Think Globally, Shop Locally

When I was mayor, I bought my cars locally at Lon Normandin’s or Don Lucas’s, I shopped at Ed Mosher’s in the Fairmont, Teel’s jewelry there too, Navelet’s, and Valley Fair, but never crossed the Maginot Line that separated San Jose and Santa Clara, and therefore consciously made my decisions to provide the most sales tax to our city, San Jose, which was trying to sustain services like libraries and parks. It seemed the sensible thing to do, and after all, I thought, if you can’t find it in San Jose, it isn’t worth having.

The recent discussion called “Soul of the City” in the Mercury News, funded by the Knight Foundation, provided some interesting things about citizens’ feelings about our city and region. Number one, they wanted more entertainment venues—for that I read HP Pavilion, the Fox Theatre, REP and other arts groups in the Downtown, as well as Santana Row, the Los Gatos, or Campbell. They probably meant some locations outside of this city too, because only sales tax receipts really take into account where one city begins and another leaves off. Basically, they want more city in the city.

I get it; I think this study did too—kind of. What is it about relaxing at a Santana Row café or strolling down Santa Cruz Avenue or attending a Sharks game that makes you feel so good? Well, you sure know it when you see and feel it (as a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography), but how do you find it, really find it? It seems that 29 percent of the folks in this valley feel good, but what about the rest?

And of that first group, do they really feel good about San Jose, or are the suburban communities surrounding us in their minds? This is a real conundrum.

As we continually advocate and search for new ways to improve our city, make it more of the place that we want it to be, we must constantly think of new ideas. One of these is the Public Market that my family and others are proposing for the San Pedro Square area—take a look at it in the next month or so, there will be a web site and a lot of publicity. It may just what the study ordered.


  1. Well, Tom McEnery did make a serious effort to shop and support downtown San Jose.  Ed Mosher not only believes in San Jose, but he bleeds Spartan Blue and Gold and is one of the living institutions for SJSU.  Other mayors lived downtown, but Reed, who still is mirred in some personal depression, escapes downtown at the close of the day,  and refuses to venture out in downtown at night, believing that the mobs will seek him out.  I believe we should all work to support mayors who believe in their local economy, which Patricia Mahan does.  Indeed, Santa Clara is doing a lot to help the economic health of the SAN JOSE Earthquakes.

  2. Tom,

    Your double standards never cease to amase me.  The study founds that people wanted more clubs, bars and gathering spaces.  Those were the many responses.  But of course, you know what they meant.

    They did not want clubs, bars and gathering spaces.  they really want more big arenas and concert venues.  you don’t want bars and clubs (except as tenents paying big rents) so how could the people of San Jose?

    Clubber Lane

  3. Clubber – you know so much – anonymously – I’m surprised you are still in the bar business. Just run your club in a decent way and you’ll be surprised how many people will come there.  TMcE

  4. I listened to Tom McEnery’s interview on the “CEO Show” last night on KLIV.  It was very informative and he gave a lot of insight on how San Jose has changed (for the better) in the last few decades.  I think the Public Market will be great for San Jose and will help create the “public space” that is wanted by so many citizens here.  The transformation of SJ from postwar bedroom community to a “real city” has been and will be difficult, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.

  5. One of the seldom-mentioned trends in urban design is the transformation from actual public space to privately-owned “public space” like Santana Row.

    Privately owned public space only partially functions as real public space because the owners are free to forbid many of the activities that occur in real public spaces, for example, advocating political viewpoints, circulating petitions, street art and street performers, etc.  Instead of a true public space you get an artificial bland imitation of one.

    In SJ political expression on local issues has defaulted to the vast barren concrete wasteland in front of City Hall, seemingly purposely designed to be as inhospitable as possible to the citizenry at all seasons of the year. But naturally other public activities are not attracted to the location.

    The closest true public spaces I can think of are the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz and the Embarcadero in San Francisco. There are places in SJ that could conceivably become public spaces, but none of them currently have the location or features needed to create a true public space.

    Privately owned shopping areas might enhance an adjacent true public space, but can never become one by themselves.

  6. Tom, you have, once for all, come up with the best retort to an anonymous poster.

    Once again, all of us in the blogging business are still banging away with our chess pieces, while you are still the Grand Master.

  7. No handout, Dan, just a loan and the same situation as any other family that wants to retrofit a historic bldg.& invest in Downtown. We bought the bldg. and keep them up, just as we have for c. 4 generations. It’s a small club unfortunately.  The Peralta Adobe and the Fallon House will become major historical gems again for all the people. And obviously, you missed the many decades when Downtown – and YOU, Dan, subsidized the expansion of our city, suburb by suburb, field by field – pay attention. Oh, and thanks for the compliments.  TMcE

  8. Except for an occasional movie in Campbell, Los Gatos, and once in a while in Palo Alto, and the occasional online purchase (basically only when I’m sending a gift out-of-state), I virtually never spend any money outside of San Jose.

    Too bad I don’t have more money to spend…

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