Single Gal and What Do We Really Need in San Jose?

I know that the subjects of professional sports franchises, music halls, retail and housing have all been discussed on this blog at length as a few things San Jose is missing.  We all agree that San Jose has the amazing potential to be a great city or no one would waste their time talking about it, but my question is: What do we really need in San Jose?

Just coming off of grand prix weekend, where 150,000 people came into San Jose and every bar from downtown to Santana Row to Los Gatos was bustling at night, it is good to see a critical mass of people coming out and making San Jose vibrant.  But it makes me think: as much as I support annual events like this, do we need to keep filling the calendar with big downtown events, or should we cultivate other parts of the city, creating areas with activities that drive people there regularly?

News of the NBA’s Seattle Sonics almost being purchased by Larry Ellison and the owners of the Sharks, who would have brought the team to San Jose, begs another set of questions.  I am one of the staunchest supporters of sports teams bringing pride to a city (the Sharks are a huge success story), but do we want to keep fighting for and putting our energy and resources into wooing teams that have little or no chance of coming to San Jose?  Or do we want to continue to make sure— through development—that San Jose grows organically into a vibrant, hip, cultural center?

Someone on this blog once said that we need to continue to give people in San Jose options for food, culture, art, music, parks, shopping, and more; it’s up to them whether they use it, but our city needs to continue to move in that direction. It’s just a matter of when and who can take us there. 

40 Comments

  1. Thank you but no thank you. Keep these events downtown where our politicians seem to put our resources at. Whenever an event comes to downtown, police are out in force leaving the rest of our neighborhoods to fend for themselves. In my neighborhood we have Lyon’s Plaza where every year we have to put up with traffic, gambling, prostitution and illegal fireworks for three to four weeks while Chinese New Years is celebrated at this site with little to no help from the police dept. These illegal activities were pointed out to us by the POlice Dept. themselves when we complained about the illegal fireworks. Last year we were told that the police were not prepared for the problems created at this site but would be better prepared for it next year. That is to be seen since we were also told that this was a very sensitive and political issue. Image that, gambling, prostition and illegal fireworks being a sensitive and political issue. Only in San Jose can we get this type of answer. So while I praise the success of the Grand Prix, I also ask the our city leaders put our neighborhoods in a higher priority list when it comes to law enforcement and creating a sense of security in our neighborhoods.

  2. I just found it odd that the itinerary of Tony Blair included visits to San Francisco, Pebble Beach, and Cisco.  Media accounts of the visit to Cisco also failed to mention the presence of any official from the city where Cisco is actually located.  It is either they were too corrupt, not invited, or just simply too insignificant to be included in the report.

    Wanted: Leaders

  3. Yeah, #1, crime is a “sensitive” issue in these PC/sensitive times.  I can’t wait until criminals are called “legally challenged” by some PC spokesPERSON for a police dept. in the Bay Artea, instead of the being called the scumbags they really are.

    But I would like to see the Grand Prix moved around to different venues in different neighborhoods.  After all, it’s the only way we’ll be able to get the streets repaved.  My first choice puts the straightaway and pit row along Alma between 87 and Bird—it’s a total mess that needs immediate resurfacing.  Someone please give me Singleton’s phone # so I can pitch it to him.

  4. As any gambler or stock investor will tell you, the best way to manage lots of money is to spread your risk. For cities, that means focusing money on a million little things, not on a few big ones. Jane Jacobs, rip, wrote how great cities are great not because of grand boulevards and domed buildings, but because of the thousands of unplanned, crazy, diverse things that happen when people are allowed express themselves freely in the public space. As a result, I’d suggest fewer Grand Prixs and:
    * more farmers markets
    * more block parties
    * more community centers
    * more pedestrian-friendly streets
    * more bike lanes
    * more charter schools
    * more private schools
    * more nighttime outside movies
    * more parades
    * more dog parks
    * more parks
    * more libraries
    * more taco trucks
    * more sidewalk businesses
    * more free concerts
    * more walk a thons
    * more bike a thons
    * more birdwatching tours
    * more supervised sleepovers in city parks
    * more public dances for the whole family
    * more communty gardens in vacant lots.
    you get the idea grin

  5. Oh boy, here we go, now not only have the “Mexico first” types (thanks for that term finfan) got the city walking on eggs, but now the asian community is also considered too volatile to annoy by enforcing some laws that apply to everyone.  Doesn’t anyone in a leadership position in this town have the slightest resemblance of a backbone?

    I’m with #2.  We need LEADERS and unfortunately Chuck isn’t one.  The more I see of him, the less I can stand the thought of voting for him.  He sure makes Cindy look good regardless of who she’s in bed with.

    SG, care to raise this dilemma all of us who voted for Dave, Dave or Mike are facing? I’m wondering if other like voters are as averted to voting for Chuck as I am.

  6. What we need, is a place for residents and visitor to play and have fun on a daily basis. This may be a case of reinventing the wheel.
    We need to better utilize the Guadalupe or create a man-made lake in the downtown.
    The riverpark has great potential, yet has restrictions.  No fishing and restrictions on the use of the land in the airport flight path, present us with challenges.  It would be great to have an urban oasis,  where we could swim, play on water slides, boat, fish,  golf, cycle and picnic all in walking distance to downtown.  San Jose was on the right track over a hundred years ago when it had a lake in the center of the downtown.  They drained it due to mosquitos. I’m sure we could do something about that problem today.  They also made great use of the beautiful Alumn Rock Park.  The Govenor at that time called it the most beautiful city park in the state.  You could get to it from all over the valley by lightrail.  If we want families to visit and live in the downtown, we need to provide them with a playground.

  7. Although #3’s comment is tongue in cheek, his idea of moving the race to various locations seems only fair to the residents that are displaced from their homes every year, almost a form of eminent domain.

  8. Good idea #7. Let’s start with Cindy’s neighborhood. It will attract business to her neighborhood pleasing her labor cronies by creating jobs that have “labor peace.”
    Sorry #7 but anyone is better than Cindy. When I asked her for a comment on the new Teamster agreement with Norcal she couldn’t come up with a answer and seemed upset about the question. See no evil, speak no evil and talk no evil. That’s Cindy.

  9. What this city needs is a city council and Mayor focused on improving the quality of life and not chasing jobs away with stupid “labor peace’’ rules.

    Mark T, why in the hell would anyone who voted for Dave, Dave or Mike vote for Cindy?

  10. #3 & 7. I’d like to see them block off El Camino Real for The World’s Longest Drag Strip. They could bring in Bonneville jet cars, fire those babies up and let them rip from The Alameda to San Francisco. It could be the greatest thing that ever happened to Bay Area regional government. 
    No more of this strictly-downtown BS…we need to think BIG!

  11. While I share the lack of enthusiasm of #5 regarding voting for Chuck, all I have to do is think about Cindy as mayor and I can’t wait to vote for Chuck.
    Cindy continues to move forward as if all is well and that she has nothing to apologize for. She spouts off the discredited numbers of the economic impact the Grand Prix has, she pushes away businesses with her labor-only agenda, she tells people one thing and then does another, etc. I have never experienced any of that with Reed.
    We all know of her blind allegiance to our eunuch mayor—at least until she had no choice but to cut him loose. We are a rudderless ship and if Cindy became mayor we would continue to drift aimlessly. I agree Chuck is not the savior, but he is lightyears better than Cindy would be.

  12. Great idea – Rose Garden Dad BUT where is political support for your ideas that many support – thousands of smaller events and activities that make for a great livable city We will not see political support from:
    – Chamber who sold out to large regional business and supports regional business economic development tax subsidies and events not local small business
    – Labor who wants more government and large company labor building project or event jobs
    –  San Jose Downtown Association who only wants events downtown

    San Jose has no local small business group that i has political power to make it happen – Just imagine what $1-2 million dollars a year could do for promoting small and neighborhood business events – we would see hundreds of great local resident, family and neighborhood events as you listed that would improve San Jose’s quality of life Not just a few flashy large showcase events that so Chamber and Labor run by former politicians, political staffers working with their career politicians friends so they can brag how great San Jose is while the average citizen’s life and neighborhood gets worst because can not afford basic city services, repairs, parks or common community activities and events

    San Jose will never achieve our potential greatness until local small businesses get politically active and we change our city’s focus away from tax subsidizing regional businesses or large developers that only take, not give back to San Jose.  San Jose need to become nationally known as a very friendly small business city since that is where the growth, jobs and tax revenues are to drive our economy not large regional businesses that outsouce our jobs to other areas

  13. Your intolerance attidude towards others is inappropriate and you missed Police Dept’s point that all important ethic group celebrations have to be treated as ” a very sensitive and political issue”  as they have done Serious illegal activities occur in many groups to include yours Police Dept is doing a great job of fairly enforcing laws in neighborhoods with limited resources

    Becoming part of the solution by doing community volunteering to resolve our city’s problems rather than be part of problem by your intolerant attitude toward other groups

  14. #13:  I am of the unshakable belief that all laws must be enforced equally in all neighborhoods and with respect to all ethnicities.  However, I do not believe that because you did something that was legal/tolerated in your former country before you came here that those of us who have established different laws/mores here have to bow down to your former country’s acceptable practice.  You are here now,  so you must abide by our laws and customs.  If I moved yo your former country, I would be expected to conform to its customs/mores/laws.  And if I transgressed, it is unlikely I’d receive the “sensitive” response you espouse.  I’d be in jail without bail or a lawyer.

    What you do in your home, church, synagogue, ashram, etc, is a different story.  But it ends there.

    What you do here that endangers the public here should never be tolerated.

    I know that if I were in your country of origin and I disobeyed its laws/customs, I’d be guilty until proven innocent and locked up like a bad dog. 

    This notion that you somehow get “a pass” for unsafe or illegal activities just because you came from somewhere else just doesn’t sell with me.  My “sensitivity” gravitates toward making everyone understand that certain activities will not be allowed, based upon our laws.  If you don’t like our laws, do everything you can within the system to change them.  But please, don’t make me conform to the customs of every other country on earth.

    There is a custom in Mexico that on certain days people—mostly men, I’m sure—fire guns into the air.  In case you forgot, what goes up must come down.  A child could be crippled or killed by this practice.  From what I have seen just on CNN, many countries seem to tolerate indiscriminate firing of bullets into the air to celebrate all manner of useless things.  It doesn’t work in a densely populate civilized environment.

    Should the customs of other countries be tolerated here?  ABSOLUTELY, unless they endanger the public health or safety.  And if they do, they need to be suppressed immediately.

  15. #8, 9, 11

    If the City is going to spend taxpayer dollars to assist a business then that business should have a set of standards as to how it will treat its employees fairly. That is what “labor peace” means.

    Starbucks made over 7 Billion dollars last year and yet they continue to have a pattern of not paying their employees overtime when worked, giving required meal and/or work breaks and other shoddy business practices.  See the link below of a recent Chronicle article or google ‘Starbucks labor issues’ and see for yourself.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/27/BUG4PJKMOI1.DTL&hw=starbucks&sn=002&sc=910

    Chuck voted for labor peace before he voted against it. 

    The problem for Chuck is he flip flopped and now is casting himself apart from a policy he supported.

    The real question is why no one on this blog is outraged that the City was going to give Starbucks a hand out.  I have heard no one rant about the closed swimming pools or the community centers or some other item the City should spend its money on, WHY is that? 

    The Office of Economic Development, or lack there of, should be closed and Krutko fired.  Let’s see, five hundred bucks a month for rent for the life of the lease, $300K in renovations to the space, and treat your employees fairly and by the law and he could not sell that. 

    The real outrage here is why it has taken so long to lease these spaces.  What bureacratic two step has been going on and what barriers need to be knocked down so that small businesses or massive global businesses (Starbucks) can get their product or service to San Jose customers faster.

    What has Chuck Reed done on the Council to address this?

    Remember he voted for labor peace before he voted against it—-a man of his convictions!

    Oh, and #4 can you pass around whatever it is your smoking so we can all go to fantasyland with you.

  16. 15 – Must be an off day for you. You actually have a shred of sensible comments and you hardly insulted anyone. If we go with your definition of labor peace, then it should be fairly applied across the board. This council, under the labor leadership of your guru, has applied this policy in a hit and miss manner. When they feel like it the apply it and other times they don’t.
    I agree with you about OED. It is a joke. I also agree that it is an outrage that these spaces have remained empty for so long. And lets not even get into the ridiculous though process that allowed the new City Hall to be built with no provisions for employees to get meals on site.
    Your unsubtantiated smear against Reed minimizes your comments. You can’t continue to carry labor’s water like Cindy does and expect to be taken seriously. As is the case with most smears, your comments don’t tell the full story. Chuck or someone from his campaign can lay out the details.
    As for #4, he is much closer to making SJ a better place to live than your comments are.

  17. #15, I agree with you about the OED and its chief, Krutko. I saw him in action throughout the massive changes in economic policy that the council enacted in the first half of 2005, and he is totally oblivious to a host of problems.

    We tried to get him to take seriously the cascade of sales tax dollars (for example) from all over north San Jose to merchants and car dealers in Santa Clara and Milpitas. Yet he is unwilling to focus on this huge problem, and declines to support the development of entertainment, dining, and marketing centers in north San Jose.

    We should have our own “Murphy Ranch” shopping and dining center somewhere between the Alviso and Berryessa neighborhoods. Instead we have to travel outside San Jose for ordinary and important purchases with the loss to San Jose of lots of sales tax dollars.

    More recently, three of the four major grocery stores between McKee and Berryessa Road along North Capitol have closed. This is a major blow to our community, and one that seems to have missed Krutko’s notice completely. What is it that he does?

  18. My wish list for San Jose is as follows
    1. A new convention center from San Carlos st. to Hwy 280 designed by Frank Gehry.

    2. A new airport for San Jose located in Alviso.

    3. The old SJC turned into a semi public park.  Semi public so private property laws could be enforced to evict drug dealers etc.

    4. The land around this new park used to create high rise buildings for condos and tech companies.

    That’s just a start.

  19. 24 – With all due respect I think you are dreaming and simplifying things too much. You talk about packaging and image—granted Chuck is no ball of charisma but he does come across as sincere and someone who has done his homework. On the other hand, Cindy is condescending, does not do her homework on issues, and hardly carries the weight of a leader of a big city.
    I am much more concerned about substance than image. Sure, I wish both candidates had a better image, but they don’t. All we can go with is substance, and on that there is no contest between Chuck and Cindy.
    You want to see our city continue to be the butt of jokes? Just elect Cindy—the person who supported every questionable legal and ethical misdeed of Gonzales, who was late (again) in taking action against the corrupt Terry Gregory, whose labor support is keeping business out of SJ, who supported the previous City Manager while he kept critical information from the Council, who has allowed the destruction of city employee morale, etc. Elect Cindy and people will look at San Jose and wonder “what in the world are they thinking?”

  20. The majority of voters did not vote for Cindy in June. Why would they vote for her November? They won’t. Plans are already in the works for a farewell dinner in December to thank Cindy for her years on the Council and wish her well in whatever she does in the future.

  21. #22 and #23:

    Cindy has a labor agenda that cares little about the viability of the City of San Jose as a fiscally responsible and prudent organization. Her demands on staff to “make it work”, despite legal and sound management obstacles is legendary.

    If Cindy gets elected, get ready for “big city” debacles and controversy.

  22. F substance, good policy, and fiscal responsibility – we want nice hair damnit!

    “I see a situation where there is a new found freedom among council members to vote the way they want to, not the way the mayor wants them to.”

    Still feeling the effects from the Grand Prix fumes?

    There’s this little group that owns Cindy and the council – you may have even heard of them – South Bay Labor – ring a bell?

  23. #13. my attitude is not inappropriate or intolerable to other groups. I happen to be an immigrant myself and when I came to this country I became a citizen and live by the laws of this country. If something is illegal it is illegal to all races. Fireworks are illegal in San Jose and myself and my neighbors are sick and tired of having to put up with this illegal activity going on at this center. I didn’t know that the city of San Jose made an exception for Chinese New Years. Maybe the same should be done for 4th of July and New Years.

  24. 24 Mark T. While I don’t necessarily disagree with much of your analysis I think that you are overlooking a certain level of clout that comes with the Mayor’s office.
    While Gonzales thought the clout gave him a blank check a smarter man, such as Reed, might use the Mayor’s bully pulpit to a more positive end. 
    The same might be said for Cindy, but she doesn’t stand an ice cube’s chance in hell of getting elected.
    As for Reed’s nerd factor – there are worse qualities. Gonzo can work a room, but I will be glad to see him out of office. Cindy can be charming, but does anybody really trust her?
    Given the choice I’ll take the nerd.

  25. Based on public comments and things said on this blog, I think Reality Check works for South Bay Labor Council and has the initials P.B.
    We who work at City Hall just want a close place to get a decent cup of coffee and something to eat. Labor is now stopping people from doing business. It’s the stupidest thing iv’e ever seen. I was planning on voting for Cindy but now i’m not sure. If this is what she stands for I really have to think about it. Things like this are why San Jose acts like a small town with a small mind.

  26. #4 & 6 Good points.
    #15 Get a clue.
    #24 Isn’t the Silicon Valley, “The home of the Nerd” ?  Why not elect one to run its’ capitol ?  Fooled once, shame on Ron and Cindy.  Fooled twice, shame on you.
    #26 I could not have said it better myself!

  27. I know, I know, you all make good points and I’m really hoping Chuck can do something to make me feel better about voting for him.  Cindy has a lot of explaining to do and I’m quite aware of her ties to the SBLC.  I am just soooo disappointed with the outcome of the primary as I never in a million years thought Chuck even had a chance so was blindsided by this lousy choice we all need to make in November.

    31, I guess maybe all those nerds mobilized in June and threw us all into this lesser of evils situation for November.  What else is new?  In politics anywhere, it’s always a choice between the lesser of two or more evils.

    Sign me,
    Disgusted in the world’s largest cowtown.

  28. Mark T – what happened to you? Thought that you were an anyone but Cindy voter and now I am reading this? Blasphemy! Cindy has been in bed with labor and Gonzo and if you like the way that the city has been running please vote for her. Chuck might not have charisma but sometimes that just clouds people’s judgement. What you see is what you get with him and that I really like.

    Reality Check – you blame on the lack of tenants in City Hall on bureaucracy. What is fueling this bureaucratic “two step?” LABOR and all their rules and requirements. Labor and their control over the council is the problem and not the solution.

  29. #15 RC and #33 SJD,

    The real problem with the bureaucracy with the city is you need to pay Lobbyiest to get anything done.  The city is clogged with BS from the top down, the only people who can climb the mound of [email protected] are the lobbyist.

    Starbucks should have paid a lobbyist to fix thier issue.

  30. 22 – You’re the first one I’ve heard of who was even considering voting for CindyAnyone here I talk to who has dealt with Cindy, from the top to us lower lever types, would vote for anyone but Cindy. You can’t expect people to trust you if you mislead them—unfortunately, Cindy has done that with staff for a long, long time.
    Good luck getting that cup of coffee in CH anytime in the near future.

  31. Here’s what I’m thinking about Chuck vs Cindy:

    Chuck will be impotent as a mayor.  He’s that way already on the council.  Four years of treading water with a nerd at the helm when this town desperately needs leadership.  No thanks.

    Cindy is not Ron.  She may have supported him and aligned herself with him, but I don’t think she has the same ability to strong-arm the rest of the council into voting the way she wants it to.  I see a situation where there is a new found freedom among council members to vote the way they want to, not the way the mayor wants them to.  I can see Cindy’s agenda going down in flames and people like Dave C and hopefully Sam in D3, and yes, even wet noodle Chuck having a stronger voice on the council, leading it in the right direction. 

    Maybe I’m dreaming or simplifying things too much, but I can’t see Cindy leading the way to opening up Coyote or doing deals to help Kracker Box build more pigeon holes on historic properties.  I’d much rather have her represent this town on a national level than a right winger conservative nerd wearing a flag tie who has no interest in bolstering SJ’s national & global image?  Or does everybody want San Jose to continue being the Rodney Dangerfield of large U.S. cities for at least another four years?  Sorry, but image does carry a lot of weight out there, even if it shouldn’t.  Just imagine the comments from people if they see a photo of Gavin, Jerry, and Chuck together.  This town has been the butt of people’s jokes for long enough.  Packaging is everything.

  32. #17 – Anyone could have seen that coming when Albertsons took over American Stores (AlphaBeta/Lucky) but decided on keeping the “Albertsons” store name and business model. 

    How much of an effect has the VTA east side light rail line had on traffic patterns on North Capitol?  Getting in and out of those stores was a bastard during construction, and people found other alternatives.

    But the closure of those stores is also indicative of what may be happening to North Valley and Berryessa – they are quickly becoming the ‘new’ Mayfair, and its residents have decided to do their retail transactions elsewhere.

    If the locations are viable, then someone else will step in, such as Zanotto or Raley/NobHill.  The one at Berryessa and Capitol seems like such a location, maybe not so much the one in Capitol Square.

    Or those locations will just turn into 100,000 square-foot Blockbuster stores.

  33. I don’t know why eveyone is so concerned about the worker and visitors at the new city hall having food services. All the city has to do is to stop chasing away honest merchants trying to make a living.

    Does anyone remember the old city hall? they had an excellent cafeteria staff that kept most city and county employees fed and happy. They also had a hot dog and burrito cart out front along Mission Street. Where are they now? They don’t fit in with the new digs!

    Just like small business merchants who want to open shop downtown; if they don’t fit the criteria of a homogenized downtown, they’re not welcomed. A friend of mine wanted to lease a building that has been vacant for almost 10 years!!! Loosing money all those years, managed by the RDA. The RDA said they could open their business, but not in the homogenized zone.

    For the past 20 years, downtown has started to develope into the vibrant metropolis it once was. Unfortunately, a large number of businesses that start to thrive are owned by minorities, or attract people of color; not a match, does not fit homogenized criteria.

    I say this because I have first hand experience. My mother’s business (Mexican restaurant, Mexican owned) was a casualty of ther RDA. I have witnessed through the years our civic and political leaders hold downtown in a headlock, trying to make it be something it does not want to be; homogenized!

  34. 36 – By “hit piece”, I assume you mean the Chamber is planning a last minute mailer that may or may not be true and will not give Chavez a chance to respond. If you mean the Chamber will be sending another accurately stating Chavez’ voting record, then it is not a hit piece. Chavez’ camp cleverly attacked the previous Chamber mailer as a hit piece even though it was not. Chavez didn’t like the Chamber shining light on her voting record and who could blame her. If my voting record was as bad as hers I’d want to hide it as much as possible, too.

  35. #35 – If people in the DeanDome are having trouble finding something to eat, perhaps they should find their way across San Fernando Street.  There are plenty of places at SJSU to get a quick bite (at least when school is in session).  I would start with the Student Union or the Old Cafeteria Building, located at (what would be on the map) 7th and San Antonio.

    Either that or learn to appreciate some of the offerings of the Little Saigon restaurants. 

    Besides, isn’t that Taco Bell at 6th and Santa Clara still there?

  36. You can’t manufacture, plan or develop a place that is trendy, truly naturally attractive or a huge draw.  It has to be natural and condusive to the geographical and demographical environment of an area.  It has to have a history – yes, even Las Vegas has a history.  Yea, some people will immediately scream:  “What about Santana Row?”  Well to many of us, that monstrosity is downright creepy in a fake, Hollywood, plastic sort of way.  It is akin to the equally creepy feeling of fake reality at the New York New York hotel in vegas.  It is civic plastic surgery – not that plastic surgery is a bad thing.  [Sorry to crack so hard on Santana Row, but I got on a bit of a rant there]. 

    It is not evident that San Jose has that natural landmark, topography, buried treasure, body of water or historically significant site to act as a catalyst for people, businesses and the local government to want to jump on the entertainment dollar bandwagon.  The SJ Arena was a great, great decision – the failure of the utility tax vote to get the Giants down here was typically short sighted and cow-townish of San Jose.  My San Jose may have to settle for what it is:  a really nice place to live and raise your family, just not one that will get anyone terribly excited about it.

  37. #39 – “My San Jose may have to settle for what it is:  a really nice place to live and raise your family, just not one that will get anyone terribly excited about it.”

    In this day and age, I wouldn’t call that settling.  I would call it a damn fine place to be.

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