They appear to be different worlds. In reality they have a lot in common but with certain major differences. The following list compares the most noticeable similarities and differences.
Proximity to the freeway: Both communities have easy freeway access and the noise and pollution that comes with it. East San Jose has highway 101 and highway 280 running through it, and Redwood Shores has highway 101 a few blocks away.
Additional sources of noise and pollution:
- Redwood Shores has enormous electrical grid towers running through it, which can cause leukemia, especially in young children.
- East San Jose has constant airplane traffic overhead. Redwood Shores does too but the planes are higher in the sky and so they don't make as much noise.
- Redwood Shores has enormous electrical grid towers running through it, which can cause leukemia especially in children.
Landscaping: Redwood Shores has an abundance of shade trees everywhere, with lush green lawns and box hedges that are perfectly manicured at all times, in every neighborhood. In fact, the community planners deliberately gave it a "green" scenic appearance by adding extremely wide street medallions that are over twelve feet wide with trees and perfectly maintained grass. They pushed the apartment buildings far away from the street and built gentle green hills with a lot of trees. The track subdivisions of new single family homes are governed by home owners associations that maintain pristine landscaping throughout.
Additionally, they built scenic man made ponds beneath the electrical towers since it's probably illegal to put any form of housing there. By sharp contrast, East San Jose is filthy concrete and colored concrete paving stones, with dehydrated bushes and dead grass. The residential neighborhoods are like that, too.
Overcrowding / high density population:
- In Redwood Shores the entrance to each neighborhood is pushed back away from the main road, giving it the appearance of open space and green, lush acreage.
- However, each individual home has an extremely small front yard and backyard which are worse than low budget duplexes from the 1970's. Ironically, the houses were built for families with kids and yet they don't have proper yards for them to play. They have neighborhood parks with playgrounds which are a major plus but it doesn't make up for having small yards.
- The houses are too close to each other.
- In terms of size, they appear to range between approximately 1,500 square feet to about 1,800 square feet.
- Redwood Shores has huge, enormous complexes of multi-family housing. The Archstone apartment complex is so densely populated that many residents share common walls with neighbors on both sides of their apartment, and they get noise from both sides.
- East San Jose is severely over populated. Nearly all of the single family homes have been subdivided with an in-law unit on the backside. Those tiny in-law units house whole families of four people or more. Usually the front door is located in the side yard, which means that they have constant traffic on the side of the house which faces their next door neighbor's kitchen window, and is in close enough proximity to the living room windows to be a constant distraction.
- In Redwood Shores street parking is strictly prohibited everywhere. For example, at the Archstone apartment complex, each unit comes with one parking space in a shared garage, and tenants are given the option to lease additional parking spaces in car ports. There are very few guest parking spaces which are always occupied, and no street parking anywhere in the complex or outside on public streets.
- The track subdivisions of single family homes don't allow street parking either but they do have a few assigned "visitor parking" spaces which happen to be located on the side of the street. It's an alcove that is similar to a bus stop.
- East San Jose's residential streets are always lined with old cars that look like hell. Street parking is scarce. It's like the Mission District in San Francisco.
The "corner appeal" of the buildings:
Redwood Shores is the Olympic gold medalist when it comes to keeping their buildings clean and in pristine condition. The single family homes look new. The builders used really cheap building materials, even for the largest houses, with white kitchen appliances and cheap stucco exterior siding that goes all the way down to the ground, but everything is so new and clean that residents probably don't notice it.
By sharp contrast, at least half of the houses in East San Jose look like a bomb exploded in the front yard. They're rentals with absentee ownership and there's simply no scheduled maintenance. The paint is in the worst condition imaginable, the landscaping is in the worst condition, the driveways need to be repaved, and most of the homes have cheap tacky fences in the front yard. The apartment buildings are too close to the street with a minimal amount of green space or none at all.
- Both cities are racially diverse and multi-lingual. It's true that East San Jose is largely Hispanic and Vietnamese but a wide variety of others live there, too.
- East San Jose has a very high population of small children. Nearly every house has at least one child under the age of seven. Despite the neighborhood's tarnished reputation, it's actually a family oriented place with married couples and little kids everywhere.
- With that said, they have special needs, as many of the kids don't speak English and their parents did not attend school in the United States. Additionally, there is a higher number of children with Down's Syndrome because the moms in the neighborhood chose not to have an abortion.
- The area has a reputation for violent crime but it's not true. The worst streets have about four incidents per year and it's mainly graffiti, vandalism, breaking into cars, and illegally dumping yard sale leftovers on the sidewalks.
- East San Jose has one very important quality that Redwood Shores does not have: Old families. Some of the houses are occupied by the original owners who have been there for over fifty years, and their adult kids own homes on the same street. They know everything about their neighborhood that there is to know, and they know who lives there. They take good care of their homes, they take care of their kids, they talk to their neighbors, and when they have parties in the backyard they know when to turn off the loudspeakers.
- Redwood Shores is every bit as racially diverse as East San Jose, and the neighborhoods of single family homes are filled with children and minivans. In that respect the two cities could be identical twins. The only major difference in demographic terms is that the residents have college degrees with higher wage jobs.