New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 15 - Section 1

April 4, 2004

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

More
photos
are in
Section 2

Springtime along Alum Rock Avenue and in the East Highlands

Bill Rice
Co-Director
JLHS

Mary Parker-
Eves, Pastor
ARUMC

What's this
sign?

 Lara Gularte
Poet

Mediterranean
Garden

Newsletter Headlines - Click here for an Eastside Early Spring Photo Essay!

bulletIs there an Assumption that NNV Readers Espouse the Opinions in the Newsletter?
bullet“Achievement and Success, Nothing Less” for James Lick High School says Bill Rice
bulletPilot and Neighbor Alan Craig Opines on Reid-Hillview Airport
bulletSan Jose Fire Department Reductions for the East Side?
bulletAn Alum Rock Pastor Discusses Same-Gender Marriage by Mary Parker-Eves
bulletExplorer Anza in Santa Clara County by Greg Smestad and Edward Allegretti
bulletCalifornia Early Spring - A Poem by Lara Gularte
bulletBushtits, Brown Creepers and Towhees, Oh My! by Dorothy "D.J." Johnson - YSI
bulletThe Mediterranean Garden - Hillside expansive soil problems by Robin Edwards
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletThe Ultimate Easter or Graduation Gift
bulletCounty Historical Commission Makes Preservation Grants by Edward Allegretti
bulletSnake Season Again in Alum Rock Park from Jane Lawson
bulletSpecial Traffic Rules for Easter Sunday at Alum Rock Park from Jane Lawson
bulletEarth Day at Alum Rock Park from Jane Lawson
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletApril Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletThe Wildflower Top 10 by Arvind Kumar
bulletGoing Native Garden Tour, Includes Eastside Gardens from Arvind Kumar
bulletMaster Gardeners & Cooperative Extension Need our Help by Nancy Garrison
bulletLas Delicias Mexican Restaurant Reviewed by Connie Allegretti
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletHow can we get a Trader Joe’s here in East San Jose?
bulletWhat’s happening with the old little barbeque place on White Road?
bulletIs Councilmember Campos soliciting ideas for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletWhat suggestions has NNV heard for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletIs it true that the sale of the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner has “fallen through”?
bulletIs that a facelift underway at the "double store front" in the Village?
bulletWhy are there mucho piles of dirt lined up at the old Bill’s Pony Ranch property?
bulletDoes NNV get flak about the themes, topics, or opinions expressed by writers?
bulletDoes anyone know yet what’s going to happen with the #64 bus route?
bulletWhy is the Village so dirty?
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Q. Is there an Assumption that NNV Readers Espouse the Opinions in the Newsletter?

Egads! We sincerely hope not!

A. It has come to our alarmed attention that some of our esteemed NNV readers are a bit es-steamed about the perceived provocativeness and/or one-sidedness of the articles which we publish. Our objective is to provide a forum for the people who live in our area. We try to accommodate the people who want to write for us. We try to accommodate the tastes of our very diverse readership. It is always our hope that readers with opposing points of view will share those views. Sometimes this happens, sometimes not.

We figure that NNV readers can and do discriminate about which articles they do or don’t want to read. Likewise, we expect that they discriminate among the opinions expressed and decide which they do or don’t want to embrace. Sometimes we are guilty of “cheerleading” projects which we feel will benefit the community but, in general, we try to remain neutral and do not endorse or necessarily agree with what our contributors write. It does seem to us that presenting some non-main-stream points of view (as long as the authors don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses) offers our readers a glimpse of something other than the perceived monolithic Bay Area mindset. We do not believe that by publishing articles, we are implying that our reader base accepts or espouses the opinions in those articles. That’s the last thing we want!

If readers will look at the very end of our website, they will find our disclaimer. Starting with this edition, we’ll make sure it’s more prominently displayed. To wit: Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV (or its readers!).

Meanwhile, we really do encourage and welcome your Letters to the Editor and we hope that you will pass along our articles to others who might be spokespeople for “the other side.” NNV believes that we’re all enriched by understanding other points of view – even if that new understanding does nothing more than cement our own convictions.

Send e-mails to JudyET@NNVESJ.org. Send letters to New Neighborhood Voice, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127.

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“Achievement and Success, Nothing Less” for Lick High School says Bill Rice

Passion, Respect, Accountability – A new sense of purpose, even Saturday School

New three man team restructuring JLHS

If you had seen Bill Rice at a New Years Eve Party ushering in Anno 2004, and you had asked him what he thought his future might hold, the very last response he would have given you would have been, “Three weeks from now, I think I’ll be part of a three-man leadership team restructuring James Lick High School.”

Lick High School and its low-test-score problems were perhaps the farthest things from the mind of this Independence High School vice-principal who was easing along toward retirement at the school where he had been an English teacher and administrator since 1976 when the doors of then-new Independence High had opened. Trust him – no one was more surprised when the new ESUHSD Superintendent of Schools, Esperanza Zendejas, tapped him, Rick Esparza and Joel Herrera to address the “low standardized test scores at James Lick and the school’s poor image in the community.”

NNV interviewed Bill Rice late in March in hopes of understanding why this man was chosen as one of the three to tackle the Herculean endeavor of restoring our declining neighborhood high school to the “jewel” status it once had. And, of course, NNV wanted to know how this is going to be accomplished.

NNV: What do you see as unique about James Lick High School?

B.R.: The school’s small size and intimacy. It’s easy to feel comfortable in this welcoming architecture with its large windows, light and space. Also, the historically positive feelings the community has for the school are unique. The Comet alumni are remarkably supportive.

NNV: What is being done differently under the direction of the new team? What are your goals?

B.R.: New “systems” have been put into place. Now there is a system for discipline in which students understand and accept responsibility for their behavior. And there’s a system in place for developing curriculum and one by which the teaching staff has access to the budget. Immediate goals are to address the lack of academic performance, to support teachers in developing an effective curriculum and to improve the morale of teachers and students.

NNV: How do you define the challenge at Lick?

B.R.: The challenge is to build the spirit back up. Both teachers and students need appreciation and respect. It’s important to get a “momentum of success” started to quell the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Rebuilding spirit is definitely more difficult than building spirit in the first place.

NNV: You have been at this school less than two months. Are you seeing any demonstrable success at this point?

B.R.: Absolutely yes! Students are beginning to consider themselves to be “part of something positive.” In early March, more than half the sophomore class turned out voluntarily to prepare for the High School Exit Exam at after-school sessions between 3 and 4 PM. Sixty percent of the faculty volunteered to work with these kids! The test was given on the 16th and 17th. I conducted an “informal exit poll” of forty kids and their responses were nearly all very positive. In mid-May we should know their test results. Ask me then whether their scores improved!

We’ve brought a new sense of purpose to the school. “Achievement and Success, Nothing Less” has become our school mantra. I believe that “the tipping point” has been reached – that a critical mass of kids has been engaged – enough so that a lot of disenfranchised kids can be brought along with respect.

We’ve also established student “accountability” on campus. Teachers issue a hall pass to students who need to be somewhere other than in class – no more will one see kids ambling in the halls or convening on the quad during class hours.

And, we’ve started “Saturday School”! Students who merit detention now serve that time on Saturday mornings. Needless to say, the last thing kids want to do is spend their precious Saturdays at school so they now have a real incentive to stay out of trouble.

NNV: What special talents or credentials led to your being chosen to help “fix” Lick High?

B.R.: I have a strong curriculum background and I have a real passion for kids. And, having been a long-time successful teacher, I have utmost respect and admiration for the teaching staff. I was really happy to discover how dedicated and passionate the Lick staff is about improving the academic success at the school.

NNV: How have you three administrator/directors divvied up the leadership responsibilities at the school?

B.R.: My role is to develop the Master Schedule and to work with the teachers to fine-tune new plans for the curriculum. Rick Esparza’s responsibilities include discipline, school climate and facilities. Joel Herrera has an accounting background so he oversees the budget; he also takes care of Community Relations and articulating with the two feeder middle schools, Pala and George. We work as a team – not hierarchical like the usual Principal/Vice Principal model. The three of us give each other input and support.

It was easy for NNV to see why Bill Rice was uprooted from his post at Independence High to help redeem James Lick High School. He exemplifies commitment and passion. He is one of those people who others turn to when a creative, conscientious leader is needed. The school district has set an eighteen month deadline for the Rice-Esparza-Herrera team to show results. Bill Rice has high hopes that by June of 2005, the team will have achieved “improved test scores and a renewed sense of pride and confidence from the community” - and a school culture which promotes academic achievement and enfranchises even the most disadvantaged or disaffected students.

With any luck, Bill Rice will stay on at Lick and “shepherd it until it gets to where we’d like it to be.” Three hundred Lick attendance area students have opted to go to Mt. Pleasant High School. Bill Rice scratches his head and ruefully wonders why. The schools offer very similar opportunities and, after all, Lick is their home school. If parents in the Lick attendance area loyally supported their neighborhood school by sending their youngsters there, the school’s poor image and low test score problems would vanish overnight!

NNV Note: This story could easily have been categorized as a “Notable Neighbor” piece because Bill Rice and his family live among us in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Bill is an Oakland native who has gone to school (Santa Clara University), lived and worked in the South Bay all of his adult life. The community is waiting and watching and hoping for positive change. Thank you, Bill Rice, for bringing your deep commitment to education to the students at James Lick High School.

NNV hopes to interview Rick Esparza and Joel Herrera for future articles. Interviews with students are underway to see things from their point of view.

Click here for a photo of Bill Rice at James Lick High School.

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Pilot and Neighbor Alan Craig Opines on Reid-Hillview Airport

“The airport is an irreplaceable public asset”

Why won’t Supervisor Alvarado support a Joint Community Relations Committee?

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return"  Leonardo da Vinci (from www.reidhillviewairport.com

On February 25th Councilmember Nora Campos hosted a neighborhood meeting at the Alum Rock Youth Center to discuss “Airports in Our Community.” The first hour of the two-hour meeting was taken up mostly by presentations on the architecture of the proposed improvements at Mineta San Jose International Airport, its Master Plan and the public art which might grace the new complex.

The presentations were well done and well received. However, the majority of the large audience was actually in attendance to address Reid-Hillview airport and/or to vent apprehensions about the perceived shifting of Mineta flight patterns (and the attendant noise) over the east foothills. The second hour of the meeting was given over to the planned discussion of Reid-Hillview. Councilmember Campos had given assurances that she would allow time to hear audience concerns on all airport topics – including the possibility of increased noise over East San Jose. However, this time did not materialize and the East Foothill citizens went home disappointed and disillusioned that Ms. Campos seems not to be interested in the concerns of the community.

NNV had asked neighbor and pilot, Alan Craig, to write up his impressions of the “noise aspects” part of this meeting for last month’s NNV. Alan isn’t “just” a pilot – he’s knowledgeable about airports, transportation and even public art. He and his wife make it a point to keep their ears to the ground (by attending a lot of meetings) to help make sure that civic projects are delivered as promised by our elected representatives.

Alan deferred on writing an article about noise because the meeting didn’t include “the noise discussion we expected.” However, he did send us his fascinating essay on Reid-Hillview, its Master Plan and County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado’s anti-Reid-Hillview attitude. Here’s what Alan wrote:

There was a lot of discussion in the second half of the evening about Reid-Hillview (RHVA). Much of it confused the Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) which is working on an update to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP – which is woefully out of date since it was last updated more than ten years ago) that establishes rules for development around the airport to ensure the community is as safe as possible and noise impacts are minimized. This has nothing to do with the operations at the airport.

At the same time, the County has been updating the Master Plan for RHVA. This is a completely separate activity that does focus on future operations at the airport. The effort has been going on for more than a year, along with an FAA Noise Study to recommend ways to mitigate the impact of aircraft noise on the community. Basically neither one is complete and Blanca Alvarado, the County Supervisor who has the airport in her district, is setting the agenda.

Many decisions regarding the airport continue to be delayed because the Master Plan is not complete. We have also asked Ms. Alvarado several times, and she has committed in public, to sponsor a Joint Community Relations Committee (JCR). This joint group of community and airport people (pilots and the airport management) will meet and work together to address noise and safety issues. A JCR is in place for the Palo Alto Airport and it has been very successful.

Unfortunately Ms. Alvarado and staff have not followed through with her promise. Could it be that she really doesn’t want the airport issues to be resolved or to see harmony between the airport and the community? She made it very clear several years ago that closing the airport was what she really wanted. Fortunately a wiser Board majority did not vote to close the airport.

The airport is an irreplaceable public asset, just like our highways, waterways, parks and recreational facilities, reservoirs and lakes. Nobody wants an airport in his backyard (well, actually that’s not true – we have many flying communities where people fight to get lots with access to the runway) but RHVA is a very important regional asset that plays a key role in the life of this valley every day.

It is a reliever airport for San Jose, providing an alternative for non-jet traffic, helping to relieve congestion at SJC. It is home to our Civil Air Patrol which provides search and rescue support. RHVA is used by the folks who fly organs for transplant and the Flying Doctor groups that travel to Mexico to help the villagers without health care. Many small corporations base aircraft there. It offers a real life lab for the Overfelt High School Aviation Academy and provides some summer and intern jobs.

RHVA supports many smaller aviation businesses from flight schools to maintenance shops providing jobs and a livelihood to members of our community. During natural disasters, it has proven to be a lifeline to communities. During the ’89 earthquake, airplane loads of food, clothing, blankets, etc., were flown to the Watsonville area from RHVA because the roads were impassable. And, of course, it is an avocational part of many of the area’s pilot’s lives. The Eastside Little League is a happy tenant on the airport property as is the endangered burrowing owl.

It has been shown in several consultant studies commissioned and paid for by the County that the airport is the best use for the property….not more homes, high density housing and shopping centers, which we have in abundance in the area already. (Such use) will add more traffic, congestion and frankly create new noise and safety issues for the community. By the way, RHVA pays its own way. Of the three County-run airports, it is the only one that actually delivers net revenue to the Airport Fund – the other two lose money and are subsidized by RHVA.

Now, I admit to being a pilot. I have an airplane with a partner (I can’t afford one by myself) and I am one of the lucky ones who rent a hangar at RHVA, so, yes, I am an airplane person. But, I am also a member of the community; I live in the air traffic patterns for both RHVA and SJC and I am very interested in making this a place where people enjoy living. I think I actually represent or “live” both sides of the many airport-related issues and am happy to be a resource when someone in the community wants both a pilot’s and a community member’s perspective on an issue or other related topic.

The Official County-sponsored RHVA website is at http://www.reidhillviewairport.com. It has copies of all the documentation, CLUP, Part 150 Noise Study and lots of other stuff. And they maintain it, so it is useful. I noticed something as I looked today - there was some info on a Joint Community Relations Committee that we have hoped to see created for many years. It works well in Palo Alto and typically focuses on things like noise issues and practical ways to resolve them. A draft for by-laws was reviewed at the March 2 County Airport Commission. Hope they are setting it up now.

Unfortunately airport discussions generally break down to an emotional level. Community members have some real fears about airplanes falling out of the sky (did you know RHVA is one of the safest general aviation airports in the country...incidents have been few and no one on the ground has ever been injured by a plane in the airport area) and in fact it can be noisy if you live in the traffic patterns around the airports.

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San Jose Fire Department Reductions for the East Side?

It looks like we may have dodged a bullet – for now

City Councilmembers Campos and Reed respond

In early March, NNV started to hear about significant reductions in the San Jose Fire Department personnel and equipment which could affect the fire protection for Alum Rock Park and the City and unincorporated County areas which the SJFD is responsible for on the East side of San Jose (that’s us!).

As NNV readers know from our articles on fire safety last year, this area is served by three fire stations: Station #2, the headquarters station on Alum Rock Avenue, Station #19, a small four-personnel station on Piedmont Road which has a direct route into Alum Rock Park via Penitencia Creek Road, and Station #21, another four-personnel station on Mt. Pleasant Road.

Station #2 houses ten firefighters plus Chief Jose Luna. It's the busiest station in the City (and thus the busiest station in Santa Clara County!). All of these stations have special equipment and capabilities for fighting fires and meeting other emergencies in areas like ours. Each station has a paramedic and some combination of brush patrols, water tenders and Urban Search and Rescue equipment. Station #2 also has a truck with a pump, 65 foot ladder and an especially short wheelbase which can negotiate tight switchback corners. We’ve been told that the Fire Department believes that it would take twenty-five of the city's thirty-one engines to fight a major fire in the Country Club area. Obviously, mutual assistance from other fire departments would be called in (and we’d better hope there’s not a big fire somewhere else in San Jose at the same time).

First, we heard that there were plans for a 10% reduction in the personnel at Station 2 (from 10 firefighters plus the chief to 9 firefighters plus the chief) and that the water tender now at Station 2 would be moved from this area. We’ve also heard that overtime hours must be reduced, that the Wildland Interface Officer position is being eliminated and that there are now more than 50 unfilled positions in the SJFD.

We fired off an e-mail immediately to City Councilmembers Chuck Reed (District 4) and Nora Campos (District 5) which are, of course, the two districts that cover this area and Alum Rock Park. Our e-mail summarized the reductions we had heard about, asked if they were correct and inquired if the County had requested or approved reductions in the fire protection in our area (because the County contracts for fire protection from the City for the unincorporated areas here on the East side).

Councilmember Reed replied immediately that the reductions we were hearing about “have not been shared with the Council.” He also said that, “In January the Council authorized a reduction in the Fire Dept budget of about $1.2 million in this fiscal year. I voted against it because I thought it would mean unacceptable service reductions.

Now we’re hearing, after the City Council meeting on March 23, 2004 where “items regarding cuts in the San José Fire Department were pulled from the budget actions taken” (see the message from Councilmember Campos just below), that the specific fire department reductions mentioned above are “on-hold” for the remainder of this fiscal year. Station 2 will continue to have 10 firefighters plus the chief and no decision has been made on moving the water tender yet. Rather than moving the water tender, the brush patrol now at Station 2 may move to another station. The brush patrol location is of somewhat less concern to the firefighters protecting this area because “it can get here a lot faster than the water tender can if we need it here.”

That doesn’t mean that the San Jose Fire Department has escaped reductions. Many administrative positions have been consolidated or eliminated and we now have “roving Battalion Chiefs” to fill in when others are absent to help cut back on overtime. The new San Jose Fire Chief, Jeff Clet from the Gilroy Fire Department, just arrived in mid-March (he hasn’t even been sworn in yet as we’re writing this) and it’s too early to tell what changes he will want to make. However, the fire department seems to be optimistic that he will be a good chief for San Jose, partly because he has already asked for inputs on what changes should be made (evidently, input has not always been welcomed in the past). We hope that the fact that he is coming from Gilroy means that he appreciates the importance of fire protection in our Wildland Urban Interface Areas!

Stay tuned for more news on the fire department as the changes evolve and we go into the peak fire season. We may be OK for the moment but it’s too early to tell what may happen. In any case, further reductions may be required for the next fiscal year.

Here’s the message from Councilmember Campos.

New Neighborhood Voice Readers,

Through the efforts of my office, items regarding cuts in the San José Fire Department were pulled from the budget actions taken on Tuesday, March 23, 2004. City Council took initial steps to address the City of San José's looming budget deficit. Tough choices remain as the deficit currently stands at $71 million following cuts made by City Council at Tuesday's Council meeting. Those actions included eliminating 100 vacant positions throughout the City. Though vacant, funding has been attached to these positions in the event that the positions could be filled.

That is not the case at this time; the elimination of the positions that are currently vacant will result in an estimated savings to the City General Fund of approximately $6 million. No uniformed (sworn) public safety positions were cut. My colleagues and I will continue to explore ways to balance the City's budget and best maintain the quality of services in San José during the May budget sessions.

Nora Campos
Councilmember
District Five

NNV Note: As you can see from this article, we sometimes try to contribute to the news in our area as well as report it. We do this only when we think it is very important and that we can contribute in a positive manner. You can help us by letting us know when you hear something that may affect important City or County services for our area.

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An Alum Rock Pastor Discusses Same-Gender Marriage

Haven’t heterosexuals already weakened the institution of marriage?

A “Struggle toward better understanding”

By Mary Parker-Eves, Pastor, Alum Rock United Methodist Church

Issues involving same-gender marriage have been in the forefront recently, especially in San Francisco, but also at a recent San Jose City Council meeting when, after a lengthy public hearing, the council approved recognition of the San Francisco same-gender marriages for purposes of benefits for city employees. Many persons attended to protest the city's action, and did so from a Christian-faith perspective. I feel it is important for the public to know that not all persons of faith, not all Christians, agree on the issues involving homosexual orientation and homosexual marriage.

Alum Rock United Methodist Church is one of many which has made an explicit statement that we welcome all persons, regardless of sexual orientation; that we respect all as persons of sacred worth; and that we offer a caring supportive community, with equal pastoral care and opportunities for participation for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trensgendered persons.

I regret that many Christians focus on a few obscure passages of the Bible as authority for rejecting and excluding homosexual persons. It is true that those passages are all negative about homosexual behavior. However, scholars tell us that the cultural situations involved did not include today's understanding of mutually loving, committed, adult relationships. Even heterosexual marriage was certainly not that kind of relationship in bible times, but one of property ownership - men owning one or more wives.

Rather than holding a few negative passages as our final word on the subject, I encourage us to look at the overriding principle of LOVE as our scriptural foundation. Throughout the Bible, both the Hebrew scriptures and the Christian New Testament, love is the primary value, the basis of all ethics and all law. Cultural contexts change; scientific knowledge grows; love and compassion supersede all. Our God is described repeatedly as loving and compassionate above all, and we are made in God's image to be loving and compassionate persons.

I am amazed and delighted to see the thousands of gay couples who affirm marriage and want to make such a commitment to each other. Their personal stories are touching - couples who have been together for more than 50 years; couples who have been through huge challenges together and have come through loving each other; couples who want their children to know their parents are married, just like other families.

Some say that gay marriage destroys the institution of marriage. In seeing the past few weeks' events in San Francisco and across the country, I believe that same-gender marriage may be the strongest support for the institution of marriage we have ever seen. Adults who love each other and are willing to make legal commitments to each other deserve legal protection and benefits, and also the blessing of their churches if they so desire. We heterosexuals have done more to weaken the institution of marriage than these couples could possibly do - witness the high divorce rates, the prevalence of domestic violence, the so-called reality TV shows that try to match couples in artificial situations, the Britney Spears' weekend fling marriage in Las Vegas.

We should remember that only 150 years ago, African American slaves were not allowed to marry, or even be treated as humans, let alone citizens with equal rights. Remember that persons of color were not allowed to marry white persons, due to "God's plan at creation to separate the races," according to a Supreme Court decision. Remember that divorcees have not been allowed to re-marry by both state and church laws even more recently. All of these laws have been supported by quotes from the Bible.

Times change; laws change; even our biblical interpretations can change. Certainly not all Christians, even in our congregation, are in full agreement on this issue. But we continue to struggle toward better understanding, and we do fully agree that all persons are beloved children of God and are welcome in this church.

Rev. Mary Parker-Eves, Pastor
Alum Rock United Methodist Church
30 Kirk Ave., San Jose, CA 95127
(408) 258-7368

Click here for photos of Mary Parker-Eves and Alum Rock United Methodist Church.

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Explorer Anza in Santa Clara County

What's the Trail Sign at Alum Rock Avenue and Mt. Hamilton Road?

By Greg Bernal-Mendoza-Smestad and Edward Bernal Allegretti

“Explorer Anza in Santa Clara County,” would have been the headline in April of 1776 if there had been a newspaper. There were neither newspapers nor headlines here, however, at that time. Thanks to Anza, the town of San Jose was founded about a year after he arrived. Over 225 years later, signposts are going up all over San Jose (and California), including those you may have seen in the neighborhood (at Alum Rock Avenue and Mt. Hamilton Road). These commemorate Anza’s historic trek and allow you to follow in his footprints or hoof prints as the case may be. Who was Anza, you ask?

In 1774, Spain’s hold on Alta (or upper) California was tenuous. Spaniards had been in the new world for over 200 years, but only a few mission sites and presidios were all that stood between these remote Spanish holdings and a potential takeover by Russian or English forces. Even more troubling, these distant outposts of the Spanish empire had a severe drawback - they were occupied almost exclusively by soldiers and priests who did not bring their families with them to this distant outpost. Indians of California who had never seen a Spanish woman asked Father Junipero Serra if Christians did not believe in the institution of marriage. The missionary realized that there could be no permanent colony in Northern California until Spanish babies were born here. Colonists arrived in San Francisco and San Jose in 1776 with Juan Bautista de Anza, and the San Francisco Presidio and mission were founded soon thereafter.

In 1990, Congress acknowledged the significance of the Anza expeditions by establishing the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. The expedition represented the first major wave of settlers to colonize Spanish California. Many of California's first European families came with Anza. The settlers (pobladores) of the Anza expedition included Californio family names such as Alviso, Alvarez, Bernal, Castro, Linares, Pico, Peralta, Sanchez, Soto, Moraga, Soberanes, Higuera, and Berryessa just to name a few. The trail they took was named one of only sixteen Millennium trails in the nation. The trail also offers the opportunity to recognize and understand the contribution and diversity of the American Indian tribes and nations along the Anza route who allowed Anza's colonists’ passage and those colonists’ descendants who are here today.

Here’s what expedition Chaplain Padre Pedro Font’s journal said for the area:

Font’s Diary 03/30/[17]76, Campsite 97 -- Rio de Guadalupe
"…With the plan of going to explore the large river which was called San Francisco, and was said to empty into the port on the north side, at this place we left the road which we had followed in coming....This place is one of very level land and well covered with pasturage, but is lacking in firewood, for there is no other timber than the growth along the river, which is of cottonwoods, sycamores, ash, and laurels: and in all that region there is not a single stone. The Indians afterward were somewhat obliging, bringing same brush for firewood, and were not so much afraid as they had been at first. On the way here we had the Llano de los Robles on our right. On beginning to go around the head of the estuary we found another village, whose Indians showed great fear as soon as they saw us, but it was greatly lessened by giving them glass beads. One of the women, from the time when she first saw us until we departed, stood at the door of her hut making gestures like crosses and drawing lines on the ground, at the same time talking to herself as though praying, and during her prayer she was immobile, paying no attention to the glass beads which the commander offered her…”

Within the Henry Coe State Park and the Mt. Hamilton Range

Henry Coe State Park is the second largest California State Park next to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, so both number one and two are connected to the Anza trail. Anza called the Mt. Hamilton range the Sierra del Chasco which translates as “the mountains of disappointment" (or that played a joke). Apparently, he was disappointed as to how long it took himself and his men to cross this range in early April. The Anza exhibit is at the southerly trailhead of what they call the Anza Trail which is a two-mile segment. The trail is about one mile from the Coyote Creek entrance to the park and links to other trails in the park. There's a group of volunteers that once a year does an Anza interpretive horseback ride on which they introduce others to the Anza story. While at the park, going up the trail, one can often see a reclining bobcat, raccoons, a covey of quail or wild turkeys lined up in a row feeding.

Historic Route: The expedition covered many miles in Santa Clara County, traversing western areas en route from Monterey to San Francisco, and traveling around the south end of San Francisco Bay and then through the eastern portions of the county on the return trip to Monterey.

The route to San Francisco enters Santa Clara County from the south on approximately the alignment of U.S. Highway 101, then follows the west side of the Santa Clara Valley, in the elevated land at the base of the foothills, all the way to the county line near Palo Alto.

Returning from San Francisco, the route to the East Bay exploration follows the south end of San Francisco Bay before turning north into Alameda County.

On the return trip to Monterey, the route closely follows the eastern county line after entering from the north. It passes through rural San Antonio Valley, and then follows Skunk Hollow Gulch to the East Fork of Coyote Creek, to the main Coyote drainage and south to the vicinity of Gilroy where it rejoins the northbound route.

More History
After Anza’s first expedition to California in 1774, he knew an overland route was possible. Anza returned to Sonora, Mexico, to seek permission from the viceroy. Once he received permission, he began the task of assembling the families to settle in the Bay Area. Beginning in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Anza moved north, recruiting a total of 30 families to take part in the expedition. They came from small villages as well as from a variety of backgrounds. When the “travelling city” finally amassed at Tubac, nearly 300 soldiers, vaqueros (herdsmen), tradesmen, women, children, and priests assembled to begin the 1200-mile trek that would take them to their new home.

About 200 of these travelers would eventually make their home in Alta California; men, women and children. The expedition was like a moving city of humanity making its way to the Bay Area. Eight children were born en route; one woman died in childbirth. Two hundred and forty to three hundred persons in all had started from Tubac and reached Monterey after four and a half months. Even during times of rest, the families also needed to tend to and care for the nearly 1,000 horses, stock animals, and cattle that accompanied them along the way. They arrived at the Presidio of Monterey on a rainy day, March 10, 1776. In the summer, the settlers moved from Monterey to San Francisco and, with the help of the Ohlone people, began construction on the presidio and the mission. Within a year, as their community became more established, some moved south to establish settlements and missions in San José and Santa Clara. Within a few short years, violence between new settlers and the Yuma people (in Arizona) would close the Anza Trail for good. But while it was open, it brought settlers to California who would forever leave their mark on the land and tie it firmly to its Spanish roots.

Trail Guide
Through the National Park Service, a unique Anza Trail Guide and Audio CD is being developed that will acknowledge the contributions and heritage of Indians and Californios alike. The basic concept of the project is the combination of a trail guide booklet and an audio CD that provides a sense of what people living then could have heard that we can hear, and preserve, today. This is expected to be released by early 2005.

Click here for photos of the trail signs and the trail route in the San Francisco Bay area. Click here for more on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail Guide and Audio CD Project.

Next month, watch for details of paralleling Anza’s route for a historic jaunt this summer.

About the authors, Greg Bernal-Mendoza-Smestad and Edward Bernal Allegretti:

Both are eighth generation descendants of several members of the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition of 1775 to 1776. Greg’s ancestors include Apolinario Bernal y Soto, Luis María Peralta, and Juan Salvio Pacheco. Ed’s include Ignacio de Soto, Ignacio Linares and Juan Francisco Bernal.

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Click here for Section 2 of the April 4, 2004 Newsletter

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

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