A Weekly Message to Member Businesses
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To our members:

The SJDA Annual Meeting 2022 of Oct. 14 was well-attended in person and online, and the now-edited video is findable on YouTube but most easily reached by clicking onto the SJDA Public Meeting Page.

What an eventful and historic event for downtown San Jose.  After a compelling self-introduction by Board President Gumby Marques, Outgoing CEO Scott Knies delivered his final State of the Downtown address and new CEO Alex Stettinski made his first public comments to his new San Jose audience.

Scott Knies

Receiving a standing ovation before and after his speech, Knies outlined several things he worked on but did not finish during his 34 years at SJDA and left to downtowners to accomplish.
His list of unfinished business includes these six items:

  • The city needs a downtown “construction czar” to coordinate simultaneous street-level compliance of multiple projects to come at the same time by developers, contractors, subcontractors and utilities.  One good example of where this will be needed is when Google and BART are both under construction at the same time.  The impact on businesses needs to be mitigated, he indicated.
  • As downtown continues to recover from the “COVID hangover,” downtown must turn its creativity up and create more vivid public spaces, reimagined paseos, excellence in its parks and special events. To become the place where people want to be, it also means strengthening core districts – San Pedro Square, SoFA, Little Italy, Historic District – and regenerating the spaces between them. 
  • Do something about old and deteriorating empty buildings downtown, such as the buildings owned by Dr. Eu at Santa Clara and Second streets and the Church of Christ Scientist on the north side of St. James Park.  “Other cities have figured out a way to aggressively fine owners of longstanding blighted buildings that are not maintained properly,” Knies said.  “The accumulation of steep fines might be just the incentive the owners need to let someone else try.”
  • San Jose needs a new Downtown Plan.  The last one was created 20 years ago. Questions about how Downtown West connects with the downtown core; how Diridon Station becomes a center of mass transit for the entire Bay Area; how St. James Park is reimagined and other questions need to be strategically planned and implemented.
  • Get help for those on our streets suffering from mental illnesses and drug addictions who are unwilling or incapable of accepting our help.  Until now, referrals have been voluntary; Knies suggests that help should be compulsory for those who can’t make such a decision. “The county must begin using all available tools, including involuntary treatment and conservatorships,” Knies said. 
  • Groundwerx is spending more and more resources cleaning up messes left by the unhoused population. Knies suggests the county and city establish a Clean Community Fee that sets aside 10 percent of every homeless contract they fund to help keep the community clean.

Knies then introduced Stettinski to the assembled. 

Alex Stettinski, right, received a Spartan football jersey from SJSU’s Edwin Tam, left and
Ben Thienes, center, welcoming him to San Jose.

Alex Stettinski

SJDA's new Chief Executive thanked the board for "its trust in me and to bring the organization to the next level."  He acknowledged the work already done by SJDA and other downtown leaders and agreed with the points that Knies made in his speech, especially agreeing that a new Downtown economic development strategy plan is necessary.

"I'd like to work with the City to create that document, join forces and get the job done," he said.

Stettinski said downtowns are the heartbeat of every city.

"If you look around not just in the United States but all over the world, the relevant, impactful cities all have a vibrant strong downtown,” he said.  "I will put everything I have -- all my resources, my powers, my strengths, my relationships -- to work to get that done in San Jose."

Only in his second week, Stettinski said he is "drinking from a firehose" busy getting to know board members, staff members, community leaders and groups that are impactful to downtown.

Since this is the first change at the top of the organization in SJDA’s history, Stettinski brought in a consultant specializing in CEO transitions to workshop with the staff this week.

"Everything else is really just exploring, assessing, researching and then putting the dots together so that I can develop a work plan for the immediate future for myself and for the organization,” he added. 

In Today's Message
Kastle Back-to-Work Barometer  - San Jose count continues to climb
The most recent Kastle Report measuring workers' return to to the office increased in all 10 metropolitan areas across the United States between Oct. 10-16. With another 1.6 percent increase, San Jose office worker occupancy has increased to 43.2 percent.  The average for the 10 cities is now 49 percent, the highest since the pandemic began.  New York City, which was hovering near the bottom with San Jose earlier in 2022, picked up 4 points to 47 percent.  San Francisco and Philadelphia are now at the bottom, and a few points ahead of San Jose are Chicago and D.C., which are about 46 percent.

Have you noticed more cars on the streets and highways, more people walking our downtown during the day, and/or more people in your office or business?
Groundwerx keeps it clean

Groundwerx Cleaning Crews help keep downtown clean with sidewalk sweeping, anti-graffiti efforts, pressure washing and more. The special equipment used by Groundwerx is designed to be as quiet and environmentally friendly as possible. 

If you see a mess that needs immediate attention, call Groundwerx at 408-287-1520. Groundwerx also has an app that can be downloaded on Apple App Store and Google Play.

From blades to roller skates

The San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) is changing skates this holiday season.  DOWNTOWN ICE will become ALOHA DOWNTOWN ROLLER RINK in the same location among the Circle of Palms, starting Nov. 19 through Jan. 8.

“When we started Downtown Ice in 1995, the Sharks had just started playing hockey at the new Arena and the popularity of ice skating was really catching on in San Jose,” said Scott Knies, Outgoing CEO of SJDA.  “Like we have done many times before with Music in the Park, America Festival, SoFA Street Fair and now the ice rink — events must constantly be reimagined to stay fresh.”

Produced by ALOHA FUN CENTER in partnership with SJDA and funding from the City of San Jose, the new roller rink will have a holiday theme, but has the potential to come back in the spring or summer as well.  In addition, the site could also return as an ice rink in future years for winter sessions. 

“During the pandemic, roller skating gained popularity as large numbers of people took to the sport as a way to stay active when gyms and recreational facilities were closed down,” said rink producer Liz Ruiz, who also operates the ALOHA FUN CENTER at Eastridge and was a former member of the Silicon Valley Roller Girls roller derby team.

The Aloha Downton Skate roller rink website will be at 120 S. Market St. between the San Jose Museum of Art and Signia San Jose by Hilton.  The construction period for the roller rink is expected to take about half the time it takes to build the ice rink. Look for construction to begin soon

Read more of SJDA's press release

Mercury News coverage

KGO-7/ABC-7 News coverage
City sponsors transit and energy programs

Small businesses can save energy and money through new San Jose Clean Energy Program

Through San Jose Clean Energy’s San Jose Energy Efficient Business Program, in partnership with Franklin Energy, local businesses can receive significant rebates, up to 90% off, for energy-saving upgrades. This includes energy-efficient upgrades to HVAC, refrigeration, and water heating. By signing up for the program, owners can deeply cut costs for their business and help San José meet climate goals.

Businesses can get started in two ways: sign up for a FREE facility audit with an energy advisor to determine the best upgrades for your business or contact a contractor if you already know what upgrades you want to make. Participating contractors are program experts and will help ensure business owners qualify for maximum program rebates. Visit or call 510-740-9005 to get started. Inquiries are also welcome at The Energy Efficient Business Program is available to any business or school with an active San Jose Clean Energy account.

City of San Jose will reimburse businesses providing transit passes to all their employees

The City of San Jose's Department of Transportation has started a pilot program that provides reimbursement to small businesses (not residential or colleges/schools) that enroll in VTA’s SmartPass program.

The City (DOT) will reimburse companies on a first-come-first-served basis, with a total of $100,000 available this fiscal year and another $100,000 next fiscal year.  Basic parameters of the program include:

  • Business must reside within the boundary of a meter district (downtown, Japantown, old Civic Center)
  • Business must be a “small business” which is 35 or fewer employees;
    • This will be verified by reviewing City’s business license information which includes headcount;
    • Maximum reimbursement will be based on the number of passes purchased, up to 35.
  • Business will need to apply and pay for SmartPass directly with VTA. Sign up on the VTA website.
  • Submit receipt from VTA for SmartPass to the city at;
  • City will verify with VTA that business is enrolled/paid in the SmartPass program

Each downtown pass ranges from $165 for non-profits to $180.  In his budget message last spring, Mayor Sam Liccardo estimated that the budget could cover more than 500 employees each year.

Street closures

Through Friday, 9am-3pm  Crews will close Santa Clara St between Third St and First St to restore asphalt at the Second St and Santa Clara St intersection. Westbound Santa Clara St traffic may not turn left into Second St. Eastbound Santa Clara St traffic will merge to the left lane. Southbound Second St traffic must turn left or right at the intersection. 

Through Friday, 8am-4pm  Crews will close San Pedro St in three locations to repair a telephone conduit. The two locations are between Santa Clara St and St John St. The third location is between St John and St James streets.

Every Wednesday Through Nov. 16, 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.  —  Crew members will set up a farmer’s market on First St between San Carlos and San Salvador streets. Both directions of First St will close.

Through Nov 22, Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm  Crews will close First and Second St between San Carlos St and San Fernando St. Crews will install fire hydrants in three locations. Two locations are on Second St and one location on First St. Northbound traffic on First St will merge to the left lane. Southbound traffic on Second St will merge to the left lane. Flashing arrows, signs, and cones will direct traffic.

Downtown is hiring

The link to job opportunities at the seasonal Aloha | Downtown Skates Roller Rink joins other downtown positions listed on Downtown Is Hiring.



One week from Saturday (Oct. 29)
Tickets Here -- A fund-raiser for the San Jose Downtown Foundation
and our award-winning Downtown Doors high school student-art program

Downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley in the News

Recent media reports involving Downtown San Jose. (Subscriptions may be necessary to see the article).

Health Links
Workplace Safety
Grants and Loans City
County / State / Federal
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