Friday, February 12, 2010

Campbell's Dupe

The Campbell Water Tower (Photo: /\/\ichael Patric|{)

The Mercury just ran a story about Campbell being "The New Hot Spot in Silicon Valley." It's an interesting enough piece about the town's recent renaissance, particularity in its downtown.

But what caught my attention was not the gushing over Campbell, but the jabs at San Jose. Like the citizens of an unincorporated area bordering San Jose who hope to be incorporated into Campbell because it's the "anti-San Jose." Or Gabrielle Medrano, of Gabrielle's Bridal Atelier, who said "Downtown San Jose is yukky ... I wouldn't walk there by myself at night. I like being in a really safe place." Even Campbell Mayor Evan Low boasts: "It's a small community, and we look out for each other ... San Jose has different districts with competing interests. In Campbell, we care about everyone; it doesn't matter which side of town you live on."

All of this left me a bit puzzled.

First, of course Campbell is the anti-San Jose. Why wouldn't it be? Campbell has a population of about 40,000 and occupies an area of less than seven square miles. San Jose, meanwhile, has a population just over a million and covers about 180 square miles. Hot spot or not, by all accounts Campbell is a suburb of San Jose. So, why compare the two? I don't have anything against Campbell per se, I actually think it is a nice place. I just don't understand the tendency, especially by The Mercury, to compare apples and oranges. It's like saying, "Chicago lacks the charm of Aspen."

As for Ms. Medrano's comment, I can't speak to what does or doesn't make her feel safe, but I do know this—downtown San Jose is hardly Gotham City. The truth is San Jose has routinely held the annual distinction of being named the nation's safest large city by the FBI. In fact, for its size, San Jose, including its downtown, is remarkably safe. Yet, there persists in the valley a certain mythology that downtown is crime-ridden and dilapidated. That's a shame because many people are missing an emerging and exciting city center. You want truly "yukky" downtown? Try Detroit.

To Mayor Low's point, maybe he should spend time amongst the diverse crowds that flock to one of downtown San Jose's many festivals. There, San Joseans, of all walks of life, come together peacefully year after year. It may be a big city, but we often put aside "competing interests" to have some fun.

Yes, much of San Jose doesn't have that small town feel anymore, but that's okay. Let the suburbs be the suburbs, it's time for San Jose to move to the big leagues.


Flora said...

I live right in the heart of downtown San Jose, and it's hardly "yukky." I have lived downtown for a few years and I feel VERY SAFE... safe enough to walk my dogs late at night by myself. Even through St. James Park. It's very clean (gotta love Groundwerx) and the changes taking place are exciting and promising.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. People around here have NO idea what dangerous is!