The Milpitas City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to begin exploring the process for renaming a major road after former President Barack Obama.
Although the council members made public comments expressing wishes to honor the 44th president, two objected because the street in question passes by a dump that accosts motorists with foul smells.
According to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the council considered rechristening Dixon Landing Road to Barack Obama Boulevard, which would be the first Barack Obama-named street in Silicon Valley.
The agenda also notes that the roadway leads into the Sunnyhills Community, “known as one of America’s first integrated communities.”
Dixon Landing stretches from where North McCarthy Boulevard turns into Fremont Boulevard to the west and into Warm Springs Boulevard to the east, a distance of a little over 4,500 feet.
Sunnyhills Apartments lies just southeast of the street’s terminus. A 1965 Senate Committee on Banking and Currency meeting discussing co-ops said of Sunnyhills, “There, roomy and attractive homes were made available at moderate cost in a beautiful setting [...] Sunnyhills, open to all regardless of race, became a notable example of successful integration in housing.”
Unfortunately, the spot where would-be Barack Obama Boulevard meets Fremont sits a few feet away from the Newby Island landfill, one of the largest dumps in the Bay Area, which sometimes produces unpleasant odors on the roadway.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran liked the idea of naming the street for Obama but voted against the selection of Dixon Landing, predicting that the proximity to the dump would inspire political snickering.
“It is going to be one of the biggest embarrassments in the nation,” Tran said, predicting “Republicans will have a field day” and that the rechristening would make news nationally as people react to the perceived slight.
Councilwoman Carmen Montano also voted against the renaming.
Among other things, Milpitas is noted for its sometimes unpleasant odors, which are so persistent that the city voted in March to spend $85,000 installing chemical scent detectors throughout the city to try and sniff out the source of the smells.