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Mailbox with Cat and Paw Prints Boy Reading Book Mailbox Plain, Locked, Industrial-Quality Mailbox

We adore the insouciant feline and the literary tyke - but, unfortunately, plain, locked, industrial-quality mailboxes may be our future

Click here for more letters (and photos) on our new Deer, Fire and/or Drought Resistant Plants page

11/1/06 - Dear Friends and Neighbors: Len and I have expanded our website to include news and information for the surrounding East Foothills area. For some of the latest events and photos, please check it out: The Neighborhood View at

Please feel free to add your personal comments and suggestions. If you would like to post an event and/or photo, email Len by clicking on the link provided on the blogsite.

We hope to maintain an excellent communication tool as Judy and Allan Thompson did with the New Neighborhood Voice. Their hard work and dedication has inspired us to keep this going!  Best Wishes, Julie and Len Ramirez


10/23/06 - I was one of many readers sorry to learn that Judy and Allan would be retiring from New Neighborhood Voice. While I hope that someone, somewhere will continue the good work they began, it will be hard to match the unique voice of editor Judy Thompson.

Judy brought a sense of curiosity as well as vision to these web pages. She cared about this corner of San Jose. Nothing escaped her keen eye: she brought us news of city hall, school boards, neighborhood shopping malls, proposed highways, you name it. Beneath it lay a deep sense of civic service and volunteerism. Thanks to her efforts, I feel a sense of community and belonging that few other publications engender.

Early on, Judy encouraged me to write about my passion: growing California native plants and cultivating the feel of California in our home gardens. I had lived in California for 18 years but not studied the native plants around me. Others shouldn’t have to wait so long to learn about the botanical treasures of our great state, and writing this column has given me the chance to make a difference. Judy got me started.

Judy had endless patience as an editor, and Allan was the webmaster with razor-sharp attention to detail. Together they produced a webzine of impeccable quality – each issue a pleasure to go through. I congratulate them on a job well done, and wish them a well-deserved retirement. Thank you for making the Eastside a better place.  Arvind Kumar


10/23/06 - Let me be one of many, many people to thank you, Judy and Allan, for all the wonderful work you have done on behalf of our local community. Being champions for a solution to fixing Crothers Road and the Alum Rock Park entrance after the landslide on Alum Rock Avenue was enough to make you famous by itself. But the NNV has been a delight for the neighborhood to have for these four years. There is a lot that goes on here and you have certainly kept our neighborhood informed on a huge gamut of information that nobody else is likely to duplicate. Thank you so much for your efforts.  Eileen & Tom Parks


10/23/06 - Do NOT vote for me on Nov 7!  Dear Friends, Family, and Neighbors,

Yes, you read that right. I am probably the only person on the November ballot telling you "Don't vote for me"! Until a few weeks ago, I was a candidate for the Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Area 7, which encompasses Alum Rock, Mt Pleasant, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy school districts.

That was before I spent time with the appointed incumbent, Jane Howard. When I put my name on the ballot back in August, then, as now, I carried keen interest in the County Office of Education, the services it provides to districts around the county, and the charter schools it operates. But at the end of the day, this isn't about individuals--myself or others. It's about ideas, the role of government, and effective governance. If someone is doing a great job where they are, doing right by us, and leading with principles and ideas I share, I want to support that person. So after learning more, I'm happy to support Jane Howard for SCC Board of Education, Trustee Area 7.

She is running to win, her character is of highest quality, and we have common educational and organizational philosophies. Jane served through four turbulent years on the Gilroy Board of Education, owned and operated a business, and about a year and a half ago, she was appointed to the County Board by her fellow board members. The board and the superintendent have a good team in each other and are focused on increasing student achievement, giving families educational choices, and getting more resources to our districts.

I'm working to connect Trustee Howard to stakeholders in Alum Rock so we have a voice on the board not just for South County, but also for the 13,000 students of Alum Rock and the 3,000 students of Mt Pleasant School District. I hope you will join me in supporting Trustee Howard.

In Alum Rock news, it's my pleasure to support Gustavo Gonzalez and Kim Mesa for Alum Rock School Board. Gustavo is running for the first time (after much lobbying by me and a couple others), and Kim is seeking re-election. Both are quality folks who deserve your time, your attention, and your vote. http://www.ggalumrock.com

I'd say something about the propositions on the ballot, but who has that kind of time? :-)

Remember to vote!  John S. Leyba


10/7/06 - Re Suncrest fire article. We are pleased to learn that there is an existing organization working on Fire Safety, and that they have some funding to help with the effort. Captain Miller, at our local engine company, told us he thought some kind of committee had been formed but he didn’t know who, or what they were doing.

We live at the crest of Suncrest Avenue, in the path of the recent wildfire that threatened our home. We, with an assist from neighbors, extinguished the flames on the weedy lot adjacent to ours, and several other homes, using garden hoses. The firefighters had their hands full down on Perie Lane. Fortunately, the homeowners on Perie had replaced shake roofs. That, Captain Miller said, is what saved them.

The safety brochure from the fire department suggests that homeowners keep a hose, with nozzle, attached to outdoor faucets. We’ve carried that a step further. Using a “Y”, we had a dedicated “fire” hose with a sweep type sprinkler positioned where we had only to turn it on to wet down the most vulnerable portions of our own lot. That allowed us to use our second hose, with nozzle, on the neighboring property. We want to encourage homeowners whose property backs up against undeveloped grasslands to protect themselves with a similar setup. Captain Miller says San Jose Highlands has excellent water pressure, and approves of this plan. Let neighbors know where the turn on is located.

We also want to encourage everyone to be pro-active in reducing available fuel, via weed abatement. We’d like to think that a reminder via the newsletter, with a target date, (June 10?) would prompt householders to get the job done. If necessary, Code Enforcement will help by sending out reminders to property owners. They rely on “complaints” to activate their services. The Weed and Seed number is 408 277 4528. Property owners are given a grace period to take care of the problem before further enforcement (fines) is employed. Names of those who asked for enforcement are confidential.

Can you give us any ideas, or help, to expedite gathering telephone numbers for San Jose Highlands and nearby neighborhoods, to be used by emergency services to set up an automated dialing system to alert homeowners to fire or other problems? Captain Miller would like to do this, and we volunteered to help. Those who know the history of the fire that destroyed homes on Dorel need no explanation. We should have both home addresses and phone numbers.

If people want to send these to us via Email our address is dlbmlb@Comcast.Net. (Initials are for David L. Breithaupt and Mary Lou Breithaupt.) By snail mail, the address is 3852 Suncrest Ave. 95132. They can include names if they want to be on a mailing list to be contacted re issues, for example, development, or similar concerns that may affect them and all of us.  Mary Lou and Dave Breithaupt


10/7/06 - Dear Editor, just a note to say that those of us that live in Hillcrest ARE NICE people (no quotes)! Very nice people at that!

I may have misunderstood the "jab" that was made towards the Hillcresters who prevented the selling of the possible "group" home in our neighborhood. When I read the article it seemed as if the writer was saying we were a terrible neighborhood for not letting such a sale go through. In other words, they would be better off in another "nice" neighborhood which would welcome them with open arms.

We did not have a problem with the people that would be living there. We are a very sensitive neighborhood. The possibility of what could happen to that house in the future if the funding were to stop and it were to be used for purposes other than the original intent are among many of the reasons we fought to keep Hillcrest a quiet family neighborhood.

I just felt I needed to express myself to the editor. Thank you for letting me do so.  Stacie Moreno, a Hillcrester


10/7/06 - Who took it upon themselves to paint the East Highlands sign lettering that atrocious black and the graphics gold/green?

Embarrassing and most unattractive!

I understand it was to remove the horrible graffiti (thank you for that) – but still there are a multitude of other colors available!  Linda Lavin-Pollock


10/6/06 - There are three ballot measures that I think are relevant to our local community.

State Proposition 1B is a huge bond measure, at $20 billion much larger than the other bonds on the ballot, to fund mostly highway construction and repair. It's estimated to cost almost twice as much once all the interest has been paid off. Don't think that people in the Central Valley won't try to put some of this money toward the Mt. Hamilton freeway/tollway idea. [NNV Note: This means "Pombo's Road," which would shatter the Alum Rock corridor.]

County Measure A will limit development in our hills, saving taxpayers' money because providing infrastructure and emergency services are more costly in remote areas. Its effect mainly will be to stop new tracts of monster "trophy" houses in inappropriate locations. It will preserve ranch lands and open space.

State Proposition 90 is a very radical measure that would most likely wipe out zoning, design, and viewshed rules. But it goes beyond land use entirely, also applying to any new laws that may be seen as decreasing a property's value, like workplace safety laws, disability access requirements, or tenant protections. Also, it applies not only to land but to any property, such as cars, patents, whatever. It would allow an endless number of lawsuits against local governments, bankrupting communities. It is much too broad and vague. And its eminent domain aspect doesn't even prevent the government from taking away someone's land in order to sell it to private development; this would actually be allowable if the development is something "typically" governmental (think: a private school, privately-owned prison, TOLLWAY, etc.).  This campaign is mostly funded by one man, Howard Rich, as well as his personal front group, Montanans in Action. Since a similar proposition, also funded by him, passed in Oregon, governments haven't been able to keep up with all the lawsuits, let alone pay them, allowing developers to ignore land use regulations.

Don't let the outrage over the private development eminent domain case in Connecticut a few years back lead to an outrageous law like this. Excessive eminent domain/redevelopment problems should be addressed in a reasonable way.  Tommy Travers


10/4/06 - An Urgent Message to My Friends & Neighbors: Measure A

November 7, 2006, Election Day, will be upon us so soon! Among the many issues on the Ballot, there is one that will adversely affect all the property owners in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. I have taken a strong stand in opposition to this proposed law. It is labeled Measure A, and was brought to us in the form of an Initiative by a group called PLAN (People for Land And Nature) which makes everything they write sound like it is really going to benefit all of us. I mean, who in their right mind would argue that land conservation and protection of the environment is not a worthy cause?

For those of you wanting specific details on the issues, there are at least two websites available for a quick bit of research:

  1. On the opposition side is (the capital letters are not required) where you can read the entire proposed initiative measure along with analysis by the County Planning Dept. and news briefs, a Q & A section, and more.

  2. The proponents have where you can see a real sales job. The reason I comment in that fashion is the entire approach is making it sound so beneficial for everyone!

In the view of many who have studied the initiative, should this poorly written measure be approved by the voters, it will be impossible for the County to administer. Changes in this law would require another general election. There are many additional complications to the measure that you should further investigate if you are to make an educated decision for your final vote. The latest bombshell is the threat of huge financial liability for the “taking” of property in the down-zoning otherwise protected under Proposition 90. Claims for the losses could bankrupt our County government. Now this really starts to get complicated!

However, this letter is intended only as a short introduction to these issues.

PLEASE keep in mind that there are many serious problems in Measure A. I encourage everyone to study into the controversy. I am willing to make a short presentation on Measure A by phone or in person to a group of friends and neighbors at any time convenient. Also I can arrange a professional speaker for a community group meeting if someone wants to set this in motion.

Remember that all voters in our County of Santa Clara will have this on their ballot, even though it will impact only unincorporated land owners, a tiny minority.

Please note a very informative article: San Jose Mercury news, October 3, 2006, page 1B.

Readers, if you favor “No On Measure A” and will take a stand with us, I would like to give you a yard sign, informational folders for you and your friends, and encourage any possible additional support you may be willing to give.

Thank you for listening! I am Frank Crane, living at 15050 Garcal Dr. Here are some ways to get in touch with me: Home Phone: 258-9163, Office 258-8300, Cell 391-4863. And my real estate office: Ideal Homes & Properties, 3148 Alum Rock Ave. Ste. B. (Second Block East of White Road)

Lately I have heard it called “Measure Awful”


8/18/06 - Somebody at your newsletter owes the people of Berryessa, as well as the entire City of San Jose, a public apology.

On the lower end of the article (Alum Rock Park Landslide “Fix” Fizzles - City decides not to protect landslide “toe”), which I had to read multiple times to be sure I was reading it correctly, was the following:

"If anyone disagreed when one man called the creek relocation plan a “red herring” (intended to keep folks mollified and quiet?), no one spoke up. Now folks are wondering why anyone wasted time and money on a study if it was such a slam-dunk that the project would be immediately shot down by the environmental regulatory agencies. Surely the City’s parks people, who work around creeks and endangered species all the time could have quashed this pie-in-the-sky “alternative” before it became a tantalizing hope for people whose lives and property have been forever impacted by the landslide. What were they thinking?"

And just what exactly would have appeared in the NNV if the City of San Jose had not explored such an option, even knowing it may be futile? Would those same people now trashing the city for pursuing a "red herring" then be trashing the city because it did not explore all conceivable options to possibly ameliorate and/or repair the slide, no matter how improbable?

"Adding insult to injury, the City reps condescendingly "educated" the crowd by explaining that Alum Rock Park is a regional park. They implied that it's neither-here-nor-there that Alum Rock Park has effectively become a Berryessa park. They aren't concerned that park-goers from Alum Rock (and other areas like Evergreen) have to drive to Berryessa to enter the Park. And they're not overly concerned about the parking problem near the closed Alum Rock Avenue entrance to the Park. And they're not at all concerned about the East Highlands traffic problem caused by keeping Crothers Road closed."

To put it bluntly: Is there something wrong with Berryessa that makes driving there so horrible? Is the 95132 not up to the lofty standards of East Highlands? Is going an extra two exits up I-680 so strenuous? And did you have this opinion for the 15 years or so when the lower entrance was closed to vehicular traffic, thus forcing people on the lower (Berryessa) side of the park to drive all the way around the Country Club and into Alum Rock to the upper entrance in order to be able to drive into the park?

(insert sound of crickets chirping here)

I appreciate that disappointment is ruling the day in the East Highlands neighborhood because of the slide. I appreciate the stress on the neighborhood that is created because of the necessity to use Alta Vista Way and Miradero Avenue for access to Peacock Gap and lower Crothers Road, along with the loss of prompt and easy access to the park, but come on. Alum Rock Park, as you put it, has been a part of the City of San Jose, the entire City of San Jose, since the turn of the century - can that be said about the East Highlands county pocket as it is currently developed? And since it can be demonstrated historically that the entire Poverty Ridge hillside is unstable (Boulder Drive closure, Dorel/Suncrest moratorium, Clayton Road fence slides referenced in this very issue), how can brickbats be tossed at the City of San Jose for a situation that has been years in building and provides no easy solution without billions of dollars that can be more productively directed elsewhere?

Well, for those who are upset by the prospect of having to "drive to Berryessa" in order to access Alum Rock Park, I have great news: The dividing line is between the 95127 (Alum Rock) and 95132 (Berryessa) zip codes is Penitencia Creek Road (to the north, 95132; to the south, 95127). Even better news: East of Toyon Avenue (toward the hills), there is a dividing line between the Alum Rock Elementary School District and the Berryessa Elementary School District. That dividing line also happens to be Penitencia Creek Road - to the north, Berryessa UESD, and to the south, Alum Rock UESD.

So fear not, East Highlanders: Technically, it is not necessary to leave your precious "Alum Rock" to get to the park. Heck, if I read my map correctly, you can even avoid even going into the City by using McKee Road and Toyon Avenue! Happy days, right?

The next paragraph of that article reads as follows:

"No wonder folks are cynical – and disappointed (and some are fuming) – and no wonder that "County pocket" residents don't want to be annexed into such a dysfunctional city. The "can-do" attitude of the County is such a contrast even though they have much less taxpayer money to use."

No worries. With that kind of public attitude toward things that are entirely out of the City's control, I'm sure that the City will get along just fine without your collective August Presence. Sincerely, James Desmond


NNV Note: Here's Clayton Road neighbor Bracey Tiede's message to Peter Drekmeier, which she copied to Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage.  Peter's e-mail is also below.

6/16/06 - Peter, I recently joined your email list and thank you for the notice of the upcoming Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors public hearing. We will not be able to attend, but I am hoping that you are successful in getting the initiative to pass that day.

I am most concerned about a property at 11381 Clayton Road in San Jose that is on the agenda that day. This is the giant house (17,000 sq. ft.) that Vinod Bansal wishes to build across the street from my home (1,600 sq. ft.). The initiative would prevent this house from being built if I read the initiative correctly. If there is any way to speak to this matter at the meeting, you would have my eternal gratitude.

There are a number of issues that concern me about this property.

1. Over 1000 cubic yards of soil need to be moved to create a flat space to build the house on a 30% slope. This is on the scale of terraforming and is ridiculous.

2. There will be a giant leachfield installed below the home on this slope. The hill is already sliding as evidenced by fences along Clayton Road that already lean out over the road. Introducing new subterranean moisture on the slope will create an unstable hillside by any common sense reasoning.

3. The sightlines from the housing below up the hill show a monolith of a structure that doesn't just slightly degrade the view, but slams it into the faces of the neighbors.

4. This is a residential neighborhood with small to medium homes, not a 'starter castle', multi-million dollar area. I have Section 8 housing next door to me. We are not wealthy or ostentatious as this home will most certainly be.

5. The noise and dust from the construction will be unreasonable for the long period of time that a project this size will require. The neighbors will be unable to open windows or enjoy their gardens because of this intrusion on clean air and peace and quiet.

5. Delaying action on this property until the initiative is either approved or has been considered by the voters is the reasonable thing to do here. I hope that will happen.

I am copying Don Gage's office and Rob Eastwood, Sr. Planner on this email, hoping that my voice will be heard. Thank you all for your time and efforts. I will be home on Monday morning.

Cheers, Bracey Tiede

Original Message from Peter Drekmeier, Subject: IMPORTANT - Supervisors Hearing:


Our campaign for the Santa Clara County Land Conservation Initiative is progressing wonderfully. Of the 62,000 signatures we submitted to the Registrar of Voters, more than 58,000 were valid, far more than the required 36,000. Many thanks to all of you who helped out!

Next Tuesday (June 20) the Board of Supervisors will host a public hearing on the Initiative, and we need you there to lend your support. The Supervisors will vote to do one of the following:

1) Place the Initiative on the November 7 ballot.
2) Order a report on the impacts of the Initiative.
3) Adopt the Initiative outright.

Our preference would be for the Supervisors to adopt the Initiative outright in order to avoid a costly campaign. The second best option is for them to put it on the November ballot.

Please join us on Tuesday, June 20 at 10am at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 70 West Hedding St. in San Jose.

You don't need to speak at the hearing, but your presence is very important. The developers will be out in full force, so we need to show the Supervisors that the community is solidly behind the Initiative.

Please let me know if you can join us on Tuesday.

Thank you. Peter Drekmeier, Campaign Coordinator, People for Land and Nature (PLAN), 48 So. Seventh St., San Jose, CA 95112, (650) 223-3306,,

P.S. Your financial support is extremely important at this time. Please consider donating online at 


5/27/06 - Judy, until now I have had a very busy schedule and have been unable to write on what has been troubling me for years. I can't wait another minute. I know your paper reaches a lot of people and I am perplexed with something you and your readers may be able to help me with, read on ........

Business has recently taken me to the cities of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Milpitas, Fremont and Hayward. Why is it that these cities are cleaner than our Eastside? Why are there papers scattered all over our little downtown area on Alum Rock? Why is there garbage on the sides of the streets and on our freeway ramps? There is garbage everywhere. Why is this? Is it the merchants? The people who live here? The City not running sweepers? The County not doing their job? Our side of town could be very pretty (even if it's not as upscale as these other cities). Why can't it be clean?

What can we do about this? I am tired of hearing from people from other cities, "Oh, that's the Eastside!" We, the people, on this side of town have a very bad reputation on this subject and in my opinion there is no excuse for it.

Any suggestions on what to do about what I consider urgent?  Concerned, Bonnie Staiti


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Copyright© 2002-2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved. New Neighborhood Voice assumes no responsibility for the reliability or accuracy of any information posted on this page.  Updated 11/3/06.

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