Just As I Thought

Usually one wants fewer cars downtown

San Jose has a major problem with its downtown: lack of life. It reminds me of Phoenix — during the day, people work there and the arena and theatres are there, but no one really goes there for socializing and bars and restaurants and the like. And a large retail development, Santana Row, was built about 4 miles out in the western suburbs drawing the hip young crowds, making downtown even less attractive.
Yes, there are some good restaurants downtown; but there is also block after block of gorgeous old historic storefronts, completely empty. There’s a light rail system meandering through — this past Friday, I counted an average of 7 people per rail car. Now, that is value for money, eh?
Among the various things the city has tried for revitalization (I guess luring retail downtown didn’t cross their minds) is — get this — a Grand Prix style car race, on downtown streets.
Now, think for a moment. Can you image race cars careening around the block in your downtown? Screaming around the park, whipping by the museum, skidding by your hotel? It just seems silly to me, and an event that doesn’t do anything to revitalize downtown or keep people coming year round. Nevertheless, the San Jose City Council has already earmarked subsidy of $4,000,000 for next year’s Grand Prix. That’s right, $4 million for an event that will bring people downtown for just a couple of days; and while they are there the streets are blocked off anyway, so what’s the point?
On top of this, they’ve now decided to relocate trees and widen streets to accommodate the needs of race car drivers. It’ll cost about $505,000 to move the trees and make changes to the road. Who knows how long the construction will tie up traffic.
Then there will be another Grand Prix, after which everyone will go to Santana Row for a drink.


  • It’s even worse. The race path goes past people’s houses. The people who live along the race path got evicted from their own houses for the entire race weekend, last year. If I were a homeowner along that race path, I’d litigate this one.

    Oh, in Long Beach, CA, they’ve been doing the same thing for decades. It’s called the Long Beach Grand Prix. It’s only worth watching if you bring along a big bottle of vodka and maybe a couple of splifs.

  • “And a large retail development, Santana Row”

    Designed as a mixed use community, I’m not sure it’s been all that successful. I saw a bunch of ads for free month of rent recently – not a good sign.

    “Then there will be another Grand Prix, after which everyone will go to Santana Row for a drink.”

    Will the crowd for the Grand Prix really be the same as the crowd who would be going to Santana Row for drinks? Or would they be going to Henry’s Hi-life? (Which has great ribs!)

  • Yeah, Santana Row is not doing terribly well, at least not in so far as apartment rentals are concerned.

    It’s not that Santana Row is a bad idea. It’s just outrageously expensive for what you get.

    Where’s this Henry’s Hi-life? I’ll have to go try it out. (I like ribs — was missing Andy’s BBQ for a while, but it has reopened, albeit in a boring part of Santa Clara.)


Browse the Archive

Browse by Category