Márquez: Thanks but no thanks to the ‘gift’ of light pollution
A concept image of the Breeze of Innovation. Photo courtesy of Urban Confluence of Silicon Valley.

The “gift” of a 20-stories tall light pollution generator offered to San Jose by the Light Tower Corporation reeks of saviorism.

Light Tower Corporation’s mission is to “provide a major enhancement,” be a “catalyst for Silicon Valley culture,” and bring “prestigious allure” to downtown San Jose. At this post-pandemic time, this mission and the selected $150,000,000 monument are a blatant “let them eat cake” moment in San Jose’s history.

The Reef in LA. Photo courtesy of Ada Marquez, with permission to use from Dion Noravian, Dion Real Estate.
The Reef in LA. Photo courtesy of Ada Marquez, with permission to use from Dion Noravian, Dion Real Estate.

Specifically within the Breeze of Innovation design, tall white light rods symbolize Silicon Valley companies. If this is supposed to be a gift to our city, why not dignify the diverse community of people who live here and their rich culture? A landmark meant to be a gift to the city should respect all of our people instead of creating an altar to the tech companies and donors that are expected to finance it. We do not need this monument to take over our park and what is already a central meeting place. We do not need it to define our home into the future.

A couple of years ago, San Jose residents expressed dismay when the city selected a song by a New Zealand teen to “sell” San Jose to the world. Now, a panel of privileged international “leaders” selected a preposterous Australian design to do the same. A 20-story light pollution generator—to blind us with glare during the day and keep us awake at night.

Why glorify tech companies and not our community? San Jose is blessed with gifted muralists, artists and designers who understand the city and know how to create beauty that speaks to both residents and visitors. This absurd building will cost $150,000,000! For that much money, every building in the city could sport a mural by a starving local artist!

We value the dark sky. We want our children to be inspired by the milky way, by Cassiopeia and her sisters. We want our children to reach for the stars. We do not appreciate the invasion of light into our bedrooms, to keep us awake after a long day of labor. The blindness of the Light Tower Corporation to the wishes and needs of our community is difficult to comprehend, and the support from Councilmembers is unforgivable.

In his recent opinion, Mr. Bob Staedler suggested that we should celebrate the group at the Light Tower Corporation for their Urban Confluence dreams of iconic public art. The key word here is “their” not ours. Let’s instead say no to the Light Pollution Corporation—thanks, but no thanks.

Ada E. Márquez is a San Jose District 5 resident and environmental scientist at SJSU’s Department of  Environmental Studies.


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