Campbell: A year in review

By Khalida Sarwari

Campbell had a lot to celebrate this year.

In many ways, it was a monumental year for the city, from its 60th anniversary of incorporation as a city in March to the 25th anniversary of the community center in November. While there were some downsides, there were a lot more highlights at almost every corner.

The year started off with newly hired city manager Amy Brown taking the helm. There were also shake-ups in the Campbell Union High School District when Rhonda Farber stepped down as superintendent after 40 years in the district and Patrick Gaffney, previously an assistant superintendent, stepped into her shoes.

It was also the year of completing unfinished business, such as the Cambrian 36 annexation. After a nearly seven-year saga, the residents who live in the county pocket could finally call themselves residents of Campbell.

In February, Campbell, along with other cities, lost its redevelopment agency, but that did not stop the city from pushing ahead with its capital improvement projects, namely the Hacienda Avenue Green Street Project and the East Campbell Avenue Portals Project. In the fall, Campbell celebrated the completion of the Maravilla Townhomes, a new housing development that is interspersed with three water supply wells, and the first phase of the Campbell Veterans Memorial.

The year 2012 was also known as a year of accolades for the Orchard City. In the spring, the Orchard City Banquet Hall was awarded a LEED gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, along with national awards for budgeting and financial reporting, a certificate of honorable mention from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for police work, and a “Tree City USA” proclamation for the 30th consecutive year by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Department of Forestry. And in November, the League of California Cities and the California City Management Foundation chose the Orchard City as the first West Valley city, and one of six cities in Santa Clara County, to profile as part of its “Strong Cities, Strong State” campaign.

It was a strong finish for a city that had an overall positive year and appears to be heading to a prosperous 2013.


Hundreds of people flocked to Campbell City Hall on Jan. 3, but the crowd wasn’t there just to celebrate the first city council meeting of the year. The council’s agenda that night included a public hearing on a proposal that sparked a heated debate throughout downtown Campbell. After more than four hours of testimony and tense discussion, Campbell’s councilmen voted 4-1 to uphold the planning commission’s denial of an application to turn the old Gaslighter Theater building into a restaurant/nightclub. This request was heard by the planning commission at a meeting in October 2011, when it was unanimously denied based on conflicts with public opinion, the Downtown Alcohol Beverage Policy, the Downtown Development Plan and the city’s General Plan. After that ruling, the applicants filed an appeal, asserting that the proposed use is for a hybrid restaurant/lounge-type establishment and therefore consistent with Campbell’s Downtown Development Plan. But the council members, with the exception of Jeff Cristina, who cast the sole dissenting vote, agreed that the planning commission had the right idea regarding this application.

Amy Brown, formerly the acting city administrator for San Francisco, began her new job as Campbell’s city manager on Jan. 9. She said she was looking forward to every aspect of her position as the Orchard City’s chief administrator and could not wait to become a Campbellite. She added that going from San Francisco to Campbell was certainly a big switch, but described the move as “a welcome change.” Brown said keeping Campbell’s finances in order was priority No. 1.

Educational budget cuts may have put music and art on the back burner at many schools, but some West Valley youngsters proved they still know how to jam. The event center at Rolling Hills Middle School in Los Gatos was packed on Jan. 11 for the third annual Campbell Union School District Band Festival. More than 100 students from the district’s middle schools–Campbell, Monroe and Rolling Hills–played in harmony. The students were also joined by their more senior peers from the Westmont High School jazz ensemble, and Westmont’s music director Dan Naylor served as the guest conductor for the evening. The audience, which numbered more than 200 proud parents, relatives and friends, was treated to both classic and contemporary musical selections throughout the show.

Although the recession has brought down home prices in the West Valley area, the world of real estate can still be scary, especially for first-time buyers. But the city of Campbell had a bit of good news for some residents looking to take the leap into home ownership. Maravilla, a complex by Summerhill Homes, announced it was launching an affordable townhome program for first-time buyers. The complex was under construction at the corner of Campbell Avenue and San Tomas Expressway. Once completed, the development would be the site of 40 brand-new townhomes, 24 of which would be sold below market value.


Cary Stover, former president of the Campbell Chamber of Commerce, was named the 2011 Citizen of the Year. For decades, the Campbell Chamber of Commerce has honored standout residents with the Citizen of the Year award. The title is bestowed upon those who go above and beyond in their dedication to the Campbell community. As a member of the Kiwanis Club of Campbell, Stover has volunteered at the group’s major events like the Eggstravaganza and Kiwanis Special Games. He also helps to keep some important finances in order as treasurer for the Campbell Historic Museum and Ainsley House Foundation. And for the past six Decembers, he has taken on the task of lighting the magnolia trees at Orchard City Green.

At a Feb. 2 meeting the West Valley Solid Waste Management Authority–attended by Los Gatos Mayor Steve Rice, Saratoga Councilman Howard Miller, Campbell Vice Mayor Evan Low and Monte Sereno Vice Mayor Curtis Rogers, who represent the West Valley cities that make up the joint powers organization– had agendized the plastic bag issue for discussion. Although Monte Sereno has no businesses that distribute plastic bags, Rogers said his city is supportive. Numerous Los Gatos and Campbell residents also spoke in favor of a ban. But Rice said he’s not sure he’s comfortable with just adopting an ordinance like the one that went into effect in San Jose on Jan. 1, pointing out that a Los Gatos sustainability committee is already discussing a ban, and he does not want to supercede their efforts.

Representatives from the Campbell Chamber of Commerce presented Rock Bottom Brewery with the 2011 Business of the Year award. The restaurant also had recently celebrated its 15th anniversary at the Pruneyard location. On Feb. 16, the restaurant held an anniversary mixer where for a $10 admission, guests received beer, wine and food. Proceeds from the party didn’t go into Rock Bottom’s coffers but were instead donated to the Campbell Veterans Memorial Foundation. The restaurant contributed food and funding to more a dozen events and organizations in the area, including the Ainsley House holiday party, Campbell Middle School’s WOW event and the Assistance League of Los Gatos-Saratoga Crab Feed.

Sonya Paz, owner of Sonya Paz Fine Art Gallery, agreed to take the helm of the Downtown Campbell Business Association for the rest of 2012. The DCBA is a nonprofit, volunteer-based coalition of merchants who work together to coordinate events and strengthen the commercial and social atmosphere in the downtown area. The organization had been without an official leader for the last 18 months. Paz was named the DCBA Volunteer of the Year in 2010 and has been credited with building the success of many downtown events.

The winter season had already ended for most high school soccer teams in the Central Coast Section, but not for the boys and girls at Leigh High School–the Longhorns were just getting started. The two Leigh squads each earned first-round byes in the CCS Division II playoffs and went on to open postseason play on Feb. 25. But they were not alone. The Leigh boys and girls entered CCS play after sensational runs through the Mt. Hamilton Division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League, and they were joined on the play list by a couple of BVAL mates–the Willow Glen boys and the Pioneer girls, both of them champions in their divisions.


The Los Gatos campus of El Camino Hospital began offering two new intensive outpatient programs for teenagers and retirees. The Older Adult Transition Services, or OATS, serves people ages 55 and up, and After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education, or ASPIRE, program is for clients ages 13-18. The ASPIRE program runs for eight weeks, four days a week, from 3 to 6 p.m. and provides teens with the skills to cope with life changes. The OATS program runs four days a week for 12 weeks and helps older adults transition into the next stage of life. Both were already being offered at the hospital’s Mountain View facility.

John Walker, A longtime nanny in his early 40s who had worked for numerous families for at least a decade was accused of molesting the children entrusted to his care. Prosecutors filed 14 charges against Walker–all for lewd acts with children. He was arrested on March 8 at his home in Campbell after the police department received a call earlier that day from the parent of one fo the children he had looked after. Police officials said Walker had worked in Campbell for about 10 years and was trusted by many families. Some of the children he cared for even called him “Mr. Johnny.”

Campbell Vice Mayor Evan Low was elected president of the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials on March 11 at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C. After a two-year stint as vice president, Low took the reins as president of the group, which was established in 1985 to provide to provide Asian Pacific American city officials with a platform to share ideas and develop leadership experience. The vice mayor joined a 10-member board that explores solutions to problems, debates policy issues and contributes to the success of American cities and towns. Asked what he hopes to accomplish in his new capacity, Low indicated promoting civic engagegement is at the otp of the list. He said one fo his goals is to recruit people to serve on a board or commission or even run for public office.

Susan Blake and Sally Howe were recognized by the mayor and city council as this year’s “Women of Distinction.” The event, now in its third year, was started in 2010 by Vice Mayor Evan Low to honor girls and women who have made a positive contribution to the Campbell community. The winners are chosen for their ability to exhibit excellence by striving for equality and peace. The two women who were selected based on those qualities this year were Howe, the owner, editor and columnist of the Campbell Express, the longest running area newspaper, and Blake, a member of the Campbell Neighborhood Association and of Campbell’s Historic Preservation Board since January 1999.

The Campbell post office made history when it officially appointed the city’s first Filipino postmaster. At a ceremony welcoming Ramon Sanchez, 58–who has served as interim postmaster following the retirement of his predecessor, Joe Cole–there were plenty of family members and homemade Filipino foods to mark the occasion. Sanchez began his 25-year tenure at the Campbell post office as a letter carrier, followed by a stint as a clerk before he was promoted to supervisor in 1991. He held that position until January 2011, when he took over Cole’s position as postmaster.


Sixteen-year-old Casey Rico was crowned the winner in the first South Bay Teen Idol competition. The song that wowed a panel of judges and the audience alike was Casey’s rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore,” from the musical Hairspray, which she performed as part of the competition’s soundtracks theme. With every high note, Casey elicited applause and enthusiastic cheers from the standing-room-only audience at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center. Following her performance, all four judges commented that Casey’s voice was “beautiful,” “seamless” and “pure.”

Forest Hill and Marshall Lane elementary schools were designated as 2012 California Distinguished Schools. The two Campbell Union School District Schools were among 31 public elementary schools in Santa Clara County selected for the award. Schools with the designation were honored for demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progess in narrowing the achievement gap. The schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria and API requirements before they can be invited to apply for the award. A written application is followed by a site validation review.

Festive bonnets and bunny ears graced the downtwon on April 7 for the 14th annual Campbell Bunnies and Bonnets Easter Parade. From the railroad tracks to Third Street, thousands showed up for the festivities, which included floats, marching bands, classic Porsches, Cadillacs and Chevys, and 25 Nissan Leaf electric cars decorated with bunny ears and eyes. The streets were covered with chalk drawings created by children, and the parks and recreation department gave out free tomato plants to encourage residents to start growing things this year. The annual Bunnies and Bonnets Parade is a family and community event held on the day before Easter following Campbell’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.

Campbell resident Bill Won Yi, 42, was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on April 12, nearly three years after the district attorney’s office launched an investigation into allegations of fraud brought forward by the State Compensation Insurance Fund. Santa Clara County prosecutors charged Yi with running a major insurance fraud scheme that resulted in the loss of more than $200,000 to his employees’ compensation insurance carrier. The fraud was discovered by the state fund, a quasi-public agency that offers workers’ compensation insurance, in 2009 following an injury claim filed by one of Yi’s employees at BK Painting Inc., a commercial and residential painting company in Mountain View. The business has since been shuttered.


It was announced that Anna Stojanovich, a lifelong Campbell resident who belonged to one of the last farming families in the area, died on April 21. She was 88 years old. It appears she died after suffering a stroke or heart attack at a gathering in Campbell. Stojanovich left behind a lasting legacy through the Stojanovich Family Park that was built on the Stojanovich Ranch property she owned with her late husband, Edward Stojanovich. The 1.3-acre park site on Union Avenue was once part of a larger parcel of land where the Stojanovichs ran a fruit drying business during Campbell’s orchard days.

Gregg Witkin, a digital media teacher at Boynton Continuation High School in San Jose, was chosen as one of four finalists in a Microsoft competition. He was recognized for creating projects that incorproate technology into classroom learning. Witkin teaches a curriculum that centers on students creating documentaries, stop motion films and other creative projects to make “things that matter.” The Innovator Educator Competition, sponsored by Microsoft Partners in Learning, was held in early April at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. For his presentation, Witkin gave a panel of judges and fellow teachers a taste of what goes on in his classroom.

On the morning of May 30, a group of toddlers gathered to listen to Karen Armor present her last storytime. After more than three decades, the children’s supervising librarian at the Campbell Library closed a chapter in her life. Armor started working at the Campbell Library in 1992 and worked at every branch in the Santa Clara County Library system over the past 35 years, with the exception of Los Altos and Saratoga. Aside from storytimes, she provided children with homework help and assistance with library computers. On the list of ways Armor plans to spend her retirement years are learning how to fly fish and relearning how to play the clarinet.

West Valley College president Lori Gaskin announced her resignation as she moved on to become superintendent and president of Santa Barbara City College. She said that her decision was based on a host of professional reasons, as “SBCC is larger than WVC, was recently recognized as one of the top 10 colleges in the nation and has a strong record of educational innovation.” During Gaskin’s three-year term, the college received funding from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to restore portions of Vasona Park, placed a one-megawatt solar installation in a portion of the college’s parking lot and opened the campus center, WVC’s first LEED-certified building.

For this year’s Boogie on the Bayou festival, organizers pulled out all the stops. The wide array of options at the two-day event appealed to most everyone’s tastes: 24 food vendors, 100 artisans and entertainment on three stages. The sight of colorful masks and beads, sounds of zydeco, jazz, brass and Dixieland, and smell of jambalaya in the air transformed the streets of Historic Downtown Campbell into “The Big Easy.” The 34th annual event once again attracted thousands from Campbell and beyond.


It was announced that after serving in the Campbell Union High School District for 40 years, superintendent Rhonda Farber would retire at the end of the month, passing the torch to Patrick Gaffney, then assistant superintendent for the district. Gaffney was selected by the five-member school board from a list of candidates after an internal search. He brought to his new role 10 years of experience as assistant superintendent and three years as deputy superintendent. Farber said she was looking forward to retirement, as it would give her more time to travel, do volunteer work and spend time with her family.

Twenty-three Sherman Oaks sixth-graders became the first elementary school students in Santa Clara County to be awarded for demonstrating biliteracy. For the first time this year, the county office of education recognized younger students who can speak, read and write in two or more languages. Sherman Oaks, a dual immersion community charter school where students take half English and half Spanish classes, had a group of students who were eligible for the award. At the school’s sixth-grade promotion ceremony on June 6, the winners of the biliteracy award received a certificate and ribbon from the county office of education and a plaque from Sherman Oaks.

The Campbell City Council gave itself a pay raise for the first time in four years. The council voted 4-1 to increase its members’ salary by 5 percent, with Councilman Jeff Cristina dissenting. The increase brought each councilmember’s monthly salary to $619.91, up from $590.39. The salary for all five will jump by about $1,800 a year and the raise will go into effect January 2013. Council salaries may be adjusted up to five percent a year based on the city’s population. The council has increased its salary every two years, with the exception of 2006 and 2010.

At the annual State of the City address, Campbell Mayor Mike Kotowski said the city’s future appears bright. The mayor touched on the city’s booming business sector, two-tier retirement system, capital improvement projects and a balanced 2012-2013 operating budget that would come with a $700,000 surplus. But Campbell also continues to face challenges as a result of the state’s dissolution of its redevelopment agency. The loss of redevelopment funding has directly impacted the general fund, even though this year those funds were absorbed by an increase in revenue. He ended the address on a positive note, stating that the state of the city was getting stronger each day.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education named Monroe Middle School teacher Josh Pizzica one of its teachers of the year. Pizzica and the other teachers of the year were selected by their school districts based on their “dedication to students, classroom skill and commitment to lifelong learning.” Pizzica was nominated for the award by Monroe principal Dawnel Sonntag and assistant principal Ted Cribari.


The Downtown Campbell Farmers Market underwent a change in the layout of booths to allow for a better flow of foot traffic and exposure to merchants. The new layout had the booths facing toward the businesses rather than toward the street and against retailers and restaurants. The revamped structure of the farmers market was brought on by some downtown merchants who felt the layout needed to undergo a change following the redevelopment of the area in 2006.

St. George Coptic Church held its fourth annual Egyptian Festival to raise funds for the completion of the building being built next to the church. Organizers raffled off a 2012 Ford Fiesta for the grand prize and offered Egyptian food, music, entertainment, dancing and shopping. Proceeds from the event went to the St. George Building Fund, the nonprofit dedicated to helping the church complete its new building designed to resemble an authentic Egyptian Coptic church. The new church will have domes, stained glass windows, custom woodwork imported from Egypt and additional windows and will accomodate up to 300 people, nearly three times the number accomodated in the existing facility.

The Campbell City Council approved two contracts for its non-sworn public safety officers and other city employees. As part of the contracts, which are set to expire in 2014, employees received a 2 percent pay increase and were promised another 2 percent increase next year. There are about 77 employees under the two contracts, including those in the planning, building and engineering departments and non-sworn employees in the police department. The council also approved a resolution outlining similar terms of employment for about 29 unrepresented employees, consisting of mid-managers and department heads, including the finance manager and city engineer as well as four confidential positions, which include human resources representatives and the assistant to the city manager.

Campbell’s annual Relay for Life raised more than $190,000 over two days. The event brought together teams from local businesses, schools, churches and families who camped out and took turns walking around the track at the Campbell Community Center. The aim of the 24-hour program is to spread cancer awareness, celebrate the lives of survivors and remember those who lost their lives to the disease.

Rene Alvarez and Mariano Ortega were sentenced to five years in state prison and ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution for running a foreclosure fraud scheme and stealing more than $2 million from nearly 400 homeowners. The pair were co-owners of M & R Contemporary Solutions, a Campbell foreclosure consulting firm, where from 2008 to 2009 they ran their scheme, which involved the men telling homeowners facing foreclosure that they would save their homes by facilitating the purchase of their existing lender’s loan by a third party at a discounted price. The clients were promised a new reduced principal loan that would have signififcantly lowered their monthly payments. No client ever received a new loan, however.


The Downtown Campbell Business Association held its inaugural Beerwalk on Aug. 11 to bring attention to downtwon Campbell and have people discover craft beers they may not have heard of or tasted before, according to DCBA president Sonya Paz. About 20 microbreweries participated in the event, which was sponspored by San Jose Beerwalk, a group that holds similar events throughout the South Bay. Each microbrewery was hosted at a different shop or gallery in downtown Campbell. Proceeds from the event benefited the DCBA.

The county assessor’s office announced that the value of all assessed, taxable property on the 2012-13 assessment roll in Campbell increased by 2.2 percent from the previous year. The assessed value of property in Campbell increased from $6.3 billion to nearly $6.5 billion. The annual growth was attributed to a number of factors, such as changes in ownership, exemptions, reductions when market values fall below the assessed values, new construction, and the California Consumer Price Index. Despite the overall growth, Campbell was also one of four cities that recorded an increase in the number of properties in which the assessed values were reduced.

Mayor Mike Kotowski and Councilman Jason Baker were appointed to serve another four years on the Campbell City Council, saving the city $51,000 it would have spent on a formal election process. The council voted unanimously to appoint Kotowski and Baker to serve through 2016. The incumbents were the only candidates to file nomination papers for the two vacant council seats.

San Jose resident Paul Ray Castillo was sentenced to life in prison without the possibilty of parole for murdering 60-year-old Cindy Nguyen, a popular Campbell radio show host, last fall after carjacking and abducting her as part of a violent crime spree. He pleaded guilty to the murder as well as eight other related charges. At the time, the death of Nguyen, a single mother of three, reverberated throughout the Vietnamese community.


Saratoga resident Tom Gemetti was appointed to the Campbell Union School District governing board following the resignation of Scott Kleinberg in July. Gemetti was one of 12 candidates interviewed to complete the two-year term. He brings to the table a strong background in finance and accounting, a field he has been in since 1994. He works full time as an assistant controller at Brocade, a networking equipment manufacturer in San Jose and also volunteers at Capri Elementary and Forest Hill, where his children attend school.

Three months after a Campbell businessman raised concerns to the city about suspicious activity at a massage parlor in his office building, authorities arrested the owners of Valley Massage Therapy on suspicion of running a house of prostitution, and their petition to renew their business license was removed from the Sept. 4 city council meeting agenda. Drych Powell, 57, and Tiffany Trinh, 52, both of San Jose, were arrested on July 20 at Valley Massage Therapy, an establishment they owned and operated at 281 E. Hamilton Ave., according to police Capt. Charley Adams. Prosecutors have charged themwith running a house of prostitution, and the business was shuttered shortly after the arrests.

Paul Ray Castillo was formally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Before the sentencing, he stood up, faced the sister and daughter of the woman he shot between the eyes last September and asked for their forgiveness. Minutes later, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena sentenced the 34-year-old Castillo, clad in an orange and brown jumpsuit and bound in handcuffs, to a total of 208 years in prison for nine felonies to which he had pleaded guilty or no contest, including assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, auto theft and the murder of Cindy Nguyen, a 60-yearold real estate agent and popular Vietnamese radio show host from Campbell.

The Campbell Veterans Memorial Foundation announced that the first phase of construction of a memorial site was nearing completion outside city hall. Roughly 400 of the 600 bricks had been laid in the main plaza since construction began last October, engraved with the names of veterans who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. The second phase of the project required funding, said Jim Free, chairman of the board of directors for the Campbell Veterans Memorial Foundation.

A project to widen the sidewalks at the state Highway 17 undercrossing came one step closer to completion with the city council’s approval of the preliminary design for the East Campbell Avenue Portal Project. At its meeting on Sept. 4, the council voted unanimously to approve a design that provides 26-foot-wide pedestrian tunnels on the north and south sides of the Highway 17 undercrossing and would include terraced landscaping, a city of Campbell entry emblem and public art. The existing 4.5-foot sidewalks will be removed, allowing for wider bicycle lanes and widening of the existing traffic lanes underneath Highway 17.


Residents of Cambrian 36 rejoiced after the Campbell City Council unanimously approved the annexation of a neighborhood in unincorporated Santa Clara County to the city of Campbell following a seven-year process. The decision to annex the 103-acre neighborhood known as Cambrian 36 was made at the Oct. 2 council meeting. Several speakers showed up to voice their support and appreciation. San Jose agreed in 2006 to annex all unincorporated areas of the county that are 150 acres or less by April 15, 2011, as part of a lawsuit settlement agreement between that city and the county. The council’s Oct. 2 vote authorized the completion of the annexation by May 1, 2013, as recommended by staff, who cited that the date as providing adequate time for the city and other affected agencies to prepare for the transition of services and for working with the neighborhood association on preparing and conducting an election related to the community facilities district.

On Oct. 8, a 316 Liebherr model tower crane, which over the nine-month course of its operation had been a curious sight for the community, spent its last day at the Merrill Gardens construction site on Winchester Boulevard. The 265-foot crane was disassembled and taken to another construction site. In the beginning, residents in neighborhoods around the Merrill Gardens construction site weren’t too happy about the sight of the crane, bringing forward concerns about its stability on windy nights.

New school initiatives, district finances and API scores were recurring topics at this year’s state of the Campbell Union School District address. Dozens gathered at the Orchard City Banquet Hall on Oct. 11 to listen to district superintendent Eric Andrew and members of the governing board update the community on student achievement, new projects and the district’s budget. Among the district’s achievements are decreased class sizes, a thriving transitional kindergarten program, dual language immersion and musical theater productions.

It was announced that the Retro Dome theater would be closing in a few months, but the company behind the quirky performance space has plans for the show to go on elsewhere. Guggenheim Entertainment, made up of husband-and-wife team Shannon and Scott Guggenheim, and brother Stephen Guggenheim, renovated the defunct Century 25 cinema at the edge of San Jose’s Westgate Shopping Center in 2009 and has since operated two theaters within the old moviehouse–one devoted to movies and one for the company’s stage productions.


A new housing development at 555 W. Campbell Ave. was unveiled to the community at large. A grand opening ceremony was held on Nov. 14 to showcase 16 small-lot single-family homes and 24 below market rate townhome units interspersed with three water supply wells installed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District to provide drinking water to Campbell, Cupertino, Santa Clara and West San Jose neighborhoods in the event of an emergency. The project was a collaboration between the water district, the city of Campbell, Charities Housing and Summerhill Homes, a developer based in San Ramon. The development project–one of the largest in Campbell–began more than seven years ago, but construction didn’t begin until November 2011.

Campbell voters elected one incumbent and three newcomers to the elementary and high school district governing boards on election night. Michael Snyder, a 42-year-old third-grade teacher at Ellis Elementary School in Sunnyvale, and Juliet Tiffany-Morales, a 41-year-old research analyst and board member since 2008, garnered the most votes for two spots on the Campbell Union School District. Linda Goytia was elected to the Campbell Union High School District. The second vacant spot on the board went to newcomer Kalen Gallagher, a 29-year-old former teacher and education entrepreneur. There was no election held for the members of the Campbell City Council that were up for re-election this year as the two vacant seats were uncontested. In August, Mayor Mike Kotowski and Councilman Jason Baker were appointed to serve another four years on the council.

What was deemed a win-win for all involved in the changed layout of the Downtown Campbell Farmers Market four months ago turned out not to be so favorable for the county fire department. Earlier in the month, Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Ken Kehmna addressed a letter to Campbell city manager Amy Brown stating that the recently modified layout poses a risk to public safety and that the market might have to revert to its original layout, with the booths facing toward the street and against retailers and restaurants, by the end of the year. Nearly a dozen speakers, many of them downtown merchants, turned up at the Nov. 20 city council meeting to address the council about the matter, although the issue before the council that evening was the renewal of a contract with the Urban Village Farmers Market Association, the operator of the downtown farmers market.

Tobacco retailers in Campbell are likely to see stricter regulations after the city council approved a tobacco retailer permit allowing the city to address tobacco sales violations more efficiently than the state. The 4-1 decision to approve the permit was made at a Nov. 20 council meeting; it will cost retailers an annual fee of $50. Councilman Jeff Cristina dissented, stating that while he agrees with having such a permit in place, he does not support the idea of taxing retailers. Each of the nearly 50 businesses in Campbell that sell tobacco will now be required to apply annually for the permit. Until this point, retailers were required only to have a tobacco retailer permit from the state, but many jurisdictions have begun implementing local regulatory control over tobacco sales due to a limited number of state inspectors.


Evan Low was sworn in as the mayor of Campbell for the second time in his young career. In 2010, Low was selected at age 26 as both the country’s youngest Asian American and openly gay mayor. On Dec. 4, after deputy city clerk Wendy Wood administered the oath to Low at a special ceremony, he was met by the other members of the council with hugs and handshakes.

It was a week of changes not only for Campbell’s civic leaders, but also for one prominent business leader. Sonya Paz, owner of an art gallery in downtown Campbell, who announced that she will be stepping down in her capacity as president of the Downtown Campbell Business Association. Paz, who has been at the 195 E. Campbell Ave. location for the past four years, says she has chosen not to renew her lease because the cost of a gallery of that size, along with the general overhead costs, are making it difficult for her to afford to continue conducting business there. .

As 2012 comes to a close, Campbellites may realize they have a lot to be thankful for. Despite a few setbacks, the city has come out on top, fiscally and otherwise. Campbell’s successful efforts were chosen by the League of California Cities and the California City Management Foundation as the first West Valley city, and one of six cities in Santa Clara County, to profile as part of its “Strong Cities, Strong State” campaign. Campbell joins the neighboring cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, San Jose and Santa Clara.

Campbell: A year in review


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