Op-Ed: Solely younger individuals, not Google, could make downtown San Jose a vibrant journey vacation spot

Much has been said about the new buildings and developments in downtown San Jose for the years to come. As excited as I am about the Google development, it ignores the fact that buildings don’t make cities alive, but people. In other words, there is no sleeping community, just people who don’t go out.

Last week I saw Bruno Major at The Ritz, a rising star opening for Sam Smith. As expected, it attracted a young crowd of pitchforks. The next evening the downtown streets were crowded with an unprecedented number of young people, presumably a mix of FanimeCon and recent SJSU graduates. But these sightings of young people enjoying DTSJ are unusual.

Jarrod Jenkins and his wife, Kimberly Smith.

This city has done a bad job appeasing the young, hip people it seeks to attract. I live near San Pedro square and it is very difficult to find something to eat late at night. And while there is often live music at San Pedro Square Market, it is invariably soft rock music that attracts audiences ages 50 and over.

Given what happened at the Cactus Club and the efforts of elected officials to prevent the FUZ Bar and Grill from opening – supposedly because there are too many bars on First Street – I’m not convinced that San Jose is a fan of adults under 40 is.

We already have the people and resources to have a vibrant downtown. We have great restaurants that stand empty on weekdays. We have beautiful parks and great weather, but not the thousands of people hanging out on weekends like Dolores Park or Lake Merritt. We have an intimate concert venue, but not the emerging artists that young people want to see, like Saba or Marian Hill.

I’m not the type to complain without taking action. For my part, I joined the board of directors of the San Jose Downtown Association to teach the millennial perspective. I developed a relationship with the owner of the Ritz and volunteered to help him identify emerging talent. I also started a Facebook group called the San Jose Social Club that highlights some of the best things to do in San Jose, including a monthly community picnic that I have at the Green East Arena that hopefully grows to hundreds or thousands.

But the individual can only do so much. Some of the change has to come from elected officials and business owners. For example, the Ritz is 21 years old, which prevents most SJSU students and the rest of the area’s college residents from enjoying a concert. We need brunch spots that Migos and Travis Scott play. And strangely enough, the San Pedro Square Market, SP2, and District close at 10pm on Thursday evening.

As divisive as it has gotten, I know that downtown Google development will lead to a more vibrant San Jose. But we don’t have to wait seven years to lose the bedroom community nickname.

Jarrod Jenkins received his Juris Doctor and Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia and works as an Associate Manager, Product Policy for Facebook. Outside of work, he serves on the board of directors of the San Jose Downtown Association, attends Echo Church, and founded the San Jose Social Club. The opinions expressed in this article are from the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Would you like to submit a comment? Email pitches [email protected].

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