High marks: Property owners rate Groundwerx efforts

July 2016 – Groundwerx continues to sparkle in the eyes of downtown property owners.

The Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) annual survey conducted March 27-April 29 shows a 92 percent satisfaction with the overall condition of downtown and a 93 percent approval rating for the Groundwerx clean teams.

“This is the fourth straight year we have achieved an approval rating of 90 percent or better,” said Eric Hon, PBID operations manager. “It shows our consistency in delivering enhanced downtown services.”

While 91 percent of respondents believe cleanliness is the top priority for Groundwerx, they also generally believe downtown would look better if drought conditions did not persist and more pressure washing were allowed. Like the rest of the city, Groundwerx is restricted to cut its water use by 30 percent, limiting pressure washing to spot jobs.

“The drought has affected the way we clean our sidewalks, so our Groundwerx crews are now more flexible and pressure-wash spills and messes on call rather than on a fixed schedule,” said Semu One Bear, Groundwerx program director.

Property owners also requested more emphasis on graffiti removal, picking up trash, sidewalk sweeping and stain removal.

Homeless services and security should continue to be priorities for Groundwerx ambassadors, according to survey. Respondents gave the ambassadors an overall 73 percent approval rating, about average since Groundwerx began nine years ago.

Two areas of recent progress on homeless issues downtown involve outreach services coordination with PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) and employing homeless individuals on Groundwerx clean teams.

“Our partnership with PATH is already resulting in some of our chronically homeless being connected to services – especially housing – which should reduce the impact they’ve had on local businesses,” Hon said. The PBID will also continue to partner with Downtown Streets Team on the Groundwerx work experience program. Since the Homeless Job Training program began two years ago, nine participants have gained employment and several others have become more active in seeking employment, Hon added.

The PBID’s efforts in enhanced security, beautification/street life projects and tree-trimming services continue to get high marks with property owners. The enhanced security program, which utilizes off-duty San Jose Police Officers for 50 hours per week, will continue in 2016-17. Due to increasing costs, downtown trees will be trimmed on a five-year cycle rather than every four years. Palms will continue to be trimmed annually.

Property owners also see the importance of the PBID’s business development program with the following emphasis: decrease downtown storefront vacancies (78 percent); retain, grow and recruit retail and small businesses (71 percent); streamline the time it takes for businesses to open (66 percent); and improve the perception of doing business in San Jose (62 percent).

In 2015, Nate Echeverria, business development manager, assisted 82 small businesses with permits and worked with 65 prospective businesses in identifying spaces, assessing the downtown market and understanding relevant regulations.

Fourteen percent of downtown’s property owners responded to the survey. Complete results, along with comparisons to past-year surveys, are posted at groundwerx.com.