Sometimes you get a moment of clarifying light in a public meeting. It is rare but not impossible. Such was the case in last week’s meeting between Police Chief Rob Davis and many residents and business owners. There were three council members present: Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, and Chuck Reed.
Cindy Chavez had a fine idea, namely, to give to the chief the ability to close those obnoxious and dangerous clubs in the city that are the subject of shootings and assorted mayhem. It is a very good idea and, except for the addle-brained and bought-and-paid-for hacks, all seemed to agree. There must also be a moratorium on the quick-buck artists and absentee landlords who profit from such laissez-faire stupidity.
Yet, the most telling moment for all with functioning brains was when Chief Davis challenged the gathered group to imagine the downtown and the city that we all want. Our work so far, he calmly intoned, was piecemeal and unfocused.
How right he was and is.
It was relatively calm downtown last weekend—but not calm enough. There was a storm disguised in that outward calm. Now, be certain, that at a Shark game or a Rep play or at dinner or an art show before midnight, you will see little of this. It is as safe as a Saratoga PTA meeting. The creatures of the night come into existence—and play—after that; it is not a pretty sight. There was a vicious assault at the Vault on that “calm” Saturday night and Sunday morning.
When tens of thousands live and raise their families in central San Jose, and billions of dollars and great sweat and tears have been invested in commercial, artistic and residential efforts, can we consciously allow 6 or 8 nightclubs to put all of this—and the lives of police officers and citizens—at risk? The answer is simple but has eluded the city as we have slipped closer to chaos and anarchy downtown after midnight.
At long last we must commit—and the council is poised to do just that—to a downtown where women can walk safely and families sleep in peace from midnight to the morning. It can also be a place where entertainment is enjoyed and measured. It is not too much to ask and it is essential for our continued progress as a fine city.