Milpitas residents might have to add something new to their shared vocabulary: Barack Obama Boulevard.

In a 3-2 vote, the city council passed a motion to rename Dixon Landing Road to Barack Obama Boulevard in honor of the former U.S. president.

Councilmembers Bob Nuñez and Anthony Phan, who both introduced the proposal, were joined by Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez in voting yes on the name change. Councilmember Carmen Montano and Mayor Rich Tran opposed it.

According to Nuñez, the renamed portion in his proposal would stretch from the exit off Interstate 880 to the area near Millmont Drive. The official length of the renamed road has yet to be determined.

The city council agenda stated the significance of a proposed name change, as the currently-named Dixon Landing Road leads into the Sunnyhills neighborhood, one of the first integrated neighborhoods in the country, according to the council agenda.

But Tran, who has made public his support for Obama, also pointed out what was on Dixon Landing on the side opposite of Sunnyhills: The Newby Island Landfill.

“You’re going to name an exit off the freeway that leads to the largest landfill in Silicon Valley after one of our most honorable presidents,” Tran said incredulously. “The road that leads to a landfill,” he repeated.

The Newby Island Landfill, which lies just outside city limits, has been among one of several factors that contribute to the foul odor in Milpitas. Regulating the constant smell (to say nothing of the accompanying ridicule) has been a priority for many Milpitas mayors, including Tran himself.

Nuñez, the former chair of the Santa Clara Republican Party, didn’t seem to mind.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s next to a 7-Eleven,” he said, before adding that a Barack Obama Boulevard would give “a larger presence” to Milpitas. “It’s an indicator to persons outside of Silicon Valley that Milpitas is an international hub.”

Phan agreed.

“This isn’t about politics,” said Phan. “Otherwise my colleague wouldn’t even be supporting this,” he added, referring to Nuñez.

Another point of contention among the five leaders was a desire to honor and promote leaders from Milpitas. The creation of the Sunnyhills neighborhood was championed by the city’s first black mayor, Ben Gross. Some in the room, including Montano, Phan, and Tran, were concerned that an Obama Boulevard would overshadow local achievements. 

At one point, Tran asked rhetorically who between Gross and Obama had made a bigger impact on Milpitas.

Milpitas resident Rev. Jethro Moore, the president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP, was in attendance and publicly supported the change as he stood for public comment, pointing to the ethnic diversity of the city.

Another resident commented that she opposed the name change, offering the names of other leaders of color. She cited Obama’s highly-criticized record of mass deportations during his administration.

An informal, non-binding poll by Tran on his Facebook page showed residents were overwhelmingly against the name change, with many citing cost as a significant factor.

After a couple of false starts on a roll call vote, wherein Tran chided Phan for momentarily holding up the procedure, Dominguez interrupted, and scolded the mayor for “bullying” and being “unprofessional.”

A visibly flustered Tran then resumed the vote after briefly hanging his head. The motion passed 3-2.

“To me, this is sad,” Montano said immediately after the vote. “I grew up in that neighborhood [Sunnyhills] and I have a lot of memories there like a lot of people who grew up in that neighborhood.”

The next steps will fall to the city manager’s office, where Interim City Manager Steve McHarris will look into issues such as cost and traffic concerns related to implementing the council’s decision.

“This is going to make news,” said Tran at the dais. “The president is going to tweet about it. I’m not ready for Milpitas to be a joke.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lloyd Alaban
Lloyd Alaban is a freelance writer who has lived in Milpitas his entire life. He has a BA in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz and a MS in Journalism & Mass Communications from San Jose State University. He has written for publications such as AsianWeek, realtor.com, Work+Money, and SpareFoot, and currently writes for sports blog Uni Watch. He’s also worked at tech companies like Yahoo! and Google, and has subbed at every public school in Milpitas — except Pomeroy. In his spare time, he likes playing anything that has to do with trivia (especially watching Jeopardy!), running, drinking beer, reading, and playing with his Siberian Husky.

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Comments (3)

  1. Dixon landing has a historical significance dating back to before the gold rush. As for Reverand Moore, frequently out of touch in keeping with NAACP standards of a big mouth does not make a big man, shouting down people who cannot respond, would be top of my list for landfill naming. I’d also like to hear why Obama is perceived to have been such a great president, I must have missed something clearly. It seems that the Milpitas city council cant get out of it’s own way and is focused on one-upping each other. If it wasnt for school events you would never see them (not a bad thing). Honoring a former president with a street name is a good thing and maybe best from Milpitas Blvd to Sunnyhills.

  2. I can’t believe the Milpitas City Council is spending time considering a name change to Dixon Landing Road. Aside with the cost involved, and the disruption of address changes, Obama has no personal history with Milpitas vs Matthew Dixon, who settled in Milpitas in the 1860s and purchased farm land.

    As a suggestion to the Milpitas Beat staff, how about a series if articles sharing the rich history of our community???

  3. I find it interesting that prior to the meeting, constituents were not asked for opinions (no Mr Tran, posting to your Facebook page doesn’t count) but the NAACP and media were. Pandering much Mr. Nuñez? Yearning for media attention? Stick to those who have made an impact in this community, not those who spent 1 night in a hotel here while fund raising.

  4. Shouldn’t we be spending our time governing? Any benefit does not come close to matching the cost(s) associated. The inefficiencies that will be created as a result of this decision are staggering. Poor leadership! Vote out the councilmembers that supported this resolution!

  5. All,

    I was unable to attend the last public meeting, however I feel compelled to express my opinion.

    City Council- Pass laws, make general policies, supervise city government, and APPROPRIATE FUNDS FOR VARIOUS NEEDS!!!!!
    PROVIDE for the NEEDS of OUR COMMUNITY..

    Tax dollars should be for the needs of Milpitas and the residents of “Our Community”. Where is the “need” to change Dixon Landing?
    What is the purpose? There isn’t one I can think of. I don’t feel our tax dollars should be used to fulfill council members political fairytales.
    The ex-President has done nothing for the city of Milpitas to make such a change.

    Matthew Dixon has history to the name of “ Dixon Landing”, it should be preserved.

    Let me ask the council: Should President Trump stay at Embassy Suites, are you going to rename “ Trump Plaza” ?

    If Council is trying to make a name for the City of Milpitas and put us on the map, you’re certainly on the right track. That’s all I heard
    on the news this morning (ex- Pres. leading to landfill)

    ps. Can’t wait for the SNL (Saturday Night Live) clip….

    Sincerely

    Dave Crum

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