Posted on Aug 10, 2017by Bev Stenehjem
The unincorporated community of San Martin hopes its first Chamber of Commerce will help bring this rural town of 7,800 together and create a stronger identity.
Mark Peebles, president, and Trina Hineser, community liaison director for the Chamber, say they want people to know about the community nicknamed “The Jewel of the South County,” and the chamber’s mission, “Building Community to Protect San Martin’s Rural Heritage.”
“A lot of people are uninformed as to the many businesses that are in San Martin,” said Peebles, who moved to San Martin a year ago. “These businesses, whether they be home-based or have storefronts, are excited about raising the awareness and the image of San Martin. What we have seen, thus far, as we speak to each business is that they are excited about the potential a chamber of commerce will have for San Martin.”
The SMCoC board is a mixture of San Martin business owners and residents. The first businesses to join are South Valley Internet, Seeker Vineyard, Earthtech Landscape, Realty World, The Law Office of Louis F. Doyle and Bay Area Water Trucks. “These individuals have dedicated their time, energy, and in some cases money towards formulating and working hard to get the SMCoC to come to fruition,” said Peebles.
The chamber’s board uses subcommittees for events and business development. The board is made up entirely of unpaid volunteers. Businesses and residents pay a membership fee to fund events, activities and barn-raising projects.
“A Chamber of Commerce is intended to bring a broader section of the community together and provide a place for the business owner to give back to the community and gain support from each other,” said Peebles. “In addition to protecting the small town rural character, which makes San Martin special, the chamber hopes to stimulate the economic interest of the residents, strengthen San Martin’s independent and unique identity within Santa Clara Valley, and finally, seek to work in harmony with individuals and business, government and civic organizations within the greater community.”
One of the chamber’s first accomplishments, spearheaded by Peebles, was to install new signs along U.S. 101, between Morgan Hill and Gilroy, that say “San Martin” and include the elevation and population. The signs were a joint effort between the chamber and Sharon Luna, director of the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance.
While many other communities are working hard to grow, San Martin values its rural community and wants to preserve it as much as possible. A town ordinance requires home lots to be a minimum of five acres to assist in keeping the open, rural community.
Like many residents, Peebles moved to San Martin to enjoy the open spaces and calmer lifestyle.
“Here I’ve met my neighbors and have conversations with them, while that was not a common thing when I lived Redwood City, Cupertino or Saratoga. There is no other community that I’m aware of in South County that you can still see people riding horses down main roads, or home-after-home with vineyards as the common theme.”
Hineser, a resident of San Martin for 17 years said, “I can tell you that my husband and I moved here for the same reasons Mark mentioned above. We know our neighbors and our neighborhoods and overall it is quieter than being in the city.”
For years the community has considered incorporating to one of the neighboring cities, Gilroy or Morgan HIll, but has never moved forward on it.
The community takes its name from St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of early pioneer Martin Murphy, who built the first Catholic church in the area.
More information about the San Martin Chamber of Commerce can be found at www.SanMartinChamber.org.