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COVID: Plan To Keep San Pedro Street Closed To Traffic Has Strong Support From Businesses

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- A street closure to help struggling businesses stay open during the pandemic may become permanent in downtown San Jose.

The city council is studying an idea to create a new pedestrian mall on San Pedro Street between Santa Clara Street and W St. John Street.

"It's creating this urban environment that I think downtown San Jose strongly needs and desires," said Randy Musterer, Owner Sushi Confidential.

Musterer says business owners were trying to get the city to close this section of San Pedro St. to vehicle traffic for years. Ironically, the pandemic finally gave them the leverage to get it done.

"It removed a lot of the barriers, the legal hurdles from the state and here locally. It's shown us that it can be a true benefit," said Raul Peralez, who represents the area on the San Jose City Council.

The food flies out of the kitchen and onto the street where tents and tables have replaced cars and trucks.

"Dining outside is really wonderful, especially when the weather is as nice as it is right now," said Justin France who came to downtown San Jose with his family from Yuba City.

"Just look at how the customers are enjoying it. I can see them right there and they're having a great time, "he said.

The city blocked off the street to vehicle traffic after restaurant's dining rooms were closed in the early days of the pandemic. Restaurants adapted, creating atmosphere with lighted decks and planters.

"This just feels a lot more lively with the permanent outdoor seating that wasn't here before without the traffic coming through. It's great I love it," said Mike Sherrill.

It was a lifeline that allowed about a dozen restaurants to stay open.

Councilmember Peralez says the street will remain closed at least until the end of the year, giving the city and restaurants time to solve some problems with the closure such as losing one of the two entrances to a popular parking garage, limiting fire engine access in emergencies and lost revenue from parking meters not being used.

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