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This is the forty-second COVID-19 update from San Jose Downtown Association, dating back to March 12. They are usually sent on Thursdays.
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Dear businesses:

Thank you to the 44 organizations that responded last week to our survey to try to get a grasp on just how dire this situation is for our downtown businesses.
 
We’ve decided to keep the survey open through Monday, Dec. 21 in hopes that a few more of you may contribute and bolster our feedback.
Take the Survey
We have obtained a lot of useful information that we’ll include in our own communications that reach more than 50,000 subscribers, including residents and friends of downtown.
 
We’ll also share the results with the broader Bay Area media to help spread our message.
Out of 44 respondents:
  • 25 are restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
  • 1 is a food hall representing seven eateries
  • 4 are non-profits
  • 3 are gyms / fitness
  • 3 are financial services
  • 3 are entertainment, nightclub, bar
  • 2 are arts
  • 2 are personal services (skincare/makeup and barber)
  • 1 auto detailing
Business life remaining:
  • 19 say they can remain in business less than 3 months
  • 6  are 6 months or less
  • 4 are 9 months or less
  • 5 are 12 months or less
  • 3 will last into 2022 and beyond
  • 2 are closed and hoping to reopen
  • 4 didn’t know / no answer
Reasons:
  • Lack of customers downtown and stay-at home orders leads to lost revenue.
  • Unused resources spent on adapting to protocol or pivoting business makes keeping up with basics such as rent, utilities and payroll more difficult.
  • Government inaction, interference and changing direction/strategy. Outdoor dining closure not necessary.
  • Takeout only is not enough.
  • Savings drying up.
  • Employees afraid to work.
  • PPP and EIDL loans running out and adding to debt. Only reason still open is that landlords are empathetic and providing a break for now.
  • Other locations are sustaining DTSJ location for time being.

How many give back to community during the pandemic despite business obstacles:
 
31 said Yes:
  • Many support downtown simply by buying from other downtown businesses. 
  • Several stay open, pay employees or give to their unemployed workers and deal with the financial hardship. 
  • Others provide goods and services for farm workers, essential workers at hospitals, homeless/transitional housing, police, Groundwerx, hunger at-home programs and school and non-profit auctions/fundraisers. 
  • A few can financially support scholarship programs, non-profits and charities and other businesses.
  • One creates holiday entertainment for the public.
11 said No:
  • Most had no further comment. 
  • One reported that they were having difficulty paying employees. 
  • One reported that she had to stop volunteering because her non-profit connection has been closed since March. 
Next Steps
Share SJDA’s annual holiday broadly
SJDA's annual holiday campaign includes print and radio ads reminding people that there's plenty to see and do downtown while staying safe. Key message points include:
  • Downtown San Jose during holidays is still the most wonderful time of the year (even during shelter in place). 
  • Grab a mask, get outside and enjoy all of the holiday lights, window displays and murals. 
  • Support the arts and livestream a holiday concert or performance, tour a museum and visit  virtual art exhibits from your home.
  • Support downtown retail businesses. They need your help now more than ever. Order to-go from downtown restaurants and cafes and pick up holiday gifts and gift cards for friends and family. Five ParkSJ garages offer 90 minutes of free parking making pick up, to-go and take out quick and easy. 
Downtown businesses, arts groups and partners can help spread the word through their communications channels by downloading the Downtown for the Holiday graphics at 
DT4H graphics, linking to sjdowntown.com/dtsjholidays and our weekly giveaway contest here.
Continue to promote Shop Local Program
SJDA encourages customers to Shop Local through social media and a new web page here.
 
Customers are reminded that the storefront economy is critical to downtown’s long-term viability.  Thirty businesses are listed.
 
If you’d like to be included in the Shop Local program, please email Jessica Vuong at jvuong@sjdowntown.com.

 
More SJDA Messages
Groundwerx still working:  Also, Groundwerx will continue to do its job cleaning our sidewalks daily.  If you need Groundwerx assistance or see any issues downtown, please call Groundwerx dispatch directly at (408) 287-1520.
Let’s stay positive
Here’s a checklist 2020 a colleague shared:
  • Tally your lessons learned in 2020 and discuss them;
  • Celebrate your progress and successes;
  • Thank people who have supported or guided you;
  • Reach out and help someone else in need;
  • Make a call that you put off.  Make time. Listen. Reconnect.
  • Schedule some self-care: read, exercise, nap. . . 
  • Plan what you want to do and where you want to contribute in 2021.
  • Other? Now’s the time to get it done!
This will be the final regular Thursday message of the year
For these last two weeks,  please use these primary resources to check to see the latest information disseminated by the city, region, state or Center for Disease Control:
All the major COVID links are listed at the bottom of this email, as always.
City Messages
City joins the Shop Local party
Today, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced the launch of #ShopLocalSJ campaign along with other initiatives aimed at helping struggling businesses impacted by the pandemic. These initiatives include a new fee cap on app delivery services passed by City Council (read below), a virtual local business directory, and digital resources for small businesses.
“Help for our struggling small businesses can’t come soon enough,said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Shopping local is an important way our community can leverage our collective buying power to keep our neighbors employed in these tough times. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen how San Jose grows stronger when we’re pulling together.”

As the holidays approach and the current Stay-at-Home order goes into effect regionwide, residents are encouraged to stay, and shop local to help financially burdened small businesses. New resources to help with this goal include:  
  • #ShopLocalSJ, a social media campaign encouraging residents to spend locally during the holiday season to support small businesses and restaurants financially burdened by the pandemic. To join the movement, residents are invited to use #ShopLocalSJ on social media and share photos of their favorite businesses and restaurants.
  • Silicon Valley Strong recently launched a regional ‘Shop Local’ digital directory resource, for small business listings in the area. Community members who are not active on social media can help identify their favorite local businesses by visiting the website and submitting the businesses' information for the online directory.
  • Small businesses that are not digitally active can connect with Get Virtual for resources and guidance to establish their digital presence free of charge. Get Virtual will pair local businesses with college students trained in entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and web development to create an online presence. Businesses can contact ‘Get Virtual’ by visiting the website and clicking on “I need help getting my business online.”
Third-party food delivery fees capped at 15% per order
On Tuesday, San Jose City Council unanimously supported Mayor Liccardo and Councilmember Diep’s proposal to cap third-party food delivery services fees at 15% per order. The proposal came as a pandemic response to help struggling businesses survive by regulating app-based delivery services from charging fees of up to 30% per order.

Have insurance companies rejected your claim for ‘business interruption'?
Many of San Jose’s struggling small business owners have complained that they have unsuccessfully sought payment from their insurance companies for "business interruption," as described in their general commercial insurance policies.

The City of San Jose does not have authority in this area, and can neither offer any legal advice, nor recommend any particular attorneys, however, the Mayor has reached out in his personal capacity to discuss this matter with a private attorney. Paul Caputo, Esq., has shared that he is working with similarly situated clients about seeking to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of the many struggling small businesses who have been treated unfairly by their insurers.

He is taking on this matter on a contingency basis, with no fees paid to his attorneys unless there is a recovery through settlement or verdict. If a small business is interested in speaking with Mr. Caputo about this matter, please contact his office directly at 408.733.0100.

Building Inspections & Permit Services
Limited building inspections will continue on Dec. 28 to 30, and inspections may be scheduled here. The Permit Center’s remote services, listed here, are not available during the Dec. 24-Jan. 3 closure.

Code Enforcement
Code Enforcement will respond only to emergency situations during the closure. Click here for emergency information. 

Essential Volunteers Needed
Volunteers have been classified “essential” by the State of California as they help package, distribute, or deliver meals at food banks and other public food security programs as part of the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to assist local nonprofits such as Second Harvest Food Bank, Veggielution, Sourcewise, First 5 Santa Clara County, the Salvation Army, Martha’s Kitchen, and more. Submit a volunteer application at SV Strong.

County Messages
No changes to County Order of Dec. 4 Vaccines are underway COVID Testing Info
This week, appointment-based testing at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds expanded to 7 days per week and 5,000 test per day capacity on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (all other days of the week still offer up to 3,000 tests).  Appointment-based testing events are now scheduled to continue at least through January and February. Residents can book an appointment for the Fairgrounds in VietnameseChineseSpanish, or English.
California Messages
State Launches CA Notify
California announced the statewide launch of CA Notify, a smartphone application aimed at reducing transmission of COVID-19 through exposure notifications.  Californians can opt in to receive notifications if smart phone data indicates they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus  Learn more here.
Financial Opportunities
Temporary tax relief and $500M in grants to assist struggling businesses
Coming in early 2021: 
  • Temporary tax relief includes an automatic 3-month income tax extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax and broader opportunities for businesses to enter into interest-free payment arrangements. 
  • $500 million COVID Relief Grant program administered by the Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) for small businesses that have been impacted by health and safety restrictions implemented as a result of the pandemic.  Funds will be awarded to intermediaries with established networks of Community Development Financial Institutions to distribute grants of up to $25,000 to small businesses and non-profits throughout the state.  For updates on the availability of this funding, see here.
  • At its Dec. 8 meeting, the Board of Supervisors took action to direct County Administration to enter negotiations with the California Rebuilding Fund to invest $6 million for a small business loan program specifically serving businesses within Santa Clara County.  A final vote on this investment is slated for early January. The Board indicated interest in potentially investing additional dollars later.
Learn more about all of these programs here.

Small Business Tax Credit Applications Now Being Accepted
California is providing a new hiring tax credit for the 2020 tax year targeted at small businesses suffering from the impacts of the pandemic.  To qualify, businesses must have a) employed 100 or fewer employees as of Dec. 31,2019, and b) suffered a 50% decrease or more in gross receipts from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, compared to April 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019.  Only a limited amount of funding is available for the credit ($100 million). Businesses must reserve the credit through the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).

Tax credit reservations are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and are reportedly going fast.  The State began accepting applications on Dec. 1.  Learn more here.

 
Events Drawing People Downtown
Public displays support our biggest month of arts

Light the Holiday Nights by San Jose Downtown Association, dusk to dawn nightly through Jan. 3 at Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
“The Stories of the Holidays,” by 3Below, SJDA, Guggenheim Entertainment and San Jose Downtown Foundation can be found on eight windows at 125 S. Market Street.
Video projections by Giant Creative on St. Joseph’s Cathedral and other downtown buildings creating a path along South First Street from Historic District to SoFA.

Video projections by the City of San Jose on City Hall Rotunda celebrating the various holidays at this time of year.
Final Farmers’ Market and Holiday Market this Friday by SJDA and Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m at San Pedro Square. 
More arts presented virtually
Check SJDA’s Downtown for the Holidays page for virtual events by our arts groups.
COVID-19 Links
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