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This is the 32nd 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 media is calling this period a “soft shutdown.”  There isn't a mandate to close businesses -- in fact, businesses are encouraged to stay open (as if we had the customers and staff to justify staying open).  The rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 is dictating that people stay home since so many people have been exposed or infected over the holidays, and now are either self-quarantined, isolating and/or waiting to get a Covid test and then waiting again on a result.  Not exactly the start of the new year we expected.

SJDA staff working from our office at 28 N. First Street have noticed the dramatic decrease of people outside and doing business downtown these first two weeks of 2022.

It’s not a positive scene, but it is necessary at this time.  The omicron variant shows up in people in all sorts of ways – such as with simple cold and flu symptoms among younger adults.  The effects of omicron can still be fierce among older adults and the immunocompromised, so it’s important to keep up the good fight – to protect yourself, your friends and loved ones.

The key, of course, is securing vaccinations and boosters; wearing N-95s or masks that fit snugly over the nose (double mask if you can); washing hands frequently; not touching the face; and staying home if symptoms show.

We got through the worst of the delta variant together and we’ll get through this together, too.   Let’s hope that our community is collectively on the mend and we can soon engage the new year opportunities with gusto.

As always, SJDA staff is available to help – and listen.

In Today's Message
San Jose State University Update

Business-related announcements from SJSU

From Interim President Steve Perez:

 

Class instruction

In-person Instruction for most classes will begin on February 14.

From January 26 through February 11 all classes will be taught in a fully remote modality. Exceptions may be granted by a dean for courses that must meet in person to address students’ immediate learning needs. These courses may be lab sections, studios, or individual instruction, for example. A course meeting this exception can begin in-person instruction the week of January 31.

All students will need to be on campus for scheduled in-person classes. For all courses taught in-person between January 31 and February 11, faculty must email the students in the course with specific guidance about in-person attendance requirements.

Beginning February 14, SJSU will resume delivery of courses as they are currently listed in the campus Schedule of Classes.

If circumstances warrant an extension of remote instruction, the campus community will be notified via email and social media.

Employee schedules

Although most classes will be remote initially, university operations must remain open and able to respond to a variety of needs as we will have students and other employees on campus.

Employees should continue to follow their approved work schedules and modalities. The current approved work schedules, many with telecommuting modalities and alternate hours, are intended to support students and other campus constituents who will be here. In some cases, that support may be provided remotely from on or off campus, while others may require physical presence on campus throughout this transition period. Managers may work with Employee Relations to develop resolution strategies for employees who are directly affected by COVID-19 related issues.

Residential housing move-in and testing

The University Housing team will provide specifics regarding the move in timeline and process later this week. As a precaution, we are requiring students to get tested within 24 hours of departing for campus using an at-home kit or commercially available test. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will not be able to move into on-campus housing. All students, regardless of vaccination status, will be tested again upon arrival and will participate in weekly testing during the current surge and until the community test positivity rate is reduced to a satisfactory level.

The rest of his message dealt with boosters, masks and other COVID Protocols. He referred students and staff here for more information.
City Updates

Pacific Motor Inn back to being a motel rather than homeless shelter
Pacific Motor Inn, 455 S. Second St., is once again renting rooms by the night to visitors.  SJDA was able to make a reservation for Thursday night, Jan. 13, through the hotel’s reservation system and on Booking.com.  $105 for a room with two queen beds and rated as “Very good.”

That is a dramatic turnaround for the SoFA-based inn that most recently housed the homeless for almost two years and is on the City’s application to the State of prospective Project Homekey sites.

The County ceased operations Dec. 28 at Pacific Motor Inn, said Paul Murphy, interim chief of staff for Supervisor Cindy Chavez.  “The change was part of an effort to consolidate/reorganize motel-based programs that were implemented in spring 2020 in response to the pandemic.

“The Pacific Motor Inn is now being used as a hotel and is being managed by the current owner,” said Rachel VanderVeen, deputy director of the San Jose Housing Department.  

The City continues to work on its Homekey application for state funding. Once the grant is secured and the transaction approved by City Council, the City will move forward with the acquisition of the site. The site will be used as a motel until that date.

All shelter residents of the Pacific Motor Inn were relocated prior to the end of the year, according to City representatives.

SJDA, which was equally surprised in October when the City Council took action to recommend the inn as a Project Homekey location, ultimately made the following recommendation in a letter to the mayor and City Council:

The City submitted its application to the State of California on Dec. 16 to acquire and operate the Pacific Motor Inn as interim housing over the next 5-7 years and then demolish it to make way for permanent housing, said Kelly Hemphill, Homelessness response manager for the City.

Here’s the County’s news release about Project Homekey.

City services switch due to omicron variant outbreak
City Hall permit center, cashier services and Code Enforcement Fourth Floor window services   have switched to virtual appointments only, through Jan. 28.  Visit www.sanjoseca.gov/PermitCenter and www.sanjoseca.gov/CodeEnforcement.

Temporary Pause on Library Indoor Programs: Due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the community, and to ensure the safety of library staff, volunteers, and members of the public, indoor programs are temporarily on pause until further notice. Virtual and outdoor programs will continue to be offered. For a complete list of available programs, visit sjpl.org/events.

ADA accessibility help for businesses
The City of San Jose is offering reimbursement to small businesses and non-residential property owners to make their property more accessible for those with disabilities. The City has allocated $40,000 for the program to provide grants of up to $8,000 in credit for qualifying small businesses and non-residential property owners.

When applying for a building permit to make the physical changes to their property, an owner may apply for the grant, which can reimburse the costs of a Certified Accessibility Specialist (CASp) inspection and a CASp report and can help cover the costs of the City permit and inspection fees. For more details, please read our blogpost. For more information and help applying for the grant, contact Xuan Ha, City of San Jose Small Business Ally, at 408-535-3555.

Financial Opportunities

State offers two new grant and tax credit programs for small businesses
Starting this month, California Competes offers two opportunities for San Jose businesses – the California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) and the California Competes Grant Program (CCGP).

Business owners can apply during two application periods, Jan 3-24 and March 7-28.   There are no restrictions on the size, type of business or location that can apply. More information on evaluation criteria are in the Frequently Asked Questions.

  • The California Competes Tax Credit offers a credit against the State income tax. With $180 million available, the minimum credit request is $20,000 and no more than 20% of the total available ($78.9 million) may go to a singular applicant.  
  • The California Competes Grant Program - The grant request can range between $5 million and $36 million. It has a $120 million one-time fund available for grants to businesses of any size that meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • Will create at least 500 new full-time jobs in California
    • Will make capital investments of at least $10 million
    • The jobs and/or investment will take place in an area of high unemployment and/or poverty as defined in the California Competes Tax Credit regulations

For details, see the Cal Competes website. Apply online. Questions? Call (916) 322-4051, or email calcompetes@gobiz.ca.gov. Explanations in other languages are here.

2022 State Arts Grant Opportunities
Grant Cycle A (opens January 19)

  • Arts & Cultural Organizations General Operating Relief – Up to $30,000 in operational funding for arts and cultural organizations, prioritizing small organizations.
  • Cultural Pathways – Up to $30,000 for two years of support for arts programs in communities of color, recent immigrant and refugee communities, or tribal groups.
  • Impact Projects – Up to $20,000 for collaborative projects that center artists and artistic practice in responding to issues currently faced by California’s communities, prioritizing projects of small organizations.
  • JUMP StArts – Up to $50,000 for high-quality arts education and artists-in-residence programs for priority youth and young people impacted by the justice system.
  • Reentry Through the Arts – Up to $50,000 for arts projects for return residents who have experienced incarceration.
  • State-Local Partners – Up to $60,000 for general operating support and technical assistance for county-designated local arts agencies.
  • State-Local Partner Mentorship – Up to $40,000 to establish a county-designated local arts agency in a county with no such identified agency.

VTA Vanpool program in association with Enterprise
It’s like a carpool…only bigger.  Vanpools are gaining in popularity as Bay Area commuters become increasingly frustrated with heavy traffic. Now, VTA is making it more affordable for vanpoolers to pay for their commute with a $350 monthly subsidy, added to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) Vanpool program.

With a Vanpool, between 5 and 15 riders can share a van or large SUV when travelling together to work.  Sharing the ride and expenses in a vanpool can save money, save time, and help save the environment by cutting back on the number of vehicles on the road.

MTC administers the Bay Area Vanpool Program where passengers share the cost to lease the vehicle from Enterprise, which can be anywhere between $1,000 - $1,575 per month, as well as the cost of fuel. Currently, MTC offers up to $350 per month for eligible vanpools within the nine Bay Area counties. VTA’s pilot program provides an additional $350 subsidy providing eligible vanpools savings up to $700 per month.

VTA’s Pilot Vanpool Subsidy is available to vanpools every month that meet MTC’s requirements and begin and end their commutes within Santa Clara County.

Commuters in Santa Clara County interested in joining the program can visit commutewithenterprise.com/mtc. Whether you’ve been vanpooling all along, or want to start up a new one, subsidies are available!

COVID Updates

(Editor’s Note:  The Federal, CDC, State and County updates that follow are taken from the City’s Flash Report of Wednesday, 1/12/2022)

Updates from the Federal Government

  • Children Ages 12 to 15 Now Eligible for Boosters: Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility of the Pfizer booster dose to children ages 12 to 15. Additionally, the time between the completion of the primary vaccination of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and a booster dose has been shortened to at least five months.

    Please Note: Vaccine clinics within the County of Santa Clara are now prepared to administer boosters for this new age group. Appointments are available at www.sccFreeVax.org. Vaccinations through the County are no-cost to the public, insurance is not required, and available regardless of immigration status.

     
  • Insurers Required to Cover the Costs of At-Home COVID-19 Tests: The Biden Administration is requiring Insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests per member per month, effective Saturday, Jan. 15. People will be able to get the tests at their health plan’s preferred pharmacies and other retailers with no out-of-pocket costs or purchase the tests elsewhere and file claims for reimbursement.

    The administration is working on other efforts to get coronavirus tests to people regardless of their insurance status, including a plan to deliver 500 million free rapid tests to the homes of Americans who order them, starting later this month.

     
  • CDC Issues Updated Travel Requirements: Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated travel requirements, which includes the following:
     
    • Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated.
    • Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation before traveling. State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place.
    • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required in indoor areas of public transportation (including airplanes) and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs (including airports).
    • Do not travel if you have been exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, or if you test positive for COVID-19.
    • If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, get tested both before and after your trip.
Updates from the State of California
State Extends Mask Mandate Until February 15: This week, the California Health and Human Services Agency extended its requirement for masks to be worn in indoor public places, regardless of vaccine status, until February 15. For more information and a list of exemptions to the mask requirements, visit State Public Health Guidance for Face Coverings.

Everyone is required to wear masks in:
  • Indoor public spaces (until February 15)
  • Workplaces (until February 15)
  • Public transit
  • Healthcare settings (including long term care facilities)
  • Adult and senior care facilities
  • Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, and other youth settings
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers

Masks are required for unvaccinated people and recommended for everyone in places of worship.

Updates from the Santa Clara County

Mask Wearing Do’s and Don’ts: Santa Clara County Public Health recently offered the following guidance on wearing a mask properly.

Do pick a mask that:
  • Completely covers your nose and your mouth, snuggly without gaps
  • Has a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top of the mask
  • Surgical masks provide good protection
  • Placing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask provides extra protection.
  • Masks such as KN95 or KF94 provide the most protection.
Do not:
  • Wear a mask around your neck
  • Wear it under your nose
  • Wear it hanging off your ear
  • Adjust it or touch it often while wearing
  • Pull it down when talking to people
  • A single cloth mask alone does not provide good protection.
  • A mask with exhaust valves or vents allows particles to escape.

The Tech Interactive hosts vaccinations Jan. 16
201 S. Market St.
Sunday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

No Appointment Necessary for COVID-19 Vaccinations: This site has limited availability, so wait times may vary. Vaccines are free, and no insurance or proof of immigration status is required. Anyone age five or older is eligible. Staff will be onsite to support language needs and disability access. Individuals seeking vaccination are encouraged to arrive at least one hour before closing time. Check www.sccfreevax.org

Children’s Discovery Museum hosts vaccinations Jan. 23
Children's Discovery Museum, 180 Woz Way
Sunday, Jan. 23, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Children’s Discovery Museum has teamed up with Santa Clara County Public Health Department to support local families with creative vaccination clinics for young children at the beloved institution in downtown San Jose. Every family whose child or adult is vaccinated will receive a family pass (FREE MUSEUM VAXPASS) for a free museum visit. Families can use the pass the day of their vaccination or return within six months of the clinic date. At least two more clinics will be scheduled at the museum.

The cost of outreach and lost revenue from closing the museum for the clinics will be covered by funding from Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The Health Trust, San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez’s office, Anthem Blue Cross, and Santa Clara Family Health Plan. Viva Calle of the San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services will provide outdoor activities to entertain children before and after their vaccination.

The clinics are open to all eligible people age 5 and up for first and second doses and booster shots for eligible people age 18 and up (six months after a second Pfizer and Moderna vaccination and two months after a J&J shot).  Special outreach is underway to target Medi-Cal recipients whom have a lower vaccination rate than the rest of the population. Presently, only 63% of Santa Clara Family Health Plan Med-Cal members age 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that nearly a third of surveyed parents nationwide (32%) say they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works for other children first. Another 29% say they will definitely not get their child vaccinated. The state of California will mandate that all schoolchildren be vaccinated once final FDA approval for the vaccine has been secured, creating urgency to get as many children vaccinated as possible in order to avoid learning loss from potential distance learning and to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Events

Notre Dame invites you to a beloved annual tradition! The 19th annual Crab Fest takes place on Saturday, Feb. 5. Crab dinners are on sale now for drive-thru pick-up style in the Notre Dame 280 parking lot. All proceeds support Notre Dame's co-curricular programs. More information can be found at:  https://www.ndsj.org/support-nd/crab-fest

The graphic has a Feb. 10 date, but the event has been pushed back two weeks to Feb. 24, and organizers plan to offer both Live and Virtual sessions.  The livestreaming ticket option will be added next week. More information here.
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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