San Jose is moving forward to make San Pedro Street a permanent pedestrian-only overpass

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — The City of San Jose aims to keep San Pedro Street alive, with plans to make it a permanent pedestrian-only walkway.

On Tuesday, the city council voted unanimously to move forward with plans to make it a permanent pedestrian-only footbridge.

During the meeting, council member Bien Doan said he was looking forward to having 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 enabled businesses to operate outdoors. The closure of the streets to cars has been extended in 2022. Now the city plans to create a pedestrian mall.

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District Group Executive Chef Bob Cina thinks this is great not only for their restaurant location, but for the rest of the businesses as well.

“From what we understand, allow each business to bring their patio to the edge of the sidewalk since the sidewalk will no longer be needed when it opens to foot traffic,” Cina said.

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

San Pedro Plaza Market General Manager Miguel Gonzalez said the plans will not impact their seating footprint. He said it was unfortunate for some of the restaurants who planned to have their current outdoor seating structure permanent and will now have to undergo drastic changes to comply with the new plans. But Gonzalez hopes that, overall, it will attract more people to such a central downtown location.

“Being so close to everything else, you have multiple restaurants to choose from, bars, and the SAP, Center for Performing Arts — there’s so much within walking distance,” Gonzalez said.

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City officials say the renovation will take at least two and a half years and estimate the cost at $9.5 million.

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

“It’s the best thing after Santana Row, if not better in fact, let me pick that up. I think it would be better because we can open it until 2 a.m. instead of 12 p.m.,” Be said.

Mayor Matt Mahan wanted to emphasize consistent communication with businesses and owners affected by the potential change.

“I think it’s important that we are – whatever is appropriate – monthly bases, every six weeks, checking them because they are understandably very concerned about this change,” Mahan said.

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

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