MILPITAS (KPIX 5) — The plan to rename a road in Milpitas after 44th president Barack Obama is meeting with some pretty impassioned resistance from the city’s mayor, but not because of any dislike for him. The value of this planned honor is more a question of perspective.
Mayor Rich Tran was outvoted 3 to 2 Wednesday night as the Milpitas City Council decided to move ahead with plans to make Dixon Landing Road into Barack Obama Boulevard, despite what’s at the end of that road.
“That’s it right over there,” says Mayor Tran, pointing to the small mountain of trash on the west side of Interstate 880. That would be the Newby Island Landfill, the source of the area’s signature smell.
“It cannot be the Barack Obama, or ‘B.O. Blvd.’, next to the landfill, into Silicon Valley. Absolutely not.” Tran insists.
Those who voted for the change see this a little differently. They say for drivers heading southbound on Interstate 880, the exit signs bearing Barack Obama’s name would be the unofficial gateway into Silicon Valley, something they see as an honor for the man who is well liked in the area.
“It is a good idea,” said Roy Satele, who lives right off of what would become Barack Obama Blvd. Asked if the landfill bothered him, he replied, “I don’t think so.”
For neighbor Semisi Mataele, the geography makes the name change ill-advised. “When you rename the street, where is it going to go? Of course it’s going to lead to the landfill,” Mataele said of the road beside his home.
“So of course that’s going to be the butt of all jokes when you think about it.”
That’s the mayor’s concern as well: that the ‘Obama Landfill Road’ will become something of a national joke. He’s even worried about tweets from current president Donald Trump. Tran says the name change is simply a bad idea and he thinks his fellow citizens will come to that conclusion as well.
“I have great faith in the residents of Milpitas,” Tran said. “We’re a tight-knit community, and the residents will be heard.”
Despite Wednesday’s vote, the matter is not fully resolved. The city is now reviewing the costs associated with the change, so the issue will go back before the city council, with the opportunity for public comment.