Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RE: San Jose Weighing Business Tax Increase

An article appeared in last week's San Jose Business Journal about San Jose considering a tax increase for businesses. Surprisingly, the city collects only $10-11 million of business tax revenue a year, much less than other cities in the bay area (Oakland collects $51.5M, SF collects $391.1M). The proposal currently being discussed is a way to double the amount of revenue that San Jose collects from the 54,800 businesses, the largest number of any city in the Bay Area.

I actually have to strongly disagree with this idea. Right now there are many regions of San Jose with office vacancies hovering around 25%, dramatically higher than many other Santa Clara County cities like Palo Alto and Mountain View. Raising business taxes in any way, will simply provide another reason for businesses to not come to San Jose. This isn't a possibility, this is an economic fact. You cannot raise taxes without a negative consequence.

The are two possible exceptions to what I said above:
1.) If San Jose is considered a luxury "product or service" where increasing the price makes it more attractive instead of less (think Bentley, Gucci, etc.). I don't think this is the case.
2.) If the money raised from businesses can be used to provide an improvement to those businesses greater than the additional cost they are paying (think Downtown's PBID)... this is unlikely since the money will likely go straight to the deficit.

Okay, now that I bashed this idea let me offer 2 suggestions:
1.) Use supply and demand to determine when to raise taxes. For example... when office vacancies hit 5%, then slowly increase the tax while lessening the negative impact. Don't do it when we desperately need these spaces to be filled.
2.) Sell additional services to businesses that companies would gladly pay a premium on. A great example is permitting, which has been a San Jose weakness for some time. Let a large company pay substantial extra fees to expedite the permitting process and move a project along faster (have nightshift and weekend employees if needed). The additional money those companies will get by opening the door faster will easily justify whatever extra amount they have to pay. We also want a brand image where San Jose is the best possible city for leading companies; enabling them to execute and build faster is perfectly inline with this image.

Source: SJBJ

Monday, January 30, 2012

December 2011 Downtown Dimension Highlights

Here are my notes from the latest edition of Downtown Dimension:
  • Sadly, Music in the Park has run it's course and will be replaced by multiple smaller events Downtown as well as improved existing events (ex: Blues Festival in St. James Park, SoFA Street Markets during First Fridays, and Left Coast Live).
  • The San Jose Marriott receives the 2011 Jim Fox Golden Nail Award for contributions to the character of Downtown.
  • The Downtown PBID responsible for Groundwerx is up for renewal this year. Also some improvements are planned:
    • New focus on helping fill up Downtown office and retail vacancies, such as helping new tenants expedite permitting with the city planning office.
    • Improve Downtown Safety
  • Oracle has moved 62 people into the Sobrato building with plans to move 180 more people soon.
  • USF is now open for business at 125 S. Market.
  • The Capital Club has just finished a $2.8M remodel and now includes an outdoor sky lounge with fire pits, private work spaces, an expanded bar, and a media room (100+ inch flat screen) with Bay Area sports memorabilia.
  • Downtown's Memorial for Veterans should be re-installed very soon (the 76 white flags by Adobe).
To read the full newsletter, click here!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Stats: San Jose Metro Rent Increase Highest in the Nation

In 2011, San Jose apartment rents climbed a whopping 11.7%, making it the largest increase in any metro market in the country. San Francisco was in second place at 10.4%. Currently, rents in the San Jose metro average $1,783, which is actually now higher than San Francisco at $1,708.

Source: SJBJ

Friday, January 27, 2012

Miguel Machuca at the Usuals Jan. 27

The Usuals present artwork by Miguel Machuca

Opening reception: Friday, January 27th from 7pm-10pm

With music provided by RS2.
Drinks by Uzuhachi Honey.
On view thru Feb. 23, 2012
The Usuals
1020 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126

"Hack the Future" Event at the Tech!

Over 100 students will participate in a full day “hackathon” to learn about innovation from rock-star tech leaders like Pong creator Allan Alcorn and engineers from Facebook.

SAN JOSE, SILICON VALLEY, CA - On Saturday, January 28, 2012, the third Hack the Future will take place at The Tech Museum in San Jose, California. Hack the Future is a one-day hackathon, designed to inspire and encourage middle and high school geeks to take learning into their own hands and show them what it's like to be a hacker.

Joe Mathes, startup engineer and Hack the Future co-creator, explains, "Hack the Future is the first chance many kids will have to enter the exciting, advancing field of technology. Programming is literacy. To be great, you have to start when you're young, and you have to learn it from someone who knows the language. As professionals on the cutting edge, we wanted to teach what we know straight from the front lines."

Over 30 mentors will teach the day-long event, which consists of a series of stations where young hackers can experiment with everything from creating computer games to soldering. Lee Felsenstein, the designer of the first mass-produced portable computer, will be helping to inspire the next generation of future tech leaders. Local engineer Allan Alcorn, best known as the designer of the wildly popular 1970s video arcade game Pong, will also be on hand to share his remarkable story and to help guide students’ tech creations.

“The highlight of the day is seeing the kids accomplish something they are proud of,” says mentor Sarah Elliott. “You should see their faces when they create code that ends up moving a half million dollar robot. It’s incredibly rewarding.” 

Mentors from companies including Facebook, Twilio and other Bay Area-based startups will mentor the students. Microsoft is one of the event’s primary sponsors, as well as The Tech Museum.

Jeff Lindsay, Founding Director at Hacker Dojo, says “With a laptop, you can change the world, start the next Facebook. Nowhere is this passion more evident than at Hack the Future.”

For Willie Yee, 12, the event is like Christmas in January; it's the reason he signed up so quickly. "I like programming," says the San Jose 7th grader. "But I really want to learn more complex commands for some programming languages." 

Reporters interested in interviewing Hack the Future mentors or students should contact Daniel Jabbour at 516-642-1119 or daniel@hackthefuture.org.

For more information on Hack the Future visit http://www.hackthefuture.org/

Thursday, January 26, 2012

San Jose's Varentec Raises $7.7M

Yet another San Jose green tech company has received a chunk of change to get off the ground. A VC firm specializing in clean tech has pumped $7.7M into Varentec, which is making smart grid technology. I'm really liking this niche. Building a market dominance in green/clean tech not only brings economic benefits to the area, but there is something comforting in knowing we're developing technology that will make the world a better place.

Source: SVBJ


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist: Downtown Retail (Non-Restaurant)

Okay, let me start off by saying I the love the restaurants in Downtown San Jose. The restaurant scene here pretty much exploded in 2011 (one day I'll post the stats for the number of new eateries that opened last year), and things are only going to get better in 2012. However, in order for Downtown to really succeed we need more diverse retail offerings besides just restaurants. My Wednesday wishlist for the week is to see more traditional retail and new services Downtown.

The photo below is of a new Foot & Body Massage place coming soon to 2nd Street. It's a start =). Thanks Arlene for the pic.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

San Jose Three Creeks Trail Moves Forward!

Three different agencies have come together to make a critical land acquisition that allow San Jose's Three Creeks Trail project to come closer to realization. The City of San Jose, The Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, and the Parks and Recreation Department of Santa Clara County have jointly chipped in a total of $6M to acquire land and add an additional mile to San Jose's interconnected trail network. This will eventually connect the Guadalupe River, Coyote Creek, and Los Gatos Creek Trails.

There are currently 53 miles of trails in San Jose, with plans to bring the total to over 100 miles, making it one of the nation's largest jurisdictional networks.

For more info, I highly recommend checking out the press release right over here. Thanks to Yves for the tip!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sentinel Tree Gifted to History Park by Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County

Sycamore Tree
San José, California – January 10, 2012 --- Long before Global Positioning Systems (GPS) or Mapquest, there were travel landmarks. In the days of wagon trains and horseback the early settlers found the way to San José marked by a giant sycamore. Anyone living in or around the Santa Clara Valley will undoubtedly be familiar with the lyrics to Do You Know the Way to San José , a hit song made popular by Dionne Warwick in 1968. The Sentinel Tree, a sycamore on North 21st Street, was that landmark.
Nearly twelve years ago an effort was made to save the oldest tree in San José, in the Northside Neighborhood at 21st Street, where the sycamore stood in a front yard. But it was declared ‘not possibl to safely preserve the sentinel sycamore’ by arborists. At that time, ‘a community meeting was held for the purpose of deciding where to plant genetically identical clones of the tree.’
Three cloned grafts were taken from that Western Sycamore in 2000. On Thursday afternoon (between noon and 2:30 pm), January 19, one of the clones is to be transplanted at History Park at Kelley Park. Native to California, the Western Sycamore, or California Sycamore, Platanus racemosa, is common in the Western United States.
The Master Gardeners will be moving it from its temporary location to grow and thrive in an open space at History Park, near the Greenwalt House, now home to the Immigrant Resettlement & Cultural Center (IRCC), the Museum of the Boat People & the Republic of Vietnam.
“We are really excited about having a new "living history" component to History Park,” said Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José. “It is the perfect addition that will be incorporated into our school programs immediately!”

# # #

About History San José: 
History San José is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the continuing history of the Santa Clara Valley.  HSJ manages one of the largest and most comprehensive regional history collections in the State of California, from 1784 Spanish governmental records to twenty-first century Silicon Valley technology.  History San José aspires to provide innovative national leadership in preserving and sharing regional history by engaging diverse audiences in exploring the varieties of human experience that contributes to the continuing history of San José and the Santa Clara Valley. 
History San José     1650 Senter Road     San José, CA  95112      408.287.2290

Jill Arnone
The Arnone Group

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Catch the 49er Game at the San Pedro Square Market!

San Pedro Square Market "Happenings" Newsletter 
Hi Everyone,

It's been a while since our last communication - thanks to everyone who has joined the mailing list in the meantime!

SPSM is in the midst of a growth spurt . We opened two new restaurants and expanded our seating area over the holidays. We've been enjoying steadily increasing business every week, especially at lunchtime. We've signed two new vendors in the last few weeks, Loteria Taco Bar and The Little Cheese Shoppe, bringing our total signed leases up to 18 exciting, independent local businesses.

We'd like to invite all of you down to the Market on Sunday to root the 49ers on in the NFC Championship game at 3:30. It will be Happy Hour all day at the Market Bar, which means discounts on beer, wine, well drinks, and selected cocktails. Last week we had a great crowd for the Divisional round, and we'd love to build on that this weekend!
Happy Hour at the San Pedro Square Market for the 49er Game 

In other Market news, we have two upcoming live concerts:

- Friday, February 3rd with the Burroughs Brothers Band
- Friday, February 10th, with blues rockers Pearl Alley.

We're also very excited to announce that we will begin our year-round weekly Saturday Farmers Market on April 7th, so stay tuned for more info on that.

Thank you all for your continued interest and support. If you haven't made it out to the Market yet, there's never been a better time to visit, come check us out!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

San Jose Unemployment Drops Below 9%

More good news for the South Bay job market. Unemployment has fallen from 9.2% to 8.9% in December. In the previous year, unemployment was 10.6%. Having a 1.7% drop over 12 months is dramatic. This is a stellar sign for the local economy.

For more info, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Alaska is Adding Flights to Reno

Starting June 4th, you'll be able to hop on a new Alaska Airlines / Horizon Air flight to the biggest little city in the world. The best part: $69 inaugural fares and double miles for flights between June 4th and July 31st. The worst part: this actually replaces a Southwest route that is being discontinued April 10th. You win some, you lose some. In this case I think we more or less broke even.

More details right over here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Flextronics is Moving to San Jose!

Flextronics, a $4 billion public company that provides electronics design and manufacturing services, has just leased 130,000 sqft at the America Center in San Jose. It's corporate headquarters will be relocated from Milpitas into San Jose, right next to Polycom (moving May 2012). Between these 2 leases, the America Center is now 81% leased.

For more info, click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist: Michelin Star Restaurants (2012 Edition)

It's time for my annual rant on San Jose not having any Michelin star restaurants. The Michelin Guide is likely the most prestigious handbook for top restaurants in the world. In the US, they only publish the guide for 3 regions: New York, The Bay Area, and Chicago. The good news is that for 2012 we now have 47 restaurants in the Bay Area with at least one Michelin star. The bad news is none of them are in San Jose (even Oakland has one).

I do think it's only a matter of time before we get a Michel-rated restaurant. In fact, I'm really surprised Le Papillon and La Foret did not make the cut yet. I've been to a quarter of Michelin restaurants in the bay, and both of these are better than many of them. Heck, I'll even call out one restaurant--Village Pub--for really not deserving to be on the list below at all.

As for the South Bay as a whole, we have the same 6 restaurants as last year (highlighted below). Thankfully we didn't lose any, and Baume in Palo Alto was upgraded from a single star to a coveted two star designation. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that next year we'll at minimum increase the South Bay's representation in the guide with a few more restaurants, and hopefully one of those will be in San Jose. I'll also add that it would be pretty slick to see a Mexican, Vietnamese, or Indian restaurant achieve this status in the South Bay. This would really stand out as something unique not only in the Bay Area, but also internationally (very few non-French ethnic restaurants get stars, Dio Deka is our South Bay exception).

Three Stars
Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
French Laundry, Yountville

Two Stars
Baume, South Bay*
Benu, San Francisco
Coi, San Francisco
Cyrus, Healdsburg
Manresa, South Bay*
Saison, San Francisco*

One Star
Acquerello, San Francisco
Alexander’s Steakhouse, South Bay*
Ame, San Francisco*
Applewood, Guerneville
Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Auberge du Soleil, St. Helena
Aziza, San Francisco
Bouchon, Yountville
Boulevard, San Francisco
Campton Place, San Francisco
Chez TJ, South Bay*
Commis, East Bay
Dio Deka, South Bay*
Etoile, Yountville*
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville
Fleur de Lys, San Francisco
Frances, San Francisco
Gary Danko, San Francisco*
La Costanera, Peninsula
La Folie, San Francisco
La Toque, Napa
Luce, San Francisco*
Madera, Peninsula*
Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
Masa’s, San Francisco
Michael Mina, San Francisco
One Market, San Francisco
Plumed Horse, South Bay*
Quince, San Francisco
Redd, Yountville
Sante, Sonoma
Solbar, Calistoga
Sons & Daughters, San Francisco
Spruce, San Francisco
Terra, St. Helena
Terrapin Creek, Bodega Bay
Ubuntu, Napa
Village Pub, Peninsula*
Wakuriya, Peninsula

* Restaurants Josh has been to

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Three Major Updates (for the Sharks-related posts)

Hello, Sharks fans – what a long time it has been! Although my absence has been extensive and my return way overdue, I feel that this update should be quite significant (which I think it is!).

As some of you have already noticed, I have been providing updates to the Sharks games on Twitter since the Sharks took on the Washington Capitals on January 7th. This is one significant update of three that I plan to make as I make the transition to giving you, the fans, more action-packed posts.

Here are the three major updates I plan to implement in the coming days:

1) Video updates by ME.
• That’s right – I just purchased an HD camera that will soon be the tool I use to provide the fans with my personal updates and takes on the Sharks.
• If possible, will include video highlight reels to complement the video presentation.
• Updates will likely be performed on a weekly basis, although my work schedule may change the course of events (I audit for a Big 4, so this can be very true factor).

2) Live updates to every Sharks game on Twitter (@TheSanJoseBlog).
• All goals, power plays (and penalty kills), significant events, and “end of period updates” will be contributed.
• Important updates from the official Sharks twitter will be re-tweeted.
• Team updates everyone should know about will be posted or re-tweeted.
• I will also be available to reply to Sharks-related tweets sent to @TheSanJoseBlog.

3) A New Sharks statistics spreadsheet (in progress)
• All of you interested in stats of all kinds (goals, assists, penalties, hits, blocked shots, takeaways, face-offs, shots, and more) and can open Excel documents (.xlsx) on your computer – this is for you.
• This is also for those who are sick and tired of trying to interpret the multiple PDF document pages of stats for each game, typically presented in an incomprehensible format.
• Includes significant career stats for active Sharks players and all stat types for each player for the current season.
• Once completed, the document will be free to download.

Hopefully I can deliver on all three major updates in the days to come to provide you, the fans, with a clear picture of the performance of our Sharks. As far as the video updates are concerned, I will be interested in creating an intro to the videos, but that may come with time.

Hope all is well and GO SHARKS!

TWO BUCK Tuesday Today!

Join us at KALEID Gallery for our first Two Buck Tuesday of the New Year on January 17th!
Come enjoy an inspired evening of art demos, performances, live painting, scrumptious tastings, $2 art & quirky people get together!
Tuesday, January 17th, 7-10pm
It's free and open to all ages! 

Here are just some of the interesting artists and crafters you will meet!

Crafty New Year! Pals Courtney and Jo Anne will help you transform your old calendar into a brand new piece of art while still keeping track of the date! Bring an old wall calendar. Free!

Laura Callin Bennett and Lara Sophia will host a Re-Gifting Table! If you received a gift at Christmas that wasn’t quite your style, you can trade it for something else. Bring a small item you don’t want anymore to trade with another item on the table. Suggested items include, but are not limited to: small art supplies, books, CDs, candles, seed packets, non-perishable food items. Things should be in complete and good condition.

Michael Denning will provide a book binding demonstration, where everyone is welcome to create their own mini sketchbook for 2 bucks. Denning will also debut his latest book series “Art Saves Vol. 1-3”. 
Michael’s books are hand stitched and the covers were created on an antique hand operated letterpress.

John Eric Paulson Master Photographer will be demonstrating some of his techniques for finishing photographs, as he works on some photos from the Grand Canyon and Lake Tahoe.

Nik Caesar

John Hageman

Andy Wallace

Rene Lorraine Schilling

Monika Rose

Kori Thompson

Jean Davis

Force 129

Al Preciado

Cosmic Luna

Timothy Tsun

Basic Lee

David Mejia

Jehoiakim Santos

LIVE MUSIC by Tripepitoch

Tuesday, January 17th, 7-10pm
It's free and open to all ages!
RSVP on our Facebook page here.

KALEID Gallery
88 South 4th Street
Downtown San Jose
(408) 947 1785

Would YOU like to show off your talents at Two Buck Tuesdays? Let us know by emailing us infoKALEIDGallery.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oracle Claiming More Space Downtown

Not long ago, Oracle announced that they would be utilizing 66,000 sqft of the building it inherited from the BEA acquisition--the Sobrato Tower. Now, they are laying claim to another 51,000 sqft (2 floors) of space just in case they need it. This is great news. The sooner we can fill up this building, the better for Downtown.

For more info, click here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Santana Row Residential Development

Levare may have just been completed, but Santana Row is already gearing up for their next project. The plan is to build over 200 luxury rental homes by fall 2013. The construction area will be the lot behind Diesel and Pasta Pomodoro, also known as Parcel 8B. If you look at the image below, you can see after this there are still 3 other parcels to develop. I'm hoping that one of those will be used for at least a mid-rise and they'll add some more retail to the Row (as indicated on parcels 11 and 9/10).

Thanks to the guys from the San Jose development forum for this info. Also, here is a PDF of the information sent out to residents and employees.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Stats: San Jose is the Healthiest Metro

Great stat for you today. San Jose was ranked as having the healthiest metropolitan area in the nation. Santa Cruz was a close runner up and has a lower obesity rate, but a greater share of smokers (the two main metrics for this ranking).

The top 10
1. San Jose
2. Santa Cruz
3. Boulder, Colo.
4. Napa
5. Bend, Ore.
6. San Francisco
7. Stamford, Conn.
8. San Luis Obispo
9. Corvallis, Ore.
10. Los Angeles

Thanks to Dan for the tip. Fore more info, click here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Restaurant Opening Downtown: Hestia's

It looks like spot that used to house my favorite Yogurt shop (Penguin Froyo) has a new owner. The new restaurant is called Hestia's and is located at 30 E. Santa Clara Street. While I couldn't get much info online, based on the name and logo alone we can gather that it will be some type of Mediterranean/Greek restaurant. Thanks Arlene for the tip and the photo.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Artsopolis is Now LiveSV

The Arts Council Silicon Valley has launched a slick new site to replace Artsopolis and it adds all sorts of new social elements to it. To check it out, head over to www.LiveSV.com (there is also a permanent link on the right under San Jose Culture). They're billing it as "a dynamic new website platform and online community designed to help the public discover, experience, and share what's new and unique in the Silicon Valley arts, culture and entertainment scene." Sounds great to me, I wish them all the best.  Click here to read the full press release.

Also, have a look at some of the snazzy advertising they've been doing:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist: Bring Hart's Back

This one may be a bit of a stretch, but how cool would it be to see Hart's department store return to Downtown San Jose? I would love to see a new retail anchor Downtown that is completely unique to San Jose and offers quality products with a high level of customer service. Hart's filled those shoes perfectly before Valley Fair and suburban sprawl started to come into play. 

A couple week ago, the Merc had a great article about the store that played such a large role in San Jose's history. It's well worth a read right over here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

People-Shaped Animals Exhibit at KALEID Gallery

art work by Nicole Dornsife

People-Shaped Animals

Concurrent with the annual Further Confusion convention in downtown San Jose, KALEID Gallery hosts a collection of work from artists participating in the furry subculture coordinated by Brian Root.

The furry crowd's roots are in indie comics and scifi/fantasy illustration, with a huge volume of art produced that's rarely seen outside of the convention's doors.

The central theme of the show is anthropomorphism in animal illustration - whether that's in cartooning, folklore, wildlife illustration, or fantasy art, the unifying thread is that all of the contributors to this show find something in making pictures of animals that speaks to them.

art work by ZD

Participating Artists:
Ginger Cooley
Kris Jaques
Mandi Tremblay
Marilyn Cole
Erin Middendorf
Christina Hanson
Miguel Angel Garcia
Roz Gibson
Jessica O'Black
Nicole Dornsife
Barbara Utzinger
Sarah Finnigan
Brendan Cunningham
Claudya Schmidt
Growly Lobita
Laura Garabedian
Brian Root

Exhibition Dates: Thursday, January 12th through Sunday, January 15th.
Exhibition Hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday Noon -7pm, Sunday Noon - 5pm

88 South Fourth Street (at San Fernando)
Downtown San Jose
(408) 947-1785 

Monday, January 9, 2012

SJ Autoshow 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve gone to the SJ Autoshow & so when a mate of mine phoned up it sounded like a good idea (Plus, I had been watching a lot of Top Gear).

There were a lot of cars, people & kids.  Even a giant 8ft DJ robot.

Most of the cars were pretty normal production cars, not has many concept or exotic cars.  But it was nice getting to see some cars up close.  Especially the Fiat 500 Cabrio, I chatted with the Fiat girl (technically Dodge) for a bit about it too.  I had always wanted to checkout the Fiat.  The convertible top is great fun.  The Mini Countryman is cool as well.

Saw a Coda, which I had never even heard of before.

Then we dropped by the exotic cars & I came upon a Fisker & a McLaren, both fantastic looking cars.  Unfortunately, they wouldn’t even let us near these cars since even a fingerprint would cause the car to depreciate by $1K.

We swung by Lexus as well to look for the IS F & the LFA.  The IS F was nice, but they didn’t have the LFA so we dropped by to chat with the Lexus girl.  Will he buy one?

Nope, he’s gone with the Dodge RAM.  And on that bombshell, we’ll see you guys next time.  You can see the other photos on the true2lifepix FB site.