Mayor asks Chamber to help revive Downtown Gilroy

Mayor Al Pinherio spoke Wednesday afternoon to the Gilroy

Mayor Al Pinheiro urged members of the Gilroy Chamber of
Commerce to grab their friends and

tell them to come downtown

when he spoke Wednesday afternoon at Lizarran Tapas Restaurant.
Revitalizing downtown should be at the forefront of the city’s
thinking, and city officials and business owners need to work
together to bring residents back to the area, he said.
Mayor Al Pinheiro urged members of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce to grab their friends and “tell them to come downtown” when he spoke Wednesday afternoon at Lizarran Tapas Restaurant.

Revitalizing downtown should be at the forefront of the city’s thinking, and city officials and business owners need to work together to bring residents back to the area, he said.

“We need to call our neighbors,” Pinheiro said. “We need to go downtown.”

To the roughly 25 Chamber representatives at the luncheon, Pinheiro added, “You have to sell our community.”

He urged Chamber members to visit places such as the Gaslighter Theater and 9 Lives.

According a city report from Jan. 4, there are 28 unreinforced masonry buildings – or URMs – downtown. Those buildings are unoccupied.

Pinheiro said he hoped to propose a new ordinance Feb. 7 to the Gilroy City Council that, if passed, would lessen the seismic retrofit requirements for downtown building owners and make it easier for businesses to reopen.

– Mayoral race: Pinheiro reiterated he would not be running for mayor in 2012, but said he would endorse a candidate at some point in the future. He did not say whether his endorsement would go to either Dion Bracco or Perry Woodward – the first two Gilroy City Council members to declare mayoral bids – and he has told the Dispatch he believed more candidates would emerge. Pinheiro said residents, for now, had “two interesting choices.”

– High-speed rail: Pinheiro told the Chamber he and other local officials met with Roelof van Ark, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO, Tuesday morning. “I’m really excited this has become a collaboration,” he said. Pinheiro told Chamber members to “get involved, get informed” about the high-speed rail project, which is expected to open in 2020. In the end, the Council can make only a recommendation to the CHSRA, but Pinheiro said Council members would “kick and scream” to get a station in Downtown Gilroy “as long as it’s trenched.” Also regarding the rail, Pinheiro said, “I don’t think we can fight it. It’s coming.”

– Downtown policing: Gilroy Police Department Chief Denise Turner is in the process of putting together a policing plan for downtown.

– City to revive park: Pinheiro said the city has made a commitment to transforming Forest Street Park into a “useable” area for residents and families to enjoy. “Mothers have told me they didn’t feel comfortable taking their kids there.”

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