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This is the forty-first COVID-19 update from San Jose Downtown Association, dating back to March 12. They are usually sent on Thursdays.
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Friday at 8:15 a.m.: SJDA Year-in-Review Virtual Meeting
Be sure to attend SJDA’s annual year-in-review meeting presented virtually on Friday starting at 8:15 a.m.
 
The December SJDA meeting begins with a review of this COVID-plagued year, looking back at our fortitude, strength and teamwork as we struggle to keep our businesses alive.  The meeting also includes the annual Golden Nail presentation and farewell to SJDA and PBID Board of Directors members reaching the end of their terms.
 
The meeting will be held on Zoom.  A meeting link will be provided upon registration. Register here.
For openers: 
The state, county and city continue to make adjustments to the order that went into effect Sunday, Dec. 6. Below, you will find their latest actions as well as our reactions – our advocacy efforts on behalf of our downtown businesses.

In one message early this week, the county reminded us why the orders are necessary.  Though business is drastically impacted, we have to remember what this is all about:

“The Health Officers explained that, when transmission is accelerating, acting quickly is critical to reducing the overall damage done by the virus.  The closures required under the State Order are substantial. They usher in another very difficult period for many businesses and residents.  However, waiting 10 days or two weeks for the same changes to take effect would only create a deeper hole out of which to climb. Acting fast and as a region can help save lives and shorten the amount of time these restrictions need to stay in place.”
 
Thus, the most recent Regional Stay Home Order from the state and the county’s action to implement.
 

Please respond to survey so SJDA can accurately convey the critical state
of downtown business to elected officials and media


The county fully understands the need to move quickly to save lives, but it needs to be reminded understanding the urgency of the situation to small businesses.  You can be a big help by spending less than five minutes on a brief survey that will provide SJDA with data and message points for our advocacy and media inquiries about just how dire our struggle is. 

Please take the survey by Monday, Dec. 14. Thank you.
Take the Survey
COVID-19 Updates
Said another way – The latest changes through Jan. 4
  • All gatherings with members of other households are prohibited, except outdoor gatherings for worship services or political expression.
  • Restaurants, bars, and wineries are allowed only for take-out service. Outdoor dining is now prohibited.
  • Personal care services (e.g. hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, etc.) are prohibited both indoors and outdoors.
  • Grocery Stores and pharmacies can operate at 20 percent capacity. Here’s the county’s web page for capacity limitations.
  • Movie theatres and family entertainment centers and are prohibited outdoors (already closed indoors).
  • Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums are prohibited outdoors (already closed indoors).
  • Outdoor recreational facilities are allowed, but overnight stays at campgrounds are prohibited.  (Note: Gyms, including group fitness classes, continue to be allowed outdoors).
  • With limited exceptions, all individuals must stay home except as necessary to support or use critical infrastructure.  However, people from the same household are allowed to leave their residence as long as they don’t interact with individuals from other households.
  • Guidance related to schools remains in effect and unchanged. Schools that have previously reopened for in-person instruction may remain open and schools can continue to bring students back under the Elementary School Waiver Process.
Playgrounds reopening
Following updates from the County and State on Wednesday, City of San Jose’s 296 playgrounds will begin reopening today.

Those who choose to use the newly opened amenities must follow all posted signage as well as County public health orders. Guidelines for use include washing or sanitizing your hands before and after using playground or exercise equipment; wearing face coverings at all times; keeping a six-foot distance from those outside of your household; staying home if anyone in the household is ill; not sharing personal items or toys; and sanitizing equipment before and after use with EPA approved disinfectants as the equipment is not sanitized by City staff.

Parents and caretakers are responsible for ensuring that their children are playing safe and following all of the rules.

Supervisors expected to cap meal delivery fees
The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously set in motion an emergency ordinance capping delivery fees at 15 percent, effective immediately upon approval at the Supervisors’ next meeting on Dec. 15.
 
Delivery companies had been charging up to 30 percent of the food order to make a delivery, much to the chagrin of restaurants already forced to close inside and outdoor dining operations due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in the county.  That left restaurants remaining open through the holidays no choice but to offer food for takeout  or delivery.
 
Supervisor Mike Wasserman pointed out that the ordinance would help the entire food chain, benefiting customers as well as restaurants, their employees and the delivery companies over the long term.
 
On Dec. 8, Supervisor Joe Simian, who proposed the ordinance, instructed county staff to speed up the ordinance vote to Dec. 15 and to make the ordinance effective immediately and countywide, based upon public testimony by SJDA Business Development Manager Nate LeBlanc.
 
“Many of our restaurant members just spent the last remaining cash reserves they had on what we’re calling ‘winterization’ tents and canopies that are rendered basically unusable under this new order,” LeBlanc explained to the Board of Supervisors.
 
“This move will allow them to weather this long dark winter we’re about to have from a financial standpoint. Our members can live with a 15 percent cap, not the up to 30 percent fees that we’re seeing,” he said.
 
Normally, the supervisors take up to four weeks to approve an ordinance and another 30 days to make it effective, and often focus on just unincorporated areas.  With little time left for his comments, LeBlanc noted that waiting until January would be too late.
 
“These restaurants need help now,” he said.

A Message from Sam Liccardo regarding "business interruption" insurance claims

“Many of our 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.

"At the City of San Jose, we have no authority in this area. Although we can neither offer any legal advice, nor recommend any particular attorneys, and these comments are in my personal capacity and not on behalf of the City of San Jose, I have discussed the matter with a private attorney, Paul Caputo, Esq., who has told me that he is talking 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.

"My understanding is that he is taking on this matter on a contingency basis, so that no fees would be paid to his attorneys unless there is a recovery through settlement or verdict. If you are interested in speaking with Mr. Caputo about this matter, please contact his office directly at (408)733-0100.” 

Essential volunteers needed
Hundreds of volunteers are needed to assist nonprofit partners to help distribute critical food and necessities to residents in need.

Partners include local nonprofits Second Harvest Food Bank, Veggielution, Sourcewise, First 5 Santa Clara County, the Salvation Army, and Martha’s Kitchen.

Even with the new Stay-At-Home orders, volunteers have been deemed “essential” by the State of California to help aid in packaging, distributing, and delivering meals at food banks and other public food security programs as part of the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

Apply to volunteer at Silicon Valley Strong, the emergency relief effort created by the City of San Jose, the County of Santa Clara, and partners, that calls on the community to stay informed, look after one another, and help our most vulnerable residents. 

Greater Downtown San Jose Economic Recovery Task Force sends final 15 recommendations to City Council, Supervisors and state
A task force of local businesses organized by City Councilmember Raul Peralez approved the final set of task force recommendations and sent them forward to city, council and state officials to assist in economic survival amid the pandemic.

The recommendations include means to enhance outdoor business operations, tax breaks, and financial assistance program; reevaluate paid parking programs; streamline marketing programs;  supporting to-go alcohol legislation; and utilize places of worship and community spaces to serve as incubators for struggling businesses.

Take a look at the recommendations here and press release here.

SJDA supports many of the recommendations.  Nate LeBlanc, who had a busy Tuesday, advocated for several of the task force’s recommendations during public comment period at the San Jose City Council meeting.
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.
  • The State is also increasing funding for the California Rebuilding Fund, a low interest loan program to help impacted small businesses rebuild from the economic crisis.  At Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting, board members instructed staff to find a way to capitalize on the California Rebuilding Fund to provide qualifying businesses in Santa Clara County with loans ranging from $5,000-$100,000.  The county hopes to put a program together in January. 
LeBlanc advocated for the supervisors to act quickly, and make the program simple and easy to apply for.  He implored:  “Let’s get the program started and the funds dispersed as soon as possible.”
Other speakers pleaded to give small businesses a fighting chance to survive until a vaccine is readily available.
 
Learn more about all of these programs here.
Other Matters
Shop Local
SJDA encourages customers to Shop Local through 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.
Public display supports our biggest month of arts
3Below, SJDA, Guggenheim Entertainment, SVCreates and San Jose Downtown Foundation and have created “The Stories of the Holidays,” an outdoor experience to celebrate the holidays, storytelling and local arts organizations.
The display can be found on eight windows at 125 S. Market Street, across from the “Light the Holiday Nights” exhibit in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Sal Pizzaro reports in The Mercury News.
 
Also, check SJDA’s Downtown for the Holidays page for virtual events by our arts groups.
Light the Holiday Nights at Plaza de Cesar Chavez
In an effort to safely bring as many people downtown to support businesses during the holidays, San Jose Downtown Association is producing Light the Holiday Nights every day from Thanksgiving through Jan. 3, dusk to dawn, at Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
 
The opening days were covered by ABC-7 news.
Holiday Market this Friday and Dec. 18: 
SJDA and Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association have put together the best of the Farmers’ Market and the best of the Friday artisan market to create a Holiday Market, open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 20, Dec. 4, 11 and 18 at San Pedro Square.  Find artisans selling jewelry, candles, lotions, gift baskets, holiday cards, plants and other gifts for the holidays.
SJDA blogs on sjeconomy.com
SJDA staffers Marie Millares, street life manager, and Rick Jensen, communications director, recently wrote blogs for the City’s Office of Economic Development.
 
Millares’ blog ties the airport’s “Hold the Moment’ art exhibit to recent artistic efforts downtown. 
Jensen’s blog features the extraordinary efforts by 3Below owners to stage Up on the Roof movies and dinners during better times in October.
Holiday Laptop Donation Drive: In partnership with Hewlett Packard, the San Jose Public Library (SJPL) and the Library Foundation are hosting a donation drive to refresh and re-purpose used Windows laptops. Donations will provide students, families, and other Library program participants with access to the technology they need to thrive.
As we approach the holiday season, if you’re thinking of upgrading your devices, please consider paying it forward by dropping off your used device between now and Jan. 9 at any SJPL Express Pickup location, Monday-Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. You can receive a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.  For more details, visit here.
COVID-19 Links
More Local Resources for Businesses
If you are a business or property owner reaching out about vandalism, theft or property damage, you can submit an online police report here.

To report graffiti and things that need to be cleaned within the district, use the Groundwerx Everywhere app for iPhones or Android.
To report damage, graffiti or things that need to be cleaned in city parks/property or outside the district, use the San Jose 311 app for iPhone, visit sanjose.custhelp.com or call 311.

Businesses who would like a free graffiti removal tool kit can send an email to antigraffiti@sanjoseca.gov with their contact information and an address. A kit will be delivered to your place of business. 

SJDA staff can help.  Our list of staff and emails are here.
Let us know how else we can help by replying to this email. We’ll have another message next Thursday. We're in this together.
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