Urban policy expert Eric Klinenberg has written powerfully about the importance of “social infrastructure” for building and maintaining a sense of shared community and belonging. Klinenberg defines social infrastructure as “the physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact.” In Campbell, we sometimes call this our “small town feel,” and it requires smart city planning to nurture and maintain. Often neglected in favor of hard infrastructure such as roads, social infrastructure is nonetheless one of the building blocks for creating a livable community that feels welcome and inclusive to all. Examples here in Campbell include shared resources such as the Campbell Farmers’ Market, the Campbell Public Library, the Campbell Historical Museum & Ainsley House, and the Orchard City Green, in addition to, of course, City Hall, which should always be open and accessible to everyone.
By being welcoming to all—young and old, homeowners and renters, families and individuals—social infrastructure also increases representation and faith in our local government and civic institutions. Furthermore, as Klinenberg points out, “social infrastructure doesn’t just protect our democracy; it contributes to economic growth.” We can see this every day in Campbell—we have the most pedestrian-friendly and vibrant downtown core in the entire South Bay, with no stoplights and where pedestrians always have the right of way. According to noted city planner and urbanist Jeff Speck, this “walkability” is the key determinant of a thriving community. This makes it safe for families and children during the day and leads to a bustling nightlife. It creates foot and bike traffic which helps our downtown small businesses thrive, and is attractive for runners and those just taking a stroll, keeping our community healthy.
We can further improve this, for social infrastructure isn’t just physical. For example, the pandemic has shown both the difficulties but also the benefits of building social infrastructure online. However, our City staff, already facing limited resources and cutbacks, have not had the bandwidth to create an online infrastructure that can fully replace the civic engagement we need and keep our community safe from COVID-19. We can help address all these problems and create a thriving and welcoming community by investing in our civic and social infrastructure.
The sight of families and children at City events and our Farmers’ Market is always a joyful and welcome sight. But many of these families are in danger of being priced out of Campbell forever.
In order to keep our small town feel, we have to ensure Campbell families can continue to live here. For more details, please see my Housing policy
The broad scope of “cultural needs” are currently folded into the Civic Improvement Commission along with at least seven other specific policy areas within that Commission’s charter. This means that the arts typically get short shrift. With the commission is comprised of just seven members, this also often means a lack of artists, those who know the lived realities of our region’s day-to-day arts and culture scene, represented on the board.
A dedicated Arts & Culture Commission, one representing the full diversity of our community, would bring together subject matter experts, give our artistic communities a stronger voice in City government, and move Campbell forward on public policy in relation to local arts and culture.
The original Civic Improvement Commission can continue to serve as a valuable resource in improving our social infrastructure.
One of the greatest challenges our community faces is attracting and retaining teachers, as many can no longer afford to live in Campbell or the South Bay. When teachers and public employees have to move out, it disrupts our children’s education and threatens the cohesiveness of our community.
I’ll explore the use of city-owned land or the possibility of land swap deals to tackle our housing crisis and support our teachers.
Currently, the Campbell Public Library is the only one in the Santa Clara County Library System to never undergo renovations, leading to safety and accessibility issues.
I will administer the $50 million dollar Measure O fund to renovate Campbell Public Library, including setting benchmarks and goals for contractors as needed, while making sure all safety and labor standards are adhered to. Additionally, I will ensure that the library receives due resources since the money must be shared with a new public safety center.
I will ensure that cultural project benchmarks and updates are shared with the public and easily accessible, including providing regular updates at Council meetings.
In addition, I will monitor the impact on the surrounding neighborhood, ensuring traffic mitigation on residential areas. Measure O construction will also significantly impact the nearby historic Ainsley House, which traditionally relies on wedding revenue. I will improve the communication of updates between the Ainsley House and the surrounding area.
As a Board Member of the Campbell Historical Museum Foundation, I helped put on our Summer Concert Series, working with local artists to host free shows downtown. As Councilmember, I will use social media to continue to promote local artists and cultural groups on the City’s behalf and showcase their work through City events.
I will also engage with these local artists and cultural groups as a voice for local issues, such as inviting them to join the newly formed Arts & Culture Commission.
I will use my network to create exciting author signings and cultural events at no cost to the community. Additionally, I will support children’s programming, such as participating in community storytime. These events can be held at Campbell Library, through the Campbell Historical Museum, or in partnership with local bookstores.
Currently, the General Plan, the document that laws out a blueprint for City policy, directs the Council to ensure the entire City can be safely navigated by bike. Despite efforts from City staff, the City Council has not prioritized this issue. I will work toward completing this critical piece of our City’s public policy within the next five years.
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of having public infrastructure that supports community health. Expanding and maintaining the Campbell-Los Gatos Creek Trail has become a matter of public safety, with a lack of proper infrastructure making it difficult if not impossible in some areas to maintain proper social distancing.
I have previously participated in public meetings with housing developers to successfully push for the installment of bike racks in developments near the downtown area.
I will continue to encourage the use of bike infrastructure in new developments to keep cars off the road and achieve better public health outcomes.
While we have incredible resources such as the Billy DeFrank Center and events like SV Pride that draw people from around the Bay Area, there remains a need for other spaces where LGBTQ+ folks can build community on a more casual, ongoing basis.
Local businesses could host regular or one-off events, and cities and nonprofits can collaborate to bring people together for larger ones.
As trans historian Susan Stryker has documented, these kinds of spaces have been critical in helping build broader gay, queer, and trans movements which have driven policy and social change. At the same time, they’ll enrich and strengthen our South Bay culture and community as a whole.
Studies have shown that high-quality, well-planned mixed use developments — combining retail with housing — bring important community benefits: lower infrastructure costs, higher tax revenue, improved public health, lower traffic and sprawl, and, in the long-term, reduced costs going forward for police, fire, and trash services.
Moreover, they improve the walkability and small town feel that is so important for the character of our community, and are a smart way to couple housing goals with economic development and promotion of transit and biking.
I will draw on my work with the best and the brightest from academia and the private sector to design and implement an annual Digital Innovation Fellowship.
Funding for the program will come from outside sources such as nonprofit partners. Fellows will work each year to make Campbell the most innovative City in America with some of the projects focused on creative solutions for improving our civic and social infrastructure.
Decisions will never be guided solely by those able to come to City Council meetings or those who are already in my networks. Instead, I will reach out proactively to community organizations, including those representing communities which may lack access to information or face language barriers.
In a post-pandemic world, I will ensure the City has access to secure and accessible digital systems to allow for City business and public accountability, as well as avenues for community engagement.
It is critical that the public is able to comment and actively participate in Council meetings regardless of whether they are held in-person or online.
In the 1990s, Campbell utilized the public parking lot on E. Campbell Street (currently next to Orchard Valley Coffee) for free Movie Nights open to the entire community. These were supported from private funds and run by volunteers but free to all. I will explore bringing these back—when public health allows—as a free community event.
I will organize quality volunteer childcare for all City Council meetings and large public events, so parents don’t have to choose between caring for their child and having a voice in our community’s public affairs.
"When I was 15 years old, my family lost everything.""
"As we celebrate and recognize National Coming Out Day, it’s clear we need elected officials and policymakers who represent and lift up the voices of all our communities."