A Quick History of Downtown San Jose

The big news from last week’s annual meeting for the San Jose Downtown Association is that Music in the Park is no more. Back in August, we reported that Music in the Park was expected to be canceled after 23 years of throwing free summer concerts downtown. The vibe and crowd evolved over the years, but many business owners and attendees complained that this summer’s concerts were attracting an “undesirable element,” which was a euphemism for teenagers without money, pot smokers and guys dressed like thugs.

There were other reports and awards given during the meeting, but one thing worth watching is the above video that details the 25-year history of the Downtown Association. It takes a few seconds to get going, but it’s well produced and gives some insight into how far the city has come, as well as how much work remains to be done.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. “…a euphemism for teenagers without money, pot smokers and guys dressed like thugs…”

    I think the real concern was more with the “teenagers without money” who were committing petty thefts and ROBBERY to transform themselves into teenagers WITH money and/or alcohol and drugs…

    The real concern was not so much with pot smokers – hell everyone has an MMJ card now.  THe problem was that “patients” were stocking up with MMJ at the collectives then going to Music in the Park and openly selling it and attempting to sell it to EVERYONE including families with kids.  It wasn’t the smoke that upset people but to open air drug market that it became along with the benign weed you could buy crack, meth and heroin if you so desired – not very family freindly.

    Finally i don’t think anyone really cared how anyone else was dressed, it was more a problem that people who were dressed as thugs WERE ACTING LIKE THUGS!!! BEATING AND ROBBING PEOPLE!!! STABBING PEOPLE!!! SELLING THEIR “MEDICINE” to people who weren’t interested in it and just wanted to enjoy Music in the PARK.

    …but no, you can’t allow the police to do their job an polic3e because were they to single out a person dressed like a thug and check him/her out to make sure they weren’t going to go all thug on someone then that would be profiling and the IPA and Scott Knies would get made.

    Josh tell us how “sureno night” at Downtown Ice went (tonight 12/13 from 6-10) and the other community sponsored event across the street “Norteno Night” at Christmas in the Park went.  If it goes well should it become an annual event?

  2. Love the part about how the San pedro (dud) market is taking off!

    Really?  It’s a joke and a great example of the long line of boon doggle’s that have ruined this city.

    The only thing that has received money and worked has been the Arena.  All the rest has been a waste.

    • Have you been there? I understand the need to exaggerate to sound like a grumpy old man, but you just don’t make sense. As a long time resident, the San Pedro market is one of the few exciting things that has happened lately. It’s just beginning and so it’s way to early to tell if it will be a success, but the places that have opened so far are really good, and a breath of fresh air. With the Arena nearby and all the restaurants in the area, and being far enough away from the ridiculous clubs in the Historic District, there’s real potential. Anyway, you should just stay indoors and not participate because you sound like way too much fun to be around.

      • Are you serious ? This City is Pathetic , at one time we were on the right track by attracting new restaurants , night clubs , music venues and a plethora of family friendly events. The best things about San Jose……….Oh Yeah the excess of LOW INCOME HOUSING, lowest staffed Public Safety in the Nation( no matter what calculations you use , we are Dangerously below standards) A mayor who Lies , a City Manager who lies , a puppet show In City Council( Nygun, constant, liccardo, Oliverio, Hererra) . This can only end badly for this city ……………pity we have so much potential

      • San Pedro Public Market is a total flop!  Haven’t you guys been there lately.  No people and boarded up wall continue to be the problem there.  It’s a total failure with complete hallowness and emptiness.

  3. That was a great video, somewhat of an unintentional foreshadowing toward the unpredictable fate of downtown. I felt sad watching that, bring reminded of better times for this city.

    As for the “undesireable element” being seen at Music In The Park, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that “element” isn’t just a Music In The Park problem. Although I’ve never walked any pods at Elmwood or main jail, I would picture them to be somewhat similar to pockets of Cesar Chavez during my recent visit to Christmas In The Park, (without the decorations of course). If the VCET unit were still in existence, they could have simply walked around the park doing field interviews and had a productive night. I’m not going to say this “element” is all due to a lack of officers, but their absence sure doesn’t help.

  4. The historical video produced by CreaTV for the San Jose Downtown Association, forgot to include a detailed accounting as to the hundreds of millions (if not billions) of taxpayer dollar- indebtedness that the Redevelopment Agency (a.k.a. the San José City Council) funneled into Downtown San José and the hefty “stipend” the DBA received for their services for “promotions, marketing of events and cultural related programs” over the years to date.
        What was evident in the historical video was; the usual cast of flamboyant downtown politicians, their parasitic political friends, RDA chumps, one “dead man”, and “San José” as the name of the “Downtown.”

      Currently, the RDA is experiencing its final death throes but, still on life support praying for a rescue by the California Supreme Court in January 2012. The once flamboyant downtown politicians are reduced to inept jackasses (although some say they were always that way). The RDA chumps have retired to “taxpayer funded pension heaven”, the dead man” is still “dead” and the once heralded name of “San José” as the name of the “Downtown” is on the fast track to be renamed as the “Urban Center of Silicon Valley.” As to the status of the “parasitic political friends”, cockroaches never die.
        There is a bright light forging ahead from the darkness (and it is not high speed rail). It is the new and improved San José Downtown Business Association’s business model that caters to families. And part of this business plan carries with it a fee for services. After all, they are not communists.

      At first, one might see this new fangled private-government partnership as just another version of the “San José Two-step”. However, with oversight from the “Office of the City Auditor” and “real-time accounting” the SJDBA’s business model could very well be successful to the point of imitation by other business entities overseen by the Office of Economic Development grappling for the steady stream of taxpayer bucks. And there is the rub.
      With the RDA funding to the tune of $495,000 for the SJDBA for services last year all but dead and buried, where is the money going to come from to keep the Downtown from becoming Detroit-esque? A funding plan for FY2012 for the DBA was revealed at “The Rules and Open Government Committee” meeting [Wednesday, (12.07.11), Agenda Item H (3)] using a “just found surplus” of $1 Million dollars in the City’s “Parking Fund”.

      Mayor Reed was quick to point out that this “surplus” can’t be counted on and focused on the public’s indebtedness for the RDA funded parking garages debt service. Especially the 4th Street parking garage in which General Funds now have to be used to pay the debt service.

      Despite the unraveling of tax increments that Mayor Reed and Crew rely on to keep the General Fund from having to be used for RDA debt service obligations, the new and improved Downtown Business Association’s business model deserves a fair shake. It is scheduled to receive one at the Community and Economic Development (CED) Meeting in January 2012.
        As to the “$1 Million Dollar surplus in the Parking Fund” the San José Mercury News should be all over this story. This is “real news” as opposed to the crap written by the San José Mercury News that Mayor Reed is somehow likened to the Chancellor of Germany in drag.

    David S. Wall 12.13.11

    • “This is “real news” as opposed to the crap written by the San José Mercury News that Mayor Reed is somehow likened to the Chancellor of Germany in drag.”

      It is really tragic to see what happens to Herhold when he goes off his meds. And to think the editors at the Mercury News are just enablers with the way they sign off on the absolute garbage he submits! Did that trainwreck he wrote on gun permits make any sense? the eds tred to say it was satire and irony??? WTF i thought it was the result of him riding to work on the rims of his old nishiki!

  5. ” The only thing that has received money and worked has been the Arena.  All the rest has been a waste.”

    Yea city loses millions rent while spending more millions taxes yearly on HP Arena because city pays and pays for promotion, maintenance, Sports Authority, public safety, repairs, improvements, free services etc

    Sharks / Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment pocket 100’s millions from HP Arena and city / VTA parking lots “political sweetheart deals of century ” rather than paying for services and fair rent to San Jose

  6. They built up this downtown with 3 billion dollars of taxpayer money only to let it fail completely.  Downtown is a total failure with just thugs and rifrafts hanging there.  Downtown is on a steep decline with no new investments.  Welcome to Detroit of the 21st century!

    • Nice job of ruining this middle class city with a vibrant and quaint downtown!  This city has gone from middle class and well-kept city to hellhole with a dead downtown that has nothing to show for in just 40-50 years.  Congradulation!

  7. Oh boy. My favorite hobby. Picking holes in movies!

    Just listen to Blage Zelalich choking on her own words at 4:13. I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. Something probably went down the wrong pipe that’s all.
    Also, at 4:49 it sure sounds like the narrator says “libary”. Naah. Couldn’t be.

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