San Jose could extend Post Street closure
Acapulco Jewelers on Post Street is one of downtown San Jose's oldest businesses. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    For three years, businesses and pedestrians have enjoyed the temporary closure of a downtown San Jose street to cars. City leaders are working to make that permanent.

    The long-term vision for Post Street, located between First Street and Lightstone Alley, is to permanently close it to traffic so it can stay a place where visitors can leisurely gather and patronize local restaurants, bars and shops. The Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved keeping it closed through Dec. 31, 2024 and authorized $50,000 to explore how to close it indefinitely. It will still have to go to the San Jose City Council for final approval.

    Additionally, if the city wants to keep Post Street closed to traffic forever, it will need a permit to turn the street into a pedestrian mall—similar to San Pedro Square.

    The block has been closed to traffic since 2020 to allow for outdoor dining during the pandemic and to promote local eateries nearby—and it has proven successful, downtown Councilmember Omar Torres said.

    “Having Post Street permanently closed is an amazing opportunity to ensure that we maintain vibrancy within this district and community,” Torres said. “It allows our businesses to thrive, but most importantly creates a creative place belonging to people where people want to be and hang out and be their authentic selves.”

    New businesses like The Club on Post have reported benefiting from increasing foot traffic. Visitors at nearby night clubs also safely spill onto the street when stepping out for air or after the night has ended, instead of endangering themselves or drivers by standing on an active street, Torres said. The open space on the street, known as Qmunity, which has become a safe haven for the LGBTQ community, hosts queer markets and bi-weekly drag brunches at Splash Night Club.

    The temporary closure of Post Street, which was first made possible by the pandemic, was set to expire at the end of August before the city stepped in. Deputy City Manager Lee Wilcox said this may be the last time the city can grant such an extension.

    Alex Stettinski, CEO of the San Jose Downtown Business Association, said steps like this will transform downtown similar to European cities, where blocks are always filled with people and music. He envisions a place where residents can gather and relax after work—while also supporting local businesses.

    “It’s the quality of life that we are trying to cultivate here in downtown for people that live close,” Stettinski told San José Spotlight. “That’s why we do these little parties, or small outdoor markets … and have live music.”

    He said public events help bring people out of their homes and foot traffic has increased since launching regular neighborhood parties and mixers. That’s why 85% of local businesses surveyed this month by the downtown association are in favor of permanent closure, according to city documents.

    “It’s a plaza, almost,” Stettinski said. “It’s a magnet that attracts people.”

    But he understands not all businesses are sold on the idea of a permanent closure. Places like Acapulco Jewelers and Angel’s Cleaners & Alterations, which have been open downtown for years, previously told San José Spotlight the inability for cars to drive though has made it inconvenient for residents to quickly stop by to pick up their goods.

    Stettinski said although that may be a more conventional way of approaching business, as the times change the city and its businesses have to adapt.

    “I think the street closure is beneficial for everyone,” he said. “It just depends on what you make of it, how you take this as an opportunity to attract more businesses or different people to your business.”

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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