A vision of the future: How to improve Saratoga’s downtown

September 21, 2019 — by Edwin Chen and Jun Lee

Compared to local Los Gatos Downtown and Main Street Cupertino, majority of downtown Saratoga is too pricey and less than ideal for teenagers to hang around with friends

One day, a couple friends and the two of us decided to hang out after school. 

We met up at the back parking lot and walked to downtown, only to realize that there were few places we would actually be willing to spend our time in. We found the numerous sit-in restaurants pocketbook crushing and unappealing, especially for just a quick bite. None of the stores interested us. The one piece of green space, Wildwood Park, didn’t have any sports structures where we could play basketball or any other game. 

So, we instead decided to go to Cupertino Main Street where we grabbed some Meet Fresh and T4 egg puffs.

Compared to the lively downtown Los Gatos and Mainstreet Cupertino, downtown Saratoga is a disappointment, offering fewer modern features, relatively smaller buildings and pricier food. In other words, it’s not a great place for teenagers or, frankly, most people under 40 to spend their time in. 

 How can Downtown improve? Ultimately, it is important for downtown Saratoga to modernize in order to appeal to more residents and to draw in new customers for the local economy. 

Here are three ways to improve the downtown: introduce more fast food places, rework the one nearby green space and support more contemporary businesses.

One of the major differences between  Saratoga and other downtowns is that our downtown has no fast food. Most restaurants are sit-down, local restaurants offering cultural cuisines including Italian and Thai dishes. Fancy restaurants like La Fondue  price one main dish at $150, and other restaurants in downtown are just as expensive. It’s hard to eat there with only a $20 in your pocket.

Meanwhile, downtown Los Gatos has a Super Duper Burger, Pizza My Heart, Mainstreet Burgers and more, all of which are viable and relatively affordable lunch options for teens. Like the restaurants, businesses downtown also cater to older generations. There is an antiques store, a recording studio, a boutique and a florist, very few of which appeal to millennials. Los Gatos, on the other hand, has an Apple store and a Lamborghini dealership. Downtown Saratoga needs shops that millennials are actually interested in, such as brand-name clothing  or electronics stores. 

Moreover, most stores in downtown Saratoga close before 9 p.m. High schoolers often hang out past that time. Meanwhile, all stores in Cupertino Main Street close at 11 p.m. The closing time for stores should be extended; this way, the Downtown has the capability of holding more customers and visitors, which will eventually bring more people. 

Because Downtown is mostly businesses, there isn’t a place where adolescents people can run around or hang out with their friends. Wildwood Park is by far considered the best place to hang out in downtown, but even then, the park lacks any sports spaces and cries out for some kind of recreational area like a basketball court, a baseball field or a field with a soccer or football goal post. 

The easiest option would be a small basketball court, which would attract people of all ages who may want to have a quick game of pick up. 

In comparison to other downtowns, downtown Saratoga lacks the necessary infrastructure for it to become an attractive place for teens and young adults to enjoy. Currently, most of the businesses and restaurants appeal to the older population, but it is unfair that downtown seems to only belong to the middle aged and elderly, since it is a space shared by all residents of Saratoga. Downtown should be a place where all people of different ages, can visit, rest or spend time meaningfully: the aforementioned suggestions would help reach that goal.

The problems with downtown Saratoga are nothing new. But if even a couple of these ideas became reality, more teens would go downtown and more would follow.


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