Phase 1: Small Business Survival
Heidi Owens, in partnership with over twenty small businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, successfully lobbied the Council to rapidly respond to the Covid crisis by adjusting parking regulations to allow for outdoor dining and retail operations. She also advocated for re-allocation of $2 million set aside for downtown beautification toward Covid relief efforts. A portion of the funding has was utilized for safety "k-rails". Coming this Winter, another portion of the funding will be spent by the Chamber of Commerce on the purchase and installation of beautiful light displays across Town to attract more visitors to Los Gatos.
Phase 2: Small Business Thriving
While the investment of $2 million in Covid relief efforts was welcome, Phase 1 of the Town's efforts created new issues that need to be resolved in Phase 2. Heidi is in contact with business owners and residents and has heard the concerns about bicycle traffic on the sidewalks in the Downtown area. It is important to have a bike lane through the Downtown area because we are seeing a dramatic increase in bicycle traffic during the Covid pandemic. Additionally, businesses are asking for more space to increase seating capacity for outdoor dining and retail. Finally, there are questions about "ownership" or claims to specific outdoor dining spaces. This needs to be clarified so that owners have more specificity on how much space they may use and during what hours. All of these concerns need to be addressed in Covid Response - Phase 2. Heidi supports the development of a Southbound one-way street on North Santa Cruz Avenue to enable both a bike lane and more dining/retail square footage. She will also look to staff to develop guidelines to clarify restaurant claims to seating areas during specific hours.
Covid Response - Reaching Out To Seniors
While the Los Gatos Library and Community Development Departments continue to operate with limited remote operations, the Town has underutilized staff available to assign to a Senior Covid Call Line. Heidi Owens will send a referral to staff to develop a plan to utilize this staff in Covid response efforts. The concept is that Town staff will make outbound calls to senior Los Gatos residents to connect them to resources. The Senior Covid Call Line will also take incoming calls from any Los Gatos residents about the Covid crisis. The regulations are changing rapidly and it can be confusing because the State and County have different guidelines. The call center will act as a single source of truth to update the community on the most recent changes.