still review last week’s “Everything PBID” meeting
San Jose Downtown Association’s Feb. 10 meeting covered “All-things PBID,” studying the Property Based Improvement District's (PBID) once-a-decade renewal.  The meeting goes into depth and answers questions not included in this month’s Downtown Dimension newsletter about current and proposed services, the scope of new social impact teams, and detailing of the boundaries and the process to renew the district for the next 10 years.  The second half of the meeting – the Q&A – takes an even deeper dive into the nuts and bolts of the Groundwerx and PBID programs.

People who missed the live meeting can catch up by watching it on YouTube or on the SJDA Public Meeting pages.  Or check the PBID Renewal page on sjdowntown.com.

Events

Feb. 11–27: San Jose Jazz Winter Fest is back and in person, with established stars and exciting new discoveries in jazz, blues, R&B, Latin and Americana.  Centered on its new downtown SJ popup venue and recording studio the SJZ Break Room, the Fest brings you Latin alternative/global music sensation La Santa Cecilia, Marquis Hill New Gospel Revisited, breakout vibraphonist Sasha Berliner, Americana singer/songwriter Chris Pierce, NYC jazz fusion trio Harriet Tubman, post-bop supergroup The Cookers and five more must-see artists. 

Tickets.

Short film entries accepted through March 1 for Short Film Fridays
Screen! Short Film Friday’s have been rescheduled to Fridays in May,  This is a program partially funded by the City of San Jose Parks Dept. Abierto program and supported by SJDA.

Filmmakers! Submit your short films by March 1.  Please click here to read the requirements and complete the form. A Screen! representative will reach out to you after receiving the form.

The short films will be shown May 5, 13 and 20 at 3Below. 100 percent of ticket sales will go to the filmmakers.  A wrap party June 3 at StageOne Creative Spaces will include announcements of the audience choice winners and award prizes.

Downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley in the News
Recent media reports involving Downtown San Jose/Silicon Valley. Subscriptions may be necessary to see the article:
COVID-19 Links
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