Suzy and Mark
house - He's now
The house is
Cafe - No need to
Trails are one of the most effective ways to provide recreational opportunities to the community. They serve pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians and are a benefit to all age ranges and require no training or equipment for their use. The Penitencia Creek Trail Master Plan is 25 years old and we owe it to ourselves to get it done.
In 2002 the council approved the Penitencia Creek Park Chain Reach 2 Master Plan. The area designated Reach 2 is approximately 26 acres of undeveloped parklands directly across from Noble Park. The park site is made up of several adjacent parcels of land owned by the County, the Water District, the City and Berryessa Union School District. The master plan for the new park includes trails along the creek, bridges over the percolation pond spillways, a picnic area, an irrigated turf area, a fishing/model boat launching pier, restrooms, a drinking fountain, and a parking lot. City staff anticipates that implementation of the Penitencia Creek Park Chain Reach 2 Master Plan will take place over a period of time because the money that is currently available to begin work on this project is not nearly enough to complete it.
I have asked staff to take a pragmatic approach to spending our time and money so that we can maximize our progress while we look for more funding. Most of the improvements called for in the Reach 2 Park Master Plan do not have to be built before we can at least use the existing trail along Penitencia Creek. For example, the bridge over the spillway can be delayed because it is possible to walk around the percolation ponds to get to the other trial segment.
The first thing we have done is to develop an agreement with the County and the Water District to remove the gates that block access to the existing trail along the creek. The gates are open, and it is possible to use the existing trails from King Road nearly to Alum Rock Park. My office is in the process of working with Parks staff to install signage to help users navigate the trail from King Road to Alum Rock Park. However, the section just before Alum Rock Park, referred to as Reach 1, would still not be accessible because a house is there now.
As soon as the trails for Reach 2 are usable, City staff will focus efforts on getting the Reach 1 trail opened and connected into Alum Rock Park. One of the key properties we have to acquire in Reach 1 is on the market and we will be using Open Space Authority funds to purchase it.*
Also along the Penitencia Creek Trail, Mabury Park (referred to as Reach 6) located on Jackson between Mabury and Commodore will provide residents near Independence High School with a local three acre park and tot lot for their recreation and enjoyment. The planning for the park is complete, but money to build and operate the park have not yet been identified.
If you would like periodic updates on what is happening in the District and notices of community meetings, please send me an email message so we can add you to our distribution list. The email address is District4@ci.sj.ca.us.
* NNV Note: The property in question is the Boesch Hall property (click here to read more about the property and here for some photos - use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition). For the trail plan, only a small portion of the Boesch land would be purchased. Meanwhile, there is work going on in Alum Rock Park - click here for photos.
Living here in the hills, I've grown accustomed
to the deer and the quail and the occasional
'possum, and by now I suppose they've grown
accustomed to me. We ran out of things to say
to one another long ago. Now when our paths cross,
down by the oak trees or where the oleander
has taken over in the back,
usually we don't bother to acknowledge
one another. I go my way. They go theirs.
So last evening as I lay stretched out
in the hammock, when I heard rustling in the grass
I didn't think at first to turn and look.
Only when the soft noise grew closer
and persisted did I mark my place
in the book I was reading, and glance
over at the high weeds next to me.
A red-tailed fox, his snout not more
than twelve inches from my own, stood peering
at me, so close I could feel his breath
warm upon my face. He studied me with eyes
as wide and intense as a new-born baby's,
as if to ask what manner of creature I was
and how I happened to be suspended there,
hanging in my big cocoon strung between the trees.
Too astonished to be afraid,
I wanted to reach out my hand, to run my fingers
through his red-black fur, to caress
the unbelievable luxuriousness
of his tail. But I did not move
or blink an eye. For a half a minute
we stared at one another.
He made no sound.
I had no word to say,
though I'd have liked to thank him
for the honor of his presence--
and maybe that is what he'd come
to teach me.
He turned then,
and as he slipped quietly away,
his paws, it seemed to me,
barely touched the earth.
Click here for a photo of John Pollock. Dr. Pollock teaches Survey of British Literature to 1660 and Seminar in Poetry at SJSU. He lives in the Country Club area and was a neighbor and poetry mentor to the late John Leary.
----- Neighborhood Classified ------
99 Boxster, 55k miles, excellent, $24.5k bb, Photo, Roland Hoffmann, (408) 621-2056 to leave msg
|Daring Helicopter Rescue in Alum Rock Park ..... Again!|
|JLHS Teenagers "Doing Good" Earn a Good Turn|
|Boccardo Blooms: April 4 Boccardo Trail Hike from Lori Raymaker, SCCOSA|
|Nigel Funge "Googles" His Brother Simon's Name and Ends Up in NNV|
|NNV Paper Editions Available Now to Read at Local Sources|
|Santa Clara County FireSafe Council Releases RFP for Council Coordinator|
|Cesar Chavez Commemorative Breakfast - Coming Soon|
|Three Strikes, You're Out - Recall Esau Herrera by David Elizarraraz|
|Alum Rock Stables Update from the March BABTT E-News|
Last month there was a dramatic rescue of some stranded hikers in the nether reaches above Alum Rock Park. They had gone beyond the limits of the marked trails and got themselves in a real pickle and spent a horrific and frightening night before rescuers and a helicopter came for them the next morning.
To Mark DeTar, this story sounded a bit like déjà vu "all over again" because about ten years ago, he and two of his buddies, Richie and Keith, pulled a similar stunt with a similar conclusion.
Ten years ago, Mark, Richie and Keith were all carefree young twenty-somethings who decided one day to explore beyond the safe confines of the park. Mark thinks now that they must have arrived at the same precarious place that proved to be the downfall of the recent hikers. In the case of Mark & Co., there really was a downfall, however! While trying to maneuver to a safe perch, Keith grabbed hold of some dangling tree roots (maybe the very same roots that the recent stranded hiker clung to?), lost his grip and tumbled perhaps a hundred feet down into a narrow chasm.
Keith's fall was "broken" by his head and feet alternately hitting the craggy sides of the chasm. His body bounced from end to end all the way down to the bottom where it came to rest, finally, after a ride on a ball-bearing-slick gravel deposit.
Mark and Richie couldn't see Keith in the darkness of the narrow space, but they figured that he was probably dead. But, just in case their friend wasn't beyond rescue, Mark raced off toward the civilized part of the park looking for anybody who could help. Back on the trails, he found a girl on a bicycle. She had a cell phone and let Mark try to call 911. No luck! Cell phone signals are just about nil in the Alum Rock canyon.
So, on Mark ran, down and down the steep trails toward the ranger station. When he breathlessly arrived, all the park personnel mobilized to get Keith (or Keith's body as it were) out of that deep abyss. Because he lay at the bottom of the cliffs, there was no way that a helicopter could get to him, but a chopper was called, nevertheless, to take a possible survivor to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Richie somehow clambered down the slippery gap and found Keith's head under water in Penitencia Creek. Richie pulled the unconscious and bloody Keith away from the creek's edge and waited for Mark to come back with help.
Mark and the rescuers had to approach Keith from the creek; there was no trail leading to the site. They had to wade and leap from boulder to boulder, making agonizingly slow progress, to get to Richie and Keith.
When they found a grateful Richie and an unconscious Keith, the rescuers strapped Keith onto a stretcher and headed back toward the parking lot. They had to make their way from boulder to boulder in the creek just as they had come, but now burdened with the heavy stretcher bearing Keith.
The parking lot near the Youth Science Institute Nature Center was evacuated to make room for a helicopter to land. Mark, Richie and the rescuers succeeded in getting Keith to the safety of the paramedics in the helicopter in time for them to fly him up and out of the canyon and on to a hospital.
Keith had suffered a severely gashed head and "his knees and elbows were like hamburger" according to Mark. He was unconscious for several days, but is alive and well today.
Mark will never forget this frightening episode in his life and he would never again set his foot outside the marked trails of Alum Rock Park. He also remembers painfully that each of the miscreants was fined $380 for their folly. He blesses the park rangers and San Jose policemen and firemen who got three reckless young guys back to safety at great risk to their own "life and limb."
Click here for old post cards of the falls in the off-limits area of the park - this is the only safe way to see them. Use the back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.
On Tuesday, February 3rd, during the lunchtime meeting of Lick High School's Project Earth Club, club president Senior Andrew Casanova accepted a $500 check from the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council's representative, Allan Thompson. The money is to be used for the club's projects which include working with the FireSafe Council to educate and empower people who live in Urban Wildland Interface areas such as the East foothills to make their homes and neighborhoods "Fire Safe."
The thirty or so Project Earth kids have embraced and aided SCFSC over the last several years including helping to maintain the Council's fire safe demonstration garden in Morgan Hill. Most recently, some members of the Club assisted SCFSC members at the annual YSI Wildlife Festival last fall where they answered queries, handed out educational materials and monitored the smallest festival guests as they clambered on and off the SJFD's Shark Engine.
The Club's interest in the work of SCFSC is a natural one! Project Earth is Lick High School's environmental awareness club. Their purpose is to educate their fellow students about the importance of improving the environment and preserving the Earth's resources. Besides their educational focus, they do much hands-on labor such as working with the Yosemite Fire Department clearing brush and thinning the forest to strengthen trees and reduce the risk of future firestorms. You may have seen them working with the Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition cleaning up debris and beautifying the neighborhood. They involve themselves in Coastal Cleanup Day's "Clean a Creek" and "Clean a Beach" projects. These are busy young people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They are learning to be good stewards of the Earth and setting a wonderful example for others to follow.
The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council looks forward to continuing to work with Project Earth on more projects and hopes to establish similar relationships with the environmental groups at more Santa Clara Valley high schools which serve Wildland Interface areas.
A portion of the SCFSC check is to be used for tools and supplies which the club will use in their collaborative efforts with the Council. Part of it will be earmarked for the Club's scholarship fund and other purposes.
Click here for photos of the Project Earth students accepting their check. Click here for the SCFSC Web site. Look for their new, 20 page guide for homeowners and residents Living With Fire in Santa Clara County, which includes sections on A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Defensible Space and Fire Resistant Plants.
Carpets of yellow, orange, purple, and blue wildflowers welcome you as you ascend 1,100 feet up to the top of the east San Jose hills. As you reach the peak, you will come face to face with soaring hawks as they enjoy the gentle updrafts along the face of the mountain. The Boccardo Trail will take you there!
On Sunday, April 4, join Open Space Authority volunteer Paul Billig at 1:00 p.m. for a moderately strenuous, 6-mile, roundtrip wildflower hike from Alum Rock Park to the top of the Boccardo Trail. Along with the wildflowers, you will enjoy the magnificent views of the Bay Area as you ascend the mountain. Time will be spent at the top to enjoy the spring weather, soaring birds, and breathtaking views before heading back down the hill.
What to bring:
Because this is a long, steep hike, wear appropriate hiking shoes and attire. It is best to dress in layers as it can get windy and cool at the top of the mountain even on a warm spring day. Most of the trail is exposed to the sunlight, so remember the sunscreen and bring plenty of water! You may also want to bring a snack to enjoy at the top of the hill.
Where to meet:
Hikers will meet in the Youth Science Institute Parking Lot in Alum Rock Park. There is a $6.00 parking fee for Alum Rock Park. Click here for the Alum Rock Park parking fee schedule – seniors (60 or older) and others are eligible for discounts; annual and 10-visit permits are available.
For photographs of the trail in the springtime, visit Cait Hutnik's website
http://www.lightofmorn.com/html/boccardo_spring.htm. Cait is the Open Space Authority's volunteer photographer.
Early in February NNV received an e-mail which began, "My brother, Nigel "googled" my name recently and came across the following:
"A Heartwarming - and True - Kitty-Cat Tale. Where was the cat for two weeks? Simon never says!" written on December 7, 2003. The story includes the following: "She didn't include the information that Simon was the … kitty who her son had named "Simon Funge" after his British-born friend of that name who also had red hair and freckles."
The e-mail writer went on to write, "Well that Simon Funge is me I suspect which leads me to wonder who wrote the story and who the Nesters might be. I have to say that I've had a number of cats named after me for some odd reason including my friend, Andy … Andy Thompson … any relation to you? Are the Nesters actually the Thompsons?"
Well, the (Empty) "Nesters" of the December NNV story are indeed the Thompsons and NNV is delighted to know that names used in our stories can be found via the big search engine, Google. Simon Funge, the real original high school boy whose name Andy appropriated for his orange kitty eighteen years ago, is now a thirty-something graduate student at UCLA (as is Andy) and lives in Long Beach. If you have written anything for NNV or if your name has been used, you might have fun "googling" your name and seeing it cited.
NNV readers who have read our stories about our cat know that Simon (the cat) died late in December so now we just have ten year old Schuster. We have obtained permission from Simon Funge (the human) and his twin brothers, Nigel and Alistair, to name our next pair of boy cats after the twins. And, of course, after this edition of NNV is swept up by Google, Nigel Funge and Alistair Funge will find their names forever "google-able" in this story.
The paper version of New Neighborhood Voice really is available now for your perusal at the Alum Rock library branch. Their staff is stretched thin (whose isn't nowadays, huh?) and they had a bunch of personnel changes so it took a while to get NNV on the shelf. There is now a box holding the current issue and all of the back issues on a shelf very near the magazine racks near the front doors. Melanie the friendly librarian (actually all the staffers there are friendly and helpful) made a little bit of space at the end of the Chinese language section and, if you're looking for NNV, it will jump right out at you. If you're looking for NNV in Chinese, however, you're in for a disappointment. If you are Chinese and want to translate NNV, be our guest!
The library's copies of NNV do not circulate, so you'll need to grab a chair and set for a spell to read it. We distribute NNV every month to several businesses in the area, also, so you might take a look at the paper version at Rafiki's Coffee Hut, Foothill Printers, Mario the Barber's, and The Coffee Cup on McKee Road.
Will you please pass this information on to your Internet-shy friends?
The Santa Clara FireSafe Council has released a Request for Proposals for a part-time, contract Council Coordinator. The coordinator will help provide the infrastructure and organization for the council and will also provide support to the SCFSC officers and directors and other members.
The RFP and more information are available on the Council's Web site at www.SCCFireSafe.org. All qualified companies and individuals are encouraged to respond to this RFP. Proposals must be received by 5:00 PM on March 31, 2004, by e-mail at the e-mail address specified in the RFP.
You're invited to the third annual Cesar Chavez Commemorative Breakfast on Wednesday, March 31st. If it's anything like last year's event (and we're promised that it will be) it will be a great opportunity to have an excellent catered breakfast in beautiful surroundings in the company of friendly and welcoming neighbors - all celebrating the life of our great local hero. Cesar Chavez lived here on the east side of San Jose and championed the civil rights of farmworkers and the disenfranchised everywhere. The morning's program will include observations on the importance of Chavez' civil rights legacy as well as a slide show accompanied by young musical performers from our area.
NNV attended last year's event and found the ceremony emotionally moving in the lush surroundings of the Mexican Heritage Center, a true eastside treasure. If you go, NNV recommends getting in the food line as soon as it's available and then taking your breakfast to a table close to the front of the room. No one is expecting you to wait for them before you begin eating, so chow down while your yummy ham and eggs are hot!
Spring is a beautiful time in the MHC gardens - the roses may be showing off their first spectacular blooms of the season. Leave time to stroll throughout the grounds and reflect on the life of our exemplary Eastside neighbor, Cesar Chavez. For more information, see the NNV Bulletin Board.
Click here to read our report on last year's Commemorative Breakfast.
Members of the Alum Rock Community have tried to recall Alum Rock School District Trustee and Board President Esau Herrera twice before. We in the Miller-Dorsa community began an effort to recall Mr. Herrera in September, and the Registrar of Voters office certified our petition at the end of December. Since then we have been working to build a network and have collected hundreds of signatures in the neighborhoods around Story and King Roads.
We began the recall because we believe that Mr. Herrera is no longer effective in his role on the school board, a role he has had over 12 years, despite the recommendation of a grand jury that he and his fellow members not run again. The others are gone, but he is still here. He has been unresponsive to the needs of our neighborhood and children and treats community members with contempt during board meetings, when he isn't grandstanding about how great he is and how wonderful our schools are. We are the lowest performing district in all of Santa Clara County. The condition of our school district affects not only the education of those without money to send their children elsewhere, as Mr. Herrera did, but the property values of our homes, the levels of crime on our streets, and the closeness of our communities. Back in September, Mr. Herrera was quoted in the Mercury News, calling us a "small group of people who prefer to complain rather than be part of the solution," while saying that he is "focused on our kids and their education." This has not been our experience with Mr. Herrera.
It is time for change, and we need it as soon as possible. Our deadline for the recall is in late April, and we need to collect just over 6,300 signatures from over 32,000 registered voters in the district. Circulators and signers must be registered voters who live in the district. You do not need to have children in Alum Rock Schools to have a say! Because there are so many non-voters in our community, we are also keeping a separate "unofficial" petition so we can demonstrate to Mr. Herrera and the voting public the overwhelming support we have for this recall. Please call the recall hotline at (408) 923-2135 for more information.
On February 26th four members of the 'ARS' Steering Committee met with Dave Mitchell, Park Planning Manager, City of San Jose, to determine whether or not the City will grant a License or Easement along the entry road onto Stable property. As was reported in our April 2003 'ARS' E-News: "…it has been a rather trying time … lack of legal and insurable access from Alum Rock Road to the Stables will be a 'deal breaker.'"
Fast forward … We have now learned from Mr. Mitchell that an 'easement' will sometimes be granted on 'Undeveloped Parklands.' We now await a finding from 'Legal' as to how the City views this small section of Alum Rock Park: Will regulations allow an 'easement or license' to access this entry road between Alum Rock Road and the Stables? Once this determination is made - hopefully in 'our' favor - we can proceed with title search, appraisal, needs assessment, permit applications, etc. Then … fundraising can begin in earnest!
'Your' Alum Rock Stables Steering Committee invites parkland advocates and neighbors to participate in all aspects of planning, maintenance, restoration of the stable, parklands and trails. To be part of this historic revival of an abandoned stable in San Jose, please contact Bay Area Barns and Trails at BABTT@earthlink.net or call (415) 383-6283. Alum Rock Stables needs you!
Click here to see some photos of Alum Rock Stables. Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.
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NNV did an interview via e-mail with Mark DeTar of DeTar Properties one of NNV's newest sponsors. Mark just let his "thoughts flow" and shows himself to be a warm, funny, open sort of guy. His mother, Mary Bumb DeTar is one of the ubiquitous (and wonderful) Eastside Bumbs so Mark gives us a glimpse of his life in this huge, unique family which arguably could be called the East foothill's "First Family."
Mark's observations on the local real estate climate are candid and fascinating. Sit back and enjoy the read!
NNV: Where were you born?
MdeT: San Clemente CA. in 1973 while my dad was in the Marines.
My Mother, Mary (Bumb) DeTar grew up on Highland Drive and attended St. John's. My parents live on Crothers Road near the Gassetts and Parks.
I grew up at 338 Gordon Avenue between Dr. Long and Dr. Bilker's houses. I used to climb over my backyard fence and cut through the Caskey's yard to walk to the Country Club to go swimming.
My mother is 3rd oldest of 8 children.
I'm 2nd oldest of 8 children.
My wife is 3rd of 12 children.
My Father is 1st of 12 children.
I have over 50 first cousins living within a 2 mile radius of my office on Toyon Avenue.
NNV: Where did you go to school and what vocation did you prepare for?
MdeT: I went to Mitty, until my parents moved us to San Marino (in Southern California) for my senior year. I graduated from San Marino High School in 1991. I attended Thomas Aquinas College for two years to study the Classics. Until I met my future wife.
NNV: What are your "passions"?
MdeT: One of the translations of the Latin root of the word passion is "to suffer." I took up golf a year ago and at this point, I guess you can classify it as a "passion" of mine.
This is a tough question because I like so many things. If you ask someone else, they might say that talking or something like that is my passion. I run a few 5K races a year to keep myself from having to purchase a new wardrobe. In 2000 a few friends and I ran the Big Sur Marathon. However, I can in no way be classified a runner.
I love my Family and my Job. My growing family and wonderful wife are motivation to achieve more each year.
Virtually all of our spare time is spent with relatives or close friends. I enjoy family poker games with my brothers, cousins and uncles.
I love my job because of the enormous amount of satisfaction you get when you have represented a client effectively. I enjoy being a part of people's lives during their most important financial decision. Oftentimes I am presented with a challenge from a buyer who is looking for a special home that may or may not be on the market.
NNV: How long have you sold real estate in this area?
MdeT: I didn't start concentrating on the East foothills until about 2 years
ago. It was a natural fit to move our office here because:
1) I live here.
2) Almost every one of my relatives and close friends live here.
3) All of the agents in our office live here.
4) I love the East foothills and consider it the best bang for your buck in the Silicon Valley.
I got my license when I was 18 to work at my father and uncle's (John and Dan DeTar respectively) mortgage company, American Family Funding. In 2000 I was given an opportunity to sell homes for a local builder. We created an offshoot of the mortgage business in which my father, John, is the Managing Broker. This has been growing steadily. I worked out of our Campbell office until last June when I moved to my current space on Toyon Avenue. We currently have eight additional agents working for our office.
NNV: Do you specialize in any particular micro-neighborhood or type of real estate sales?
MdeT: Alum Rock/McKee/Country Club is my area of focus. I can work with buyers and sellers in every price range because of the diversity of our area.
NNV: What was the best (and worst) year to sell houses here? Can you tell us the record number (high and low) of houses you have sold in any one year?
MdeT: Business got under way in spring of 2001. Times were challenging enough because of the recession. Sales went well enough through the summer. We all know what happened September 11th. Business was silent for a few months until about January of 2002. Since then, we have been gradually growing.
In 2001 I represented 21 "sides."
In 2002 I represented 42 "sides."
In 2003 I represented 28 sides (which ranked me amongst the top 25 agents in the Realty World Northern California region). I achieved "Hall of Fame" status for production this past year. Last year I was featured in REALTOR magazine for my unique approach to holding an open house.
NNV: Is your wife involved? If so, does she specialize in a specific part of the business?
MdeT: My wife, Suzy, does the REAL work at home with our four children; Brendan 4, Veronica 3, Jeremy 2, and Thomas 9 months. She enjoys previewing properties with me and I rely on her fresh perspectives about our business and about homes in general.
Occasionally my older kids will accompany me to work and help with the very important tasks of drawing octopuses and houses on my desk and walls and helping rid our reception area of candies and mints. Sometimes they will volunteer to test the copier for quality control by running some test copies of their hands.
NNV: Have there been any interesting or funny incidents which you think our readers would appreciate which you can share with us?
MdeT: Yes, plenty; however, the statute of limitations is not expired on some of our childhood "incidents" in the neighborhood.
I remember when Clinton was campaigning for his first term in office. It was about a week before the election and the candidates were making their last swing through the West Coast. At this point in the campaigns, the news anchors from the major networks follow the candidates around.
My mother got a call from channel 7 ABC. They said that they would like to do a news report from my parent's front lawn because it had a view of Silicon Valley. She said "sure!" Well, Peter Jennings showed up and did his "World News Tonight" from their backyard. It was a thrill to see what a huge production it was with all of the trucks and lighting that went into a shot of his head and shoulders. They didn't pick the West side mind you....
NNV: How has selling real estate in our area changed over the years?
MdeT: Even though I have only been selling Real Estate for just over three years, I have been involved in the industry for over ten. Because of the Dot Com bust and other factors, the real estate industry has seen a huge influx of new agents looking to make a quick buck while waiting out the downturn. Unfortunately this has resulted in a decrease in the quality of service. This is not to degrade new agents, it is just a warning to buyers or sellers to interview multiple agents and carefully consider who you are going to work with.
With respect to the East foothills in particular, I must say that not too much has changed terribly about HOW business is done. We are lucky to have a handful of very professional agents to chose from who specialize in our area, each one bringing different strengths and specialties to the table. And because the real estate industry is a cooperative industry, I feel lucky to be surrounded by these agents who not only sell in this area but actually live in and care about the East foothills (the Rauhs, Caskeys, Eileen Parks, etc.)
NNV: What's your take on the current downswing in home sales in our area? What's your projection on how long it will last?
MdeT: The upper end of the market has suffered a little and has undergone a correction over the past few years. However we are currently experiencing a reduction in inventory and the market has heated up considerably. The combination of low rates and favorable economic news has created a brisk market for sellers. Most homes, if marketed and priced correctly, regardless of price range, are selling quickly - oftentimes with multiple offers. I think that if interest rates can stay competitive the market will move well.
NNV: What would be the change(s) in the neighborhood if new people moving in were aware that their children could get a good education at Lick High School?
MdeT: I think you would see something akin to what is happening down the road in Evergreen because of the new high school. Many buyers in that area are speculating on good school scores in the future that would result in a potential return on their investment. The construction of the new Alum Rock Library should help on a few different levels. First, it will be a valuable resource for our community. It will help to reinforce the sense of community and identification with the East foothills, which, I hope will have a ripple effect for JLHS across the street.
Occasionally, potential buyers will mention that they are looking to move here because they feel that with the added resources, the schools will be improving over the years and in turn will result in an increase in property values. This is interesting because even a few years ago, this would never become part of the conversation. Buyers from outside the area would always say "It's a beautiful area but what about ...... schools, etc.?" (Click here to read a recent related Mercury News article.)
NNV: What would you like to see in our neighborhood which would make it a better place to live?
MdeT: A freeway from the Central Valley ....... just kidding. I concur with many others that we need another restaurant in our area. A restaurant that can help identify with our neighborhood.
NNV: What else might you like to say about yourself or your business which NNV didn't think to ask?
MdeT: Everyone is welcome to stop by and say hello at our new office on Toyon Avenue next to the "Traditions" book store.
Now, I have to go get some work done!
Click here for some photos of Mark and Suzy and their children and family.
Recently I was telling folks at work and elsewhere about the fourth trip Connie and I were planning to take to Mississippi. Almost without exception these people would say, "What? Why would you want to spend time in Mississippi?" Certainly this is valid given that Mississippi is hot and humid, I have no relatives there, and that most people have a negative view of Mississippi because of Hollywood's not so accurate version of the state.
Our main reasons for going were to look at lovely old houses that are for sale, to eat some different and good food, and to find out if Mississippians are really that different from Californians.
I'll start by stating that, in terms of housing, Mississippi is definitely very different than California. In a general way I think it fair to say that we here have many ranch style tract houses, fences around our small lots, mostly neat and well kept places, and probably nothing under 50 years old. True, our East Foothills doesn't fit this typical California pattern but still the generalization is valid. Like California there are exceptions to any generalization, but overall the houses in Mississippi are traditional in architectural style, are not fenced, have more land, and aren't always so well kept and maintained. The two basic patterns in the towns are the older neighborhoods and the new developments. We didn't see many new developments but overall these places are in the suburbs and average a quarter acre with traditional and colonial style houses of 1,500 to 4,000 square feet. Usually, such places go for about $50,000 to $200,000.
Of much more interest to us were the places in the towns. These old neighborhoods are generally filled with diverse houses. Diverse in terms of age (1830's to 1950's), size (800 to 6,000 square feet), condition (beautifully maintained to well beyond repair), from simple cottage to elegant plantation style houses.
While there it was our pleasure to be given tours of many houses for sale in Mississippi. Although there are many places I could describe, Connie and I both felt that Hickory Sticks was without doubt our favorite place seen during our trips. This house was originally built in 1817 and is located in the historic and antebellum house filled city of Columbus near the Alabama border. Hickory Sticks was initially a two story log cabin built by one of the first settlers in Columbus. However, in the 1840's it was extensively enlarged and made into an imposing Greek Revival house. This place was impressive enough to be the home of many important Columbians, including one of the first mayors and General Stephen Dill Lee, the Confederate general who ordered the shelling of Ft. Sumter.
This house is about 3,200 square feet. Not large by our standards but very much a grand place for its time. Originally it was surrounded by almost a quarter section of land. Today, though, it has only 3.5 acres. Yet, these are 3.5 beautiful acres. The house is located in the center of the grounds which provide much privacy due to the huge magnolia, pine, and redwood trees that are abundantly growing everywhere. In addition to the immaculately maintained house there is an 800 square foot guest house. This place, which has a small kitchen and bathroom, is equally well maintained. The front parlor with its wood paneled walls, large windows and fireplace makes this cottage inviting enough to be a home in itself. When we asked the realtor if the asking price of $334,000 was firm her reply was that no doubt the owners would take about $300,000! What would such a place cost in San Jose?
No doubt you the reader, like most Californians we know, would be happy to live in such a place at such a price. Equally though, like most Californians, you probably would not wish to because it is located in Mississippi. After talking with many Californians it seems that most view Mississippi as a backwards, race intolerant, ignorant, and very hot place. I will readily agree that the humid weather can be different (while there this past summer the average temperature was 85 with mild humidity while you all had temperatures in the 90's). However, I don't think the other stereotypes are valid.
It is true that one can see the Stars and Bars (or more commonly, the Confederate flag) almost as much as one can see the US flag; flying in front of houses, on t-shirts, in store fronts, and on cars. This, though, truly isn't a display of racial hatred against blacks or anybody else. After all, during the recent referendum to decide if the Stars and Bars should stay as part of the Mississippi state flag (where over 65% voted yes) all counties aside one in Mississippi voted in the majority to keep it. This included those counties whose population is mostly black. As the US flag is a symbol of patriotism and support of our county, the Mississippi state flag and the Stars and Bars there are symbols of state and Southern pride. Interestingly, last month I read several articles which stated that hundreds of thousands of black people have left Northern states for Southern states. Like me, they enjoy the friendliness of the people and affordability.
Unlike most Californians, the average Mississippian does attend church on Sundays (I'm told most small towns average over 70% attendance rates). This high church attendance rate (after all Mississippi is part of the Bible belt) does lead to some differences in beliefs and ways of living. The most notable and blatant difference is in the courtesy and friendliness of the people. Without exception we were well treated by people of all ages, races, and economic backgrounds. Everywhere people would wave at us as we drove by, folks would greet us as we walked past them, and fellow customers in stores and restaurants would have time to chat and tell us about their homes and lives. If you have a busy and rushed life and don't like people maybe you wouldn't enjoy this difference but surely Connie and I enjoyed all of the kindness and attention we constantly received (including being invited over for a lunch of corn bread and beans by strangers after attending the Confederate Presbyterian Church in Wiggins).
Another question folks ask is why would you one day want to live in Mississippi compared to anywhere else in the country? The simple reasons are: Connie and I don't like snow, we want a culture that is more traditional and Christian, we like the very friendly people there, and we appreciate the affordability. Early in February we came back from our latest trip to Mississippi. Although we would have liked to live at Hickory Sticks, we decided not to make an offer. The economy and schools in that part of the state aren't so good. Further, we'd have to sell my house here to afford such a place. Instead, I've purchased a small farm near Laurel, Mississippi. Although I hope to move there one day, at least I know the place I want is there waiting for me!
We selected the area around Laurel for many reasons. Namely, it is near Hattiesburg which has much shopping, many activities and excellent country clubs. Further, this area has the best economy in the state and excellent schools. In particular, we like this farm because it is fairly close to Hattiesburg (a town of about 45,000 people 25 minutes south), yet is near Laurel (a town of about 12,000 people 7 minutes to the north). Being 7 minutes outside of town gives us a rural environment. This place consists of an old farm house built in 1928 (with lovely hardwood floors, 10 feet high ceilings, hardwood molding/doors, and more), two well maintained tenant houses, a barn and corral, several other outbuildings, and 12 acres. The rental income from the property will certainly pay for itself.
In the meantime I can still enjoy some aspects of Old South culture in California. The main way for me to enjoy this is through my activities with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, as I've written about in other articles. Through my great-grandmother Gonzales, part of my family came from Virginia. These people, the Eidsons and Carys, were early and prominent settlers of Virginia. In addition to having ancestors who fought for the Confederacy during the War, some of these folks were wealthy planters, members of the House of Burgesses, ministers, and local officials. Although I am past commander of the San Jose Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I currently serve as state chaplain for the Order of Confederate Rose (an auxiliary organization to the Sons of Confederate Veterans which is open to anybody, please see http://www.confederate-rose.org/) and as state chairman of the League of the South (an organization that seeks to preserve the cultural, social, economic, and political well being of Southern people, please see http://www.dixienet.org/).
Would you want to live in Mississippi? If you don't like old houses, if you have a chip on your shoulder against other races, if you don't believe in the basic beliefs of the Bible, if you wish people to just leave you alone, you may not like it there. If you would like a lovely old house, if you want friendly and genuine people, if you want cheap and too much food served to you at restaurants (and enjoy grits, fried okra, catfish, blueberry and fig pie, turnip greens, and more), and if you want to live where the traditional family is still valued most, you'd probably be happy. If you see a For Sale sign in front of my house you'll know we've decided its time to live on our small farm!
Click here to see Ed's Mississippi farm.
10 Things You Can Do to Help Wildlife
Trim your trees and shrubs in the fall rather than during the spring when it's baby season. It's better for the vegetation and you won't disturb nests.
Create wildlife habitat in your yard by leaving part of it wild and natural. Wildlife friendly gardening may not fit our traditional ideas of maintaining a manicured yard but it provides homes for different species of wildlife.
Use natural, organic lawn and garden products (without pesticides) that will not harm wildlife and plant native species that will attract wildlife.
Supply wildlife with clean, fresh water daily, especially during hot weather. All species will appreciate the drink and birds will bathe themselves happily.
Keep your pets away from wildlife and their homes and nests, especially during the baby season. Keep your dogs on leashes when walking in areas with wildlife and keep your cats indoors or put bells or bibs around their necks if they do go outdoors.
Hang birdhouses, bat houses and feeders in your yard. You will be rewarded by the wildlife activity they attract.
Clean up litter (plastic soda pack rings, glass, fishhooks, etc.) that might harm wildlife wherever you see it. Report illegal garbage dumps and pollution.
Support open space initiatives that will preserve wildlife habitat. The more development encroaches on the natural environment, the more important open space becomes.
Learn how to tell if a wild bird or mammal is really in distress and needs help, or if it will be okay if left alone. Many birds and mammals, especially babies, are "over-rescued" by caring people who think they're helping but are removing healthy wildlife from their homes.
Remember that wildlife are wild animals (not pets) that are a critical part of our world. Wildlife need to stay wild in their natural environments.
10 Things You Can Do to Help WCSV
Become a volunteer: We have many different opportunities including Center and homecare volunteer, education outreach team, board member, newsletter team, data enterer, PR expert, legal advisor, event coordinator, and many more.
Donate items on our wishlist below and in-kind goods and professional services for our special projects and ongoing activities. Please tell us how you would like to help.
Contribute money and help us make sure WCSV has the funds to thrive in the next ten years. We need to raise $237,000 this year to provide our wildlife rehabilitation and educational outreach services and you can help us do it!
Bring any injured, orphaned, sick, or distressed wild bird or mammal that genuinely needs help to the Center or to the Humane Society Silicon Valley if we are closed.
Remember us in your will, living trust, or other estate plans.
Become a new member or renew your current membership. Encourage others to become members too. Gift memberships are the perfect way to celebrate special gift giving occasions. New members help WCSV, and we can help our new members learn more about wildlife in Silicon Valley.
Tell your city's leaders how much you appreciate us and the valuable work we do. Encourage them to continue funding us through fees for services contracts at the minimal level we request each year.
Sign up for eScrip, our car donation program, and our new printer cartridge recycling program. We can earn a significant income from these programs with no cost and very little effort for you and WCSV.
Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper or magazine describing your positive experiences with WCSV.
Tell everyone you meet about the important work we do!
Click here to see a photo of some creature you might be helping - and what would help!
Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with East side gardening and related topics here.
Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 299-2638 with your gardening questions or check out our website at www.mastergardeners.org/scc.html.
Citrus Yellowing: This is very common this time of year. Our local clay soils hold onto their nutrients more tightly during winter. An easy solution to the nitrogen yellowing is to apply a 2-4" layer of rich compost or manure as mulch in the fall if possible. Very little pruning needs to be done. Remove dead, diseased, or broken branches.
Fruit Tree Disease Control: Spray apples, pears and loquats with a fixed copper spray such as Microcop or Bordeaux during blossom for fire blight. Remove any diseased blackened twigs at least 9 inches below affected area. For brown rot on stone fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines), do the same. The blossom times vary so watch your tree to determine when to spray.
Snails and Slug Control: Now's the time to scout out your yard for
hiding snails and slug trails. First step is to remove the hiding places such as
thick plants, boards, stones, and leafy plants touching the ground. Use drip
instead of sprinklers to reduce the moist surfaces that they favor.
Hand pick early or late, squash in place, drop into soapy water or toss into the trash. Vertically sided tuna cans of beer regularly filled work. Copper foil or tape installed to surround planters or trunks will work if the slug/snail is forced to climb completely onto the tape to be zapped.
Keep the tape clean. Baits that contain metaldehyde are unsafe for pets and children; use iron phosphate products such as Escar-Go! or Sluggo instead. Apply bait weekly for a month.
Powdery Mildew on Roses: This fungus forms powdery masses on the leaf, stem and bud, distorting and stunting them. Spray materials were compared that target black spot and powdery mildew. Neem wax, neem oil, Safer's Insecticidal Soap, and Volck Oil with baking soda showed marked disease reduction. To each gallon of water, add three or four teaspoons each of horticultural oil such as Volck Oil and baking soda and mix well. Use a fine spray to cover all leaf surfaces. Grow varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew. The Santa Clara County Rose Society has a list on their website at http://www.sccrose.org/resistant.html.
Spittle Bugs: These bugs are more of a nuisance than anything and look awful on your plants. They are little blobs of wet, foamy, spit-like substance with a little tiny bug in the center. They seem to appear overnight and then are gone in about a month. Use a strong water spray to wash them off.
Buying Vegetable Seedlings: Bigger is not always better. Quality is
what's important. Look for dark green leaves and a thick stem with no yellowing
or shriveling. Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects or
clusters of eggs. Check the bottom of the pot for roots growing through. Pop the
cell out at the nursery and only buy the ones without matted roots.
Water them well when you get home before planting.
Moss and Algae in Lawn Control: Both moss and algae can form a barrier against water and air movement into the soil. It usually occurs in neglected lawns. The cause may be poor drainage, too much water or rain, soil compaction, restriction of air movement, thick thatch layer, low soil fertility (moss), heavy shade (moss), and high soil fertility (algae). For moss, fertilize. Reduce irrigation. Improve the soil drainage by contouring or installing drain tiles. Remove excess thatch and overseed with the same grass type. Selectively prune trees and shrubs to reduce shade. Reduce compaction by aerating the soil. Chemical treatments will only solve the problem temporarily. When you have control, be sure to rake the dead material and remove. Reseed bare spots.
The Peninsula and South Bay's premier botanical and horticultural event, the
32nd Annual Wildflower Show, will take place at Mission College in Santa Clara April 24-25, 2004.
The Wildflower Show is a two-day expo showcasing the diversity and beauty of wildflowers of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Last year, over 500 species of wildflowers and native plants were displayed, each accurately labeled, many suitable for the home garden. Knowledgeable botanists and gardeners are on hand to answer questions. Books, posters, seeds, note cards, and other wildflower-related items are available for purchase.
Now in its 32nd year, the Wildflower Show has become a well-known and loved tradition in the Peninsula and South Bay. Organized by the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society, this educational event is free and open to the public, and suitable for the entire family, where one can learn about the breathtaking diversity of California's native flora, and even pick up some ideas for the home garden.
The venue is the same as last year's, the Mission College Hospitality Management Building, conveniently accessible from the Great America Parkway exit off of Highway 101 in Santa Clara. Parking is free. The Wildflower Show is sponsored by the Environmental Awareness Association, which is working, among other things, to protect the unique burrowing owl habitat on the Mission College campus.
For more information, call (650) 941-1068, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.cnps-scv.org.
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For my first restaurant review, I decided to critique one of my favorite local restaurants, White Rock Café at 3116 Alum Rock Avenue. I will give an overall rating of the restaurant based on the atmosphere, the quality of the food, and the service.
This restaurant is located on the same side of Alum Rock as Peter's Bakery. My husband and I decided to have our Valentines dinner there. We made reservations knowing that Valentines Day would be very busy for almost any restaurant.
This restaurant always uses white table clothes and linen napkins. They had pink, purple, silver and red balloons throughout the restaurant. Each table had a single tulip on it. It was decorated for the occasion.
Because this was Valentines Day, they had a special menu for the evening. We first ordered a bottle of wine. White Rock Café has about fifteen different types of wine you can order. When they brought our wine to our table they opened the wine in front of us and, of course, allowed us to sample the wine before filling our glasses. Each meal started with a stuffed pasta shell. This was nicely presented in a white cream sauce and garnished with finely shredded beets. Next came a tangy and delicious salad, with house dressing, bell peppers, tomatoes and beets. They had about five or six different entrees to choose from. I had the Cornish Game Hen and my husband had Swordfish. Both of the entrees came with rice and sweet potatoes. They also had Filet Mignon, Prime Rib and Roast Pork on the menu.
After a delicious meal, they served dessert. I had the Ginger Crème Brule and Ed had the Passion Fruit Mousse. He very much enjoyed the tart and citric flavors. Both desserts were very good. But, that wasn't the end of it - they brought a cute little bag of candy for me. A nice touch for Valentines Day!
Our waiters were Ken and Eddie; you will find them there almost every night the restaurant is open. They both work diligently to provide excellent service to their customers. Every time we have eaten there, both of these gentlemen have given us excellent service.
Overall, I highly recommend White Rock Café. They have good food priced affordably, good atmosphere and excellent service.
Click here for photos of White Rock Café. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 2 PM and open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 PM. They also offer take-out food at (408) 729-4843.
|What's the new activity at the old pink building at 3159 Alum Rock?|
|Where are we going to park?|
|Will patrons of the new library have to dodge the pigeons?|
|No, no, not a Burger King in the village!|
|How's the Alum Rock Youth Center for public meetings?|
|How can we get broken or missing trees replaced?|
A. NNV noticed a couple of men inside the building on Saturday, February 21st and went inside to get the scoop. One of the men working inside was Carlos Murillo, one of the owners of the new business which is going to occupy the building. Carlos says that he and his little consortium have finally been issued all the permits necessary to renovate the building.
As NNV reported last fall, our neighborhood is getting an "upscale" produce/deli store with a large outdoor seating area for dining at the rear of the building. Both Carlos and his business partner, brother-in-law Rogelio Ruiz, say that their new business will be similar in character to Race Street Fish Market.
They plan to have high quality produce with an organic emphasis, barbecue done on the premises, great deli selections and fine wines for sale. Although they had planned a simple makeover of the front - mostly new paint and signage - they have received word from the City that the building will get a handsome new façade treatment funded in part with a Façade Improvement Grant from the Redevelopment Agency. Carlos was really excited at being able to get down to work on the interior of the building and he shared the floor plans with us.
Carlos says that he and his wife will actually do most of the running of the store. They plan to move to the Country Club neighborhood near Rogelio and his family.
It should just be a matter of several months before our neighborhood realizes a nifty new resource. It should be great fun watching the new business evolve from this old eyesore of a building!
Click here for some photos inside what will be our new deli.
A. The new owners have considered that, fortunately. They expect most of their trade will come in the evening as customers drop in on their way home for dinner - after the Planned Parenthood and Thrift Shop crowds have subsided. They also expect that weekends will be popular times for their customers to stop by and sit on the planned, fenced-in patio in the back. (Very "Los Gatos"!) There isn't currently a parking problem on weekends.
If the new business really, really thrives and a weekend parking problem develops, customers may find themselves hoofing it from up the street or from the free parking lot at Lick High School (from 4PM weekdays and all day on weekends). All the better to create a calorie deficit before consuming luscious deli food temptations, right?
A. The library plans call for 14 foot wide sidewalks on the north and east sides of the building which should be broad enough for all the foot traffic which the library will draw. As for the pigeon poop corridor, PG&E has been asked to underground the utility wire pigeon perches which run along the east edge of the site. Let's hope it happens. As it is now, kids and library goers must traipse through a slippery gauntlet and surely carry bird schmutz on the soles of their shoes. Yuck! By the way, the new library will have entrances from both Alum Rock and from the parking lot in the back.
A. It isn't so. Councilmember Nora Campos' Chief of Staff, Christine Silva Burnett, assured NNV that a Burger King is not in the works, but no one knows yet what sort of business(es) will be going in there. Nora has promised the neighborhood that she will help guide the development of that corner with appropriateness in mind. NNV thinks that the neighborhood would definitely prefer something much classier than a gaudy fast food joint. NNV will publicize any and all meetings which Ms. Campos plans to hold for public comment on this dear-to-the-heart topic.
A. Splendidly! The "Airports in Our Community" (Mineta and Reid-Hillview) meeting on February 26th was held in the facility's community meeting room. There was seating for perhaps sixty-five people and most, if not all, of the seats were filled as the evening progressed. NNV guesses that the room measures about 25' X 25'. There was a pull-down screen for the presentations by a representative of Gensler Architects, developers of the architectural design of the planned Mineta airport expansion, and that of San Jose's Public Art Program. The room's lighting is comfortably bright and there was no difficulty in hearing the un-enhanced voices of the speakers. A bonus for the adult community: the nearby restrooms are respectively marked "Boys" and "Girls" - what an easy way to unload a few years from one's psyche!
If you want to use the community room for a meeting, you can have it at no charge between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Your meeting must be open to the public and you can't charge admission. For meetings after 6:00 PM, there may be a charge of about $18/hour. Call Wendy Teshara at (408) 251-5757.
NNV Note: There are lots of youth and adult programs and classes planned for the youth center this spring - click here to download the list (large PDF file). Sign-up soon to ensure your class will have enough participants to be held.
A. Our City Forest's Green Neighborhoods program has trees available for re-planting in these pockets for this spring. However, there are some strings attached. OCF will provide appropriate 15-gallon shade trees with stakes and planting materials. They will coordinate the planting project and provide "site assessments, planting permits, tree ordering and delivery, site prep, hands-on planting assistance and tree care planning."
So, what's the catch? The neighborhood needs to provide a few stalwart individuals who are willing to sign a "watering agreement" and take on the responsibility of keeping the trees watered. One or two volunteers have already made the commitment to help beautify our neighborhood in this way and they would take on the organizing of more interested volunteers. Will you be a neighborhood hero and e-mail NNV at JudyET@NNVESJ.org with your commitment to this very worthy project? NNV will pass your information along to the right folks!
NNV Note: A date has been set for the first batch of trees to be planted. Can you help on Saturday, March 20th? Please let us know.
E-mail us at JudyET@NNVESJ.org or fax to (408) 272-4040. Please limit letters to a few hundred words (shorter items are more likely to be used in the newsletter and read) and include your name and phone number in case we have questions. Contributions may be edited for content and space requirements. Want to write articles or essays? Please let us know!
E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org to let us know about your events of interest to our readers.
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Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
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Copyright© 2004-2005 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 4/16/05.