|How does one lose a chicken named Nicken? Am I dreaming?|
|What happened to our TV reception during the wee hours of Sunday, November 6th?|
|Do any of the Alum Rock area neighbors still use the County Library system?|
|Any news on the renovation of the old Alum Rock Stables at the edge of the park?|
|What number do I call to report junked cars in unincorporated Santa Clara County?|
|Why doesn’t NNV have a “police blotter” as one of its features?|
|What is the community consensus on the new library’s signage?|
|Did the parking lot at our new library ever open?|
|What’s the latest scoop on the poop at the new library?|
|WHAT is the story on that house at Clareview Avenue and Alum Rock?|
|Does anyone know what the surveying crews were doing on Alum Rock?|
|Whatever happened to the lost chocolate lab?|
|What was the large column of black smoke in the east foothills early in October?|
|What is all this yellow powder in the air? Is it what’s making my allergies worse?|
|Is it true that we’re going to have a Costco Store closer to us on the East side?|
|What happened to the little ornamental pear trees planted at the new Cruz-Alum Rock Library?|
|Is there any way the community can help prevent more vandalism around the new library?|
|What’s the big construction project going on at the corner of Story and Clayton Roads?|
|Is there a way I can print just one NNV story rather than printing a whole section?|
|When does NNV come out? Is there any rhyme or reason to the schedule?|
|Is it true that a rattlesnake bit the editor of NNV in September?|
|Who painted the letters and decorative shapes on the concrete “East Highlands” sign?|
|Who is ARNC and what do they do besides paint large objects in the neighborhood?|
|When will the parking lot for the new Alum Rock library be completed?|
|What’s the need for rezoning at Foothill Presbyterian Church on McKee Road?|
|Who’s responsible for the new blacktop in the Linda Vista Elementary parking area?|
|When will the Mountain Mike’s Pizza Open? Where Alum Rock Florist used to be.|
|Does anyone know what businesses will be at the old barbecue place on White Road?|
|Did the architects of our new library intentionally construct “pigeon perches”?|
|Can we expect a better collection of books and materials in our new library than the old one?|
|What kind of little trees have been installed along the sidewalks of the new library?|
|Will the Mervyn’s store on Story Road become a Home Depot?|
|They’ve finally begun grading the big empty Bill’s Pony Ranch lot. What happens next?|
|What in the world is happening at the James Lick High School sports fields?|
|Why did they cut down the big eucalyptus trees which used to be on the Lick athletic fields?|
|How’s come there are funds to build new athletic fields in ESUHSD now?|
|Why don’t “they” fix the front entrance to Lick High?|
|Is it true that James Lick High School has a full time policeman on the campus?|
|Is it true that several new “McMansions” might be built on the Alum Rock Stables property?|
|Do any of the slimy mail thieves who rob us of our mail (and peace of mind) ever get caught?|
|Have the new Yield to Pedestrian signs in Alum Rock Village had any effect?|
|On May 2nd, I saw a strange white circular object. Was it a flying saucer by any chance?|
|When will the new businesses in the dilapidated lot on White Road be developed?|
|Will the Mexican Heritage Plaza host a Farmers’ Market this summer like they did last year?|
|Why does the religious statuary tableau at Calvary Cemetery keep moving around?|
|Is the old Alum Rock Library going to sit there closed? Will my card work at the new library?|
|Will Rafiki’s Coffee Hut have the coffee concession in the new Alum Rock library branch?|
|Can we pick up printed versions of New Neighborhood Voice anywhere?|
|How do I enroll my child at Renaissance Academy? He’s going into sixth grade this fall.|
|How do parents find out about enrolling their children at Renaissance Academy?|
|Who is eligible to enroll? Do kids who would attend George get preference?|
|I haven’t gotten around to mailing in my Library Measures A and B ballot. Is it too late?|
|Is a May 3rd postmark sufficient or does the ballot have to be in by May 3rd?|
|I did not receive a ballot for the Library Measures. Why not? I live in San Jose.|
|What does it mean that the little Foothill Print Shop suddenly has white blinds drawn?|
|What’s happening with Saint John Vianney’s plans to do an extensive building project?|
|Has Alum Rock Park sprouted some new public art?|
|What's Alan Henninger’s recommendation as to which pesticides or herbicides not to use?|
|Why are some properties along Alum Rock Avenue allowed to go to wrack and ruin?|
|Why does NNV continue to publish articles by Ed Allegretti now that he’s moved to Mississippi?|
|Little toy plastic man by the Miguelito Bridge railing? Do you guys need glasses – or do I?|
|Did NNV readers identify your front deck fox? Red or gray?|
|Is Alum Rock Florist still called “Alum Rock Florist” now that it’s on N. Fourth Street?|
|Is there a new rash of car break-ins in the East Highlands area?|
|Didn’t NNV promise to let us know when the PBS show on Alum Rock Park would be on?|
|Why isn’t the lake which forms in front of Linda Vista Elementary School ever eliminated?|
|How is Miss Tiny, the abandoned lamb, doing?|
|Is it true that the City of San Jose wants to annex the Lyndale neighborhood?|
|Another story on a male Notable Neighbor! Aren’t there any Eastside women worthy of note?|
|Well, why don’t you write about them then?|
|What will be the name of the new library at Alum Rock and White Road?|
|What’s happening with the NNV mail theft information “compilation”?|
|Hey, what happened to Alum Rock Florist? The business seems to have evaporated over night.|
|The Henningers’ little lamb, Miss Tiny, looked as though she has blue eyes. Could she be blind?|
|NNV had Bamburg (as in Marvin and Bonnie) spelled two different ways. Which is it, you dunces?|
|A mountain lion has killed two goats near Alum Rock Park. Is the park a safe place now?|
|What is the new little shop, “Replay,” behind Rafiki’s on White Road?|
|Why is the lot at the Nazarene Church corner still looking so junky?|
|Did NNV goof when you said only 24,000 cars pass Alum Rock Avenue and White Road?|
|What's going on with the empty buildings next to the YSI (thrift shop) on Alum Rock?|
A. Well, so far we’ve determined there really is/was a chicken named Nicken and that it lived on Highland Drive. Neighbor Joyce Baker who lives on Alum Rock says she sighted the bird in her back yard recently, but swears she didn’t cook it. One evening we actually heard people walking by calling out “Nick-ennn, Here Nicken!” Another neighbor who lives close to Nicken’s home says she’s heard that the bird was originally named “Stew.” NNV thinks Nicken got the drift and flew the coop. Or do we say “flu” the coop nowadays when writing of our feathered friends?
Click here for the Nicken flyer.
A. People living in the East Highlands area had their connectivity rudely interrupted when a wild driver careened around the Brundage/Highland bend and whacked the Comcast Cable TV box – and how! The box was reduced to smithereens – heaven only knows what the vehicle looks like! Many folks who were awake at 3:30 or 4:00 AM were perplexed by their link to the outside world going inexplicably black. Presumably this drove these night owls back to bed where all of us self-righteous early-to-bed-early-to-rise folks were frittering away our time energizing our brains for the day to come. By the way, the out-of-control vehicle left behind lots of white paint on the demolished green box. Speculation is that it was a white pick-up truck.
Click here for photos of the Comcast Box Crash Test.
A. Actually, yes. The County Library System still has a following of loyal folks whose history goes way back with the County’s Alum Rock branch. Some people drive up to the Milpitas Library on Milpitas Boulevard to enjoy the depth of its collections. It’s actually a larger library than the new Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock branch and will become even larger when its new facility is built on Main Street. Its collection needs to be more comprehensive because it is a city library (City of Milpitas) as opposed to the Alum Rock library which is a branch of the main (Martin Luther King) library downtown.
The collections at the Cruz/Alum Rock branch will gain more “depth” as more books and materials are “processed” before being added to the shelves – there hasn’t been time yet to get everything unpacked. You know how it is when you move. It always takes a while to get to all the boxes!
Click here to read more about our award-winning County libraries.
A. Nothing is happening! There seems to be a stalemate which might help keep the old property in limbo a while longer. Limbo is a good thing when we see every square inch of empty land around here being filled with big, white, cookie-cutter houses all of a sudden.
Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust (BABTT), the group whose mission is to preserve barns and equestrian property around San Francisco Bay, can’t save Alum Rock Stables without the support of local people who care about it. Meanwhile, people who care about the stables haven’t come forward to make themselves known. No one NNV has spoken with is enthusiastic about a bunch of McMansions being built on the edge of our park, but, then again, no one has said, “What can I do to help?” Will you?
BABTT - www.bayareabarnsandtrails.org.
A. For junky vehicles stashed on private property you can call County vehicle abatement at (408) 299-5793. For vehicles parked long-term on the streets, the number is (408) 299-2311 which is the County Sheriff’s non-emergency dispatch number. Even registered vehicles must be moved every 72 hours.
A. It does sound like a good idea for someone to be compiling crime info for our area. NNV would be interested to know whether readers would favor (and contribute data to) something like this.
We do update our bulletin board and letters pages as new items come in – potentially we could do the same with crimes as they’re reported to us. NNV isn’t able to extract any more information from our law enforcement agencies than the average citizen can, however. Let us know what you think. E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org or call (408) 272-7008.
A. NNV can’t speak to consensus, but it’s become clear that at least a few folks would have liked to have seen the words “Alum Rock Branch” in letters of equal importance to the larger, all cap “DR. ROBERTO CRUZ.” However, design-wise, perhaps it’s better to have the contrast of the type-styles and size than it would have been to make them equally important. Since the writing is on the wall, it’s just a matter of getting over it and getting used to it, hey? Click here for photos of the signs and the new parking lot.
A. Yes, finally we can park on the south side (front) of the library. According to Library Director Nora Conte, it’s really ready now and library patrons are taking advantage of it. She thinks there are more patrons coming in now that the parking is more convenient. Should there be an overflow, people are still welcome to park in the Lick High School parking lot across the street to the north.
A. Before ground was broken for the new library, NNV asked Councilmember Nora Campos’ staff why the wires couldn’t be put underground along the sidewalk on White Road. At the time we pointed out that Lick and Pala students were traipsing through the muck carrying germs and filth into the old library branch and no doubt into their homes and schools. The problem was even worse then because the sidewalk was very narrow and it was impossible to avoid the stuff.
Their answer was that they had tried to get the undergrounding done, but all they could do was add the project to a long list of utility wires which needed to be buried. But, they said it could be done in the next couple of years. Last week NNV contacted Francis Zamora in Nora Campos’ office and asked him what the status of the project is. He answered that the project is in the City’s five year plan for undergrounding utilities. This is scheduled to be "legislated" in 2007 and constructed in 2008-09. Meanwhile, the City has asked the Public Works Department to contract regular power washings of the sidewalk and have “FoamSpray” placed on the power lines to discourage the pigeon roosting.
With all the horror stories about birds as vectors for disease, it seems that getting rid of pigeon roosts in public places such as a highly traveled school-and-library-corridor would be highest priority, doesn’t it? Click here for a photo.
A. NNV put a call in to the County Planning Department to determine whether that house is in City or Country jurisdiction. It turns out it’s in unincorporated Santa Clara County so we called John Toth who responds to questions and complaints about properties here on the East side.
Ours must not have been the first inquiry! Mr. Toth said he’d been out to take a look at the property and, believe it or not, all the activities going on and all those vehicles which fill the yard and driveway are quite legal. Mr. Toth said that the owner is “very cooperative” for whatever that’s worth. When asked whether the owner had received proper permits for his building alterations - such as creating a two-story tall garage bay suitable for a large RV, Mr. Toth referred us to the building department. That call is pending.
Perhaps there is something to be said for allowing the City of San Jose to annex unincorporated County pockets such as that area of Alum Rock. Maybe that junky yard wouldn’t be allowed to blight the neighborhood if City restrictions applied?
Click here for photos.
A. No. It turns out that they were part of a Santa Clara Valley Water District project “surveying from the mountains on the west to the mountains on the east” checking the subsidence of the valley floor. (Well, somebody has to worry about this stuff!)
A. Well, it turned out to be a very strange saga. It seems the dog, Guinness, disappeared from his own yard one day. The owners were distraught and did everything they could think of to find him. They visited every pound and shelter. They put up the signs. They had all their neighbors looking for him. They put out the large reward offer. Click here for a photo.
Nothing worked. However, rumors surfaced which linked the dog to some men who had worked at a neighboring house. The dog owners did some very creative sleuthing and traced the workmen to Redwood City. They actually went to Redwood City and challenged a man they heard might know about Guinness. (This would not be the recommended course of action – it’s just too dangerous to take the law into your own hands.)
The man admitted that he might just know the location of the dog and he arranged to meet the dog owners in a parking lot at a later time. The meeting came to pass, and believe it or not, there was Guinness, unharmed and ready to be driven home.
Did the owners pay the reward? Nope! And they don’t plan to.
P.S. There’s much more to the story and it’s NNV’s hope that the dog owners will elaborate sometime on the story for our readers. It’s a very exciting caper – and their experiences with the rescue agencies were hair-raising!
A. The smoky column was coming from a home that was burning on Sophist Drive high up in the hills north of Alum Rock Park. Luckily, the wind was not blowing. Both the house that burned and its next door neighbor had wood shake roofs. Had wind spread the fire and blown embers about, that whole area could have gone up in flames.
The fire started within the house - perhaps in the area where the chimney meets the roof. The roof was a total loss. Yes, a fire such as this one could start a major conflagration. The roads in and out of the area are similar to those in the Oakland Hills where fire responders had a difficult time reaching the burning homes. We can be very glad the Sophist fire happened on a very calm day.
A. According to Master Gardener, Milli Wright, the odd stuff is pollen coming from cedar trees, particularly Atlas Cedars which are blooming right now. Probably what’s stirring up your allergies is the pollen from male Chinese elm trees, according to Master Gardener, Bracey Tiede.
A. Well, it appears that we really might be getting one in northeast San Jose, not too far from the main post office. It will be across the street from the 99 Ranch and east of the post office on Hostetter. Actual address: 1705 Automation Parkway at Hostetter Road. Not exactly close, but closer than Senter Road or Coleman Avenue.
A. Boy, we wish we could say that there was some reason for the snapped off trees (like a construction accident or something) but, actually, they were victims of mindless vandalism over the weekend of September 10th – 11th. Library Director Nora Conte says the City will replace them. Click here for a photo.
A. The library folks say it would be beneficial if the public would make a point of keeping their eyes open for vandals in the area. To report vandalism in progress, call 911.
A. NNV hears that it will be condominiums and that they will be “affordable.” Stay tuned and perhaps we can find out just what that means in dollar amounts.
A. Yes, just select (highlight) the story (or part of a story) you want to print and click on File and then Print on your Web Browser. Under “Print Range,” click on “Selection.” Then click on “Print” and just the text you selected should print. We avoid using frames on the NNV Web site so you can easily print articles without wasting a lot of paper.
A. NNV is generally dated the first Sunday of each month (except July and January, when we don’t publish a new edition). We usually put the new edition on our Web site the Friday before that first Sunday and send out the e-mails announcing the new edition to our subscribers on Saturday morning. For example, this edition is dated Sunday, October 2 and it first appeared on our Web site on Friday, September 30.
Occasionally, we play with this schedule a bit to avoid a holiday or to publish a new edition a week early or late for an important, timely story. For example, the September edition was on our Web site and the e-mails went out several days earlier than usual to get ahead of the long Labor Day weekend.
If you would like to send us an article or story for NNV, the deadline is usually about the 20th of the preceding month (e.g., the deadline for the November edition is about October 20). You can send us Letters to the Editor and Community Bulletin Board items anytime – these pages are updated throughout the month as new items come in. Please put Letter to the Editor or Bulletin Board Item in the Subject line and e-mail them to JudyET@NNVESJ.org.
A. No, but it was a close call! While gardening one morning and reaching into a stone planter for the end of the hose, your snake-averse editor suddenly heard an ominous rattling noise coming from the planter. Jumping back waaay further than she ever thought she could, she screamed, “Alllllllannnnnn! Rattlesnake! Come quick!!!!” Fortunately, Allan was just waiting to rescue a damsel in distress (yeah, right!) and he came running with a long-handled pruner and a shovel - skeptical though he was. He got convinced really fast as the snake continued its persistent rattling. Allan got a grip on it with the pruner and soon enough, it was on the driveway with its head whacked off by the shovel. Poor creature! Too bad there wasn’t a way we could get it out and move it without killing it.
How close was this to a run-to-the-emergency-room incident? Very, very. The planter is about 30” off the ground and is attached to the garage. The snake’s head was in close proximity to the end of the hose. Grasping that hose would have put your editor’s knuckles in the snake’s face. A bite would most probably have delayed production of this edition of NNV for who-knows-how-long. Thank heavens for that warning rattle, hey?
The snake was a young one, only about 16”-18” long – with three rattles. Since this experience, rattler stories have abounded. Neighbors had to kill a BIG one which liked to sun himself on their doorstep. Dog-owning friends warned that there are sometimes rattlesnakes in gopher holes which dogs like to investigate in wildland parks.
As rarely as we see rattlesnakes, we do need to be aware that they live here with us and it behooves us to keep our eyes and ears open. If you see one in the open, please don’t injure or kill it; they are valuable members of the animal kingdom – let them go on their way. If it’s an option, it’s best if they can be safely trapped and released far from people.
No, we didn't get any photos of this incident.
A. Would you believe that no one seems to know just who took it upon him/herself to highlight the letters? In the past it’s been the members of the Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition (ARNC) who have done the painting. Over the years they’ve painted it gray and white, “peach” and aqua, and most recently, just plain cream-color with the letters and diamonds un-highlighted. At the last painting a couple of years ago, they had thought they’d come back and paint the letters a sort of light hunter green. However, it seemed to make the neighborhood happy to have the sign Plain Jane cream-color, so ARNC just left it as is (or maybe they just lost momentum and didn’t get back to it with the green paint).
So, it really IS a mystery as to who else, in a fit of civic-mindedness, decided to get out the creamsicle orange and olive drab trim paint and do their own number. Can NNV readers shed any light?
Click here for a photo.
A. The Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition is undoubtedly the oldest do-gooders group doing good in Alum Rock. They have cleaned debris, cut weeds, planted shrubs and trees, cleaned up graffiti and generally taken it upon themselves to make Alum Rock a better place. They are a small group which would like to become a bigger group so that their Saturday morning work groups can accomplish lots more. They would dearly love to have more neighbors involved. You can find out more about them on their web site, www.ARNC.org, or click here for their recent Letter to the Editor.
A. “The lot should be completed in a couple of months,” said the kind librarian who answered the phone on August 23rd. “But, we don’t really know anything definite yet – just that they told us last month that it would take about three months,” she continued. So, look at it as an opportunity to have some dandy aerobic exercise!
Click here for a photo.
A. The church hopes its lot is going to be home to a 60 foot Verizon wireless communications “monopole” (cellphone tower) disguised to look like a pine tree! Of course, the neighbors have to agree to have this faux fir in their midst, however.
Click here for a photo.
A. Ownership or responsibility for this area has been a bone of contention among the City of San Jose, Santa Clara County and the Alum Rock Elementary School District for years. No one wanted to fill the enormous potholes because they “belonged” to someone else. Last spring when the large lakes formed again, NNV snapped a photo and tried to find out whose jurisdiction this was. “Not ours!” said everyone. Now, according to ARUSD trustee Tanya Freudenberger, the school district has filled the holes and repaved the area although, she opines, it probably wasn’t really their obligation. “But, at least it’s done!” said she.
Click here for a photo of the newly paved Lake Linda Vista.
A. Jeff, a Mountain Mike’s corporate spokesman in Sacramento, says the new restaurant is “4-5 months away.” The 25-year old California and Oregon chain started out in Palo Alto and there are 105 stores. Jeff says they have five new stores opening in the next three months! On the window there is an application for a license to serve beer and wine.
Click here for a photo.
A. Well, according to the developer, Anthony Caruso, it’s pretty much for sure that there will be a Subway sandwich shop. He’s also pretty certain that there will be a juice franchise – and he’d like to see a Mexican food place. All told, there will be five or six businesses there and Anthony is trying for national chains which he feels will have more permanence than local “mom and pop” enterprises.
A. While they do look very “perchable” it seems that these light baffles help to shade the windows and they are shaped in such a way that pigeons can’t comfortably get their talons around them to get a grip. They are made of thin material with a curve in it, according to Domenic Onorato of the San Jose Public Works Dept. and they don’t expect any roosting problems with them. Click here for a photo.
A. Well, according to one knowledgeable NNV reader who generally can be expected to render a jaundiced point of view, our new library “is great and has a much improved selection of books, music and dvds, particularly new materials.” Said reader checked out “1776” and two recent classical CDs on opening day. He even went so far as to compliment “the very good availability of what one might see in Amazon.com’s ‘best of’ lists and other literature reviews.” High praise from a self-proclaimed curmudgeon!
A. The tag on one of them reads “Chanticleer Pear” so they’ll probably match the flowering, ornamental pear trees which are planted on either side of Alum Rock Avenue in The Village. They put on a wonderful show of white blossoms every spring. The small trees probably are a little stressed due to being planted in sunny locations during hot, breezy weather, but they certainly helped dress up the new facility for Grand Opening Day.
A. Yep! NNV talked with Mervyn’s manager, “Cassandra,” and she said that last winter, the Home Depot Corporation bought the property and the entire Mervyn’s Plaza center will be bulldozed to make way for a Home Depot store. She wasn’t sure just how long the Mervyn’s employees would be working at the Story Road store – “maybe through Christmas or New Years,” she opined. She thinks the employees will be absorbed by other stores in the chain. In NNV’s opinion, having a near-by Home Depot is an enormous plus for the neighborhood, but woe unto OSH which will face some stiff competition.
A. The lot on the south side of the 5100 block of Alum Rock Avenue (just west of Fleming Avenue) is finally going to be developed after about two years of sitting empty except for some graffiti-covered dumpsters. A small watchman’s (?) trailer was moved onto the lot about six months ago leading the neighbors to think that something was going to happen very soon. However, the trailer came – and went - with no signs of occupation.
Now NNV hears from Councilmember Nora Campos that the plan for about twenty single-family homes to be built on the lot has been revived and approved. She expressed her disappointment that the prices of the homes will all be at least $800,000. She said that the developer did a bit of sleight of hand and managed to get approval from the County for the expensive homes before the parcel was annexed by the City. It usually happens the other way around, apparently. When an Unincorporated County parcel is developed, it automatically goes through the City annexation process. In this case, it’s too late for the City to make sure there are some affordable homes in the complex.
Click here for photos of construction in our area.
A. The recent demolition of the old athletic fields and football stadium promises a radical improvement of the sports facilities for Lick students. According to Director Bill Rice, a new football field/soccer field/track is being created. The project which was to have included only the football facilities, has grown to include the refurbishment of the baseball field, too.
Like Piedmont Hills High School’s new field, Lick’s new football/soccer field will have artificial turf which will be much easier to maintain than the grass field was. Because the project will not be finished until possibly the end of December, this fall’s football games will all be played at either the Piedmont or Overfelt stadium.
The renovated baseball field is being realized due to a serendipitous outcome of the work on the football field. It turned out to be an easy-to-do add-on (sort of a “well, while we’re here anyway, we might as well use our equipment to improve the whole enchilada” if you will). The baseball field will be natural grass, says Mr. Rice. It will be ready in plenty of time for next year’s baseball season.
Click here for photos of the work in progress.
A. Because its footprint is larger than the old stadium, the new football/soccer field had to be rebuilt at a bit of an angle to the old one. The roots of the old euks were preventing leveling the ground there. Not everyone is happy to lose big, old trees, but sometimes something’s got to give. The old bleachers will be reused at the new baseball field. The budget just wouldn’t stretch to provide new ones.
A. Well, there was a bond measure several years back which provides for facility improvements in the district. The funds are for brick and mortar projects rather than staff and programs. About two years ago when NNV interviewed then Lick principal Bernardo Olmos, he spoke of plans to re-do the athletic fields so, while it’s a new idea for us neighbors, it’s been in the works for awhile.
A. The front of the school on White Road sure hasn’t kept up with the improvements to the parking lot! That situation is going to be remedied probably starting in September. Bill Rice told NNV that a new circular driveway will pass by the main entrance to the school and there will even be some guest parking spaces provided. Perhaps the school’s marble steps (yea, verily!) at the entrance can be spruced and polished up to create a more important portal for our neighborhood’s seat of learning.
A. To answer the second query first, it doesn’t mean anything sinister about Lick High. But it is true. All the local high schools have at least one full time policeman on the campus. Click here for a photo of the JLHS police.
A. The old barn and ring are sitting idle and have been closed for several years now. The owner could sell it and it could be developed for several houses at any time.
There is an organization called Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust which has as its mission, the preservation of old barns and equestrian properties in the Bay Area. However, BABTT hasn’t yet caught the attention of people in our neighborhood who would like to see the stable restored and brought back to life as a viable equestrian resource.
BABTT has been trying to negotiate with the City of San Jose to clear up a sticky (but not insurmountable) right-of-way situation, but the lack of interest from “Us the People” around here has left BABTT dangling. For more information, contact Barbara Weitz at 415-383-6283 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A. NNV recently received news from a reader which decidedly warmed the cockles of our collective hearts. The Sunnyvale police phoned Karen DeLong to tell her that an alleged thief, Darrel Barnes, had been arrested with one of Karen’s stolen bank statements in his possession. The officer who phoned the DeLongs called them at 1:30 AM, but such heartwarming news was worth the interrupted sleep, says Karen. Bravo, Sunnyvale PD!
A. Your NNV photographer decided to snap a photo of one of the signs for this edition of the newsletter. Getting out to the island was a feat in itself. Not only would traffic not stop for a little old lady in the crosswalk, it seemed as though drivers gunned their engines and sped up. It was necessary to wait until there wasn’t a car in sight coming down the hill before venturing into the bright white, newly painted crosswalks.
Once at the island, camera aimed at the sign, cars and buses began whizzing by your photographer. It was several minutes before the coast was clear enough for a quick (for a lady of a certain age) lope back across the street to the safety of the sidewalk.
Conclusion: Don’t take any chances. Although the signs are represented in “international symbols,” folks don’t seem to be able to understand what they mean.
Click here for the photo.
A. Your editor happened to walk along Alum Rock that morning and came upon a strange sight. Sitting on the gravel was a gold-rimmed white china plate. On the plate was a nearly complete slice of chocolate marble cake. A silver fork was positioned as though someone was about ready to enjoy a second bite of said cake. The cake was totally unmolested. There wasn’t an ant or critter of any kind anywhere near the plate. Your editor did not taste the cake although it looked to be an excellent example of a dessert chef’s art.
On the way down the hill, various scenarios came to mind. Did someone at a Sunday Country Club function steal the cake and suffer thief's remorse after running across the bridge? Did someone drive away from the Country Club dessert-in-hand due to a hastily truncated dinner – and then decide he was just too full? Did someone at a reception drink too much fizzy stuff, lose his inhibitions and decide that Country Club desserts were meant to be “dine here or carry-out?”
We shall never know. However, it was not a flying saucer - it was a dessert plate. Click here for a photo.
A. NNV spoke with Anthony Caruso about two weeks ago and he said that he now has “planning approval” from the City for 7,700 square feet of retail space - one story tall. It’s a little less than the 8,000 square feet he was hoping for, but he said that the City was “working with him.” If everything has gone as planned, you may already have seen demolition begun on the tacky old building on the property which in its most recent incarnation, was a bar-be-que restaurant.
Anthony said they are waiting for “building comments” from the City and, at this point, he is pretty sure he has one tenant lined up, but it’s too early in the negotiations to get specific. He had mentioned in the past that he hoped to bring in a nice fast food chain and maybe a juice place - generally businesses which would be appropriate for the high school and middle school crowds which frequent the area.
Click here for a photo.
A. Nope, afraid not. NNV spoke with Executive Director Marcela Davison Aviles and she said that the focus of the center will be on multi-cultural “artistic and cultural” programs rather than the diverse offerings which the center had hosted. She thinks that markets featuring the arts and artists will be more appropriate in the future. Do you agree? E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org. Click here to read more about the Mexican Heritage Plaza and here for the MHP Web site.
A. NNV learned that the City wasn’t satisfied with the installation of the three religious figures on the original small mound of soil and ordered that certain criteria be met. Since then, the City has moved the figures to one side and built a much larger, taller mound as well as various concrete fixtures. The figures will be placed on the new mound and a sign identifying the cemetery will be part of the construction.
Incidentally, if you’ve ever wondered, these figures came from Gate of Heaven Cemetery and are marginally “life size.” The figure of Mary on the right is just five feet tall. Click here for some photos.
A. You’ll have to get creative and expand your library horizons. You can use the other new City branches which have opened this spring or you could try the Milpitas (County) branch. If you haven’t already gotten yourself a card for the City libraries, you’ll need one for our new branch when it opens. Your County library card will not work at the City branches and vice versa. You can apply for a new card at any City branch and have it all ready to go on July 9th.
Click here for photos of the old and new libraries.
A. Well, precedent has been set according to an article in the Mercury News which said that City Library Director Jane Light was giving a “test run” to a coffee purveyor in one or two new branches. Rafiki’s owners, Luke and Liesl Violante aren’t exactly sure how they want to develop their business in the future, but if you want to lean on them a little, maybe you can help them decide whether they want to put in their bid with the City. Now’s the time.
A. Wonderful area real estate broker Mary Faria kindly gives NNV a boost from time to time in her newsletter. In her April 2005 issue she listed www.NNVESJ.org among her “Notable Web Sites.” A communications error caused a tiny distortion of the information in her column! What it should have said is that one can read a paper copy at each of those places.
Unfortunately, the paper copies of NNV cost an arm and a leg to produce and it would be prohibitive to put stacks of them anywhere! However, you can order a subscription to the paper version, if you like, by sending a small annual donation ($10 -$15 is good) to help toward the cost of production and mailing costs. But, it is really, really much better if you can look at NNV on-line because there are many more photos in the on-line edition and it costs next to nothing to distribute it that way. See NNV Contact and Subscription Information below.
A. Unfortunately, it’s too late for this coming school year. You would have needed to apply by April 22nd. Lead teacher Nancy Gutierrez says, “We are already full and have about 40 students on our waiting list.”
A. According to Ms. Gutierrez, flyers are sent to elementary schools and a letter is sent home to all ARUSD families. She adds, “We will not begin accepting applications until February 1st of 2006 for 2006-07 school year.”
A. All ARUSD students going into middle school are eligible to apply – they don’t have to live in the George attendance area. Students are selected by lottery. For more information you can contact Renaissance Academy at 277 Mahoney Drive #A-4, San Jose, CA 95127. Phone (408) 928-1950.
A. No, maybe not if you hurry! You can deliver your ballot to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose up to 8:00 PM on May 3rd. You can call them at (408) 299-VOTE for information.
Click here for a related photo.
A. A May 3rd postmark will not work. The ballot must be in the Registrar’s office by May 3rd.
A. The ballot was sent only to residents of unincorporated Santa Clara County or to people in the towns whose libraries are part of the county’s library system. The present Alum Rock Library is part of the County’s system. The new branch which is being built at the corner of Alum Rock and White Road will be part of the San Jose City library system, but County funds from the Alum Rock area will definitely stay with the new Alum Rock branch. The more County residents use the new branch, the more the County will shell out. Support for the County Library measures = support for the new City branch.
A. Steve Song, the real estate agent handling the property, says that we’ll have to be patient a bit longer. Like a year longer! He said the blinds simply mean that the shop is vacant. Next will come an environmental inspection. There are known environmental issues to be cleaned up. Remember, there was a gas station on the corner where Brasil Auto Repair is now and gas stations = environmental hazards. The print shop itself also contributed some chemicals which will have to be eliminated, too. So, no permits have been pulled. No construction bidding has happened. But, Steve assures NNV, there will be retail businesses there – we just have to hold our horses.
And, speaking of the Village, the shiny black tiles which had peeled off the front of Las Delicias restaurant leaving it looking slummy, have been replaced and it all looks tidy and polished again.
Click here for photos.
A. You’re right, the ambitious Vision 2020 project which would have included a large two story building hasn’t gotten off the ground. There is a fund drive to which parishioners have donated generously – however the drive has come up significantly short.
The church has a new pastor, Father Tim Kidney, who wants to be sure the project gets done so he’s championing a scaled-back single-story plan which is not such a formidable challenge. The new building will include a multi-purpose room, gymnasium, meeting room and storage.
By the way, Saint John’s previous pastor, Father Larry Hendel is now serving as a chaplain in Kosovo!
Click here for the signage depicting the original plan.
A. NNV saw it too and took its photo. We thought it has a nice sculptural/architectural feel with a definite Asian-fusion character. We noticed on close look that water is collecting in its base which of course is a no-no unless you’re practically inviting mosquitoes. We’d be interested in our readers’ critique. What say you?
A. Alan says that the list of bad actors is long. Reading the label before using (or, better yet, before buying!) garden products should help to understand whether there are caveats about poisoning beneficial insects. He went on to say, “Two friends of mine who migrate between California and Minnesota recently won a case in Minnesota Supreme Court which states that if one knows that bees are flying in the area, the person has a duty not to use harmfully labeled pesticides during or preceding bee flight time. ‘David the Beeman’ said that California has a similar law which isn’t enforced.” Sounds like it’s time for a little self-enforcement and self-restraint, doesn’t it? After all, bees are necessary for one-third of our food supply!
Click here to read about Alan's bees.
A. Well, first one must determine whether the property is in City jurisdiction or County jurisdiction. You can looks for clues like the color of the street signs (City: Black, County: Blue). Readers can also call the County Planning Department at (408) 299-5770 and ask their help determining the jurisdiction of the property in question. Or you can call the City’s Code Enforcement office at (408) 277-4528.
What is a violation in the City may not be a violation in the County and vice versa. If you read a recent question to the Action Line column in the Mercury News concerning illegal parking at a residence, you may remember that the answer included information which said that people can park cars only on paved areas of their property. The County doesn’t seem to have any such restriction. On properties in unincorporated Santa Clara County, one can park as many “registered and operable” vehicles as one wants – even on grassy areas.
There are limits on how many days one can have “For Sale” vehicles sitting on one’s property. Think in terms of 3-5 days. One may not have garbage or junk cluttering up the front of one’s home. It must be out of sight from the street. IF you would like someone from the County Planning Department to come out and cite violations in the Eastside County pockets, you can phone John Toth at (408) 299-5751. He’ll take your name and address and send you a complaint form to fill out. You send it back to him and he’ll come out and take a look, and, we hope, convince our messy neighbors to clean up their property. Don’t hesitate to be a cranky, squeaky wheel. You will remain anonymous.
As far as weed abatement goes, you need to call the County Fire Marshal’s office and leave a message on the hazardous vegetation customer service line at (408) 282-3145.
Click here for recent photos of blight on Alum Rock Avenue.
A. It looks like the writing is on the wall. NNV was deluged with polite, but no-nonsense messages questioning the relevance of long-time NNV writer Ed’s missives to our readership. We now think we can best serve our readers by celebrating the wonderful diversity and tolerance of the Bay Area and focusing on local news (and “dish” as one reader wrote). But we are grateful to Ed for all the fine historical writing he did for NNV.
A. NNV assures you that there really was a red man (actually a tiny fireman wielding a teeny-weeny axe) and we got down on our all-fours (actually our all-threes with our fourth holding the camera) and snapped a photo of the little guy shortly after he appeared. Good thing too! In a matter of days, the finishing touches were put on the patch job and the miniscule man went missing. He was most probably part of the debris left by the accident which took out the bridge approach railing and perhaps he’s missed by his former small owner. NNV hopes the concrete guy cleaned the wee firefighter’s concretey legs and took him home for his own little boy.
A. Neighbor Richard Brown assures us that it was a gray fox which visited the NNV deck in February. However, ex-neighbor Judith Knutson tells us that before she moved away she had red foxes visit her yard “not infrequently.” She says she misses the animal parade which goes on in the neighborhoods near Alum Rock Park and remembers the peafowl as being her favorite visitors – except “in the early morning when they would perch in the trees outside my bedroom and squawk as only they can do.” She does not miss the cavorting raccoons who considered the roof above her bedroom their nocturnal playground.
A. Yep! NNV phoned Bonnie King the owner of our one-time neighborhood shop and noted that she answers the phone with a friendly, “Alum Rock Florist …” even though she’s nowhere near Alum Rock. She says that some new customers wonder at the name, but she’s not planning to change it because it’s what her old established clientele has been used to for fifteen years.
She related the story of the 300% rent increase which brings Kelly Moore’s rent up to $12,000/month. “But, they’re corporate - not little guys like the rest of the shops in the building!” Bonnie said that for a while it looked as though she might be able to move the shop to a location in the little shopping center where the Drying Shed restaurant is located. However, it would not have been available soon enough, unfortunately. She and her family still live in our neighborhood near the old shop and she misses her easy “commute” – not that a ten minute drive is such a burden.
It’s quite possible that a not-so-wholesome tenant might move into the empty 3,000 square foot florist space. There have even been mentions of a pool hall coming in. Bonnie says that the other small tenants, the beauty shop and Bud LoMonaco’s business, are waiting for the other shoe to drop. She’s upbeat about her old regular customers loyally sticking with her and says sometimes they even bring her Eastside goodies from Peter’s Bakery or Rafiki’s when they come to visit.
NNV guesses we can still consider Alum Rock Florist to be “our” florist – especially since it has Alum Rock in its name! If you want to call Bonnie and chat – or order flowers of course - her number is still 258-2152.
A. NNV is not aware of a rash exactly, but did hear from one reader whose car was broken into early one morning in mid-March near the big concrete East Highlands sign at the Brundage Way triangle. The break-in was witnessed and reported to the Sheriff’s office before the reader even knew his car window had been smashed. A big thank-you to the neighbor who called the Sheriff – it looks like you prevented a theft! Readers, please let us know if this was an isolated incident or if your vehicles have been broken-into.
A. Oh, woe! This was a promise we couldn’t keep. It seems the various PBS stations have what could euphemistically be called a “fluid” schedule. The more we tried to pin them down, the more it became like trying to nail Jello to a wall. We believe that by now they have all shown the Alum Rock Park show at least once. One station told us last summer that they’d be showing the program this month. When we phoned them last week to get the date, they said they had shown it last October and didn’t know when they’d be showing it again. They suggested that we call them “every couple of months” to check. Hello? Is anyone minding the store?
A. Here we go again with a City jurisdiction/County jurisdiction situation. Lake Linda Vista grew to awesome proportions during the rains of March and there were few stretches of the school’s frontage area that weren’t under water. On Read Across America day, one of the volunteer readers at Linda Vista read through chattering teeth as her cold, morbidly moist tootsies kept reminding her that she’d waded from the street to the sidewalk.
County Roads people say that their jurisdiction ends across the street from the school. The City’s Department of Transportation went out and patched some big holes, according to "Joe." He said a crew used base rock and drain rock as temporary patching. "It really needs a hot stamp treatment for a permanent fix." However, he said, the responsibility may actually lie with the school district! (No wonder PACT couldn't get this one sorted out.) After Joe's crews went away and new rains came, Lake Linda Vista was just as vast as ever - but maybe not as deep.
Click here for a photo of Lake Linda Vista.
A. NNV visited Henninger Hill Farm early in March and had the pleasure of seeing robust Miss-Not-So-Tiny come to the gate and bleat for her lunch. Nella Henninger obliged whiny Tiny with a bottle of milk which Tiny polished off with lambent ease before she repaired to her lamb’s quarters where she is learning the lambada which she is mastering at a lamentably early age. Click here for a look at the larger lamb.
A. Yes, that seems to be the drift. At a recent meeting of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association, a representative from Councilmember Nora Campos’ office spoke to the 35-40 people in attendance suggesting nicely that the neighborhood could be annexed – and no longer be an unincorporated “county pocket.” It was the perception of at least some in attendance that the City would really appreciate having the neighborhood willingly come into the city’s fold, but, that, if necessary, the City could impose city-dom on it – opposition or no! It seems that Lyndale is fair game because it covers fewer than 140 acres which is some sort of arbitrary size limit. As it happens, Lyndale is much smaller than 140 acres.
Click here for a Letter to the Editor from District 5 Coordinator Francis Zamora clarifying his statements at the meeting.
Neighbors who spoke with NNV said they believed that the general consensus among association members is that they would like to continue with things as they are. They like the County services they enjoy and especially appreciate the Sheriff’s department. Supervisor Blanca Alvarado in whose district Lyndale lies, has long pushed for the neighborhood to be annexed to the City. Some Lyndale-ites don’t understand why she doesn’t support them in wanting to remain unincorporated.
The question arises: are all Unincorporated County Pockets vulnerable to being annexed into the City of San Jose? The answer, at the moment, seems to be yes, if the pocket is small enough. It’s not clear whether the 140 acre rule will always hold true. NNV asked for some clarification from Councilmember Campos’ office, and was told that they are aware there are “questions and concerns regarding annexation.” Francis Zamora e-mailed that “Our City’s Planning Department is currently putting together some information which will provide background as well as the process.” He said that it’s not yet available, but should be in their office in the next 3-4 weeks. We can hardly wait. Really!
A. But, but, but … there surely must be!
A. Who would you suggest? Send me your stories. E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org or call (408) 272-7008.
A. You can share your opinion on this topic at a meeting set up for just this purpose! There will be a hearing to listen to comments from the public on Wednesday, March 9th at 7:00 PM at the Alum Rock Youth Center. Want to call it the New Alum Rock Library Branch? Want to name it for a community VIP? Dr. B. Roberto Cruz, the founder of National Hispanic University, has been suggested. Whatever you want to name it, y’all come to this meeting and tell the world about it!
A. NNV invited readers to report to us their experiences with mail theft in our area. We hoped we could compile the information and perhaps get a better grasp of the scope of the problem – and report it to you. Five or six e-mails floated in – a couple of them from people who had been hard hit by thieves, the rest from readers who weren’t sure yet if they had been victimized. It’s hoped that the low level of response means that there have been very few cases of mail theft carried out. There have been very, very few reports of mail theft to the Sheriff’s Department at our latest check.
We can’t know much, for sure, without more feedback. Meanwhile, we will keep publishing relevant Letters to the Editor on our Letters page. Please encourage victims to get in touch – if not with NNV, then with the Sheriff’s Department. They will take us – and the problem - more seriously if we make sure we’re a steady presence on their radar screen. And, NNV will stay in a fact-finding mode as long as there are mail thefts happening (and people telling us about them) - which maybe means forever!
A. An NNV reader wrote to tell us an unfortunate tale about the little shop having to move away due to an inordinate rent increase which was suddenly imposed. It was such a nice, classy, friendly place, it’s a shame that our community won’t have it here in our midst. Sad, huh? Its new location is at 1040 N. 4th Street.
A. Nella Henninger says that itty, bitty Tiny really did have blue eyes when she was a newborn. However they are now turning dark brown like her parents’ eyes. She is not blind, fortunately. Nella reports that Tiny and her fellow sheep are not yet getting along like the big happy family they’re supposed to be. The big sheep think Miss Tiny smells like a Henninger and Miss Tiny thinks she is a Henninger. A new little lamblet has been born recently which might help buffer Miss Tiny’s blending in with the little herd.
Click here to look in Miss Tiny's eyes.
A. Well, it’s actually Bamburg with a U and we thought we had that name nailed down in our brains only to find that we had screwed up! Whatever the plural of mea culpa is, it’s us.
A. The late January story which filled the airways and prompted a major “Valley” section article in the Mercury News, made headline news because of something we all need to keep in mind: the extreme rarity of the event. There have always been mountain lions around the wildland edges of the park - but Crothers Road ranchers lose livestock to the big cats fairly infrequently. That this cat attacked goats rather than the most usual prey, the numerous deer in and around the park, is maybe not so newsworthy either. An NNV reader pointed out that one neighbor was considering getting goats some time ago, to keep his weeds under control. The advice at that time was that having goats is “like trolling for mountain lions”!
It’s a good thing to remember that we live in mountain lion territory. Despite earlier reports that this cougar was a male, necropsy showed this particular cougar to be a healthy three-year old "virgin" female. In general, they are afraid of people and keep their distance. There are a few rules to keep in mind when you are in or around the park: Don’t walk alone. If you are confronted by a mountain lion, make yourself appear as large as possible by raising your arms. If you have children with you, quickly pick them up. Do not try to run away. Most mountain lions will lose interest in a large stationary target. There have been only a tiny handful of human fatalities caused by California’s big cats; don’t let the headlines keep you from enjoying Alum Rock Park, our marvelous Eastside canyon.
Click here for a photo of the mountain lion sign in Alum Rock Park.
A. Well, NNV has never found it open either, but we thought to ask Dr. Michael Torrano, the nearby New Horizons chiropractor, whether he knew anything about the shop. He’s a lovely, friendly guy and told us that the little shop resells very nice, clean clothing – mostly for just $2. He says that the owners are a nice couple and that he believes they have several small shops around town. He says that the best time to visit the shop is mid-afternoon.
Click here for a photo of Replay.
A. Shortly after this question was asked, a major change happened. The caution tape mess was nicely cleared away and weeds were being mowed. NNV phoned Pastor Isaac Neil of Logos Christian Fellowship and got updated on the situation with the church. Last fall, readers will remember that NNV couldn’t reveal the details of the sale of the Nazarene Church because “all the i’s weren’t dotted and t’s crossed” yet.
Now, the deal is done and Pastor Neil is proud to reveal that his church which is currently located on McKee Road at the 101 has bought the Nazarene church and all its property (including the neglected-looking lot to the east). The Nazarenes are moving into their new church in Evergreen just as soon as it’s finished. They thought they would be moving before the end of 2004, but, as everyone knows, it’s never a good idea to predict when a new building will be completed. The Logos congregation thought, too, that they’d move to Alum Rock Avenue long before now, but they’ve leased the land back to the Nazarenes until their church is ready to move into. “Maybe in March or April,” Pastor Neil predicted as a move-in timeframe.
Meanwhile, he vowed that the messy lot with the old, worn-out house will be maintained from here on out. NNV will report on Logos Christian Fellowship after they make the big move into our neighborhood.
Click here for what we hope is the last photo of the messy vacant lot.
A. Ooops! The actual number, per Councilmember Nora Campos’ office, is 54,000 trips per day. NNV goofed. Mea culpa.
A. La Bodega Market will inhabit both sides of the homely pink building which used to house a dry cleaning establishment and a small produce shop. Rogelio Ruiz and his cousin Carlos Murillo have really big plans for a wonderful new Deli-Produce store which they hope will have the character of Race Street Fish Market – including fine quality seafood, produce, bread and wines. In a January 11th message, Rogelio wrote, “Our conditional use permit was approved on December 8. Construction documents are underway and we will shortly be bidding the façade improvement project. All in all, everything is moving forward.”
As to why these things take so long, this particular project poses some interesting permit challenges which take a while to get resolved – more about that next month. And, it probably isn’t true that things take longer here on the Eastside – maybe it just seems that way. What is true is that the more complex the project, the more hurdles there are to clear and La Bodega is very ambitious and complex!
Click here to see how the facade of La Bodega will look.
Copyright© 2003-2006 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 2/3/06.