Security issues in downtown San Jose a spotlight for enterprise leaders

The recent assault on a 64-year-old Asian woman on South Second Street in downtown San Jose was an issue for attendees in the San Jose Downtown Association’s first virtual public meeting of the year.

The discussion on downtown security was a short-term addition to the agenda of the meeting. But the association said its agenda must change course following a surge in anti-Asian American hate crimes.

“Traditional business watch was not useful in the city center, and we want to change that and add to that,” said Heather Randol, deputy chief of police of San Jose, one of seven finalists running for the city’s next chief of police.

Clockwise from top left: San Jose Deputy Police Chief Heather Randol, San Jose Police Chief Stan McFadden, and SJDA President Katia McClian. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

The San Jose Police Department promised safer downtown and more “targeted” policing as the department seeks new strategies such as foot patrols, increased training for privately owned security guards, and increased emphasis on mental health resources to reduce crime.

Randol said the department is “reinterpreting” the traditional neighborhood watch, especially in the downtown area, and hopes businesses can work with each other and with the department to help.

Friday marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the traditional beginning of the year in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese calendars and one of the most important holidays in East Asia.

The SJDA also held a farewell ceremony for Deputy City Administrator of San Jose Kim Walesh.

Walesh will step down from her position next month after 18 years in the city. She is credited with luring big tech companies like Google to the city and leading the planning efforts for the Diridon Station Area and downtown Google mega-campus.

Deputy City Administrator Kim Walesh (left) and SJDA Executive Director Scott Knies. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

Much effort has been made by Walesh in the past few months to ensure businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can’t have a strong economy if you don’t focus on justice, and if you care about justice, you need a strong economy to create opportunities for the people,” Walesh said. “COVID has opened our eyes to truly understand the inequality and the work we must do to address the lowest incomes of the people who live among us.”

Also on the agenda of the meeting was an update from the SJDA’s Real Estate Improvement Committee.

The PBID committee is using taxpayers’ money to set up services for the district, officials to patrol downtown, and a cleaning crew for the downtown area. The Groundwerx crew, who are part of the PBID cleaning service, rely on volunteers to help clean up the streets in the city center. A new dog park was also announced.

The PBID is currently reviewing its programs to bolster its services in favor of the inner city. The current PBID expires in December 2022. The Friday meeting was the first step in developing a new plan for the district and gathering feedback on services.

A Groundwerx crew member clears streets in downtown San Jose. Photo courtesy of Groundwerx.

The SJDA is a non-profit organization founded in 1986 to represent businesses and property owners in the city center. It is widely recognized for revitalizing the inner city through arts and culture programs.

“We can’t do this alone,” said Katia McClain, President of the SJDA. “Partnerships are the key.”

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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