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2004 FAQ Archives
(Frequently Asked Questions)

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NNV Edition 22 (December 2004/January 2005) FAQs

bulletDid NNV notice the Welcome to Alum Rock mural?
bulletWhy were the little sycamore trees on Alum Rock Avenue allowed to die this summer?
bulletIs there any chance that Our City Forest would ever come out and plant trees again?
bulletIs there a water source which they could use to keep the new trees alive?
bulletWhy didn’t Our City Forest water the trees themselves if they knew they were dying?
bulletDon’t you know that ‘NRA’ can stand for the National Recovery Administration?
bulletWho's going to fix the tiles falling off the front of Las Delicias Mexican restaurant?
bulletWhat’s happening at the abandoned, disheveled old barbeque place on White Road?
bulletAnd, what about the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner?

NNV Edition 21 (November) FAQs

bulletSurveyors were on Alum Rock Avenue recently - Is someone thinking of widening Alum Rock?
bulletI'm still wondering which presidential candidate to vote for? Any suggestions?
bulletIs there a new resurgence of mail theft in the neighborhood?
bulletAre locking mailboxes the answer?
bulletWhat else can we do to protect our mail?
bulletWhat sort of store has gone into the “Card and Party” site in the old Wells Fargo building?
bulletWhy are there so gol-durn many pigeons around the intersection of Alum Rock and White?
bulletWill the utility-wire-pigeon-perches be eliminated before the new library opens?

NNV Edition 20 (October) FAQs

bulletDoes anyone know how much rain fell during the Sudden Sunday Surprise rainstorm?
bulletDoes anyone know what has become of Boesch Hall? Last we knew, it was for sale.
bulletIs it true that the Alum Rock Library branch will begin closing on Mondays?
bulletWhy are closures like this happening to our libraries?
bulletIs it getting to be the season when we need to watch out for infatuated ungulates?
bulletAre “they” finally finished with the new Mario’s and Marco's façade?

NNV Edition 19 (September) FAQs

bulletWhat’s going on with the ratty looking house on the corner of Cragmont and Alum Rock?
bulletWhy don’t we see any action going on at the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletHow about the deli/produce store planned for the dilapidated pink building on Alum Rock?
bulletWhat sort of business is going into the old K-Mart store on McKee Road near the 680?
bulletWhy does it say “Thank you Rafiki’s” on the James Lick electronic sign-board?
bulletWhy was Alum Rock Park closed on August 28th and 29th?

NNV Edition 18 (August) FAQs

bulletWhy were the murals removed from the Planned Parenthood Clinic windows in The Village?
bulletDoes anyone know who painted those murals? Did anyone take photos?
bulletIs it true that the Community Justice Center at 12 North White Road has moved away?
bulletAny news of progress in the purchase of the old Alum Rock Stables property?
bulletHow’s come Mark DeTar sent out a real estate advertising post card featuring NNV?
bulletCould NNV have been wrong about the route taken by the newly reconfigured #64 bus line?

NNV Edition 17 (June/July 2004) FAQs

bulletWhy aren’t there more Letters-to-the-Editor on the NNV letters page?
bulletRegarding NNV’s run-in with the touchy #64 bus driver – any mayhem to report?
bulletWhat’s the word on changes on the #64 bus line? Will our service be affected?
bulletWhat’s the buzz about Thai White Rock Café? Is it good?
bulletHow can I become a writer for NNV? I love to write but ...
bulletIs it true that there will be no NNV in July? Why not?

NNV Edition 16 (May 2004) FAQs

bulletWhat on earth is happening at White Rock Café? And at Card and Party?
bulletIs that really yet-another FIG being implemented in The Village?
bulletHas any light been shed on the plans for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletAnything new on the Alum Rock Stables situation?
bulletHas NNV changed its links to the Mercury News? Why do I have to sign in now?
bulletBut I did get a nasty spam that appeared to come from NNV. Did NNV send it?

NNV Edition 15 (April 2004) FAQs

bulletHow can we get a Trader Joe’s here in East San Jose?
bulletWhat’s happening with the old little barbeque place on White Road?
bulletIs Councilmember Campos soliciting ideas for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletWhat suggestions has NNV heard for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletIs it true that the sale of the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner has “fallen through”?
bulletIs that a facelift underway at the "double store front" in the Village?
bulletWhy are there mucho piles of dirt lined up at the old Bill’s Pony Ranch property?
bulletDoes NNV get flak about the themes, topics, or opinions expressed by writers?
bulletDoes anyone know yet what’s going to happen with the #64 bus route?
bulletWhy is the Village so dirty?

NNV Edition 14 (March 2004) FAQs

bulletWhat's the new activity at the old pink building at 3159 Alum Rock? 
bulletWhere are we going to park?
bulletWill patrons of the new library have to dodge the pigeons?
bulletNo, no, not a Burger King in the village!
bulletHow's the Alum Rock Youth Center for public meetings?
bulletHow can we get broken or missing trees replaced?

NNV Edition 13 (February 2004) FAQs

bulletWhat was all the construction going on at McKee Road at Toyon?
bulletWhat's happening with the closed portion of poor old Crothers Road?
bulletWill you bring us up to date on the old, closed Alum Rock Stables?
bulletWhat's happening now with the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel store property?
bulletWill the Alum Rock Branch Library ground-breaking happen on schedule?

Click here for the 2003 FAQ Archives

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NNV Edition 22 (December 2004/January 2005) FAQs

Q. Did NNV notice the Welcome to Alum Rock mural painted on the side of a building on the northeast corner of Alum Rock Avenue just east of the 101 freeway? Is that really part of Alum Rock there? Click here to see the mural.

A. NNV took a drive through that neighborhood the other day and found a rather confusing bunch of banners which ought to identify the neighborhoods along Alum Rock Avenue. Banners beginning one block west of the 101 (on Santa Clara Street) say “Little Portugal” and continue on the other side of the freeway until about King Road where they suddenly start saying “Alum Rock.” This signage lasts until about the 680 freeway. East of the 680, there are no banners.

Somewhere in the area with the Alum Rock banners should be the community known as Mayfair, but it seems to have disappeared into thin air. According to historian, Carol Schultz, who wrote for the Mayfair Times, Mayfair runs from King Road out to Jackson Avenue.

When Alum Rock Avenue was first constructed in the 1870’s (in the footprint of an old, existing road which took people “out to the country”), it was an extension of Santa Clara Street beginning at what is now 17th St. – about where San Jose Medical Center is today. Clyde Arbuckle’s History of San Jose mentions Santa Clara Street becoming Alum Rock Avenue at Coyote Creek. But, an 1876 Thompson-West map in the frontispiece of author Pat Loomis’ Signposts books shows “Santa Clara Avenue” changing its name to Alum Rock Avenue at what looks to be about today’s Capitol Avenue. So, it appears that the Alum Rock Avenue name once-upon-a-time may have covered the part of town called “East San Jose” (which was actually west of the 101 which didn’t exist then). Therefore, if your editor interprets history properly, it may be correct to place “Alum Rock” as far west as 17th Street “downtown.” If we settle on the accuracy of the 1876 map, we can conclude that Alum Rock Avenue started around Capitol Avenue in which case the mural at 101 and Alum Rock Avenue is wrong, wrong, wrong and should be reinstalled on the side of the building at the corner of Alum Rock and Capitol Avenue which now says “Taxes La Hispana”!

Incidentally, there has been some discussion of hanging banners from the light poles in Alum Rock Village identifying it as “The Village” or possibly “Alum Rock Village” but that hasn’t happened yet – probably due to lack of funds. Would anyone like to organize such a project?

Q. Why were the little sycamore trees along the sidewalk on the Alum Rock Avenue side of Lick High School allowed to wither and die this summer? Whose job was it to water them, anyway?

A. The handsome young trees were provided by Our City Forest with the understanding that a man who lived in our community would water them – or that he would find other community members to water them if he himself could not. The man signed an agreement to be the steward of those trees. NNV spoke with Christian Bonner of OCF and learned that the trees died of “drought stress” after the “tree steward bailed in a big way”! It seems the man must have thought he had lined up enough fellow tree enthusiasts to make the project successful, but he must never have truly gotten a firm commitment from anyone.

Our City Forest became aware that the trees were being neglected and repeatedly tried to get in touch with the tree steward (who will remain nameless). Most unfortunately, the man did not return OCF’s messages (or NNV’s for that matter) until it was too late for the trees. When he did get in touch with OCF, it was only to say something to the effect of, “Bye y’all, I’m moving out of the country!”

Q. Is there any chance that Our City Forest would ever come out and plant trees again to replace those that died?

A. Christian Bonner says that they will never again take a chance with the commitment of just a single individual like they did with the “good-bye guy” mentioned above. OCF would be ever so happy to send their members out to help a group of our community members plant new trees, but, first it must be demonstrated that there is sufficient interest and commitment from enough people to sustain the new trees. Everyone would need to sign the watering agreement.

Q. If a group of responsible people can be organized, is there a water source at the high school which they could use to keep the new trees alive?

A. Christian says that OCF knows of arrangements made with other schools to tap into their irrigation systems using some simple connectors. He doesn’t think that “wayward steward” went to the trouble of lining up a water source at Lick - or willing helpers. These young trees each need about ten gallons of water per week.

Q. Why didn’t Our City Forest water the trees themselves if they knew they were dying?

A. OCF’s mission is “to cultivate a greener, healthier metropolis and a sense of community by involving Silicon Valley residents in the understanding, planting, care and appreciation of the urban forest.” OCF does not make arrangements to take over for failed stewards who have broken their commitment. NNV likens the situation to raising kids – if you do your children’s homework for them, they learn nothing except that someone else will be accountable for their responsibilities. Notice that OCF’s mission statement does not include providing watering services for the community. They provide trees.

Want to start the project on Alum Rock Avenue over again? Call Our City Forest at (408) 99-TREES. Or click here for their Web site.

Q. In last month’s Early Bird paper edition of NNV, there was a reference to the “National Rifle Association” logo on the upper right-hand corner of the 1935 newspaper page which featured the story of the “Blonde Gun Girl ….in Alum Rock Park.” It didn’t take one of our sharp-eyed readers long to spot it and give us a call. “Don’t you know that ‘NRA’ can stand for something else – namely the National Recovery Administration?” he asked.

A. Oops! This particular NRA logo stood for the National Recovery Administration and demonstrated that the newspaper, the San Jose Evening News, embraced a program (an offshoot of the National Industrial Recovery Act) which empowered President Franklin Roosevelt in his “New Deal” (according to NNV’s old Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia*) to “formulate a program in which private industry would voluntarily cooperate with the Federal government in the establishment of industrial codes providing for the shortening of hours of labor, the setting of minimum wages, and the mitigation of the intense price competition that had resulted from the shrinkage of the market” during the Great Depression beginning in 1929. “Codes were set up for about 98% of American industry resulting in substantial gains in industrial production” as well as a significant curtailment of unemployment.

The NIRA and the NRA were short-lived, however, because of their adverse effect on competition, a major component of the free-enterprise system. The law was invalidated in May 1935 and the NRA was soon liquidated – probably not long after June 28, 1935 when the “Blonde Girl” story appeared. Our “standard” forty-hour, five-day workweek is a survivor of the Act.

* Yes, occasionally someone at NNV actually picks up an actual bound, paper volume to research an item, but you can click here to read about the NRA on-line. Click here to see the San Jose Evening News with the NRA logo.

Q. The tiles are falling off the front of Las Delicias Mexican restaurant in the Village. Wasn’t it and its sister shop, the Enigma beauty salon, part of the Redevelopment Agency’s Façade Improvement Grant (FIG) program?

A. Yes, they are. And, yes. NNV phoned good ole Sandra Escobar the Redevelopment Agency’s guru-ess of all things relating to Alum Rock Village. Sandra says that they are aware of the missing tiles and are replacing them tout de suite even though it is not specifically their job. The City wants the Village to look good – almost as much as we residents do! Click here for a photo.

Q. What’s happening at the abandoned, disheveled old barbeque place on White Road opposite the Lick High School parking lot? Last time NNV reported on it, we got the idea that it was going to be developed - and would start looking better – soon.

A. Apparently the previous developer’s plans didn’t jell and so we’ve had to look at that eyesore for another year. However, help is on the way! NNV spoke with Anthony Caruso, the man who really is going to develop the property. Anthony says that he is the “developer, owner and contractor” of a 9,000 square foot “retail center” which he’s going to build there. He says that the businesses will be appropriate for the high school and middle school students who frequent the area. He is negotiating with “high end” national chains, he says, and may include a “juice place.” Anthony and his family live in Campbell, but he’s quite familiar with Alum Rock Park because his Sicilian immigrant parents took him to visit the zoo there many years ago. He really loves our part of town and hopes to do more development here. Barring the unforeseen, work will start on the project early in 2005.

Q. And, what about the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner? Why doesn’t anything seem to happen there?

A. Something will happen sometime soon, says Steve Song, the real estate agent who is handling the sale of the property. Steve, who by-the-way lives in our neighborhood, says that he is helping buyers through the maze of negotiations necessary to build a 20,000 square foot retail building there. There are still some environmental hurdles to overcome which isn’t too surprising considering that the front of the lot has been home to an automotive business and/or gas station for many years. Steve says that he pictures some national franchisees – “maybe something like California Pizza Kitchen, for example.” He says the property has been in escrow for several months.

NNV reiterated the neighbors’ expectations of a project which will complement the character of the rest of the Village. Councilmember Nora Campos has promised that area residents will definitely have a say as to what sort of businesses may be established there. It probably wouldn’t hurt if you want to give her some input as to the type of shops/stores you’d like to see there – and what you wouldn’t like to see.

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NNV Edition 21 (November) FAQs

Q. There were surveyors on Alum Rock Avenue recently who had their equipment set up at the intersection with Mt. Hamilton Road – and simultaneously at the intersection with McKee Road. Is someone thinking of widening Alum Rock maybe?

A. No, it doesn’t seem to be anything quite so drastic. NNV asked the guys who were set up near the McKee Road junction and they pointed to the big brown house (which just sold this summer) and assured us that the crews were just surveying it. Hmmmm.

Q. I'm still wondering which presidential candidate to vote for. Any suggestions? I think I'll skip that part of the ballot. Especially since we know our vote for a presidential candidate here in California is "irrelevant" in any case since we’re not one of the “battleground states."

A. We’ve got a suggestion for you. Why not write in your spouse’s name for President? Then when you go home and your spouse asks who you voted for, you can say, “Why, honey, of course I voted for you for President.” Imagine the reaction. You’ll be a hero immediately! Of course, it may take a few minutes to convince your spouse you really did this but after that it should all be worth it (wink, wink).

It does seem reasonable to get something out of your suffrage right considering that the Electoral College usurps the popular vote, doesn’t it?

Q. Is there a new resurgence of mail theft in the neighborhood?

A. Actually, yes and no. Yes, there have been a bunch more thefts recently, but, no, nothing has changed. Joe, the mailman, says that the mail thieves and thefts never have waned. It’s an on-going problem and it’s just that we perceive the thefts sort of in “clusters.” Joe says that often, when one sees a new locking mailbox installed at someone’s house, it’s an indication that there was a theft at that house. Sort of like locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, perhaps, but NNV’s personal experience is that the thieves may circulate the same neighborhood frequently. In 2002, we had two thefts from our box about six weeks apart. (And, noo, we never do – and never did - put our flag up!)

Q. Are locking mailboxes the answer?

A. Not necessarily. According to Postman Joe, after a theft, one of our neighbors installed a locking box recently only to have it pried open and its contents stolen. Joe reiterates that we should never put our mailbox flags up which announces that we have goodies to steal. We should never put out envelopes with checks in them for the mailman to take. (Mail them instead at the post office or drop them in a collection box). We should never have our new check orders delivered to our homes by U.S. Mail. (Pick them up at your bank branch.)

And, NNV says, keep your eyes open for strangers in the neighborhood. Call 911 if you even think you see potential mail thieves. (But don’t confront a possible thief – it’s much too dangerous and we don’t want to lose even a single reader!)

Q. What else can we do to protect our mail?

A. Radio Shack sells mail-box alarms quite inexpensively. They beep inside your house whenever your mailbox is opened. As soon as you hear the beeping, you can retrieve your mail before the cretins have time to take it. Such alarms won’t work for all houses because the mailbox must be in line-of-sight with your house. One other tip which is easily accomplished is to write your checks with gel pens. Even checks written with “permanent” markers can be bleached by thieves and forged, but gel pen ink really is permanent. You can try a little test of inks by writing with various inks on a check and then soaking them in chlorine bleach. You soon will see that all the inks, except the gel pen ink, are quite vulnerable. In one of the NNV thefts, all the words including the signature, were completely bleached off leaving a blank check for the thieves to use as they wished. (And they “wished” that check from $100 to our dentist, to $850. to their fictitious selves.) Mostly, our experience has taught us to treat every check (blank, written or even cancelled) as though it is a golden key into your accounts. Sad, isn’t it?

Q. What sort of store has gone into the “Card and Party” site in the old Wells Fargo building near OSH? I miss C.&.P’s bargain greeting cards!

A. Bargain King opened its doors in mid-October and NNV popped in to take a look last week. First, be reassured that we still have a source for inexpensive cards in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, Bargain King has several very nice collections of cards – arranged on the same wall as before - ranging in price from 99 cents to $1.49 each.

The rest of the store is packed with all sorts of items ranging from the ordinary to the exotic. It’s actually reminiscent of old time variety stores such as Woolworth’s and would be a great place to take kids for “allowance day” outings or holiday shopping. You won’t find a large choice of party goods at the new shop, but you will find a small selection. You’ll find some very inexpensive imported vases, knickknacks, dolls and packaged cookies. You’ll find some name-brand products and some knock-off brands. It’s definitely worthy of a visit and you may find yourself dropping in each time you use the ATM or nearby mailbox.

Click here for Bargain King photos.

Q. Why are there so gol-durn many pigeons roosting around the intersection of Alum Rock and White Road? The droppings along the sidewalk along the edge of the new library are horrendous.

A. One day recently, NNV happened to meet a man on that slimy sidewalk who knows the source of the problem. Would you believe that there is a guy who periodically drives up in his car and dumps bagsful of raw rice on the ground near the library driveway to feed the pigeons?

According to the man on the sidewalk, it’s become such a problem that sometimes the workers on the library site, come out and vacuum up the rice as soon as the bird-feeder leaves. His question is a good one: Why doesn’t this bird-nut feed the pigeons in his own neighborhood rather than in this busy part of town? Perhaps his own neighbors won’t let him?

Q. Is there any chance that the utility-wire-pigeon-perches will be eliminated before the new library opens? Surely we don’t want the floors of our wonderful new facility besmirched with disgusting pigeon dirt!

A. There is some under-grounding of utility wires going on around the city – witness the project recently completed near Toyon and McKee. The attendees at a recent Library Foundation meeting broached the topic and hopefully, Councilmember Nora Campos’ aide, Francis Zamora, who was there, took the message back to Nora’s office that the wires need to be removed at that corner post haste. YOU can also give Nora a nudge by contacting her by e-mail at or call (408) 277-5157.  Remind her that pigeons may be carriers of the West Nile Virus even though they aren't seen dying from it like Crows and Jays. Click here for a reference.

Click here to see the piles of ... (just kidding, we didn't really take photos of that - but we are thinking of moving the mail thief pillory at Alum Rock and White over beneath the wires).

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NNV Edition 20 (October) FAQs

Q. Does anyone know just how much rainfall we had during the Sudden Sunday Surprise rainstorm on September 19th? Does it mean that fire season is over?

A. The official measurement for San Jose was something paltry like .15 of an inch, but, lucky for us, a reader on Crothers Road shared the information from his rain gage which registered more than half an inch! Now, that is significant! However, we’re not quite out of the woods yet as far as the fire potential in this wildland interface area goes. So, keep your guard up and hope for another gully washer like that of the 19th. Then we’ll be able to rest easy until next spring when the cycle starts all over again.

Q. Does anyone know what has become of Boesch Hall, the old-timey dance hall behind the covered bridge on Penitencia Creek Road just outside Alum Rock Park? Last we knew, it was for sale.

A. NNV checked with Kathleen Boesch Tirri for an update. The news is wonderful! Kathleen, whose family owned the property for 48 years, says that the couple who bought it last May have great plans for “restoring the house, hall and bridge back to the way they were.” Kathleen says that the lady of the couple is a horticulturalist and that she plans to turn the big parking lot into a huge garden with a winding road going through it. There will be a fountain in the middle and tiered gardens will be planted down towards the creek.

In the November, 2003, edition, NNV included an article about the old hall which most recently had been used only seasonally at Christmas time as the home of the Covered Bridge Boutique. We noted the old Ferdinand the Bull murals which were still bright and humorous and cited the history of the hall which went all the way back to the turn of the twentieth century when it was the home of “the largest gasoline fueled electric powerhouse on the entire West Coast.” Click here to read the story and see the photos.

For local history buffs and folks who remember when Boesch Hall was a “watering hole,” meeting place and dance hall, it’s super news that the property has been purchased by people who appreciate the very special place that it is. NNV hopes that the new owners will want to share their progress with us neighbors and we look forward to publishing news and photos one day.

Q. Is it true that the Alum Rock Library branch will begin closing on Mondays?

A. Unfortunately, yes. Our little branch on White Road, which is part of the Santa Clara County Library system, will cease operating on Mondays beginning October 11th. None of the libraries in the County system will have Monday hours as of that date. They are facing a $1.1 million shortfall and possibly an even larger one by next summer.

Being closed on Mondays is particularly painful for students who use the library and its resources for studying. Many James Lick area kids head for the branch after school. Where will they spend their after-school time beginning on the eleventh? Maybe at the Alum Rock Youth Center, but it’s not a library!

Q. Why are closures like this happening to our libraries?

A. Remember Measure B which failed at the polls last March? It needed a two-thirds vote to extend a tax which would have brought $5.3 million for the county library system. We may have another chance to pass the measure in the spring if it’s put back on the ballot. If voters don’t pass it again, the library will be short another $5.3 million next year.

Q. When is the deer “rutting season” – when bucks and does make like birds and bees and throw caution to the wind? Is it getting to be the season when we need to watch out for infatuated ungulates leaping with reckless abandon in front of our cars?

A. Yes, now is the time of year when we need to be especially watchful for glassy-eyed bucks chasing long-lashed Jane Does across our roads with never a glance to see if a car is coming, let alone looking both ways before they cross. Early last month, Gary Richards in his Mercury News Roadshow column published a Seasonal Deer Alert. Here is a summary of the suggestions made in the column:

  1. Be especially vigilant in the early morning and evening hours.

  2. If you spot a deer, brake firmly and do not swerve.

  3. If you see one deer, slow down and watch for more – they rarely run alone.

  4. If a deer freezes in your headlights, turn your lights off and then on.

  5. If you hit a deer, don’t touch it. They are dangerous.

  6. Don’t remove an injured or dead deer. It’s illegal.

  7. Call 911 if you see a dead or injured deer.

Q. Are “they” finally finished with the new façade of the Mario’s Barber Shop and Jewelry by Marco building near the east end of “The Village”?

A. Yes, at long last; the final touches went up late in September. This particular façade improvement was a long time coming. It seemed ages passed between each step, but it looks quite smart now with a tall black awning over the front doors, black gooseneck lighting and handsome signage. Marco and Mario will beam if you drop in to compliment their businesses’ new look! Click here for photos of M&M's new façade.

NNV hopes that the next façade improvement will be across the street from M&M’s at the future La Bodega market. New white paper went up on the insides of the front windows recently. Hopefully this signals that work has begun anew on the interior. It will be so nice to have that key building lookin’ good!

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NNV Edition 19 (September) FAQs

Q. What’s going on with the ratty looking house on the corner of Cragmont and Alum Rock Avenue – the one with the yellow tape strung around the lot? Will it be torn down?

A. It looks like that old house will not be an eyesore in our neighborhood much longer. NNV called the secretary at the First Church of the Nazarene (across Cragmont from the house in question) because that house and lot were part of the church’s property. The church has sold all its Alum Rock real estate parcels to another congregation and will be moving into its brand spanking new church in Evergreen just as soon as it’s ready for occupation. “We’ll be moving into the new church by the end of the year,” secretary Wally Williams assured us.

Ms. Williams put NNV in touch with the pastor of the church which will probably be moving into the old church. “Maybe as soon as October,” said he. He tells us that the house most probably will be torn down to make way for a church parking lot – in the short term. In the long term, some more exciting adjunct to the church may be built. Because all the i’s have not yet been dotted or t’s crossed in the real estate transaction, the pastor asked NNV to hold off on announcing his congregation’s plans. Watch this space for developments.

Click here to see photos of the current situation.

Q. Why don’t we see any action going on at the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner? Is there a buyer – or not?

A. Actually, there was lots of action in July when J.E. Blanton closed down Foothill Printers, moved out all his presses and retired. He’s now getting his house in the Lyndale neighborhood ready to sell and is working so hard that he says he now understands “why they put ‘tired’ in the word ‘retired’.” He and his wife are moving to Ceres, but if you need a printer, continue to call his old phone number, 258-7412 and you’ll reach the printer who bought his business.

Meanwhile, potential buyers have expressed an interest in buying the corner. Steve Song, the real estate agent handling the corner, says that the first potential buyer changed his mind, but there are others waiting in the wings. He says that he thinks the buyer may build “retail with offices above.” The buzz is that Buyer #1 hadn’t done his homework and wanted to build an Auto Supply type store on the corner – certainly not something which would complement the ambiance of Alum Rock Village. If he had carefully gauged the character of the area, he would have known that his idea would meet beaucoup flak. Councilmember Nora Campos is very aware that the neighborhood would like something appropriately “village-y” and she is helping to guide the project in that direction.

Click here for a photo of J.E. on his last day at Foothill Printers

Q. How about the deli/produce store which is supposed to go into the dilapidated pink building at Alum Rock and Manning at the east edge of the Village? It’s taken on the look of a Baghdad bombing site! Wasn’t it going to be open by last Thanksgiving?

A. Readers might remember that we reported last spring that the owners had their permits in their hands and everything should have been rolling shortly. Apparently, those were not the ultimate permits, but it looks like they have them now. According to the August issue of the San Jose Business Journal, “La Bodega” family market and deli “will open its doors before the end of the year.” The owners are working with the Redevelopment Agency on plans for an ambitious facelift worthy of the very special, sophisticated business they plan to open.

Click here for our last photos of the new Deli interior.  Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

Q. What sort of business is going into the old K-Mart store on McKee Road near the 680?

A. We can see now by the signage that it will be a “Kohl’s” and that they’re “Now Hiring.” But, what is a Kohl’s? According to Christine Silva Burnett in Councilmember Nora Campos’ office, Kohl’s is a department store chain in the Mervyn’s mode. She’s heard good things about the chain – for instance, like Target, they make a point of developing good relations with their neighborhood community. Sounds good! The building is looking good, too. What a welcome change from dog-eared old K-Mart!

Q. Why does it say “Thank you Rafiki’s” on the James Lick electronic sign-board? Is there some connection between the Coffee Hut and the school?

A. Karyn Neujahr, Lick’s Activities Director, says that it’s her responsibility to keep the sign updated. She inputs the information into her laptop and sends it over her telephone line to the sign. Unfortunately, her office is on the back side of the school – far from the sign - and it’s a long way for her to walk over to the sign to see if it’s displaying what she wants it to say. So, she tucks her laptop under her arm and goes over to Rafiki’s office and connects using their fax telephone line to convey the changes to the sign. This way, she can just pop out of Rafiki’s office and look out their west window to view the sign. Much more convenient than making the trek back and forth multiple times to see if the information she’s sending to the sign is properly displayed.

Karyn says that the sign got really stubborn when she wanted to take the “First Day of School” message off the sign on the second day of school. She had to take everything off and start from a scratch and it was midmorning of the second day before the sign was correct again. She mentioned that she’s really chagrined when there are erroneous things on the sign and that she does her utmost to be sure that it’s right!

Click here to see the James Lick sign board "Thank You Rafiki's".

Q. Why was Alum Rock Park closed on August 28th and 29th?

A. Alum Rock Park was closed due to "extreme fire related conditions." The Park Rangers determine the conditions by daily readings within the Park and by the availability of CDF (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) staff and equipment (that means fire crews and airplanes).  You can call (408) 259-5477 for the status of the Park.

Of course, the San Jose Fire Department has the primary responsibility for fire protection in Alum Rock Park but, when there is danger of wildfires spreading quickly, the CDF is also called in.

The CDF 2004 emergency response air program for the state includes 19 Grumman S-2T 1,200 gallon airtankers, four Grumman S-2A 800 gallon airtankers, nine UH-1H Super Huey helicopters, and 13 OV-10A airtactical aircraft. From 13 air attack and nine helitack bases located statewide, aircraft can reach most fires within 20 minutes.

The airtactical planes fly overhead directing the airtankers and helicopters to critical areas of the fire for retardant and water drops. The retardant used to slow or retard the spread of a fire is a slurry mix consisting of a chemical salt compound, water, clay or a gum-thickening agent, and a coloring agent. At nine pounds per gallon, an S-2T can carry 10,800 pounds. The S-2A can carry 7,200 pounds.

Click here for more information from the CDF Web site including links to more on these old Navy anti-submarine warfare planes that have been converted to airtankers.

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NNV Edition 18 (August) FAQs

Q. Why were the murals removed from the windows of the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Alum Rock Village?

A. Strangely enough, the answer is related to the new library branch being constructed in the neighborhood. There is a general sprucing up of the businesses in the vicinity of the library including a tightening of compliance with the City’s signage regulations. It seems that the size of signs which a business can display is based upon a percentage of the window space. The playful Planned Parenthood window murals were painted on the glass about six years ago as a “stopgap measure” to cover the marred and graffitied reflective surface. The city’s “signage police” deemed the murals to be advertising signage for the clinic and threatened large fines if they weren’t removed post haste. It remains to be seen just how long the newly silvered surface will look good.

Q. Does anyone know who painted those murals? Did anyone take photos?

A. Your editor created them but was not going to divulge this information unless someone asked - so your “Assistant Editor” had to ask. Actually, the murals lasted a lot longer than we ever thought they would. Click here to see photos of the murals and how the blank windows look.

Q. Is it true that the Community Justice Center which has been in the building at 12 North White Road has moved away? It was nice to have a law enforcement presence in The Village area.

A. Yep, here’s another case of County funding cut-backs. According to Dr. Mike Torrano, the chiropractor who owns the building, the County stopped leasing the space for the Sheriff’s deputies and the Probation Department representative who have had offices there for about five years. As of the first of July, the deputies have been assigned “downtown” and no longer have this handy place to hang their hats, use the “facilities” and write reports. Long-time community volunteers, Janie and Larry Tilbury, who live in the Lyndale neighborhood, ably manned the Justice Center phones every Thursday morning. However, the Tilburys say they’re not looking for a new volunteer position for Thursday A.M.s!

Q. Any news of progress in the purchase of the old Alum Rock Stables property to maintain it as an equestrian property as Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust (BABTT) would like to do?

A. BABTT is still looking for an “angel” who can help them obtain a permanent driveway into the barn property. They’ve been trying for two years now to purchase and restore this unique equestrian and neighborhood asset. The property owner has patiently waited all this time to sell his land. As BABTT says, “He can’t wait forever.” The sticking point which needs angelic intercession is the City of San Jose’s insistence on only short-term assurance of the right-of-way onto the property (yes, this property is within the City limits since it is on the Alum Rock Park side of Canõn Vista). BABTT needs assured long-term access in order to make the commitments necessary for their investment of time and money.

Q. How’s come Mark DeTar sent out a real estate advertising post card featuring NNV? Does NNV have a special relationship with him or his business?

A. Well, just to be a nice guy, Mark featured NNV on one of his July cards! Mark is one of NNV’s Founding Sponsors and he knows that we’re always hoping to increase readership. Mark feels that NNV is “doing a great service for the East Foothills community” (we hope you agree, of course) and he likes “to add a little value” to his marketing. Thanks, Mark! Click here to see Mark's card.

Q. Could NNV have been wrong about the route taken by the newly reconfigured #64 bus line? There are buses running west on Alum Rock – you said otherwise!

A. NNV was simply quoting the best information available at the time and that info said that the #64 buses would run east on Alum Rock Avenue to McKee Road where they would turn left, follow the curve down to Toyon where they would go right, follow Toyon to Penitencia Creek Road where they would take a left … and eventually arrive at the Penitencia Creek Road Light Rail station. BUT, the current information shows (some of) the #64 buses reversing that route so that a rider can catch a bus at the P. Creek station and eventually arrive at the corner of Alum Rock and McKee and continue on west (toward the Capitol Light Rail station and downtown) from there. Note that only some of the #64 buses actually come all the way up to the corner of McKee and Alum Rock so, for definitive information (and times), you can call VTA Customer Service at (408) 321-2300 or go to

Click here to see your editor at the recently removed bus stop by the Country Club as she regrets her previous comments about the #64 bus drivers. Click here to read what she wrote on the #64 bus schedule in the last edition and here to read her encounter with the #64 bus driver.

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NNV Edition 17 (June/July 2004) FAQs

Q. Why aren’t there more Letters-to-the-Editor on the NNV letters page?

A. Darned if we know! NNV absolutely revels in reader input and used to liken to Christmas the blizzard of e-mails which would fly in after each month’s edition went out. Lately, there have been few messages – supportive or not – and, many of those come from readers asking to remain anonymous.

It’s possible that the NNV “disclaimer” messages in the April NNV made readers think that NNV didn’t welcome negative (or any kind of) comment. Well, we think that your letters and comments make for a much richer publication, so, please share your thoughts!

Q. Regarding NNV’s run-in with the touchy #64 bus driver – any mayhem to report?

A. Not yet. However, some of those anonymous letter senders mentioned in the above FAQ did take time to comment on the topic. One wanted to know what is going to happen when your editor wants to ride up the hill and “guess who the bus driver will be?” (Your editor is considering disguise possibilities and/or the old paper bag over the head technique.)

Another reader suggested that your editor “continue your program of intimidation” (umbrella brandishing) and “if you continue to improve, you might consider becoming one of San Jose’s finest or perhaps join the CA CHP (sic). I can just see you giving some bus driver a ticket and telling him, ‘You got a problem with that?’ when he starts to question your authority.”

And speaking of questioning authority, one reader wrote about her experience with a #64 bus driver and you’ll understand why she wants to remain anonymous! See her story under Briefs.

Q. What’s the word on changes on the #64 bus line? Will our service be affected as badly as we had heard?

A. We’ll be enjoying (not!) “improved bus service” beginning July 5th. The plans which the VTA call “Improved East Valley Bus Service” mean that the bus line will no longer terminate at Miguelito Road or make the turnaround near the Country Club. Instead, buses will come east on Alum Rock Avenue just to McKee Road where they will make a left. Then they will follow the McKee bend down to Toyon where they will take a right and go to Penitencia Creek Road. Once there, they will take a left and eventually end up at the Penitencia Creek Transit Center.

This means, of course, that would-be bus riders to Alum Rock Park will add about another half mile to their walk to the pedestrian-only entrance at Alum Rock Avenue and Crothers Road. And, believe it or not, there actually are regular riders who have planned their travels around bus access near the Country Club. NNV is aware that some riders who have counted on riding as far as Miguelito Road, waged a campaign to save such service - but to no avail. It seems the people living in or near the East Highlands and the Miguelito Road area have been disenfranchised or maybe “de-bussed.” Also, busriders who were used to taking the #64 west on Alum Rock (to The Village or the library for instance) are out of luck. Crummy, huh?

Q. What’s the buzz about Thai White Rock Café? Is it good?

A. Many, many folks have told NNV they are really enjoying the excellent Thai food now that the old White Rock Café has been supplanted by new owners. Not only is the food tasty and abundant, it’s reasonably priced. While the original WRC had its followers (obviously not enough of us to keep it in business, however), its detractors often cited small portions, the limited menu and steep-ish prices as factors for not dining there. TWRC may just be a better fit for lean times.

Jason Papier, an NNV reader/writer and new sponsor, emails that he and his wife are aficionados of Thai food and they find that the cuisine at TWRC “stands up quite well” when measured against other Thai restaurants. Jason says that on a recent Friday, TWRC was “busier than I’ve ever seen the old White Rock Café” and that the owner had to take on extra staff to handle all the customers!

Click here for a photo of the new Thai White Rock Cafe as well as the finished façade improvements across the street at Teezers Salon and Soung Hu.

Q. How can I become a writer for NNV? I love to write but don’t have a topic in mind and, besides, I’m no pro at punctuation and am afraid of submitting something you’ll laugh at.

A. NNV encourages our readers to become our writers. We are too busy to write about all the interesting people and things around here and would love to have more writers. We can assign topics large and small and point you to easy resources. We love to proofread and edit (a holdover from elementary school days when correcting fellow students’ spelling and punctuation tests was the highlight of the day). We do not hand your paper back to you with red marks. We just quietly edit out the boo-boos and no one is the wiser. E-mail or call us at (408) 272-7008 and let us know that you have a yen to pen!

Q. Is it true that there will be no NNV in July? Why not?

A. Yes, it’s true. NNV will take its twice annual month-long siesta skipping July again (we also skip January so we can have a normal December). We do this newsletter for FUN and it’s only fun when we can play hooky occasionally. (Besides, we actually do have a life beyond NNV. Really.)

One-liner: NNV received (and we bet you did, too) an advertising postcard addressed to “Homeower” - we figure that this title was created to reflect the Bay Area’s strapped property buyers.

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NNV Edition 16 (May 2004) FAQs

Q. What on earth is happening at White Rock Café? It’s been closed for weeks! And, what's the deal with Card and Party? Why does the big sign say 75% off?

A. Well, it seems the restaurant business has been sold and White-Rock-Café-as-we-knew-it will be no more. But ………. the signs in the window indicate that our neighborhood will now have a new restaurant to be called “Thai White Rock Café.” NNV peeked in the window one day in mid-April and saw that there is still the same weird old Roman Ruin décor, but now there are some new Siamese elements including a parade of three small black elephants lumbering along the window sill. The old Café was a favorite of many NNV readers and it will be missed terribly. Its longevity always was a bit unpredictable, but we can be glad we had its consistently good cuisine for so many years. The T.W.R.C. is probably open now and waiting for our patronage. Let’s show the new owners that we really care about good food in Alum Rock Village.

And, speaking of Alum Rock Avenue businesses changing hands, you’ve probably noticed that the Card and Party store in the old Wells Fargo Bank building is going out of business. NNV dropped in on owner, Sandy Callahan, the other day and discovered that she and her husband, Neil, are Canon Vista Drive neighbors. They bought the building directly from Wells Fargo Bank and have tried to make a go of the party supply business ever since they moved it from the corner of Alum Rock Avenue and Capitol Avenue. When “East – The Neighborhood Voice” was still a going concern, Sandy and Neil rented upstairs space to editor Jason Rodriguez.

For some reason, a shop selling greeting cards and party items just can make it on Alum Rock Avenue. Sandy said wistfully, “It’s just been terrible” (trying to make a success of the business.) They’ve heard from many customers who wish that the bank branch had never closed and think that it would be nice to have it back. The Callahans proposed leasing the building back to Wells Fargo, but the bank feels that it’s already stretched too thin.

The shop is winding down now and everything is marked 75% off. Sandy thinks they will stay open until around May 21st. After that date, all the leftover merchandise will be donated to schools and organizations which have asked to have the leftovers. There are still plenty of interesting napkins, party favors, photo albums, invitations, seasonal decor and miscellaneous frou-frou for sale. Think about it …………………… seventy-five percent OFF!

Click here for some photos of Thai White Rock Café.

Q. Is that really yet-another Façade Improvement Grant (FIG) being implemented in The Village? Who woulda thunk the RDA could help fund even more façade improvements in these lean times?

A. NNV doesn’t know what magic is involved in what seems to be a pretty steady flow of dollars for cosmetic improvements in The Village, but Mario’s barbershop and next-door neighbor Marco Rodriguez’ “Jewelry Designs by Marco” are the current candidates. NNV dropped in on Marco and viewed the blueprints for the new double-storefront façade. It will include the ubiquitous, but “Village-ish,” awning spanning the tops of the front doors, tidy compatible signage on the windows, and three gooseneck lighting fixtures per business. The old wooden elements of the existing facades are quite worn and dog-eared. Marco was a tiny bit impatient with the Redevelopment Agency; it seems they pulled off the old trim and signage weeks ago leaving the businesses looking really ratty and forlorn as they wait for new trim.

Click here for some photos of Mario's and Marco's.

Q. Has any light been shed during the last month on the plans for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?

A. Yes indeed! An avid NNV subscriber shared some information which had come his way. He says there are some “impossible to work with” problems with the setbacks (sidewalks, property lines and parking spaces) which will make it very difficult for the eventual developers to “turn a dollar” unless they build a three to four story complex with housing units above retail units. (Think Japantown style.) NNV wonders whether such a tall structure would be compatible with all the single story businesses in the Village, but, of course, if one or some of those retail units are home to good restaurants, should we quibble? We’re looking forward to Councilmember Campos’ community meeting(s) where we’ll get to give our feedback. Stay tuned.

Click here for photos of the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner.  Use the Back button on your Web Browser to return to this edition.

Q. Anything new on the Alum Rock Stables situation? Are the “easement issues” getting resolved?

A. Well, no, they’re not! It seems that the City will guarantee BABTT (Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust) only a renewable three-year driveway easement. The City says there is such a three year limit on park easements “unless the voters of San Jose agreed to change policy on this particular project.”

This is a real fly in the ointment! BABTT can’t go to the effort and expense of saving and renovating the stable property without a guarantee that the property will always be accessible. Their aim has been to preserve the property as a horse stable in perpetuity. Renewing a driveway easement every three years doesn’t make it sound as though the City wants to make a long-term commitment, does it? Three years! It does seem that the City is being arbitrary. Putting this little park easement on the ballot in November seems a foolishly expensive procedure.

Is there not someone who can sort out the priorities and allow the stables to be restored as a rare Alum Rock Park neighborhood asset? The City is quite aware that the stables property owner has patiently waited to sell his land for more than two years now. He can’t wait forever while the City makes BABTT jump through more hoops. Would the City really prefer to see a couple of “Trophy Mansions” built on this property overlooking Alum Rock Park?

Click here for photos of the Alum Rock Stables.  Use the Back button on your Web Browser to return to this edition.

Q. Has NNV changed its links to the Mercury News? Why do I have to sign in now to read a story?

A. NNV hasn’t changed these links. The Mercury News has introduced a new “registration and member benefits program” as explained (buried in their contest page) at (you won’t need to sign in to read about this program!). Their note says:

“We are excited about some changes and great giveaways at, the Web site of The San Jose Mercury News. has introduced a free member benefits program and a site registration format. These steps will help us shape content and features that better serve our readers and advertisers.

You are now invited to complete a brief, one-time sign-up process in order to read articles on the Web site. When you sign up, you automatically will be entered into a drawing to win valuable prizes -- and you can choose to receive email newsletters that make you eligible to win Sharks season tickets, a $1,000 gas card, or season tickets to American Musical Theater! respects your privacy. We will not:

• share your information with third parties without your permission;
• spam you

Of course, the content and services on remain free.”

The Mercury News may be “excited” about this new plan but we’re not. We are Mercury News subscribers and we appreciate our local newspaper. That’s why we read it and link to stories. We bet that we do a lot more to promote MN readership than most other readers do (we do view ourselves as an MN promoter – NNV is certainly not a competitor).

It is easy to register on the Mercury News Web site and it’s not that we don’t trust them with a bit of our personal information. However, we do resent these sign-in procedures for the Mercury News and other newspapers – and we promise we won’t make you sign in to read NNV or anything in our archives (you have to pay to retrieve stories from the Mercury News archives, even if you are a subscriber!). And we won’t spam you or share your information with any third parties (we don’t even ask for your permission because our Privacy Policy is, “Your contact information will not be sold, distributed or visible to others.”).

Q. But I did get a nasty spam that appeared to come from NNV. Did NNV send it? If not, how did I get it?

A. We also have received spam that appeared to come from NNV. Sometimes it appears to be from one NNV e-mail address to another NNV address. You can be sure we didn’t send any spam to you. We send our new edition e-mails and alerts only to our “opt-in” subscribers (and we send Complimentary Copies to a few elected officials and others). Our how to unsubscribe info is in all these e-mails. Click here to read more about what we do to avoid sending you spam or viruses (and what you can do to avoid them).

Then how did you get that spam that appeared to come from NNV? Our own NNV e-mail addresses are on our Web site and they are “harvested” by nasty programs that use them to send spam to us and that appears to come from us. That’s why the advice is never to reply to spam – replies just confirm an e-mail address (yours!) which can then be sold (and you know what that leads to).

Your e-mail addresses are not on our Web site (unless you are a writer and have given us permission to use your e-mail address). If you are getting spam that appears to be from us, you can be sure that the spammers didn’t get your address from us.

We are actually optimistic about e-mail even though there is lots of spam. Most of the spam sent to our e-mail addresses is caught by our ISP’s spam filters with almost no false positives. Spam is a big problem but the key is not to try to fight it by yourself.

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NNV Edition 15 (April 2004) FAQs

Q. How can we get a Trader Joe’s here in East San Jose? Wouldn’t Eastridge be a great site?

A. NNV spoke with Sue Wareham, the marketing manager in General Growth Properties’ General Manager John Petersen’s office. General Growth is the developer which is doing the huge $100 million renovation currently underway at Eastridge Mall. We asked whether Trader Joe’s wouldn’t be a terrific addition to the mall. Apparently we were not the first to ask!

Ms. Wareham sighed and said that, so far, they haven’t been able to get TJ’s to even consider our area for a new store. She said that many, many people have been clamoring for a nearby TJ’s and General Growth would love to court them. There are still thirty shop spaces which haven’t yet been “spoken for” so there’s still plenty of flexibility.

While we had her on the phone, NNV asked what the anchor stores will be in the newly-renovated mall. We didn’t get the hoped-for response. “J.C. Penney’s, Macy’s and Sears,” was the lackluster answer. “What will be in the old Emporium store?” we asked hoping for an answer like, say, Nordstrom. “The Emporium store has been torn down to make way for the new ‘Streetscape’ area of the mall.” (This will be the Eastside’s answer to Santana Row – an area where shoppers can park and walk directly into the shops without having to enter the main mall area.)

Here are a few factoids which NNV was able to glean: The new “footprint” is “set” as are the restaurants. (Your editor was so blown away by the answer to the anchor store question that she didn’t have the presence of mind to ask what the restaurants will be!) The “major spaces” are set. (See preceding paragraph.) Two-thirds of the original mall is being renovated. The finished mall will have 1.2 million square feet. Ms. Wareham thinks that See’s Chocolates will be back. This might be the only bright spot in the bleak news. Well, there is one other bright spot – General Growth is not the same as the Westfield Shoppingtown folks so we can hope, at least, that we’re not getting the same ill-conceived “architecture” that we see at the mall-formerly-known-simply-as-Valley-Fair.

If you would like to speak with Sue Wareham or John Petersen to express your views on shops you’d like to see in the unspoken-for spaces, you can call them at (408) 238-3600. It wouldn’t hurt to plead for a Trader Joe’s. Having a TJ’s at Eastridge might make up a tiny bit for the ho-hum anchor stores. Without a draw like that, NNV figures that folks in our area will simply continue to turn their backs on Eastridge, unfortunately.

You can keep up with the changes in the mall at The project should be complete in June, 2005.  Click here for an artist's conception of the new Eastridge.

Q. What’s happening with the ratty looking property on White Road north of Alum Rock Avenue across from Lick High School (where the little barbeque place was for a while)?

A. NNV spoke with Carlos Valdivia of The Lawrence Company which is developing that property. Carlos said that the one-third acre lot is in the process of being rezoned from residential to commercial. Up until now, only the little restaurant was commercially zoned with the remainder being “residential.” The City’s General Plan needs to be amended to allow the whole property to be considered “commercial,” also. These processes appear to be well underway with the help and guidance of Councilmember Campos and it appears that the City will cooperate.

It’s too soon to know exactly what kind(s) of commercial enterprises will go in there, but we understand that there will probably be a one-story 3,600 square foot building or a two-story 6,000 square foot building. It will most likely be for “mixed-use” – i.e. retail and office space. Carlos envisions franchise businesses such as an apparel store, a restaurant, an automotive supply shop or an electronics business.

There will be a community hearing probably in April or May (NNV will put the date on our Community Bulletin Board as soon as it’s known). At that meeting, area residents will be invited to give their input as to appropriate businesses for that lot. It will be the “demand of the market” which will have the most weight in determining the franchisees. However, people who live and work nearby will be encouraged to move into office space there to lend a bit of “neighborhood pride.” The close proximity of Lick High and Pala Middle (and the Alum Rock Youth Center and upcoming new library branch) will decidedly be factors to consider.

Carlos would love to hear your thoughts. You can e-mail him at (And, says Sandra Escobar of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, let Carlos know if the site continues to deteriorate before the transformation begins.)

Click here for photos of this site and other blight in the Village.

Q. (To Nora Campos’ Office). Is Councilmember Campos soliciting ideas for the business(es) which will be located at the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner in “The Village”? Are any meetings being scheduled in which people from the neighborhood can give their input, or is it a done deal? Any info you can share would be of interest to the readers of New Neighborhood Voice. We’ve heard quite a few very different suggestions!

A. New Neighborhood Voice Readers,

The economic development of our business districts on Alum Rock Avenue affect both City and County residents alike.

The Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner in The Village has been a topic of informal discussions at various regularly scheduled community meetings. Members of the East Valley/680 Strong Neighborhoods Initiative Neighborhood Advisory Committee, Lyndale Neighborhood Association, and Sierra Neighborhood Association have expressed interest in what they would like to see at the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner. I always welcome the input of community, so please feel free to contact my office with your suggestions.

The property located at the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner is still on the market for sale. Once purchase of the property has been completed and the buyer begins working with the City to improve the property, the city will follow the public outreach policy in order to allow neighbors the opportunity to provide input into the design, as well as voice any concerns they may have. As for what type of business may be allowed at the site, the property is zoned as General Commercial and is also a Neighborhood Business District. Please feel free to visit the links provided to view what business may be allowed with General Commercial and Neighborhood Business District zoning (PDF files).

As we move forward, we can look back on our cooperation on projects of mutual interest for city and county residents, such as Alum Rock Branch Library. In the case of the library, a City bond measure funded the building of the library, a Memorandum of Understanding was brokered with the county for its operation, and I secured $7 million to acquire the land. I look forward to working with the readers of the New Neighborhood Voice in the future.

Nora Campos
District Five

Q. Just what suggestions has NNV heard from readers for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?

A. Restaurants (Tony Roma’s), Plant Nursery, Pet Supply Store, Book Store, Health Food Store and Trader Joe's.

Q. Is it true that the sale of the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner has “fallen through” due to a hazardous waste situation under the old gas station?

A. According to real estate agent, Steve Song, this is just a rumor – and it’s not true. Not only is the property under contract (meaning there is a buyer), there’s also another qualified buyer waiting in the wings if the sale were to “fall through.” Mr. Song said that the buyer might be planning to build some sort of automotive business there which, of course, doesn’t sound exactly charming. See Councilmember Nora Campos’ letter to NNV readers on this topic above as well as the preceding FAQ.

Mr. Song also said there is no hazardous waste problem on the property. The old gas tanks were properly dug up long ago. And, if there were such an issue, it would be dealt with - with the help of the City.

Click here to see the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner.  Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

Q. It looks like a facelift is underway at the "double store front" across the driveway from Planned Parenthood in the Village.  Is this another Redevelopment Agency "Facade Improvement Grant" (FIG) at work?

A. Yes, Teezers hair salon and Soung Hu (which produces a delicious bakery aroma on that side of Alum Rock Avenue) are being beautified to correspond with the new classier character of the Village. Their attractive new doors are already in place. Soon Teezers will be turning out beautiful coifs in a more attractive setting and Soung Hu will look as great as its aroma! Remember FIGs are a collaboration between the City and the property owners.  Each pays a share of the expense of the facelift.

Click here for photos of the work on the new facades.

Q. Why are there mucho piles of dirt lined up at the old Bill’s Pony Ranch property in the 5100 block of Alum Rock Avenue? Shouldn’t the housing planned for that tract be underway by now?

A. Well, according to Sandra Escobar of the Redevelopment Agency, when one sees piles of dirt displayed like this, it means that the soil is being “aerated” to remove any hazardous components. This is a passive (but time-consuming) method which is much simpler and less expensive than other more drastic measures like those which involve underground water pumps.

An NNV reader who was on the Pony Ranch property painting out graffiti on the dumpsters (bless his heart) said that a neighbor told him there is a drainage/water problem on the property and that CalTrans is holding up the works.

But, wait. There’s more! A late entrant, another neighbor, adds his observation that those piles of dirt were trucked in from somewhere else – perhaps to help level out the uneven lot. So, is the neighborhood aerating someone else’s hazardous stuff? Or, is it just dirt?

Looks as though we’ll just have to look at those clunky chain-link fence sections for a while longer!

Click here to look through those clunky chain-link fence sections.

Q. Does anyone ever give NNV flak about the themes, topics, or opinions expressed by writers whose articles appear in NNV?

A. Well………..yes. Unfortunately, one of our longtime readers actually “unsubscribed” recently because he thought that by being part of our subscriber base, he was somehow endorsing the sometimes-out-of-the-mainstream opinions which our writers espouse. We realize now that we need to emphasize our “disclaimer.” It’s been at the end of our web site since we started the newsletter. Here it is again: Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV (or its readers!).

Also, please see the Q. and A. at the beginning of this edition. We figure that, from here on out, we’d better regularly reiterate our position!

Q. Does anyone know yet what’s going to happen with the #64 bus route which traverses Alum Rock Avenue? The VTA has been making noises about altering routes and fares.

A. Well, hold your hat! (And be prepared to change your travel strategies if you use that route and especially if you live above McKee Road.) Word has it that there will be a very different route imposed on Line 64 beginning in July of this year. Picture this:

The bus will go up Alum Rock Avenue to McKee Road where it will take a left and follow McKee around the bend to Toyon where it will take a right! Then it will go along Toyon to Penitencia Creek Road where it will take a left and continue down Penitencia Creek to the Penitencia Creek Road light-rail station at Capitol Avenue.

Rhetorical question: Where does this leave Country Club area residents and Alum Rock Park-goers who regularly get on and off the bus at the Miguelito bus stop? Answer: Out in the cold (or out in the hot) traipsing up or down the hill with an odd, convoluted bus ride ahead of or behind them.

And where do they go from the light-rail station? Anyone for the Great Mall of Milpitas? No?

And what about the planned fare changes? Who cares when taking the bus is no longer an option?

Click here to read more about where you can go on the #64 Bus.  Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

Q. Why is the Village so dirty? There is so much debris in the parking areas that it's disgusting!

A. No one wants to take responsibility for the discarded wrappers and junk which collects along the gutters - especially near Quik-Stop. PACT member Tanya Freudenberger pointed out the situation to Councilmember Campos months ago, but it appears not to be on anyone's radar screen. 

Some business owners police their own sidewalks and curbs effectively and Planned Parenthood has a professional service clean its sidewalks and planters weekly.  There needs to be a joint effort which includes inspiring Lick High School students not to foul their school's own neighborhood. 

This will be a case where "it takes a village" to achieve change.

Click here to see some photos of the debris we're talking about.

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NNV Edition 14 (March 2004) FAQs

Q. There's new activity at the old pink produce store/dry cleaner building at 3159 Alum Rock in the Village. What's going on?

A. NNV noticed a couple of men inside the building on Saturday, February 21st and went inside to get the scoop. One of the men working inside was Carlos Murillo, one of the owners of the new business which is going to occupy the building. Carlos says that he and his little consortium have finally been issued all the permits necessary to renovate the building.

As NNV reported last fall, our neighborhood is getting an "upscale" produce/deli store with a large outdoor seating area for dining at the rear of the building. Both Carlos and his business partner, brother-in-law Rogelio Ruiz, say that their new business will be similar in character to Race Street Fish Market.

They plan to have high quality produce with an organic emphasis, barbecue done on the premises, great deli selections and fine wines for sale. Although they had planned a simple makeover of the front - mostly new paint and signage - they have received word from the City that the building will get a handsome new façade treatment funded in part with a Façade Improvement Grant from the Redevelopment Agency. Carlos was really excited at being able to get down to work on the interior of the building and he shared the floor plans with us.

Carlos says that he and his wife will actually do most of the running of the store. They plan to move to the Country Club neighborhood near Rogelio and his family.

It should just be a matter of several months before our neighborhood realizes a nifty new resource. It should be great fun watching the new business evolve from this old eyesore of a building!

Click here for some photos inside what will be our new deli.

Q. If there's really going to be a new deli/produce store in the pink building next to the YSI Thrift Shop, where will the customers park? As it is, parking is at a premium most of the time around there.

A. The new owners have considered that, fortunately. They expect most of their trade will come in the evening as customers drop in on their way home for dinner - after the Planned Parenthood and Thrift Shop crowds have subsided. They also expect that weekends will be popular times for their customers to stop by and sit on the planned, fenced-in patio in the back. (Very "Los Gatos"!) There isn't currently a parking problem on weekends.

If the new business really, really thrives and a weekend parking problem develops, customers may find themselves hoofing it from up the street or from the free parking lot at Lick High School (from 4PM weekdays and all day on weekends). All the better to create a calorie deficit before consuming luscious deli food temptations, right?

Q. Part of the problem with the old businesses at the corner where the new library is going to be built has been the skinny, pigeon-dropping-covered sidewalks. Can we expect some improvement?

A. The library plans call for 14 foot wide sidewalks on the north and east sides of the building which should be broad enough for all the foot traffic which the library will draw. As for the pigeon poop corridor, PG&E has been asked to underground the utility wire pigeon perches which run along the east edge of the site. Let's hope it happens. As it is now, kids and library goers must traipse through a slippery gauntlet and surely carry bird schmutz on the soles of their shoes. Yuck! By the way, the new library will have entrances from both Alum Rock and from the parking lot in the back.

Q. A rumor is floating around Alum Rock Village that the Feed & Fuel property will become a Burger King fast food restaurant. Please, please say it isn't so.

A. It isn't so. Councilmember Nora Campos' Chief of Staff, Christine Silva Burnett, assured NNV that a Burger King is not in the works, but no one knows yet what sort of business(es) will be going in there. Nora has promised the neighborhood that she will help guide the development of that corner with appropriateness in mind. NNV thinks that the neighborhood would definitely prefer something much classier than a gaudy fast food joint. NNV will publicize any and all meetings which Ms. Campos plans to hold for public comment on this dear-to-the-heart topic.

Q. So, how does the new Alum Rock Youth Center work out as a meeting place for public gatherings?  Can we use it for our meetings?

A. Splendidly! The "Airports in Our Community" (Mineta and Reid-Hillview) meeting on February 26th was held in the facility's community meeting room. There was seating for perhaps sixty-five people and most, if not all, of the seats were filled as the evening progressed. NNV guesses that the room measures about 25' X 25'. There was a pull-down screen for the presentations by a representative of Gensler Architects, developers of the architectural design of the planned Mineta airport expansion, and that of San Jose's Public Art Program. The room's lighting is comfortably bright and there was no difficulty in hearing the un-enhanced voices of the speakers. A bonus for the adult community: the nearby restrooms are respectively marked "Boys" and "Girls" - what an easy way to unload a few years from one's psyche!

If you want to use the community room for a meeting, you can have it at no charge between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Your meeting must be open to the public and you can't charge admission. For meetings after 6:00 PM, there may be a charge of about $18/hour. Call Wendy Teshara at (408) 251-5757.

NNV Note: There are lots of youth and adult programs and classes planned for the youth center this spring - click here to download the list (large PDF file). Sign-up soon to ensure your class will have enough participants to be held.

Q. How can we get new trees planted in the empty tree pockets on Alum Rock Avenue near Lick High and also near Calvary Cemetery? Some young trees have died, some have been hit by cars and broken off, some have been vandalized.

A. Our City Forest's Green Neighborhoods program has trees available for re-planting in these pockets for this spring. However, there are some strings attached. OCF will provide appropriate 15-gallon shade trees with stakes and planting materials. They will coordinate the planting project and provide "site assessments, planting permits, tree ordering and delivery, site prep, hands-on planting assistance and tree care planning."

So, what's the catch? The neighborhood needs to provide a few stalwart individuals who are willing to sign a "watering agreement" and take on the responsibility of keeping the trees watered. One or two volunteers have already made the commitment to help beautify our neighborhood in this way and they would take on the organizing of more interested volunteers. Will you be a neighborhood hero and e-mail NNV at with your commitment to this very worthy project? NNV will pass your information along to the right folks!

NNV Note: A date has been set for the first batch of trees to be planted. Can you help on Saturday, March 20th? Please let us know.

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NNV Edition 13 (February 2004) FAQs

Q. What was all the construction going on at McKee Road at Toyon? The road was torn up for weeks!!

A. According to Larry Caskey of Caskey Country Club Properties which is located right in the midst of the uproar, some of the utility wires between Kirk and Toyon were "undergrounded." Larry didn't have an answer as to why this particular stretch would be getting such treatment, but he thought it might have something to do with the recently installed traffic signal. Is it possible that the new work will allow some further adjustment to the cycling of the light which has proved problematic to all but the left-turners going east on McKee from Toyon? Stay tuned.

Click here for a photo of the undergrounding project near McKee and Toyon.

Q. What's happening with the closed portion of poor old Crothers Road? Is anything going on which will mean that the road can ever be stabilized and reopened?

A. The road, which has been closed now for six years (!) between Alum Rock Avenue and Miradero Avenue, continues to gently moulder away. The neighborhood it served quietly waits, hoping that the landslide and the economy will stabilize sufficiently that repairs can be made and the road restored. NNV noticed that the big bite out of the road (not so fondly nicknamed "the PacMan bite") has been well protected this winter with many sandbags around its edges and that several other areas of the road below the bite have strategically placed sandbags along them as well. We asked Mike McClintock, the supervisor of Alum Rock Park, who we should thank for the sandbagging as well as for an update on the work going on in the park. His response follows. (Mike's allusions to the work on the park entrance refer to the new parking lot and other enhancements at the Penitencia Creek Road entrance into the park. His mention of the work to secure approvals by the Department of Public Works refers to the work planned for the toe of the landslide at Penitencia Creek which, given lots of time and Mother Nature's cooperation, might begin to stabilize the slide. Getting the slide stopped is what it will take for the City to ever revisit the closed roads.)

Mike said: Thanks for the recognition on the sandbagging efforts. The maintenance staff at the park felt that in addition to placing the sandbags at the "bite" that it would be beneficial to place a few additional bags in a couple spots in an effort to slow down and redirect the stormwater flow down the road to catch basins and away from the road edge. There was some minor erosion starting to occur downhill from the bite that they wanted to curtail.

The demolition and rough grading have been completed on the park entrance project. The contractor, HRB Construction, is currently working on underground utilities (electrical, telephone and water), roadway preparation and concrete curbing. They are scheduled to start laying asphalt for the new roadway within the next month. There have been some delays due to the weather but we are still hoping the project will be completed in late February/early March.

The City's Department of Public Works and the consultant, Swanson Hydrology, are continuing to work with the various state and federal regulatory agencies to secure approvals on the preferred option that was proposed by the consultant for protecting the toe of the slide. This option includes re-directing the water flow away from the toe of the slide during times of high water flow. DPW and the consultant are currently waiting for the agencies to respond to their last submittals. As soon as they get the necessary approvals they will start on the actual plans and specifications for the project.

Click here for a photo of poor old Crothers Road.

Q. NNV mentioned that "things are happening" at the old, closed Alum Rock Stables. Will you please bring the community up to date?

A. Barbara Weitz of Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust (BABTT) has really made great progress toward assuring the preservation of the old stables property near the Alum Rock Avenue entrance to Alum Rock Park. She encourages us to forward her "E-News" regarding that progress to "persons interested in supporting purchase, restoration and a new beginning for Alum Rock Stables." Please let us know if you would like to receive her very positive, exciting message in toto and we will send it on to you. Meanwhile, here is a synopsis:

An entry road easement agreement is being prepared for consideration by the City of San Jose and the Miller family (neighbors to the property). The stables owner, Mr. Hamilton, is generously allowing as much time as is needed to "address all the issues." Our suggestions for appraisers are invited. Pro bono would be a blessing.

Mr. Hamilton will allow fundraising events at the Stables! BABTT would like the community's suggestions for ideas for such projects and says that "help will be welcome."

A grant writer has been hired to identify funding sources for acquisition of the property; restoration of buildings, lands and trails; and implementation of programs.

Here is the draft Mission of the Alum Rock Stables Steering Committee (ARS):

BABTT, in partnership with ARS, public agencies, neighborhood groups, equestrians, and historic preservation advocates, plans to acquire, restore and re-open Alum Rock Stables for public use. ARS will restore the historic barn constructed by the Breuer family in 1936 and place an easement on the entire property so that its permanence as an operating stable can be assured. Alum Rock Stables will offer horseback riding lessons, an environmental education program, and public horse boarding for 15-20 horses or ponies. The (stables) trailhead will provide access to public trails in Alum Rock Park and to the Bay Area Ridge Trail planned connection to Joseph Grant County Park and Ed Levin Park.

Click here for BABTT's Web site.

NNV thanks Barbara Weitz, BABTT, landowner Mr. Hamilton, the Miller family and the members of the Alum Rock Stables Steering Committee for caring enough about this unique neighborhood resource to wade through the morass of red tape involved in a project such as this. Obviously, it takes a lot of negotiating, compromising, generosity of spirit and plain old grunt work to make good things happen. We hope the NNV community will respond generously when fundraising gets underway. It will be good to hear the horses' hoofbeats echoing around the hills again.

Q. What's happening now with the old Alum Rock Feed & Fuel store near the corner of Alum Rock and Stewart Avenue in Alum Rock Village?

A. The old business is part of a three-quarter acre parcel on that corner which is now for sale - for $1.3 million. For many years the Silva brothers ran the store which sold all manner of things in a quirky, dilapidated, never-updated wooden structure reminiscent of the 1920's or 30's. One could buy such disparate items as cat food and live baby poultry, gopher traps and garden tools. There were bins of bulk animal feed situated on floors so uneven that the unsuspecting shopper risked an attack of vertigo. About the only "modern conveniences" in the place were the electric lights and the telephone!

A death in the family brought an end to the unusual old business last year and the Silvas have decided to liquidate their holdings on that corner. The 25,013 sf lot is also home to Foothill Printers and Brasil Auto (formerly known as Binky (?) Brothers' Shell Station). All three buildings are in poor condition and will most probably be razed.

Christine Silva Burnett (no relation that we know of to the Silva brothers!), District Five Councilmember Nora Campos' Chief of Staff, tells NNV that the property lies within a Neighborhood Business District, is designated General Commercial and specifically zoned "CP" or Commercial Pedestrian. This designation supports "pedestrian-oriented activity at a scale compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhoods." At this point, the eventual development of the property is unknown, but Councilmember Campos "continues to support revitalizing the retail aspects of the Village and her priority is to meet community retail needs and (to) support small business development." She also "will continue to work to have a continuity of design and upgrading of buildings to enhance the appearance of the Village (since) it is the gateway of the area."

Many NNV readers have suggested that the area needs more restaurants to complement White Rock Café and bring diners into the neighborhood in the evenings now that there is parking available in the Lick High School parking lot from 4 PM. Councilmember Campos assures NNV that there will be "opportunities for community input …… as early as possible in the development process." NNV will publicize any information regarding dates and times of public meetings.

Click here for photos of the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner.

Q. Will the Alum Rock Branch Library ground-breaking happen on schedule?

A. Dominic Onorato, the library branch guru downtown, says that Saturday, February 21st at 11 AM is still a go. This space at the southwest corner of Alum Rock Avenue and White Road will be the spot to watch for a while - as we see an old hodge-podge of rickety worn-out shops demolished to make way for a dream of a City library branch. Watch our Community Bulletin Board for more information on this and other events. 

Click here for the architects' renderings of the new Alum Rock Branch library. Click here to see Councilmember Nora Campos and other photos of the demolition and here for Councilmember Campos' press release on the demolition (pdf file). Click here for the San Jose Branch Libraries Web site. Then click on "Latest News" at the right of that page or select "Alum Rock Branch Library" at the bottom. 

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Click here for the 2003 FAQ Archives

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Copyright© 2003-2005 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 1/18/05.