Single Gal and Is Campbell the New “It” Place?

It has been discussed here before many times about how to make San Jose a cooler, hipper, more “it” place to be, but it seems as if Campbell may have cornered the market on “it.” Whenever you seem to meet a nice, young person in the South Bay, if they don’t commute back and forth from San Francisco, inevitably, if you ask them where they live or where they spend most of their time, it’s Campbell.

It’s a great community to live in, houses that are cheaper than Los Gatos (well, really what isn’t?) and comparable to San Jose prices. But they have done a great job with the downtown from when I used to work down there eight years ago. Coffee places, great breakfast joints, family places like Sonoma Chicken Coop and Aqui, and fun bars like the Cardiff Lounge, The Spot, Khartoum and Katie Bloom’s. They have really rounded it out with all the things that a district needs to be sustainable and hip; retail and restaurants, bars and apartments—a nice little mix of all four things that San Jose has been so challenged to do.

Mind you, their “downtown” is only a street long when San Jose is dealing with a larger area, with more crime and many more hurdles. But I still think there is a lot you can learn from Campbell. They didn’t start as much, and years ago, the only destination in Campbell would have been the Pruneyard—but something shifted and Campbell became…cool.

More often that not, after a night out in Campbell, I think to myself how I am meeting a nice, young crowd who all seem on the same page—wanting a good time without the hassle of driving up to San Francisco for the night. It will never compare, but little ol’ Campbell is doing a hell of a job becoming the new “it” place.


  1. Singal Gal,

    What you don’t realize is campbell has all of our customers that the SJPD has chased away. 

    You mentioned four bars and a brewery (sonoma chicken). All have lines and all filled with SJSU students, recents SJSU grads and young professionals who used to come to downtown San Jose until about 3 years ago.

    3 years ago, the SJPD cracked down on downtown.  The goal was to get rid of the small but measurable “gang” member element “controling” the streets and clubs.

    The pressure of the police didn’t and still isn’t working.  All it did was run a lot of good business operators and their customers out of downtown San Jose.  What is left is the thugs who don’t care about the police pressure.

    what campbell and many other areas near San Jose get are our customers and our tax base.  We get left with empty storefronts and thugs.

    Downtown Bar Owner

  2. There’s a downtown Campbell? Is it as super-amazing as downtown Los Gatos? Wow, sounds like we have real competition in luring the prudish escapist demographic.

  3. So, how did Campbell(if it did) change the police environment?  Since I came to SV in the mid-70’s, Campbell PD had a rep. as being full of young, aggressive, juiced up cops who kicked the s*it out of anyone who looked at them wrong.  That rep. continued well into the 90’s, when I lost track. So, I presume from SG’s post that such is no longer the case in Beautiful Downtown Campbell.  Or, is it that the nice folks go to Campbell, and the thugs from throughout the bay area and the vatos locos leave King & Story for DTSJ?  Or, is it that the Campbell venues don’t attract the thug/hiphop/vatos locos crowd?  Scare them away with Barry Manilow.

    Quien sabe?

  4. Hey SG-

    I live downtown and while I am not a DTSJ hater like you, I do hang out in Campbell from time to time.

    Yes, it has a few restaurants and the night life can be fun…. however though, the only difference (besides size) I see between it and DTSJ is that there are mostly white folks out at night there…..

  5. Sorry SJ folks,
    While some younger people may hang out in SJ, in Campbell, Los Gatos, many drive the over the hill and visit our drinking establishments here in “Proud to be Weird” Santa Cruz. 

    Pacific Avenue is wall-to-wall people most every night,  the fire rings along the beaches are all lit at night, and the motels are fairly full even on weekdays.

    Haven’t you noticed gas is just over $2 a gallon, like a few years ago.  You folks in Silicon Valley haven’t come up with anything new to keep life interesting at home, everything seems so ho-hum boring. 

    Young people like to be entertained and us Cruzans have enough hot spots, both Downtown and on the Eastside.

    Only about a third of UCSC students live on campus atop the Hill, the rest all over town.
    Even those on campus come Downtown.  The 11’o clock busses are so full they can hardly get up the hill.

    Rio Theater on the East Side features many acts.  The Flea Market at the former DriveIn is still going strong on weekends, the Farmers Market on Wednesday is better than ever and the Antique Fair once a month on Sundays is still there.

    The events I miss are the Anti-War protestors at the Town Clock.  We could use a lot more of them. We now have only anti Prop 8 protestors.

    There’s enough to do here in this small town, there’s no need for me to visit San Jose except Mineta Airport. In the last year I only visited San Jose once, to the Green Fair at the Tent.  Walking nearby to a free parking spot I was disappointed with all the empty store fronts, the abandoned theater, the lack of pedestrians and bikes, very depressing.  Even McDonalds was empty.
    The only place that piqued my interest was the cathedral like setting of the SJ Symphony.

    I still visit San Jose regularly but only on Google Earth and its Streetview feature.  Even though Googlecampus is down the street San Jose still features no 3D Buildings (even Sacramento and Long Beach have 3D buildings on Google Earth, many of them photo-realistic).

    We have the Coastal Records project, depicting our Calif. Coastline with high resolution photos, some sets going back 30 years showing fill-in over time.

    There are a number of live cameras showing current surf conditions.

    Single Gal, come on over and check out the action in Surf City! Pick up a “Good Times” for listing of clubs and restaurants and who’s playing.


    PS JMO.  You can be easily googled.  Sorry, that was an answer machine, so you must have auto tranfer to cell phone. I’ll never call again, got better things to do, you seem to be out of it.  Even TMcE is disappointed with you.

  6. single gal basically said that white kids are hanging in campbell now and not DTSJ so it’s cool.

    wow. she should be called single white gal.

    won’t be long before these campbell revelers “discover” hyphie and start ghostriding past the sonoma chicken-blooms-aqui thing going on over there.

    but by then it’ll be a national past time like “blues”, terrorist bumps, and sagging pants.

  7. According to the information released yesterday at San Jose City Council surrounding the revised policy for drunk in public arrests, Campbell has a 14% rate where San Jose has only an 11% rate.

  8. What a Joke #8,

    Using stats to manage a police force is a joke.  The chief and council hide behind spreadsheets on all major issues.

    14% of campbells total arrests probably makes sense.  they only have about 30,000 arrests per year. 

    San jose’s 11% of over half million arrests is much more alarming.

  9. Great Column SG.  Downtown SJ is filled with thugs. That is why decent people go elsewhere. Or may be demayor is right, drunks stay out of downtown SJ to avoid arrest.  Campbell does have its problems as does every City. In a recent article I read it said Campbell will be increasing Police presence in its downtown because they are starting to have more problems like Public Intoxication, fights, etc.

    #8- The only reason we don’t hear about the high rate of crime and Public Intoxication in smaller cities is because the Mercury News isn’t out to vilify their Police Departments in an effort to sell papers. You wouldn’t believe how many community members at the Council Meeting last night actually “thanked” the Mercury News for making them “aware of the problem.” I think the sooner the biased Merc goes under, and a credible paper (if there is such a thing any more) actually takes over, the better.

  10. I am one of those local residents downtown bar owner is talking about.

    My wife and I now spend much less time & money at the downtown establishments, and as single gal implied, much more time in Campbell, and various other places.

    However, it has nothing to do with the police presence and a completely to do with the thuggish crowds the clubs and bars are drawing.  The people gathering outside these places (Toons, Vivid, Voo-doo, Vault, Fahrenheit, even SJBG, Tres Gringos, and Mission these days) drives young professionals away, no doubt.  South first street crowds are just as bad.

    When we do go downtown to try and support the local businesses, the crowds are so bad (mostly on weekends) I’m thankful every time we see the police presence and arrests being made.

    In the end, it’s the crowds that pushed us away from buying into any one of the high rises recently built, and pushing us out of downtown San Jose.

  11. pgp3 #7 Great, don’t telephone me again on exhorting me to comment on your posts here.  If I don’t comment, it’s likely because I don’t believe what you said is worth the time to comment.  My office phone, which can be googled, does NOT roll over to my cell.

    And Tom McE has always been disappointed in anyone who doesn’t believe 100% as he does.  Was your comment that Tom must be disappointed in me supposed to be some sort of insult?

    Go back to your hostel and sleep well.

  12. When I first arrived in America as a Mexican immigrant in 1960, I had never seen a lawn or a white picket fence. When I watched “Leave it to Beaver” on TV with all his white friends; living in nice homes with fancy yards and white picket fences, I wished my neighborhood were like that; but it wasn’t so I made the best with what I had.

    Reading SWG’s post, wishing all the coffee shops in downtown San Jose were like the cast of “Friends”; or all the clubs were filled with the cast of “Beverly Hills 95110”; is a lot like my first glimpse of reality in America; Just make the best of what you have and stop whining.

    If you continue in your search for the perfect nightlife never taking time to enjoy what you have, you will wake up one morning angry, wondering how you got so old, so fast, with little pleasure or appreciation for what you had all along.

  13. #12 JMO,
    Thank you, I slept quite well at the hostel.

    Congratulations!!  You finally succeeded in getting me off this blog!

      I’d like personally thank you on your cell, but never wrote down the number I found on Google.
    I always tell the truth, I cannot lie, I’m not a lawyer.

      There are too many John Michael O’s on Google.  It’s not easy to know which one is good or bad.

      You seem to be in too much of a hurry, just complaining about potholes and unsynchronized lights.  Best stay out of Santa Cruz where hurried Valley people are expected to slow down a little since many are walking or on bicycles. It’s just too expensive to hit, maim or kill us pedestrians and bicyclists.
    I love my adult trike and am getting better at going up hills.

        You don’t seem to be overly generous, about the only contribution I can find is to Hastings Law School, but most likely every grad is listed, even one’s that don’t contribute.  I suspect your many contributions are anonymous. 
      I’m glad you’re looking out for the beleaguered taxpayer. Taxes should be low so you can spend or save more.  Hope you found a way so can take it with you.

      I chastised you earlier for not having your name on a San Jose Building (unlike TMcE, Mineta and Diridon) but found O’Connor Hospital.  Alas, that institution opened in 1898, long before you came along.  The building (on County property) was donated by Judge Myles P. O’Connor and wife Amanda, not by a simple attorney.  At the time it was located on corner Race and West San Carlos.

      This blog reminds me of late night AM radio!  Loved by many weirdoes and kooks (like me), former UFO hostages, right and left wing fringes, religious fanatics, political losers, sexists and perverts, and worse.  Listening is very addictive, time seems less boring.
        Everybody is yakking, lots of complaints, name calling, accusations, very few viable solutions, nobody actually doing anything in an attempt to solve a problem.
      Luckily this blog site is monitored to keep it civil.  You fit right in.

      Perhaps I’ll find more support to open a large urban Silicon Valley Hostel that incorporates the latest and most hi-tech gadgets elsewhere.  There may be some interest in Campbell, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino, or even Palo Alto.  Some of those are really more the central part of Silicon Valley with nearby big name corporate HQs. 
      Too bad, since San Jose does have good public transport, including 17 Express, as well as some points of interest that tourists may want to visit. 
      Come to think of it Santa Clara has a train station with regular free shuttle service to Mineta Airport, nearby free Intel Museum, close to the Computer History Museum and Great America.

    pgp3   Finally,  Bye-bye!

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