New Neighborhood Voice

2003 FAQ Archives
(Frequently Asked Questions)

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NNV Edition 12 (December 2003) FAQs

bulletDid readers report deer-related accidents following the FAQ on animal crossing signs?
bulletIs the new leaping deer sign the result of NNV's earlier item about deer being killed?
bulletHas the "Façade Improvement Grants" program survived the budget cuts?
bulletIs there some confusion over the true name of Caddy's Villa in the Boesch Hall story?
bulletWho should we thank for the classy off-white paint job of the East Highlands sign?
bulletDoes NNV know what's happening with the old Alum Rock Stables property?
bulletI think I found a broken link in NNV. Does anyone want to know about it?
bulletWhere are the Death Valley photos you promised us?
bulletIs it true that there won't be a January edition of NNV? Why not?

NNV Edition 11 (November 2003) FAQs

bulletWhat ARE those black spots on the sidewalks in the Alum Rock "Village" area?
bulletWhat happened to all that new graffiti under the Miguelito Creek Bridge?
bulletWhere are the Alum Rock Falls?  Why can't we go there? By Ed Allegretti
bulletHow can we get an "animal crossing" sign on Alum Rock Avenue?
bulletAre the Cub Scouts still collecting old, used printer cartridges as a fundraiser?
bulletWhy can't I find NNV at the Alum Rock County Library?
bulletWhose idea was the new traffic light at the corner of McKee and Toyon?

NNV Edition 10 (October 2003) FAQs

bulletWhat progress is being made getting Mark's Hot Dogs up and running?
bulletWhat response did NNV receive about Mercury News vacation "stops"?
bulletSo, NNV didn't receive horror stories regarding crummy U.S. Postal "Service" either, huh?
bulletIs there any way NNV readers can meet NNV writers - or the editorial staff?
bulletHow's come the East Highlands "Triangle" sign is still that homely shade of orange?

NNV Edition 9 (September 2003) FAQs

bulletDoes anyone know whether Shadow the beautiful cat has found a home yet?
bulletDid NNV really get those County guys to finish work on the Miguelita Creek Bridge?
bulletBut what are we going to do about all the graffiti on the bridges?
bulletWhat's happening (or not happening) at the Bill's Pony Ranch site?
bulletWhat's up with the old Alum Rock Feed and Fuel business?
bulletWhat can we do about all the non-working cars and other blight in our neighborhoods?
bulletWhat does "Common Dress" on the James Lick High School marquee mean?

NNV Edition 8 (August 2003) FAQs

bulletWhat's going on at the old boarded-up buildings at White and Alum Rock?
bulletAre those County guys ever going to finish work on the Miguelita Creek Bridge?
bulletWhat were all the fire trucks doing on Chula Vista Drive on Saturday, July 19?
bulletDoes anyone know the name for the new youth center by Pala Middle School?
bulletWhy was a loud helicopter flying over East Highlands on Tuesday evening, July 29th?

NNV Edition 7 (June 2003) FAQs

bulletWhere is that water by the Country Club coming from?
bulletAnything new on the proposed deli at the east end of Alum Rock Village?
bulletIs the Alum Rock library branch still on track?
bulletWhere do we take mail when we want to have it on its way the very soonest?
bulletWhy must there be so many signs at Mt. Hamilton Road and Alum Rock Avenue?
bulletWhom do we call to report tall weeds and other fire hazards on private property?
bulletHas "the other VTA shoe" dropped on Bus Line 64?
bulletWhy does St. John Vianney Church want  a zoning change?
bulletIs it true that NNV will not produce a July edition?

NNV Edition 6 (May 2003) FAQs

bulletWhat happened to the bagpipe music we used to hear in early evening?
bulletWhat plants grow reliably on our hot, dry, windswept west-facing slopes?
bulletCan NNV shed any light on the shoot-out at the McKee Road Save Mart on April 10th?
bulletWhy is Alum Rock Park closed at night?
bulletAny other "hand weavers" here in the neighborhood?


NNV Edition 5 (April 2003) FAQs

bulletMore Façade Improvement Grants for Alum Rock Village?
bulletWhere were those nearby earthquakes we felt in late March?
bulletWhat was the police helicopter doing in Alum Rock Park recently?
bulletNew orange barriers near Miguelita Creek Bridge?
bulletDog fighting on Alum Rock Avenue?????
bulletDoes NNV know of an easy way to recycle empty printer cartridges?
bulletDirty Supermarkets at Capitol and McKee?
bulletHow can subscribers correct or augment NNV stories?
bulletIs there a way that readers can help New Neighborhood Voice?


NNV Edition 4 (March 2003) FAQs


Where is our nearest trauma center?


What's going on at the ex-produce store at Toyon and McKee?


Is that a fancy marquee going up at the James Lick corner?


New business in Alum Rock Village?


What's the latest on the BABTT plan for the stables?


Where do I take that injured bird, raccoon, snake, squirrel, …?


Why bother to subscribe to NNV? Can't I just look at the current edition online?


NNV Edition 3 (February 2003) FAQs


Mail Theft and Neighborhood Watch info on the Sheriff's Web site?


Landslide-damaged house near Alum Rock Park? 


Foto business at 4363 Alum Rock? 


Dirty Supermarkets at Capitol and McKee? 


Large new buildings near Alum Rock and White? 


Fireman Joe Carrillo's "promotion"? 


Dorel Drive fire aftermath? 


Cross and teddy bear shrine? 


What hit Bill's Pony Ranch?

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NNV Edition 12 (December 2003) FAQs

Q. Did any NNV readers report deer-related accidents following the November FAQ on animal crossing signs on Alum Rock Avenue?

A. Apparently our readers have been lucky in that department - no one shared any scary experiences. Our local problem of deer being killed near the foot of Brundage Way seems to be part of a larger picture according to Gary Richards' Roadshow column in the Merc. He reported early in November that more than 200 deer-auto collisions were recorded in the Bay Area in September and October. Those months make up the deer mating season and about twice as many animals are involved in collisions during those months as during any other.

In the Roadshow column, Gary Richards has an extensive list of tips for us who drive in deer country. NNV summarizes the list as follows: Deer are most active in early morning and evening hours so be especially vigilant then. If a deer freezes in your headlights, turn your lights off and then back on. If you spot a deer, brake firmly and do not swerve. If you see one deer, look for more. If you hit a deer, call 911. Do not touch an injured deer. It is unlawful to remove a deer. Your 911 call will summon help for an injured deer or the proper resource to remove a deer which has succumbed. To see the entire Mercury News column click here.

Q. Is the new leaping deer sign at Edgemont and Alum Rock Avenue the result of NNV's earlier item about deer being killed near the Country Club?

A. Yes, indeed. Reader Sonja Troncoso phoned Sue McElwain and her call was rewarded by a quick assessment of the situation and that sign was in place within a couple of weeks. Now, we'll see if one is needed for southbound traffic near the foot of Brundage.

Q. Last spring NNV wrote that there would be a resumption this fall of the "Façade Improvement Grants" which the San Jose Redevelopment Agency administers to help business owners gussy up the fronts of their buildings. Fall is here; has the FIG program survived the budget cuts?

A. Yes, yes, yes! NNV spoke with Kate Bear, the FIG guru, early in November. She assured us that the program was back in force and that a bunch of Alum Rock Avenue businesses would be sitting pretty during this current fiscal year. Most relevant to NNV readers will be the improvements in Alum Rock Village businesses, Teezers hair salon and Troung Hu, the Asian restaurant next door to it in the same block as Rafiki's Coffee Hut. As you'll recall, this program requires that the business owners shell out a significant percentage of the costs and the RDA covers the rest. Rafiki's and Kattengell's Karate Studio are two good examples of recent façade improvements.

Q. Is there some confusion over the true name of Caddy's Villa in the Boesch Hall story last month?

A. Actually yes! During the development of the story in the November edition, several different versions of the name were suggested by the people who contributed their memories. NNV heard Kattie's, Cattie's, and Caddy's. One man thought maybe it was named "Caddy's" because a group of golf caddies hung out there. That sounded as good as any other reason! Now, it seems that Kathleen Boesch Tirri heard from her 85-year-old Aunt Martha (her dad's sister) that the place was called Kattie's for the woman who ran the restaurant/bar/dance hall. As a matter of fact, Aunt Martha was served her first legal drink by Kattie in 1939. So, Kattie's Villa it was! What will it be next?

Q. Who should we thank for the classy off-white paint job of the East Highlands triangle sign? Are they going to paint the letters in a contrasting color like they were before?

A. The ARNC (Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition) crew got out their paint sprayer early in November and covered over the controversial orange-and-aqua color scheme. They have gallantly kept the sign painted for many years. Their current plan is to highlight the letters with a sort of light hunter green color.

Karen DeLong, a longtime ARNC stalwart, points out that it's pretty easy to change the color of the letters if they don't get a pleasing result. Believe it or not, it takes about $200.00 worth of paint to put a couple of coats of paint on the sign.

NNV found it quite interesting that most of the very few respondents to our unofficial "What color should the sign be painted?" poll voted to keep it orange! ARNC was ready to go with a more neutral scheme this time, however.

ARNC also plants and maintains shrubs, keeps public spaces tidy and generally helps keep our area looking good. If you'd like to help them out picking up trash some Saturday morning, give Steve Pollack a holler at If you'd like to donate funds toward paint, you can send them to Karen DeLong at 11301 Chula Vista Avenue, San Jose, CA 95127.

Q. Does NNV know what's happening with the old Alum Rock Stables property near the upper entrance to Alum Rock Park?

A. In our February edition, we hope to report on the progress of Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust (BABTT) plan for access to the stables property. Things are happening, folks!

Q. I think I found a broken link in NNV. Does anyone want to know about it?

A. Yes, we do! Just send an e-mail to and we'll check it out. There are about 1,000 links in NNV now and keeping them up to date, especially in the archives, is a never-ending challenge. A "broken" link is often caused by Internet congestion or is just a Web site that is unavailable while it is being updated. We use a link checking program to check the NNV Web site periodically to find broken links. If they don't go away soon (e.g., when a Web site becomes available again), we fix the link if we can or delete it if we can't fix it. In any case, we'd like to know about it whenever you spot an error in NNV.

Q. Where are the Death Valley photos you promised us?

A. The James Lick High School Death Valley Trip photos we promised you have been taken but they aren't ready yet - they should be in the February edition.

Q. Is it true that there won't be a January edition of NNV? Why not?

A. Yep, it's true. NNV is a seat-of-the-pants production created primarily by two old geezers who have to eat, drink and breathe the newsletter every day of the month in order to produce the end result. It's truly a labor or love, but sometimes these old geezers need to do a little less laboring and a bit more loving to sustain themselves. Look for the next edition early in February. 

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NNV Edition 11 (November 2003) FAQs

Q. What ARE those black spots on the sidewalks in the Alum Rock "Village" area?

A. J.E. Blanton, long time owner of Foothill Printers, Lick alum and Eastside guru, called NNV and left the following message. "I read most of the articles in the paper (NNV) this time. The black spots in the article about the Village happen to be gum. I have cleaned a great many of them up. It behooves the other business owners to do the same. Thanks for your good work." Thank you, J.E.!

Another reader (also a former Lick High student) e-mailed us and said, too, that the spots are gum. He suggested that rather than complaining about them, complainers should clean them up! He pointed out that while he was at Lick, he was part of a group of ecology students who regularly cleaned up the mess. It looks as though it will take a concerted effort to spruce things up … perhaps "it takes a village" to keep a village tidy. Click here to read Tanya Freudenberger's report on the PACT meeting with Councilmember Nora Campos for more on this topic.

Q. What happened to all that new graffiti under the Miguelito Creek Bridge?

A. There has been a recurrent problem with LOTS of graffiti under the Miguelito Creek Bridge and, now under the new pedestrian bridge as well (sigh). The County Roads and Airports folks have come out and painted over the stuff at least twice that NNV has noticed. It appears that the taggers know that the bridge is in unincorporated Santa Clara County and that their tags won't be obliterated so quickly as they would be if they were done on property in the City of San Jose. Well, perhaps they might just be wrong about that!

NNV stopped by the Community Justice Center near Alum Rock Avenue and White Road recently and picked up a brochure about San Jose's Anti-Graffiti program from Janie and Larry Tilbury who volunteer there. They ventured that we county residents can avail ourselves of this program just like city-dwellers do. Because of the Miguelito graffiti and a growing number of tags all around the East Highlands, NNV decided to pursue the City's Anti-Graffiti hotline.

The very helpful person on the hotline phone referred us to the "Santa Clara County Integrated Waste Management, Graffiti and Litter Abatement Program" (whew!). One call to Lisa Rose, the program coordinator, on a Thursday, brought a crew of a half dozen teenagers out the very next Sunday to paint out the mess. The youngsters are on probation due to the "petty crimes" they have committed and are accompanied by adults from the County Probation Department. NNV asked whether any of these kids were graffiti taggers and Lisa explained that these are NOT the taggers - taggers are sent to the City's graffiti abatement program and are not among these kids.

Lisa said that their crews go out every Sunday to clean up graffiti and have a regular schedule - ordinarily the crews come to the East Foothills area (of the County) on the first Sunday of every month and to other County areas on the other Sundays. However, they will try to respond to reports of graffiti incidents on the next Sunday following the report - rather than keeping to their usual rotation. Don't hesitate to call (408) 441-1198 extension 4450 to report tagging which needs to be cleaned up. To report tagging in progress call 911!

Q. People keep asking what and where are the Alum Rock Falls. Everyone knows you can't go up there now, but could someone please tell us what's up there and how they looked?

A. Ed Allegretti answers: There are two waterfalls in Alum Rock Park. According to the City, the trails to both falls are closed due to unsafe conditions.

As you hiked through the park and passed the various mineral springs, you continued eastward. Eventually you crossed a small pedestrian bridge where Penitencia Creek and Arroyo Aguague merge. Penitencia is the left, or upper, fork while Aguague is the right, or lower, fork. If you followed Arroyo Aguague past the point where the trail is now closed, you reached one of the falls (click here to see old post cards showing these falls). Maybe it is a quarter mile past the trail closure. In my youth I would hike past these falls where the canyon became so narrow that I could almost touch both sides. At this point is a location where many large fossilized clam shells could be found (I donated many to YSI).

The other, or upper, falls are up Penitencia Creek about a quarter mile. Previously there were several small pedestrian bridges (painted pink) that had to be crossed before reaching these falls. I'm not sure if the bridges are still there. It probably has been at least 15 years since these trails were officially closed.

NNV Note: Readers will need to continue to visualize Alum Rock Falls in their imaginations. The terrain is treacherous and there have been injuries and fatalities among visitors who ignored the "trail closed" signs. Perhaps, someday, those trails and bridges can be restored.

Q. How can we get an "animal crossing" sign near the base of Brundage Avenue by the curve in Alum Rock Avenue just before the East Highlands sign? Many skunks, squirrels and even two deer have recently been hit and killed there by speeding motorists.

A. Sonja Troncoso asked this questions and NNV put her in touch with the County Roads and Airports Department. They assigned Sue McElwain to examine the deer paths crossing Alum Rock Avenue.  Sue reported that a Deer Crossing sign WILL be installed near the intersection with Edgemont. If that doesn't help with the problem, it sounds as through the County will revisit the situation.  Ms. McElwain can be reached at (408) 494-1337.

NNV had occasion to walk around one of the beautiful does that was killed last month. Her body was lying in the pathway along the Country Club's fence. It was quite an experience to be able to look really, really closely at one of nature's most exquisite creatures. She had apparently just been hit and there were no marks on her body or delicate head. Her belly was revealed in such a way that one could see the small udder and four tiny teats. Hopefully, your editor will not ever have an opportunity to study a deer quite so closely again, but the experience was truly amazing and will be remembered for a long time.

No, NNV isn't just concerned about the deer - a sign would also help warn and protect motorists! NNV has never heard any stories about injuries (or damage to cars) that people in the foothills have suffered due to run-ins with deer. Do you have any experiences to share?

Q. Are the Mt. Hamilton District Cub Scouts still collecting old, used printer cartridges as a fundraiser?

A. No, but Foothill Presbyterian Church has taken on this small (but important) fundraising activity. They keep a box labeled "cartridges" in the church office where you can drop off your cartridges during office hours - Monday through Thursday 9 -4, closed 12-1 for lunch and Friday, 9-12. This is a great alternative to fouling the landfill with gunky old cartridges; they create ecological havoc. The church project includes recycling of the old cartridges. You can stop by the church at 5301 McKee Road, unload your cartridges and have a chat with a friendly chick named "Chick."

Q. Why doesn't NNV put one of its paper copies in the Alum Rock County Library Branch each month?

A. We have arranged to do that very thing beginning with this edition. If you'd like to read the newsletter on paper, just look for it in the periodicals section. However, the paper version does not have anywhere near as many photos as this on-line version does.

Q. Whose (dumb) idea was the new traffic light at the corner of McKee and Toyon? It surely slows down and messes up traffic!

A. NNV is biased toward that new light because we often need to make that hairy left from Toyon onto McKee at high traffic times, but we'd like to hear how other readers feel. We naïvely thought that everyone was hunky-dory with it!

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NNV Edition 10 (October 2003) FAQs

Q. What progress is being made getting Mark's Hot Dogs up and running? It's been too long since the famous hot dog stand moved from lower Alum Rock to Capitol off Alum Rock without serving those delicious hot dogs.

A. The work on "The Big Orange" is happening - but slowly. NNV photographer Elizabeth Driedger snapped a few pics recently which show that there must have been more than a few drops of O.J. shed due to wounds suffered during the move and resettlement. Be brave. Keep your condiments handy and your buns dry. Mark's WILL rise again.

Q. So……..what kind of response did NNV receive when you asked people in the neighborhood to share their "absolutely lousy" Mercury News vacation "stop" experiences?

A. Well, you would have thought we were living in a parallel universe here on Highland Drive! It seems NO ONE but NNV had a horror story to tell about their newspapers not ceasing to be delivered while they were on vacation. Apparently it's only us who find papers yellowing in the driveway when we return from a trip. This is even after jumping through the hoops of the newspaper's "automated customer service" or telling a living breathing customer service person when we wanted our final paper delivered - and when we wanted the service resumed.

And, I guess it's just us who would never ever receive all the back newspapers which the Merc was "saving" for us. Was is really only us who, for example, would ask to have the paper stopped for two weeks (and those papers saved for us) only to find that the paper was delivered during the first three days and the last four days of those two weeks - and that the papers in the middle were nowhere to be found and therefore undeliverable? It's hard to believe that our house is a little island where such problems occur predictably - and everyone else has hunky-dory service, isn't it?

Well, it is possible that things are looking up. During the week of 9-15 we went away for several days after going through the motions of making the same preparations that inevitably had failed before - hey, what else could we do? Would you believe that the first morning after we returned, the newspaper delivery guy dumped all three Mercury News' and all three Wall St. Journals, (which he also delivers) rubber-banded together on our driveway? It was as though we had died and gone to heaven!

Now we're wondering if NNV's "power of the press" which reader Alan Henninger credited with the removal of the County's Miguelito Bridge porta-potty is also at work here. Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do was gripe noisily in NNV and someone in charge would listen? We must report, also, that our U.S. mail delivery stopped and started as we requested on 9-13, too. Wow, could we be on a roll?

Q. So, NNV didn't receive horror stories regarding crummy U.S. Postal "Service" either, huh?

A. Au contraire! You can read a couple of humdingers on our Letters to the Editor page.

Q. Is there any way NNV readers can meet NNV writers - or the editorial staff?

A. So glad you asked! NNV will have a table at YSI's Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park on Sunday, October 12th. Your humble editor and several regular writers including Ed Allegretti, our prolific writer of local history, and Meaghan Clawsie, a professional writer who has also written many articles for NNV, will be there to chat and schmooze with festival visitors. ALL of our readers, writers, photographers and other contributors are welcome to come and get acquainted. For information on this free event, right in our own backyard, see the NNV Bulletin Board or the "Brief" in this edition.

Q. How's come the East Highlands "Triangle" sign is still that homely shade of orange? Weren't there plans to paint it?

A. The painting "party" was postponed and is on again for the morning of Saturday, October 4th. The Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition volunteers may be out in force right this moment - possibly just as you're reading these words. Don't hesitate to drop by the site and give them a round of applause. They do wonderful work keeping our neighborhood spruced up - with little or no recognition. The new color scheme had not been announced as of this writing.

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NNV Edition 9 (September 2003) FAQs

Q. Does anyone know whether Shadow the cat has found a home yet?

A. As of this writing, Shadow is still camping out at Elizabeth Driedger's house. Elizabeth rescued Shadow from near death and has to maintain separate quarters for him because her own cats rejected him. She has to choreograph the various cats' comings and goings to keep them separated and this has really complicated her life. Several people responded to Elizabeth's search for an adoptive family for beautiful Shadow, but so far the right match hasn't been made. Click here to read Shadow's story. You can call Elizabeth at (408) 929-8923 or email

Q. Did NNV really get those County guys to finish the work on the Miguelita Creek Bridge and remove their signs and porta-potty or did it just happen?

A. Well, it seems to us like there are two possibilities. Either the powers that be read NNV and responded to our piece on the MCPPPee "ribbon-cutting" ceremony (that's what we like to think) or they were going to finish it anyway and NNV's timing was just pure luck. In any case, the work started just after the August edition of NNV came out. The porta-potty was conspicuously absent on 8/13 (the signs were removed a few days earlier). Our real concern was that they would do it just before NNV came out and we would have to delete our beautiful FAQ but we really didn't need to worry about that, did we?

Thanks to all the County people who worked on this project. It's very nice to see it look like it was intended to without all the construction distractions!

Q. But what are we going to do about all the graffiti on the rails of the new pedestrian bridge and under the bridge?

A. That's a real problem. If you see anyone suspicious around or under the bridges, please don't hesitate to call 911 to report them to the Sheriff. Graffiti that needs to be removed can be reported to the County's East Yard at (408) 494-2760. E-mails can be directed to or to Ron Neal, East Yard Road Superintendent at or click here for their on-line form.

As an alternative to graffiti, NNV announces our Public Art Contest. Click here for our first examples. Please e-mail your entries to (preferably as a jpg file attached to the e-mail). 

Q. What's happening (or not happening) at the Bill's Pony Ranch site these days? Seems like it just sits there moldering with no activity?

A. It does seem like a very slow process is underway after the Wham! Bam! - thank you ma'am! lightening-fast demolition which obliterated decades of East side history last winter. NNV recently asked a neighbor if he would comment on what's going on. He scratched his head (figuratively if not literally) and said that he was just as surprised as any one else that there wasn't more activity these days.

"Looks like some neighbors aren't satisfied with the plans and are holding up the works," he ventured. "However, the lot sizes they're quibbling about (for a project of single family homes) are just the same as most of those in the older neighborhoods on the other side of Alum Rock. They're planning two-story houses on 50' lots which is pretty ordinary density," he reckoned.

NNV guesses we'll just have to be patient as we wait for order to be restored in the 5100 block of Alum Rock Avenue. NNV would be happy to report "the other side" if some of those "dissatisfied neighbors" would like to share their point of view.

Q. What's up with the old Alum Rock Feed and Fuel business which unceremoniously closed last winter?

A. All that NNV has been able to ascertain up to this point is that it's deeply embedded in an estate squabble since a family death dictated its closure. Fans of Alum Rock Village would really like to see a good restaurant go into the site - or at least would like to see it remain a business property to add to the richening mix of The Village. It seems that no one is hot for more high-rise housing. The area could become a restaurant mecca, building on White Rock Café, Rafiki's, Las Delicias and the soon-to-be produce/deli in the pink corner building at 3157-59 Alum Rock. Good restaurants support other good restaurants as is evidenced by the restaurant center which Santana Row has become.

Q. What can we do about all the non-working cars and other blight in our neighborhoods?

A. A little publicity may help. Click here for our favorite blight. Do you know where it is? E-mail us a photo of your "favorites."

Q. What is the meaning of "Common Dress" on the James Lick High School marquee?

A. This message tells students that they're expected to choose their school wardrobe from a specific, very limited, list of items and colors. For instance, pants, shorts and skirts must be solid gray or black (no stripes, plaids, patterns or slogans). All shirts must be collared polo shirts in solid black, green-gray or white. Jackets and sweaters are similarly limited. James Lick logo shirts or jackets are fine, but no other logos are allowed. No blue jeans are permitted!

Accessories and shoes are limited and even backpacks must be plain black. The only hats permitted are James Lick hats and they can only be worn outdoors.

2003-04 will be the second year the school has imposed this "common dress". It prevents many potential problems, including the showing of gang colors and distracting competition among teenaged "clothes horses". The school does occasionally relent and allow students a rare "free dress day" which they earn by fulfilling some mission such as tidying the campus.

Interestingly, NNV had never noticed the lack of colorful clothing on the students at Lick - their bright young faces are what catch the eye!

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NNV Edition 8 (August 2003) FAQs

Q. What's going on at the old boarded-up buildings at White and Alum Rock where the new library branch is going to be built? There seems to be a strange combination of "pseudo-graffiti" and fire trucks there.

A. Well, what looks like a pleasant but graffiti-style message thanking the City of San Jose is just that. The City has donated the use of those old buildings to the San Jose Fire Department until they must be torn down to make way for the library - probably in December. The fire department is very happy to have empty old buildings in which they can simulate disasters and practice their response. They particularly like the westernmost building because it even has a basement which they can use - basements are a rare commodity around here it seems.

What the fire guys particularly want to do is practice rescuing their own. This project could be called "Rescuers rescuing rescuers". More than one hundred American firefighters die in the line of duty every year particularly in structural collapses of buildings in which they are fighting fires. Captain Glen McGuire of Station #2 down the block on Alum Rock is heading a Rescue Survival Training project in those old buildings. RST techniques are being taught including the use of tools to free trapped, downed fire personnel under the most dangerous circumstances. All seven fire stations in Battalion 2 will train in the buildings and eventually other battalions will be invited as well.

Captain McGuire explained that simulations would include firefighters having to crawl through holes in the drywall to free a fellow firefighter pinned under heavy beams or trapped in layers of wire. NNV asked him if this meant that they would be using dummies to represent the fallen person and he drolly answered, "Only if you consider me a dummy!" He personally assumes the role of a trapped man because, he says, working with a dummy is just not the same as working with a living, breathing human being and the experience of being in a position of entrapment is a learning experience as well.

Your NNV editor could not have been greeted and treated in a more friendly manner by Captain McGuire and his boss, Chief Jose Luna. Chief Luna even remembered my name and greeted me with a comment about NNV (which he reads - not a surprise since he lives in the NNV neighborhood). Your awkward editor may accidentally have called Chief Luna "Captain" for which she is quite chagrined. Sorry, Chief!

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Q. Are those County guys ever going to finish the work on the Miguelita Creek Bridge and remove their signs and porta-potty? Maybe this is the County's version of the classy public johns in downtown San Jose?

A. The County Project Manager for this project, Hosalli Gangadhara, reported on July 16, 2003 that the remaining work on the Miguelita Bridge project is to touch up paint on the barrier rails (the paint was scratched in some places while pavement grinding was being done) and general clean up and portable potty removal. "The Contractor has told us that he will complete this work in the next few days."

We've heard all that before and thus NNV prefers to fantasize that we have spotted a conspiracy in the making here. Is this indeed the County's first Public Toilet installation and should we be looking forward to Supervisors Pete McHugh and Blanca Alvarado visiting the Miguelita Bridge again for the "Porta-Potty Ribbon-Cutting and Opening Ceremony"? And might we not expect the ribbon to be a roll of toilet tissue? We plan to take a picture of Pete opening the door for Blanca (and vice versa).

As Eric Carlson reported in Soft Underbelly of San Jose, those elegant downtown Public Toilets cost a lot, "The toilets cost $250,000.00 each, not counting installation. The city is actually leasing the toilets for $65,000.00 per toilet per year. If my math is right, that comes to $780,000.00 a year for 12 toilets."

Of course, we can't expect the County to spend money like that in our neighborhood during these tough economic times. There is certainly an opportunity for advertising here to pay for the maintenance of the Miguelita Creek Public Porta-Potty (MCPPPee). NNV would try to be the first to place an ad on the door so our Web site address would be prominently displayed for all who come and go.

If the Construction Ahead signs and porta-potty are still there when we write the next edition of NNV, we'll know that our conspiracy theory was more than a fantasy!

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Q. Why was there an enormous number of fire trucks concentrated around Chula Vista Drive on Saturday, July 19?

A. It wasn't your imagination that there were lots of trucks climbing the hills and descending on Chula Vista Drive that Saturday. The SJFD Communications Department reported that the responders included about twelve vehicles representing three different fire stations - of course Station 2 on Alum Rock sent a full complement, Station 19 on Piedmont Road sent theirs as did Station 23 which is at Capitol and Via Cinco de Mayo.

Why such a large response for what turned out to be a fairly minor house fire? Fortunately for this area, the SJFD doesn't hold back when there are fires near Alum Rock Park. Especially during this time of year when the fire danger is high, they believe in taking no chances that a fire could spread and involve the park with its high fuel quotient.

NNV learned that the fire was a cooking fire which, lucky for the home's owners, went up the kitchen flu into the attic and out through the tile roof. It did not spread to other rooms of the house. Neighbors whose homes surround the burning house were blessed that their cedar shake roofs did not ignite, thanks to the quick response of the San Jose Fire Department.

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Q. Does anyone know whether the name has been chosen for the new community center which is being built at the front of the Pala Middle School campus? When will the center be open?

The name has been chosen! Loads of names were submitted. Tanya Freudenberger alone gathered 300 suggestions! Among the names seriously considered were:

Alum Rock Youth Center
Eastside Youth Center
Easthills Youth Center
Diversity/Culture Youth Center
Francisco Jimenez/the Circuit Youth Center
Al Cementina Youth Center
Pala Youth Center

And the winner is (or soon will be) ….. Alum Rock Youth Center - an inclusive name which represents the area well. At a recent community meeting, the San Jose Parks and Recreation Council voted to accept Alum Rock Youth Center as the name they would bring to the City Council for final approval. The name is strongly promoted by the members of PACT, who were also the catalysts for getting this much-needed community resource built.

Why not just call it Pala Youth Center? Using that name implies that it is only associated with the middle school when, in reality, it is meant for young people from Lick High School and Sheppard and George middle schools as well as students from Pala. According to PACT, it is very important that the name does not seem to exclude other kids.

The opening is tentatively planned for October.

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Q. Why was a loud helicopter flying (seemingly endlessly) over the East Highlands neighborhood on Tuesday evening, July 29th?

A. NNV isn't sure why the helicopter scrutiny was necessary, but we want to give a preliminary report on the information which has come our way. Allegedly, a young man who got off the bus by the Country Club was followed up Edgemont Drive by a car full of young men. The people in the car got out and set about beating up the victim. Apparently this was not a random crime as the victim and the attackers are acquainted.

It's important to know that this is not an example of a hapless bus-rider being accosted by lurking strangers. It's also important and gratifying to know that several residents on Edgemont came to the aid of the victim, got the miscreants' license plate number, called the sheriff and otherwise demonstrated real neighborliness and caring. The bus driver actually hopped on his own bicycle and rode up Edgemont to help! He was able to identify the car also. If details are revealed which characterize the crime significantly differently than above, NNV will report this in the September edition. Meanwhile, we would hazard a guess that it's still probably quite safe to walk in the East Highlands.

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NNV Edition 7 (June 2003) FAQs

Q. Where is the water coming from that drains out of the big pipe on the Country Club side of Alum Rock Avenue across from Miguelito Road?

A. Our San Jose Water Company contact, who is also an East Highlands neighbor, said they had to drain one of their reservoirs near that corner (on Miguelito) to repair a water line. The water from draining the reservoir, which is pure drinking water, flows under the street, out that pipe and then underground in front of the Country Club and into Miguelita Creek (under the new pedestrian bridge). However, drinking water does have some chlorine in it and has to be de-chlorinated before it can be released into the creek, which was done. The operation is complete now.

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Q. Anything new on the proposed deli in the old produce market/dry cleaner at the east end of Alum Rock Village?

A. Yes, yes, yes! NNV spoke with Rogelio Ruiz, one of the new owners of the building who, with several partners, will be opening an ambitious and classy new deli/produce market this fall. Rogelio says that the building is now undergoing a structural upgrade and renovation which includes removal of the wall which separated the old businesses. Believe it or not, that building encompasses 5000 square feet!

The plan is that they will sell deli items, fresh meat and fish, as well as produce. Rogelio says there will be dining tables and even a 2000 square foot patio area in the back. He says there will be some similarities to the Race Street Fish Market which, if you're familiar with it, you know is an atmospheric, fun place to shop and dine.

The former owners of the building, Frank Sorci and his family, built the structure about fifty years ago. It originally housed the Mayfair Pharmacy and was home to Sheldon's Hobby Shop where Ed Allegretti squandered his allowance money on toy soldiers and volatile chemicals to add to his awesome chemistry set.

The façade will be cleaned up, the remains of the previous improvements will be removed, holes will be patched, the exterior will be painted and new windows and signage will be installed. Anything fancy, a la Rafiki's Coffee Hut's exterior, will have to wait until the City's Façade Improvement Grants are available again. Meanwhile, it will be clean and tidy and ready for business "before Thanksgiving." Now is that exciting, or what?

Rogelio and his wife Sylvia live on Enchanto Vista Drive and are expecting a baby "any time."

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Q. Is the Alum Rock library branch still on track?

A. Yes indeed. NNV stopped to talk with Domenic Onorato, a San Jose Public Works Department Project Manger on the Branch Library Development Team, at the Lick High School Parking Lot Ribbon-Cutting on May 17th. Domenic had handsome models and elevations of the building on display - and reassuring words about the library project. He said that the land acquisition is complete (very pricey - something like $5 million!). Groundbreaking will take place in December of this year and the complex will be finished in June of 2005. If you'd like more information, you can call (408) 794-1400.

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Q. Where do we take mail when we want to be sure to have it on its way the very, very soonest?

A. A USPS representative says that all letters and packages mailed from our nearby branch post offices (Station D on Jackson Avenue, Berryessa on Piedmont Road, Eastridge, etc.) are processed at the main post office on Lundy Avenue before they go anywhere else. Even if one mails a letter at Station D to an address in the 95127 zip code, it goes first to Lundy! Lesson: Don't wait until the last minute to pay those bills - unless you want to drive to Lundy.

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Q. Why must there be such a mess of traffic (and other) signs at the corner of Mt. Hamilton Road and Alum Rock Avenue? There are so many competing signs that it's next to impossible to make any sense of them.

A. NNV spoke with the County's Alan Jones, Branch Manager of Roads and Fleet Operations, and he assured us that the signs announcing, "construction ahead" and anything else associated with the work on the bridges should have been removed by the contractor by the end of May. He sounded a bit embarrassed and assured NNV that all those signs will be scrutinized to see if they need to be there. It seems the contractor still needed to remove some asphalt on the bridge deck. Any superfluous signs will be removed. Alan also helped NNV with the following FAQ.

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Q. Whom do we call to report tall weeds and other fire hazards on private property?

A. You can call the County Fire Marshall's Office at (408) 299-5760. They have a weed abatement division and are ready to take your report or answer your questions.

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Q. Has "the other VTA shoe" dropped on Bus Line 64?

A. Our bus will not run as frequently beginning in October. We were spared having the line totally axed as several other lines were. NNV will report the new schedule in October. A meeting to discuss the VTA cutbacks will be held June 10th at 7:00 PM at the Eastside Senior Center, 2150 Alum Rock Avenue.

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Q. Why does St. John Vianney Church want to have a zoning change from Santa Clara County to City of San Jose?

A. Boy, the answers which NNV got to that question are all over the map. It might be because they have to do so in order to do the proposed building they're planning. Or, it might be because they will have better services under City jurisdiction. Or, it might be because eventual annexation of all the County "pockets" is inevitable so they might as well meet the City's "Planned Development Zoning District" requirements now rather than later. Or, it might, of course, be because of something sinister and underhanded, but NNV thinks probably not.

If you want to find out for yourself, (or even challenge this land use decision!) you can attend the City Council Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 17th at 7:00 PM in the City Council Chambers.

Meanwhile, the official definition of the project being considered is:

PDC 01-08-082. PLANNED DEVELOPMENT PREZONING and REZONING for the property located at the west side of Alum Rock Avenue approximately 200 feet northerly of Marian Lane (4600, 4601 and 4609 Hyland Avenue, and 4609 Alum Rock Avenue), from Unincorporated County and A-Agricultural Zoning District to A (PD) Planned Development Zoning District, to allow religious assembly and school uses on 8.21 gross acres (Roman Catholic Welfare Corp. of San Jose and the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Jose, Owner/Developer) Council District 5. CEQA: Mitigated Negative Declaration. (NNV note: Whew!)

You can also find out more about the project (reports, drawings, documents) at the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement (408) 277-4576.  Click here for the PDF City staff report for this project. 

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Q. Is it true that NNV will not produce a July edition?

A. Yep! But it's not because we don't have enough material. Note that there are seven new writers in this edition! When we started NNV, we feared we might have to write all the articles ourselves. We're extremely happy to see so many good writers volunteer to write about their interests and expertise and we welcome more. We also appreciate the many nice comments from our readers! We're already accumulating material for the August edition.

We are pleased to note that our articles are being read in downtown San Jose and that the big city media has described New Neighborhood Voice as "the vastly entertaining and informative newsletter of the San Jose Country Club Neighborhoods" and "one that other neighborhood web newsletters might emulate. A successful blend of entertainment and information."  Click here to read Eric Carlson's latest article on our neighborhoods.  Our thanks to Eric and Metroactive!

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NNV Edition 6 (May 2003) FAQs

Q. What happened to the bagpipe music we who live in San Jose Country Club area used to hear in early evening?

A. A lot of neighborhood folks miss the unmistakable piping tunes produced by our resident bagpiper and have asked if anyone knows why we don't hear him any more. NNV asked for information about him at YSI in the park recently.

It seems that when he wasn't piping, "Pete the Piper" was a volunteer at the YSI Nature Center - caring in particular for the late, great, barn owl, Casper. Pete often strolled the walks around YSI and the Visitors' Center playing his heart out on his melancholy pipes.

The YSI folks think he moved away to Oregon about a year ago and that he's working or volunteering at an animal rehab place there. And, no doubt, he's filling the air with his nostalgic musical delights. NNV would welcome further information about this special neighbor and his musical gift to the neighborhood.

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Q. What plants grow reliably in the neighborhood on our hot, dry, windswept west-facing slopes?

A. NNV has received several variations of this question and has become aware just how interested folks are in finding fail-proof landscaping for this challenging area. One could even say that people are desperate to get something attractive growing and thriving around here. NNV shares their pain and is soliciting input from knowledgeable gardeners to share their secrets on these pages. We're asking gardening professionals and aficionados to work with us writing articles and/or answering readers' specific questions. We also welcome recommendations from ordinary garden-variety (heh) gardeners who have had successes which they would like to tell us about - or horror stories which would save the rest of us from making their same expensive errors.

Ideally, if someone could recommend and vouch for plants that are easy-care, drought-tolerant, fire-resistant, deer-proof and attractive year 'round, NNV would award them a lifetime subscription to the newsletter. Since probably no one can fill that improbable order, all we can offer is that lots o' folks around here would be beholden to someone who can suggest plants which fill even part of the requirements and might even name their firstborn grandchild after him/her.

NNV does have one spectacular plant to recommend which is called echium fastuosum or "Pride of Madeira" which decorates our slope every April. If you happened by Highland Drive last month, you couldn't have missed it - it sits high on our front slope, ten feet tall with perhaps 100 electric blue flower spikes each looking like a twelve inch gas flame. As I'm writing this, the flowers are starting to fade, but it's still worth a look and probably will be until mid-May. It draws honeybees and its spikes grow scratchy as summer comes along, but it is worth any of its drawbacks. It is really easy to propagate new plants - as a matter of fact the ones you see on our slope were started from cuttings by your humble editor. Deer do not eat it.

Click here to see the Pride of Madeira.

You can share gardening answers or ask gardening questions by the usual routes. E mail at or call (408) 272-7008 or fax to (408) 272-4040.

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Q. Can NNV shed any light on the details of the shoot-out at the McKee Road Save Mart on April 10th?

A. Well, what sounded like an interminable police chase for those of us who simply heard it (but were lucky enough not to be any closer than we were) really was a protracted chase which started out with a carjacking at a Safeway store on Capitol Expressway at Silvercreek Road and ended up at the Save Mart store at the Country Club Villa on McKee Road.

A man armed with a handgun hijacked a car from a woman outside the Safeway on Capitol Expressway. He joined two other men and they drove the car to a nearby Bank of America branch. Two of the men went into the bank and, holding the tellers at gunpoint, stole the money from the cash drawers.

They abandoned the stolen car a short distance away and got into a blue Chevy Camaro (presumably their own car). San Jose police officers tried to stop the suspects near Quimby and Capitol and one officer fired a shotgun at the car when one of the passengers pointed a handgun at him. The suspects were able to drive out of the area but soon had several police cars close behind.

While speeding along Capitol Expressway, the suspect in the passenger seat fired a handgun repeatedly at the pursuing officers! This was happening right around 1 PM when large lunch-going throngs could be expected to be on their way back to work. It must have felt to other drivers as if they had been suddenly transported onto a movie set.

But it gets even hairier! The robber/hijacker suspect trio somehow found their way to Country Club Villa at Toyon and McKee and, with an entourage of law enforcement vehicles accompanying them, they jumped from their car and split up.

One suspect, Lawrence Franks, 36, of San Jose, tried to jump into the bed of a pick-up truck which was just leaving a parking stall. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't able to hang on and fell off onto the pavement. Then, carrying two handguns, he went into the Country Club liquor store and forced a clerk to open the back door.

Another suspect, Jermaine Williams, 19, also of San Jose, ran into the Save Mart store.

The third suspect, Eric Bernard, 19, of Sunnyvale, tried to carjack the 1998 Cadillac of a woman who had just driven into the lot. That plucky woman saw that the man had a gun so she made a speedy departure! That man then ran into Save Mart, too.

The police officers fired one round at Lawrence Franks to get him to surrender from behind a dumpster at the back of the liquor store. Fortunately they did not have to use their weapons when they captured the other two men inside the Save Mart store.

"Amazing" and "incredible" are two words used liberally by the involved police officers to emphasize the fact that, in this escapade of hijacking, bank robbery, and a highway shootout, no one was hurt!

NNV asked a Save Mart checkout clerk for his reaction the next day. "We didn't really have time to be scared - the police had us out of there so fast." He also pointed out that in some places, mayhem like this might be a frequent occurrence, but we are blessed to live here in our peaceful neighborhood where usually a "crime spree" consists of a kid running into the store to filch a six pack of beer.

Note: The San Jose Police press release documenting these events ended with a message that they would like to identify and interview the driver of the blue pickup truck into which the suspect tried to climb. NNV would love to interview that driver, too, as well as the woman who had the poise to drive away when a gun was pointed at her. These are "notable neighbors" indeed. Please E-mail us at or call (408) 272-7008 if you know who these folks are.

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Q. Why is Alum Rock Park closed at night?

A. As most of you know, Alum Rock Park is open from 8:00 AM to one-half hour after sunset. Ever wonder why it is closed at night? So did Eric Carlson - read about his quest as he ventures out of San Jose to find the Heinous Albino Twins in Alum Rock Park and see a few photos of the Park and its inhabitants that you won't find anywhere else.

Eric has also written many other interesting stories on shenanigans in San Jose - to read more, including the new plan for Quetzalcoatl in City Hall, start at his Home page.

We're always looking for good stories about San Jose and especially this area. Please share your favorite links and stories and we'll add them to our list - E-mail us at Remember, in San Jose, truth is often stranger than fiction!

Click here for our new Favorite Links page.  We hope this will help you find some important (and not so important but interesting) Web sites related to our area and San Jose.

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Q. Any other "hand weavers" here in the neighborhood?

An "NSFAQ" (Not So Frequently Asked Question) has found its way to NNV this month.  Longtime weaver, Pat Rackstraw, is curious to know whether there are fellow weavers here in the NNV neighborhood.

A. Readers, will you let us know? E-mail us at

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NNV Edition 5 (April 2003) FAQs

Q. Are any more Façade Improvements in the works for the little shops in Alum Rock Village?

A. Well, details are still a bit amorphous, but some folks at the Redevelopment Agency have shared a few tidbits with NNV.

The RDA FIG program (Façade Improvement Grants) is on hold at least until October when the agency's financial picture should be in better focus. If any more business owners wish to participate in the FIG program, they will have to wait until there are funds available again. So, we should understand if no more façade work is done this spring and summer - although business owners can always opt to arrange (and pay for) improvements without the RDA subsidy.

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Q. Where were the earthquakes we felt in late March? It felt like they were really close!

A. They were close! The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) reported two earthquakes in the southeast part of Alum Rock Park - just over a mile east of the Country Club Heights townhomes on Crothers Road. Fortunately, they were "microearthquakes" with magnitudes of 2.5-3.0 at a depth of about 2 miles so they probably didn't cause any damage. The houses close by seemed to receive just a single BIG jolt each time. Lower on the hills there was also a bit of rattling and chandelier swaying.

You can use the USGS map of this area  to check on any nearby earthquakes. Just click on a red or blue box indicating the most recent earthquakes. The box shows up within minutes of an earthquake and links to detailed information on the quake and maps of the quake area. 

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Q. What was the police helicopter doing in Alum Rock Park recently?

A. It was on a training flight for the San Jose Police Department's new helicopter to practice getting into and out of the park and to train the park rangers on what they need to do on the ground where the helicopter is going to land. Mike Will (the park supervisor) says this new helicopter is much quieter than the old one.

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Q. Did the Editor of New Neighborhood Voice order the orange tree-protecting material which County workers put around the itty-bitty plantlets near the Miguelito Bridge?

A. No, your color-loving editor - even though she was distressed about the glorious orange-painted historic railings being repainted brown - did not ask to have a say in the choice of hue of the vinyl fence-stuff which the County used to mark the sites of the vulnerable baby trees and shrublets. However, your editor did a veritable double take the day the new orange stuff was installed - approaching the bridge in the car, she glimpsed it just from the corner of her eye and it looked for all the world as though someone had come out and restored the shiny, gleaming Mandarin gumdrop orange which had graced the pedestrian bridge railings so briefly, but so well. But, obviously this was not meant to be. C'est la vie.  Click here to see the new orange plant barriers.

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Q. Recently a small Mercury News item mentioned that convictions had been obtained in a dog-fighting case which involved a barn on Alum Rock Avenue.  What barn are they writing about, pray tell?

A. NNV believes that the barn in question is the barn at the Alum Rock Stables.  It seems that the cruel "sport" of dog-baiting was going on under our noses before the perpetrators were caught.  This is all the more reason to put the stables property in the hands of good people with noble purposes such as the Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust.

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Q. Does NNV know of an easy way to recycle empty printer cartridges?

A. Indeed we do! Pack 113 of Mt. Hamilton District Cub Scouts, which meets at Foothill Presbyterian Church, is starting their Cartridges for Cubs collection. As a fundraiser, they are collecting empty printer cartridges and turning them in for a small fee. The empty printer cartridges will be refilled and sold. The cubs will benefit from this fundraiser to help with camping and outing fees.

Empty cartridges can be dropped off at the Foothill Presbyterian Church office at 5301 McKee Road. You will find a small cardboard box marked Cartridges for Cubs inside the front door. Church Office hours are Mon.-Thurs. 9-4, closed 12-1 for lunch, and Fri. 9-12.

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Q. Why must the Albertsons and Pak 'n Save (Safeway) stores at Capitol and McKee be of a lower standard in regard to cleanliness than stores in other communities? Complaints have been made to them directly to no avail. How do other residents feel about their food shopping choices (in this area)? 

A. Several readers responded to this question from the February edition and most voiced similar concerns. One reader replied that such matters should not be a proper topic for NNV - that such things should be left to health authorities. Do you agree?  NNV plans further research in the future and hopes to help institute some constructive changes.  Unclean supermarkets and an attitude of indifference to shoppers' concerns are definitely quality-of-life issues in our neighborhood.

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Q. How can subscribers correct or augment NNV stories?

A. Please give NNV a call at (408) 272-7008 or E-mail  

Last week, a keen-eyed reader who has lived in the neighborhood since 1940 pointed out that the ex-produce store at "Toyon and McKee" is actually at Vista and McKee.  Toyon dead ends at McKee.  She also pointed out that what NNV calls "Alum Rock Village" has always been called simply "The Village" but NNV will probably stick with the new designation for the sake of clarity.

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Q. Is there a way that readers can help New Neighborhood Voice?  What if I'm not a writer or photographer?

A. In addition to writers and photographers, NNV can use help with our Web site. You can start at any level - from checking the Web site with your Web browser to updating Web pages. This is a good opportunity to learn how to build Web sites and all you need to get started is a computer and some basic computer skills. NNV is produced by volunteers so we can't offer any money but you can learn a new skill and enhance your resume while you are helping your community - and you get to read the newsletter before everyone else! If you are interested, E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.

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NNV Edition 4 (March 2003) FAQs

Q. Where is our nearest trauma center?

A. Just the other day, NNV stopped in at San Jose Fire Station No. 2 on Alum Rock Avenue just across the street from Orchard Supply and asked that very question of two helpful firemen. Ever since the news of the SJS fraternity altercation which tragically left a young man dead of a stab wound to the heart, it has been clear that everyone needs to know where the closest trauma center is so that precious time isn't wasted seeking appropriate emergency care.

The answer is not our closest hospital, Regional Medical Center (formerly Alexian Brothers Hospital) on Jackson Avenue between Alum Rock Avenue and McKee Road. Unfortunately the injured fraternity members were taken there - the closest hospital to the park where the incident occurred - in cars by their friends that awful night. It may have been too late for the college student who died - he may have been beyond the help of even the best equipped trauma center, but, perhaps we will never know.

The correct answer is that our nearest trauma center is at San Jose Medical Center, a "trauma hospital" at 675 East Santa Clara Street (between 14th Street and 17th Street). The emergency room and trauma center are reached by turning in at 14th Street. If you call 911 with a medical emergency, the San Jose Fire Department will take you either to SJMC, or to Regional where you may be treated or sent on by ambulance to SJMC.

If you wish to be knowledgeable and better prepared, you should ask your doctor, in advance of an emergency, where you should be taken in the event of a heart attack or serious injury. Or, at least for now, you can call SJMC's general information number, (408) 998-3212 and discuss the options.

Of course, SJMC's days are possibly numbered. Their closing has been announced, but it may not yet be a done deal. A town hall meeting will be held on March 13th at 6:30 PM at Le Petit Trianon Theater, 72 N. 5th Street to discuss the closure. It's quite possible that if SJMC is closed, our closest trauma center will be clear over at Valley Medical Center on Bascom Avenue at the 280!

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Q. What's going on at the ex-produce store at Toyon and McKee?

A. Many people in the neighborhood fondly remember the friendly personal service they received at the little produce store while it was in existence. The staff was always happy to go the extra mile to please its clientele. The variety of produce and sundries was excellent and the store was so convenient to get into and out of on our treks up and down the hill.

Unfortunately, produce stores seem to be an endangered quantity around here. The little fruit and vegetable business in Alum Rock Village also died a sudden death last year. It seems they are at the mercy of their landlords who may have other plans for their properties.

In the case of the Toyon and McKee property, people who have lived here awhile will remember that it was a gasoline station before it was a produce market. If you think about it, the building has that unmistakable look with its wide overhang and set back interior space. If its currently moribund metamorphosis is finally allowed to proceed, the odor of motor oil will once again permeate the air. This time, however, the business will be auto lubrication (and possibly other automotive-related services) rather than a gas station.

A Toyon and McKee neighbor thinks that the achingly slow progress toward opening the new business is caused by the usual betes noires, zoning and permitting hurdles. Please let NNV know if you can shed further light.

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Q. Is that a fancy marquee going up at the James Lick corner?

A. Bud LoMonaco of the Alum Rock Business Association says that James Lick High School will soon have a marquee to be proud of. NNV has long wondered why the Alum Rock area's high school couldn't have a modern electronic sign like the impressive ones at Mount Pleasant and Piedmont Hills High Schools. The old wooden sign had long served its purpose and been removed during the renovation and beautification of the northwest corner of Alum Rock Avenue and White Road.

NNV readers, if they've been able to take their eyes away from the ever-increasing traffic jam at that corner, will probably have noted with some amazement that not only will the corner sport this handsome new marquee, but the site is now graced by several actual palm trees! Perhaps the City is making up for lost time in creating a silk purse out of that sow's ear of a corner, but whatever the reason for the sudden largesse, the community will be most happy and grateful for the change. A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the completion of the project. Watch the NNV Community Bulletin Board for the dates of upcoming events.

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Q. New business in Alum Rock Village?

A. The little old Alum Rock Produce and Market store in the battered pink building on the corner at the eastern end of Alum Rock Village may soon show new signs of life. Actually, it may not be so soon considering how long it took Rafikis to grow from an idea to a genuine destination place, but rumor has it that a deli may locate there one of these days. NNV is not clear at this point whether this deli is still in the pipedream phase or if papers have been signed and agreements made. Also, NNV doesn't know yet whether the new business will be just on the site of the produce store - or if it will encompass the defunct dry cleaning store next door as well.

It's something new to look forward to - another possible classy addition to the neighborhood's tiny piece of charm (a la Willow Glen)!

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Q. What's the latest on the BABTT plan for the stables?

A. The possibility of preserving and reopening Alum Rock Stables hasn't so far created the stir which NNV thought it might. Only a couple of readers responded to our query - one was all for it and the other groused a bit about the traffic it might cause, but his message ended with a grudging comment that his daughters had enjoyed the proximity to the stables in their youth. He did not imply that others shouldn't have that pleasure in the future.

A close neighbor of the stables property who might be expected to have objections (if anyone would) called NNV to discuss his reservations and to get contact information for Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust. His sole concerns are controlling the fly population and proper manure disposal around the stables. He assured NNV that there are solutions to these concerns - he just wanted to be in touch with Barbara Weitz of BABTT and discuss them with her - which he did. They apparently agreed that such problems are not insurmountable, so, at least for now, neighborhood response would give the stables plan a green light.

Concerns over drainage of the property and past improper dumping activity are being examined at this point. NNV will announce any stables-related public meetings in the newsletter or on our Community Bulletin Board which is frequently updated.

Click here for the BABTT Web site.

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Q. Where do I take that injured bird, raccoon, snake, squirrel, …?

A. If you or your pets happen to disturb or injure one of the native critters in our neighborhood - or if you should just happen to run across a helpless or abandoned wild animal, help and sanctuary are not far away.

Once upon a time, the YSI Nature Center right here in Alum Rock Park took care of the rescue and rehabilitation of injured animals, but that responsibility eventually was passed on to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. And, not so long ago, rescuing an animal meant a lengthy trek out the length of Senter Road, past the County Fairgrounds, until WCSV moved right adjacent to our neighborhood.

Now, if a hapless mallard duckling drops into your backyard from the beak of a startled hawk, or, if your otherwise gentle kitty-cat mangles a tiny hummingbird or baby jay, there is help available. If a furry animal is killed or injured and its helpless young survive, there are caring people waiting to tend to the wounded and nurture the young until they are strong enough to be released back into nature.

Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley is now at 3027 Penitencia Creek Road, a couple of blocks around the bend west of the intersection of Penitencia Creek Road and White/Piedmont Road. You can phone them at (408) 929-WILD (929-9453) and make arrangements to take the injured parties to their rescuers.

If you find you're on your own until help is available, please keep in mind: don't touch or disturb mammals which may be able to recover on their own with a bit of protection until their mother comes for them. Do protect small reptiles and birds from further injury from predatory animals and humans. Don't attempt to feed or water sick or injured animals or birds. Don't take chances on being bitten by wild animals. After all, they are wild animals and they don't have a clue that you're trying to help them. And, most importantly, don't try to nurse animals yourself - the experts know the right way to do it and they're ready and willing.

And, as you might guess, the Wildlife Center always needs funds (donations are tax deductible) and you may find rewarding volunteer work with animals right here in our back yard. Give them a call! Or visit their Web site.

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Q. Why bother to subscribe to NNV? Can't I just look at the current edition online?

A. Yes, the current edition of NNV is online at and you can access it anytime. The benefits of being a New Neighborhood Voice subscriber include:

  1. You will receive an e-mail to let you know when a new edition of NNV has been published. You can then use the links in the e-mail or the address above to read or print the new current edition. The individual links can be used to select the stories which interest you.

  2. You will receive occasional special editions of NNV when significant events affecting our neighborhoods happen outside our normal publication cycle.

  3. You can be an active member of the NNV community and send us Letters to the Editor and items for the Community Bulletin Board. In other words, you can participate in what is happening in our neighborhoods, rather than being a passive observer.

To subscribe to New Neighborhood Voice, E-mail with "Subscribe" in the Subject line or call (408) 272-7008. E-mail and fax subscriptions are free. A small donation is appreciated for mail subscriptions to cover postage and mailing expenses.

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NNV Edition 3 (February 2003) FAQs

Mail Theft and Neighborhood Watch info on the Sheriff's Web site?

Q. Where can I find the Mail Theft and Neighborhood Watch information on the Sheriff's Web site?

A. It's actually there now (after a lot more prodding and pushing by NNV than should have been necessary). Here's the easiest way to access it:

Identity Theft:,4770,chid%3D335571%26sid%3D12655,00.html 

Neighborhood Watch:,4770,chid%3D335579%26sid%3D12655,00.html 

If you'd like to organize Neighborhood Watch for your area, call (408) 808-4575 for more information. 

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Landslide-damaged house near Alum Rock Park? 

Q. What has happened to the house that was so badly damaged by the January 1998 landslide near the entrance to Alum Rock Park? Where has the young couple who lived there gone?

A. The charming, rustic style house stands forlorn waiting for a transfiguration and eventually a new family. Its utilities are all disconnected; for the time being it is deemed uninhabitable. The house's middle was essentially pulled apart by the movement of the earth beneath it. Its beautiful bones are intact, but it needs to be creatively stabilized or possibly moved to another part of its double lot.

The young Goode family patiently stayed with the house, patching and mending the ever-widening cracks in the floors and leveling and releveling the doors and doorframes until December of 2000 when their first little boy was turning one year old and their second was about to be born. The struggle had grown to be too much so they sold the property "as is" although, oddly enough, for more than they asked since many potential buyers were interested in this very special property. They moved far away from the landslide nightmare to the Sacramento area where they bought a house in a neighborhood of other young families.

A letter dated 1-7-03 from the County's Environmental Resources Agency and mailed to property owners in the area stated that a grading project on the property was scheduled for final action by the County's Land Development Coordinator on 1-24-03. The project information description says: "Building Site Approval and Grading Permit for single-family residence and on site driveways." Sounds like there may be activity on the property very soon - or perhaps not so soon - as the new property owner works his way through the permit process.

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Foto business at 4363 Alum Rock? 

Q. Why is that newly painted yellow house at 4363 Alum Rock Avenue allowed to have all those business signs on it all of a sudden? Isn't there some zoning law that applies to this situation?

A. Turns out that this new business, Villablanca Foto-Video, has established itself in a house which is in unincorporated Santa Clara County where the rules about signage and zoning are not as strict as in the City of San Jose. NNV stopped by late in January to discover the nature of the business. The proprietor, Hector Villablanca, welcomed the inquiry and pointed out many examples of his specialties - wedding and "sweet sixteen" photography (and videography). He also does everyday stuff like passport photos. Hector pointed to a collection of documents on the wall which indicate that the business has cleared all the zoning hurdles. He moved his business from Santa Clara Street, near the 101, and he now lives on the premises.

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Dirty Supermarkets at Capitol and McKee? 

Q. Why must the Albertsons and Pak 'n Save (Safeway) stores at Capitol and McKee be of a lower standard in regard to cleanliness than stores in other communities? Complaints have been made to them directly to no avail. How do other residents feel about their food shopping choices (in this area)?

A. Readers?  E-mail us at

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Large new buildings near Alum Rock and White? 

Q. What is the huge building being built behind La Esperanza Market on Alum Rock west of White Road? The one that filled the horizon and necessitated the large crane last summer.

A. Those are the new Rose Senior Housing apartments which feature affordable housing for people 55 and over. There are sixty-six units and the $500 to $860 monthly rent will be determined by income. Eligibility is based on annual incomes between $12,000 and $38,000. The same parameters apply at Gadberry Court, the interesting multi-storied mega-building being built across the street from the Shell station on Alum Rock Avenue near the 680. It has fifty-five units and is nearly ready for occupancy.

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Fireman Joe Carrillo's "promotion"? 

Q. Didn't NNV say in its December issue that there would be a January article by Captain Joe Carrillo, the Wildlands Urban Interface officer of the San Jose Fire Department? Did we miss it?

A. Nope, you didn't miss it. Turns out that Captain Carrillo's vast capabilities have been noted by the department and he has been rewarded with a second hat to wear! Actually, those miserable budget cuts have caused Joe to have to stretch himself to cover not only his original duties, but he has also been assigned to be the department's Public Information Officer (PIO). Joe is a great guy (and fireman) and he is really interested in protecting our neighborhood from fire, but his writing time is going to be quite limited.

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Dorel Drive fire aftermath? 

Q. Whatever became of the people whose house burned down in the Alum Rock fire two (?) years ago? I don't see any rebuilding over that way.

A. NNV doesn't know the disposition of the family which lived there, but a quick drive-by late in January showed that a nice-looking home is being built on that burned-out corner of Dorel and Otto Drives. It's nearly to the point of being ready for a roof. Not wood shakes, NNV assumes. That wind-driven fire occurred in October 2000. To read more about this fire, see Reflections on the October 2000 Fire Near Alum Rock Park by Meaghan Clawsie in the December 2002 edition of NNV.

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Cross and teddy bear shrine? 

Q. What happened on East Alta Vista where there is a cross and teddy bear? I hope it wasn't fatal.  (Click here to see "the shrine.")

A. See the beginning of this issue. Reckless, hell-for-leather driving has been a problem along the narrow streets of the East Highlands ever since the lower portion of Crothers Road was closed because of the 1998 landslide. (Before Crothers was closed, the yahoos drove the same stupid way on its sloping curves, but at least there are no houses on that stretch.)

Ralph Purdy who lives at the juncture of East Alta Vista and Park Way is one of the neighbors who installs home-made signs to try to slow the traffic. These have been destroyed or painted over by the scofflaws who also slop their paint onto the road when they halt their impetuous down-hill slaloms long enough to thumb their noses.

Ralph says that his neighborhood is unsafe for walkers and he hates, even, to go up his driveway to the road. Helga Hanczek who lives nearby says she doesn't dare try to walk in her neighborhood because of the dangerous traffic so she walks on the Highland Drive loop instead. The lane-and-a-half-wide portion of Miradero Road which connects the open portion of Crothers Road to East Alta Vista is navigated gingerly at best by mature drivers. Even there, in that heart-in-the-mouth driving situation, the speeders from above the East Highlands come barreling through. NNV thinks it's time for another traffic flow evaluation by the County Roads people.

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What hit Bill's Pony Ranch?

Q. Wow! What hit Bill's Pony Ranch?

A. Now you see it - now you don't! "Bill's Pony ……. Ranch" as its erratically spaced sign used to say, has been moved to that great cowpony convention in the sky. During the week of January 27th a bulldozer blitzkrieg leveled the houses, outbuildings and huge old trees on all sides of Good Ole Bill's, denuding one of the few remaining rural pockets on Alum Rock Avenue. Only the windows of one of the old houses have been salvaged - everything else is kindling and shards being trucked away to the landfill. The demolition was so fast and so complete that it left the neighborhood breathless. Needless to say, there will be houses (about 18) built there. The children at the Jordan Preschool next door enjoyed watching all the big machines, but they've lost the little slice of old San Jose which was just across their fence.

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Copyright© 2003, 2004 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved. Updated 5/11/04.