Milpitas votes to rename Dixon Landing Road to Obama Boulevard; mayor worried about jokes

The Milpitas city council has voted to rename a street in a city known for its landfill odors after President Barack Obama, something the mayor thought would make his home the butt of the nation's jokes. 

The vote on Wednesday came hours before Obama was scheduled to arrive in San Francisco to speak at Splunk, an invitation-only software company gathering in San Francisco. 

Obama is no stranger to the South Bay city of 80,000 sandwiched between Fremont and San Jose, which means "place of little cornfields" in Spanish. For some reason in 2016, Obama bypassed the elegant Fairmont Hotel in San Jose to stay at the Sheraton Hotel on Barber Lane, with a view of the Nimitz Freeway and the Great Mall of Milpitas.

In a 3-2 vote, the Mercury News first reported that the council decided to change the name of a part of Dixon Landing Road to Barack Obama Boulevard. The road leads into the Sunnyhills community, the council agenda states, known as "one of America's first integrated communities." Milpitas may now​​​​​​become the first in Silicon Valley to honor the 44th president with a street sign.

Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez and Councilmen Anthony Phan and Bob Nuñez voted in favor of the change. Mayor Rich Tran and Councilwoman Carmen Montano voted against it, the Mercury News reported.

Councilman Anthony Phan told the Mercury News that he was concerned about with the name change, including the cost, the potential impact to residents along the road, and the need to honor local figures first, such as the city's first black mayor, Ben Gross, who was an important leader in creating the Sunnyhills neighborhood.

But the biggest issue on Tran's mind was the optics.

That's because the western edge of Dixon Landing Road leads to the Newby Island Landfill - a source of constant odor and ridicule in Milpitas. A popular Google search questions is: "Why does Milpitas smell so bad." According to the answer on the website, Milpitas Odor Info, it's a confluence of factors including the close proximity of the Newby Island Landfills, the ZWED Anaerobic organics digestion facility, the Milpitas sewage pump station, the San Jose Waste Water Treatment Plant and Zanker Landfills. 

"This thing is going to make news," Tran told the Mercury News. "It's going to say, ‘Barack Obama Boulevard in Silicon Valley's largest dump landfill. It's going to reach USA Today, it's going to reach New York Times, it's going to reach Fox News, and President Trump might tweet about it. I'm not ready to be the joke in America."