SJDA veterans hired by City

August 2016 – The San Jose Downtown Association’s loss is the City of San Jose’s gain.
Blage Zelalich and Eric Hon – two of SJDA’s long-time lead- ers – have been recruited into management roles with the city.
Zelalich, an 18-year veteran of SJDA who started in events and promotions and served the past 12 years as Deputy Director, will be the Assistant to the City Manager and Downtown Manager in the Office of Economic Development beginning Aug. 15.
“Blage brings extraordinary experience and unique expertise to the City team, enabling us to support Downtown’s continued ascendance to the next level,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Hon, Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) Operations Manager since its inception, joins the city’s Department of Transportation as its Landscape Services and Traffic Mainte- nance Division Manager on Aug. 1.
As Downtown Manager, Zelalich will lead downtown issues and opportunities, working with city departments and many of the same community partners with whom she forged relationships while at SJDA.
Blage Zelalich and Eric Hon will continue contributing to downtown’s pulse.
streetlights, traffic signals, roadway signs and markings, trees and sidewalks. He will also work closely with the city Arborist’s Office, oversee the contractual street-sweeping program, mind the weed abatement program, and manage relations with special districts such as the PBID.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead,” Hon said. “It will be exciting and interesting to be on the other side of the table working for the entire city and not just the downtown.”
Hon is the PBID’s original operations manager, starting and developing Groundwerx from scratch after property owners first voted to approve the assessment district in 2007. He was instrumental in the growth of Groundwerx and PBID programs, including homeless job training, secondary police enforcement and tree-trimming services, as well as the 91 percent approval rating by property owners who voted to renew Groundwerx services in 2012 for another 10 years.
“Eric was the perfect Ops Manager to launch the PBID — fair,
unflappable, competent and caring,” Knies said. “I am certain his skills will be a major asset for the city’s Department of Transporta- tion.”
Over the years, Hon became SJDA’s lead on homeless issues and work- ing with other partners to find solutions to the challenges many face daily on downtown streets.
“I wish during my time that we could have done more to help the home- less,” he said. “But in 2008 we didn’t understand the problem – now I think we’re just starting to get it and I like the direction we’re headed.”
National searches are underway to fill both positions. For more infor- mation, see “opportunities” on
“I’m proud of helping business and property owners maximize their investment in downtown,” she said. “I feel fortunate that in my new role I’ll continue to be able to do that.”
Zelalich led many projects for SJDA over the years, most notably managing the construction efforts of the Downtown Ice skating rink for 16 years in three different locations. She built the Downtown Doors student art competition and exhibition to 103 locations over the past 14 years. She also managed the SharkByte art fund-raiser in 2001 that produced 100 art shark sculptures and raised $250,000 for charity. In
addition, Zelalich was instrumental in building a strong partnership between SJDA and San Jose Police.
“Blage and I have been a team for a long time,” said SJDA Executive Director Scott Knies. “I will always value her impeccable character and the accomplishments we have shared. I’m thrilled we will continue to work together in her new role at the city.”
As Downtown Manager, Zelalich will also serve as one of the city man- ager’s two appointees to the PBID Board of Directors, which she and Hon helped establish in 2007.
Hon will lead about 100 employees who maintain the city’s landscaping.