New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 5 - Section 1

April 6, 2003

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are in

Alum Rock Avenue,

YSI in
Alum Rock Park

Our Bus

"Members in their finery
arrive for a 1918 gala" 
at the original San Jose
Country Club clubhouse
Linda Vista Hotel at the corner of Alum Rock and
Kirk Avenues (near the
predecessor to the SJCC)
Aerial View of the
SJCC area in the
early 1900s -
Fewer houses!
Members in their finery
arrive for a 2003 gala
at the current SJCC
Golfing at the SJCC in the 1940s

Newsletter Headlines

All Too Quiet on the Eastern Front?  Are Pombo's plans percolating?
Alum Rock Avenue Widening Opposition Campaign by Mike and Joan Destro
Of Time and Space - Teaching science: past, present and future by Anne Dunham
County Roads Funding Outlook - by Michael Murdter, Director, Roads & Airports 
Bus Buzz - Better take that bargain ride while you can!
San Jose Country Club - More than 100 years by Ed Allegretti
Mark's Hot Dogs - East side landmark makes new home by Bonnie Bamburg
NNV Briefs
New paint job for East Highlands triangle!
Pala Youth Center on schedule
Library Branch site preparation has begun
Ribbon cutting ceremony for new James Lick High School parking lot project
Hedy Lamarr - WWII Movie Star and Inventor
Mt. Hamilton - James Lick, Rev. Laurentine Hamilton, ... by Ed Allegretti
Graffiti Old and New - New pedestrian bridge tagged!
Chavez Breakfast - NNV attends moving event at Mexican Heritage Center
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
More Façade Improvement Grants for Alum Rock Village?
Where were those nearby earthquakes we felt in late March?
What was the police helicopter doing in Alum Rock Park recently?
New orange barriers near Miguelita Creek Bridge?
Dog fighting on Alum Rock Avenue?????
Does NNV know of an easy way to recycle empty printer cartridges?
Dirty Supermarkets at Capitol and McKee?
How can subscribers correct or augment NNV stories?
Is there a way that readers can help New Neighborhood Voice?
Update on the NNV Web Site - New Capabilities Added

All Too Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Are Pombo's plans percolating?

There has been a rather ominous silence since NNV wrote last month about U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo's proposed road over the mountain which would intersect Alum Rock Avenue at Mt. Hamilton Road. Unless they're simply not printing them, it would appear that neither the Mercury News letters-to-the-editor page nor Gary Richards "Roadshow" column have had any more citizen input regarding Pombo's plans. Also, the Mercury didn't ever print NNV's "My View" piece on the subject and hasn't done any follow-on articles since their disparaging editorial. Should things really be this quiet?

NNV spoke with more neighbors who would greatly feel the impact of radical changes to the Alum Rock corridor. We solicited opinions from people who live on Alum Rock Avenue in the 4000 and 5000 blocks and discovered a diversity of opinions. One man remembers back when he moved here from Michigan in the 1940's that such a road was already being discussed. He figures that it is practically a "done deal," but he thinks that the developers probably would decide to put the road through a residential area rather than going through a commercial area such as Alum Rock Village. He believes that buying out businesses would be prohibitively costly compared with buying some homes, but it is hard to see how a road could connect with the existing freeways without going through some commercial area and Alum Rock Village might have to be "it".

We were particularly glad for the response from Mike and Joan Destro who have spearheaded a campaign to keep Alum Rock Avenue from being widened at the expense of their shady service road which provides a leafy barrier between their homes and the busy street. NNV asked the Destros to write the article below which tells how they went about successfully lobbying Caltrans to change its plans. It's clear that the entire Alum Rock neighborhood needs to be organized and ready to roll at the first hint that Pombo's highway plans are being taken seriously.

Everyone NNV interviewed concluded that "follow the money" should be the watchword for Pombo's project. Whoever owns the right-of-way for this six-lane highway would make a bundle while devastating the environment and the quality of life in the east hills. It will be up to the people who care about the neighborhood to make sure that some fat cats don't get even fatter at our expense.

NNV e-mailed the March edition of the newsletter to U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren to show her how the majority of the folks who live around here feel about our beautiful area and how much they don't want Richard Pombo's Road. You can read her e-mail response on our Letters to the Editor page and, in case you missed it, click here for our article in the March edition (use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition of NNV).

Alum Rock Avenue Widening Opposition Campaign

By Mike and Joan Destro

In 1999, residents living along Alum Rock Avenue discovered Caltrans was planning a project to extensively widen Alum Rock Avenue between Kirk Avenue and Mt. Hamilton Road. Most of the trees were to be removed and the road was to be drastically changed. The people were totally opposed to this and deep concern and distress arose.

About twelve neighbors formed a core group and named it the Alum Rock Preservation Association. The idea of gaining support with a petition was decided on and members immediately started walking door to door throughout the neighborhood. A printed flyer with pictures and information pertaining to the road widening topped the petition via clipboard. Residents in the area gladly gave their support and signed the petition.

After obtaining 305 signatures on our petition we enclosed it with a letter explaining reasons for our opposition to the road widening, along with suggestions and solutions to improve the road without major changes to the neighborhood. Law enforcement and other neighborhood organizations were consulted for their input.

Our letter and petition was mailed to the Caltrans District Director with copies directed to state, county, and city politicians. San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and his staff were very helpful. A member of Mayor Gonzales' staff contacted Caltrans and negotiated our concerns.

We also had support and suggestions from Our City Forest, a tree planting organization in SJ.

In February of 2000, we received a letter from Caltrans in reference to our letter and petition, stating that they understood our concerns over the impact on the preservation of our neighborhood, and since that was one of the factors they consider in planning a project, they had decided to abandon the proposal.

Relieved but still concerned about future road widening, we decided to become proactive and have embarked on historical and beautification strategies.

Beautification consisting of tree planting along ARA would be a positive improvement for the area as well as litter/graffiti abatement. In 2002, members of our group prepared a history of Alum Rock Avenue, which was sent along with a blueprint of tree planting areas and an encroachment permit application, to Caltrans and Assemblyman Manny Diaz, County Supervisor Pete McHugh, and Mayor Ron Gonzales. At the present time we are awaiting a response.

Click here to see how Alum Rock Avenue looked more than 100 years ago.  Click here to read how the City of San Jose had to build Alum Rock Avenue in the 1870s to reach their new park (use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition of NNV).

Note: The Alum Rock Preservation Association enlisted the aid of the Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition (ARNC), the Alum Rock United Methodist PACT Local Organizing Committee and the Ridgeview group which defeated a plan for a housing tract at the corner of Alum Rock Avenue and Mt. Hamilton Road.  They found San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales (a previous County Supervisor for the area who knew and understood the widening issues very well) to be extremely helpful.  It all goes to show that there really is strength in numbers and it takes creativity and grit to achieve community goals.  NNV

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Of Time and Space

YSI Teaching science: past, present and future

Fifty years (!) in Alum Rock Park

By Anne Dunham

It is easy to remember what happened a few minutes ago and maybe even last week, but as the past recedes, details vanish and only a glow remains. Fifty years ago Edwin Hubble, who put the world in touch with galaxies that existed light years ago, died but left the world fired with curiosity about time and space. Fewer than 400,000 people lived in Santa Clara County, but the Valley was rumbling, as the infant space industry grew where orchards and farms had long reigned supreme. And the Youth Science Institute was born.

In the five decades since that time, life has changed so dramatically that little remains of what once was. But there has been a continuous thread at YSI. Science is not at odds with nature. The two are inextricably related. How does the world work? What is our role in it? These are the fundamental questions that YSI asked kids to answer in 1953 and continues to ask in 2003. These questions will still need to be answered in 2053 when someone yet unborn may be taking a Hubble-eye view of us.

To celebrate fifty years of teaching science using nature, YSI will have many activities over the upcoming year. On June 25th there will be a Wonderful Wednesday celebration at Alum Rock Park, the original home of YSI. Twenty-five years ago families who lived in the Alum Rock area who had children in YSI's programs gathered informally each Wednesday in the summer for supper and an evening of enjoyment in the Park. This tradition will be resurrected with a catered dinner and an evening with YSI activities and animals. Information on this event will soon be available at YSI's three science centers and on our website.

Help us celebrate and plan for the future. Make YSI and the beautiful valley you live in part of your life.

Click here to see YSI in Alum Rock Park.

Note: Anne Dunham is the Executive Director of the Youth Science Institute, which has facilities in Alum Rock Park, Vasona Park and Sanborn Park. She has been a teacher of creative writing and was one of the most appreciated writers for EAST - The Neighborhood Voice. 

YSI at Alum Rock Park is currently holding Springtime after-school science classes for kids, Pre-K through 3rd grade.  The class titles include such tantalizing concepts as Chomping Chinchillas, Goop and Glop, Dirty Decomposers and Ssssensational Sssnakes.  See YSI's Web site or call (408) 356-4945 for more information.  NNV

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County Roads Funding Outlook

Responding to the Santa Clara County budget crisis

By Michael Murdter, Director, County Roads & Airports Department

Maintenance and repair of the Santa Clara County road system is funded primarily through taxes on gasoline paid by motorists at the pump. Proceeds from the 18-cent per gallon state gas tax as well as a portion of the sales tax on gasoline are allocated to cities and counties for maintenance and improvement of roads and related facilities such as bridges and sidewalks. Other sources of funding include federal grants and local transportation sales tax measures such as the 1996 Measure B Program.

Unlike the County General Fund, which can be used for any lawful County purpose, gas taxes can be used only for road-related activities in the public right-of-way and therefore enjoy a certain level of protection from being diverted for non-road purposes. However, the state legislature may, by a two-thirds vote, temporarily divert the sales tax on gasoline to the state general fund in times of fiscal crisis and the Governor has already taken the required preliminary step of proposing that the legislature take action to do just that.

As with most types of taxes, the revenue generated from the gas tax fluctuates with the economy. Also, the purchasing power of the 18-cent/gallon gas tax continues to erode because it is not indexed for inflation and therefore has remained at the same level since 1990.

In order to address these funding challenges, the County Roads & Airports Department has adopted a strategy of giving priority to maintaining the existing road infrastructure using our core in-house maintenance force and accomplishing capital improvement projects by contract when funding allows. Although the Department's projected budget for Fiscal Year 2004 (which begins on July 1, 2003) is significantly smaller than in previous years, most of the reductions are in the capital projects arena, with only five positions total being eliminated among the Department's three road maintenance yards.

The Roads & Airports Department's East Yard is assigned responsibility for the County roads in the East Foothills. The superintendent of the East Yard, Ron Neal, may be reached at 299-3446 if you have any questions or concerns.

Michael Murdter, Director, County Roads & Airports Department

Click here to see Michael Murdter at the Miguelita Creek Bridge Opening (use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition of NNV).

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Bus Buzz 

Better take that bargain ride while you can!

Our neighborhood is waiting for the other VTA shoe to drop. It's apparent that bus lines such as our own #64 will be competing with other possibly better-utilized routes to stay in business.

Not so long ago the VTA (Valley Transportation Agency) floated a plan to truncate the upper end of Line #64, eliminating the turnaround at Miguelito Road in favor of turning at Kirk Avenue and jogging back downtown from there. As far as public transportation is concerned, such a plan would have left the neighborhoods around the Country Club high and dry (pun intended, of course). Fortunately for the rest of us, four intrepid residents and a CHP officer attended a public meeting at Linda Vista School where they defended our neighborhood against an errant claim. A rumor had been started that the CHP was demanding that buses be banned from the intersection because they were making illegal U-turns!

The CHiP emphatically denied that his agency had made any such charges, so it seems rather as though someone, somewhere, for some reason known only to him(?), was a bit manipulative regarding the facts. The truth won out that day and Line #64's traditional route was given the green light and legal sanction with a new "NO U-TURN EXCEPT FOR BUSES" sign.

But, how long will we have the advantage of a close-by bus stop? NNV has popped into bus after bus sitting at the Country Club bus stop just to ask the drivers if they've heard any scuttlebutt about line closures. To a man, they've all claimed not to have a clue as to which lines will be altered or discontinued. However, it's understandable if their ears are more firmly pressed to the ground listening for hints as to whether their own jobs might be phased out!

Until that fateful time comes (if it has to come) when our striped white chariots are no longer waiting to give us a chauffeured ride down the hill, perhaps we should hop aboard and savor a service which we probably won't always have at our disposal. Maybe you'll take that ride and, thirty years hence, reminisce about it with your grandchildren (or write about it in ONV!*), "Well, yes, honey, there were buses that went right up to the top of the hill back in the oughties, and I rode the very last one!"

If you go: On weekdays, buses run about every 15 minutes from 5:30 AM until about 8:40 AM when they begin running every half hour until about 2:15 PM when they start running every fifteen minutes again. The last bus leaves the Country Club stop at 10:55 PM. On weekends and holidays the buses run about every half hour starting at about 7:15 AM and the last bus leaves at about 9:50 PM.

Let's say you decide to ride down to Rafikis for a latte. The trip to White Road will take just about five minutes. Your tummy sloshing contentedly with café au lait, you can sashay over to the library and have the pleasure of not having to fit your chubby SUV into one of their irksomely awkward parking spaces. Then you can visit YSI's Thrift and Gift shop (except not on Sundays or Mondays) and run into Kattengell's and sign up for the karate lessons you've been promising yourself (or better yet, enroll your spouse and give the membership as a gift on your next wedding anniversary).

Of course, the bus doesn't go just to White Road. You can ride all the way to the Almaden Light Rail station if you have a yen to. The fares for all this service are $1.40 for adults, 85 cents for youths 5-17 (little kids ride free with an adult) and 45 cents for seniors 65 or over or disabled folks. These fares are a true bargain - the farebox return (the portion of costs paid by riders) covers only about 12 percent of the costs to run the system. Long-postponed fare increases are in the works. Heaven only knows how much a bus ride will cost after the decisions are made in August - better take that ride now!

Now, about getting back up the hill. Supposing that you just spent a couple of hours absorbing the charms of Alum Rock Village and you're ready to go home and nap. Your choices are to catch the uphill bus at Alum Rock and White (the bus stop is actually between Dale Drive and Millar Avenue a little east of the village) and spend another $1.40, $.85 or $.45 - or you can walk up the hill if you haven't bought any antique anvils at the thrift shop or borrowed more than your share of weighty existential philosophy tomes from the library.

As an example of how long it might take you to climb the hill, it takes a person who is a very young 63 - with short legs - exactly 32 minutes (and buckets of sweat) to walk from Rafikis to the Miguelito bus stop. Your own time will vary, of course, depending on the length of your legs and how many times you stop to chat. On hot days you should carry a supply of water, your cell phone for emergencies and be ready to scope out shady rest stops along the way. Or at least for the time being, if you find you have pooped out halfway up the hill, you can still jump aboard the good old #64.

* In thirty years this publication will no doubt be called "Old Neighborhood Voice."

Click here to see Our Bus and where you can sign your spouse up for karate lessons.  Click here for the VTA Web site.

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San Jose Country Club

President's Spring Formal honors past presidents

Neighborhood anchor for more than 100 years

By Ed Allegretti

If you look closely at the roof line of the club house at the San Jose Country Club you can still see where the 1918 club house, buried inside of the additions, still exists. Like myself, most folks in the neighborhood probably don't remember the exterior of the club house before its major remodeling in the early 1960's. Yet, there existed a smaller and elegant old building.

The original club house was built in 1913 (and burnt five years later), being officially opened on May 24th of that year with a large party. Although the original club structure was built in 1913, the San Jose Country Club was officially organized in 1912. The founders of the club were Samuel Tompkins, George Singletary, Willis Clayton, Josh Chase, Louis Sonniksen, Ernest Lion, Charles Cornell, Jeremiah Roberts, F. H. Johnston, E. A. Schneider and Albert Bettens.

Despite its official establishment in 1912, most members know that the club considers 1899 to be the year it actually was founded. Maybe you recall the Centennial celebration that the club held in 1999? Although I am a relatively new member (compared to many - some of my family did belong to the club in the 1940's, 1950's, etc.), I think that the party held in 1999 must have been one of the best sponsored by the club during its "100 year" history. During the afternoon the members were served with a wonderful outdoor barbecue while the children could enjoy themselves playing on the many special obstacle courses and the bounce house set up for their amusement. Afterward, we all were entertained with dancing in the ballroom and with a spectacular fireworks show.

Truly, the club management did an excellent job of providing professional and numerous fireworks. With no doubt, the people living in the East Hills around the club enjoyed this grand show. As was required by law, the neighbors were forewarned with a mailing about the pending fireworks show and fire trucks were posted throughout the neighborhood in case a fire occurred. Even if somebody living in the area disregarded their notice and didn't see a fire truck, the sounds and lights from the huge rockets no doubt were able to get their attention!

It is true that the present club was chartered in 1912 at its current location. However, it did exist in another location, under a different name and was indeed founded in 1899. This precursor to the San Jose Country Club was called Linda Vista Country Club. The originally six hole course, located further down on Alum Rock Avenue, actually was built and opened in 1899. The Linda Vista Hotel, which later became the Linda Vista Sanitarium, served as the first club house while George McBowan became the club's first president. In 1910 this course was closed and the golfers awaited their new course. Several of the former members became the original members of the "new" San Jose Country Club.

If you are a proprietary member of the club or a guest of a member, you no doubt have appreciated the beautiful yet challenging 18 hole course (whose original architect was Tom Nicoll). Aside from a leisurely game of golf with friends, members can enjoy the many tournaments held each year and they can practice their game at the range. Other club advantages include an excellent restaurant, swimming pool (although now I use it for exercise, it certainly was a fun place when I was a boy!), professional golf lessons, and a well stocked pro shop.

The most popular social events, aside from the tournaments for club members, include the Children's Christmas Party, Easter Sunday brunch, New Year's Eve party, summer barbecues, crab feeds, and the President's Spring Formal held every March. Maybe you should consider becoming a proprietary or social member (limited golf rounds but full use of the club house, pool, and social activities) and enjoy this wonderful resource in our neighborhood?

Click here to see the "members in their finery and stylish cars arrive for a 1918 gala" at the original SJCC clubhouse and other photos including the very recent March, 2003 "gala" and an early 1900 aerial view of the area when there were not quite so many houses around the San Jose Country Club.

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New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors

Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925,

Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400

E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company

Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail 

Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408)-923-6666, 

MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects; 

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Click here for Section 2 of the April 6, 2003 Newsletter

(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)

--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2003 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
E-mail and fax subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome. 
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Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2003 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.

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