San Jose moves forward to keep San Pedro Street a permanent pedestrian-only walkway

Lauren Martinez Image
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
SJ moves forward to keep this popular street permanently car-free
The San Jose City Council unanimously voted to move forward with keeping San Pedro Street a permanent pedestrian-only walkway.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The city of San Jose has goal to keep San Pedro Street vibrant, with plans to make it a permanent pedestrian-only walkway moved forward.

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously voted to move forward with plans to make it a permanent pedestrian-only walkway.

During the meeting, Councilmember Bien Doan said he looks forward to having an outdoor space for tourism and residents.

"I believe this is the first pedestrian mall, and the first of its kind in the city of San Jose," Doan said.

In 2020, the San Jose Al Fresco initiative allowed businesses to operate outdoors. The street closure to cars was extended in 2022. Now, the city has plans to create a Pedestrian mall.

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Bob Cina, executive chef for The District Group, thinks this is great for not only their restaurant location but the rest of the businesses.

"From what we understood, allowing every business to bring their patio out to the edge of the sidewalk since the sidewalk won't be needed any longer when this is open for foot traffic," Cina said.

The city's plan requires businesses to move all outdoor seating from the street closer to the sidewalk next to their building. The plan also calls for a 20-foot-wide walkway down the middle of the street for pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

The general manager for San Pedro Square Market, Miguel Gonzalez, said these plans won't impact their seating footprint. He said it's unfortunate for some of the restaurants that were planning on having their current outdoor seating structure permanent and will now have to undergo drastic changes to abide by the news plans. But Gonzalez hopes overall, this will attract more people to such a core location of downtown.

"Just being so close to everything else, you've got multiple restaurants out here that you can choose from, bars and the SAP, Center for Performing Arts - there's so many things within walking distance," Gonzalez said.

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Community members and local owners were happy to see downtown San Jose alive during a community block party that featured live music, art, and more than 100 businesses.

City officials say the makeover will take at least two and half years and are estimating the cost at $9.5 million.

Pete Be, owner of Tiki Pete, is investing in three businesses in downtown San Jose.

"It's the next best thing to Santana Row, if not better actually, let me take that back. I think it might be better because we're able to open it until 2 a.m. as opposed to 12 o'clock," Be said.

Mayor Matt Mahan wanted to emphasize consistent communication with business and property owners impacted by the eventual change.

"I think that it is important that we are - whatever is appropriate - monthly bases, every six weeks checking in with them because they're understandably very worried about this change," Mahan said.

After Tuesday's vote, the city's next steps will be coming up with a plan to keep San Pedro Street car-free. They hope to have this finished by the end of September.

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