GovNews: City of San Jose's Signature Open Streets Event, Viva CalleSJ, Has a Strong Economic and Social Impact

ARTICLE | May 8, 2018

Mineta Transportation Institute Study Shows More than $1 Million in Sales During 2017 Viva CalleSJ

City of San Jose, CA

SAN JOSE, CA, – Newly released results from an independent survey conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) in partnership with San José’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (PRNS) during San José’s 2017 Viva CalleSJ event shows strong economic, social, health, and environmental impacts. Launched in 2015 by PRNS, Viva CalleSJ is a free, annual event that closes miles of San José streets for a day. The goal is to encourage the community to walk, bike, skate, play, and explore the city like never before.

“Viva CalleSJ was attended by 130,000 people in 2017,” said Angel Rios, Jr., Director of PRNS. “With over a quarter of survey respondents from outside the City, Viva CalleSJ has become a destination for tourists as well as residents. Participants spent more than $1 million in our neighborhood business districts during the six-hour event.”

“Normally on Sundays, our breakdown is 38 percent new customers. During Viva CalleSJ, the number of new customers jumped to 72 percent,” wrote Carole Rast, owner of Roy’s Station in Japantown.

MTI published “A Survey of Viva CalleSJ Participants Study” on May 1, 2018. The study is based on data collected from 860 diverse participants through questionnaires distributed at the 2017 event. The data shows that 70 percent of respondents spent an average of $15 at the event. The survey was designed to assess the event’s impacts and benefits to the City and community and guide future Viva CalleSJ events.

“The study reveals that Viva CalleSJ connects people to people and people to places which is just as important as the economic benefits,” says Rios, Jr. Viva CalleSJ participants are as diverse as the Bay Area with one-third identified as white-only, one-third as Asian American and just over a quarter identified as Hispanic and gender was evenly balanced. The data serves to support the notion that public spaces are great community equalizers.”

“Viva CalleSJ is one of the best things that has happened to East San José in several years. It was beautiful to see so many happy people walking, biking and enjoying our neighborhoods. It was also great to see so many businesses participating,” wrote Jesus R. Flores, president of the Alum Rock Santa Clara Street Business Association.

Healthy communities are a measure of a thriving City. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed received over 60 minutes of physical activity. Viva CalleSJ provides opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to play and recreate in what becomes the City’s largest park for the day - the ultimate form of quality family time.

“Befitting of our department’s mantra, Building Community Through FUN, 59 percent stated FUN as their motivation for attending the event. This is what we set out to accomplish, making public life fun, healthy and safe for everyone regardless of ethnicity, primary language, age, or physical abilities,” states Rios, Jr.

Viva CalleSJ will return in Fall of 2018 with a new route and exciting programming for everyone to enjoy.

About Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services and Viva CalleSJ

The City of San José Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (PRNS) has one of the most diverse service models of any agency of its type. The recreation, social services and outdoor spaces serve not only San José’s million plus residents, but individuals from surrounding cities and communities as well. The department is committed to building healthy communities through people, parks and programs and to be a national leader in cultivating healthy communities through quality programs and dynamic public spaces. For more information, please visit http://www.sanjoseca.gov/prns.

Viva CalleSJ is based upon open streets programs that aim to connect urban dwellers with their community and environment by temporarily diverting traffic from busy thoroughfares and opening streets to pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, and other non-motorized forms of travel. By allowing only non-motorized transportation on a designated route that changes annually, Viva CalleSJ encourages exploration of City neighborhoods. In doing so, it promotes social integration and physical activity while directly reducing carbon emissions.

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