SAN JOSE – Like most downtowns, the epidemic took its toll on downtown San Jose, and the area is still recovering.
Hammer & Lewis’ fashion business has improved recently, says sales manager Yvette. However, she says the downtown area around her shop needs some work.
“Sometimes there are strange things that happen here,” she said. “That’s why a lot of people don’t want to come downtown.”
Although she doesn’t feel a safety concern or says there is a major crime problem, she would like to see downtown move in a better direction.
“When you go down the street and you see all the empty spaces with businesses, you wonder, what’s going on? People get really upset and ask questions like, ‘How is it dead here?’ She said. “I think a lot of people are afraid of the landscape.”
That’s what Mayor Matt Mahan hopes to change. After joining one of SJPD’s downtown foot patrols on Thursday, Mahan said safety is a fundamental part of downtown revitalization, as he met with business owners.
“A lot of things are happening, but really the foundation of it is safety. If you don’t feel safe, it’s hard to find the time, money or investment to bring in a new business or build the housing we need. That’s why I made improving safety one of our big three priorities,” he said.
According to SJPD data, nearly 3,000 more property crimes were reported in the city in 2022 than in 2021.
“Last year we added four officers to the budget for our downtown patrol,” Mahan said. “I’ve called for a variety of investments. Number one is doubling the rate at which we hire officers in our department. We used to budget for 15 new officers a year. I’m going to increase that to 30.”
Yvette thinks the idea is worth a shot.
“I think it’s better for people out here, people feel safer if there are more police officers,” she said.
Her view of downtown San Jose is much more vibrant now.
“There must be more people and more businesses, you know, because everything is so empty.”