New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 19 - Section 2

September 5, 2004

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

this guy?

In the YSI Aviary
designed by local
architect Marv Bamburg



Would you like to tour
this 1907 Craftsman
Style House?

For our local mail thieves

Corny story
on Alum Rock


More Deer Resistant Plants

Ed's house is
the scene of this
mystery story

And this is the



What's connection
between James
Lick and Rafiki's?

J.E. closes
Foothill Printers

What's this blight on
Alum Rock Avenue?

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“Small (Eastside) Tornado Packs Big Wallop!”

Say What????????

Carol Schultz’ memento treasure yields big fat weather surprise

During the visit of Hurricane Charley to Florida last month, NNV heard the same smug patter over and over. “Well, at least we only have earthquakes here in California! Those folks along the East coast and in the Midwest have to put up with hurricanes and tornadoes every year!”

Then, suddenly, a half-mile wide twister touched down on August 14th in the Victorville (California, folks!) area in the high desert down south. The Mercury News carried a photo of a firefighter slogging through a flooded house. Flash floods stranded motorists who had to clamber out of their cars and climb to higher “ground” (in this case to a table, per one strandee).

Well, maybe them Southern Californians have tornadoes, but at least we don’t have them dadgum things around San Jose, right?

Don’t bet your booty on that weather mis-factoid!

NNV discovered a crispy, yellowed 1979 Mercury News clipping among Carol Schultz’ treasure trove of Eastside mementoes telling of a genuine twister which “hopscotched across northeast San Jose…leaving a trail of battered homes, uprooted trees and frightened people,” twenty-five years ago.

“…the late morning twister…ripped a large section of roof off one home in the city’s Berryessa District, caused minor damage to 11 other houses in the same vicinity and tipped over a five-ton truck,” wrote staff writer, Bill Romano.

The December 21st storm caught “…several students outdoors at Independence High School (where they) narrowly escaped huge sheets of corrugated metal that were torn from nearby structures as the wind passed over the campus.” In a related story, one of the school’s administrators, Michael A. Gibeau, was quoted as saying, “We just looked at it. But it didn’t register. There aren’t tornadoes in San Jose.” (NNV emphasis).

Independence senior, Dave Wash, 17, who was also outside the school when the funnel hit, said, “It was absolute panic.” “The noise was so loud – like a sonic boom,” he said. “We have gas fireplaces in the lounges and the wind blew the fire right out of the fireplace into the commons. Everyone was shaking and wondering what the hell happened.” (NNV Note: it is to be assumed that the senior Mr. and Mrs. Wash forgave the excited Dave that minor curse word – think how a 2004 high school senior might be quoted! He might even utter a “classic Cheney.” Eeeeek!)

“At a K-Mart store at McKee Road and Jackson Avenue, doors were blown inward, frightening customers, but harming no one. As the twister continued, it picked up metal umbrellas outside McDonald’s restaurant next door and dumped them into a field 200 feet away.”

The storm arrived around 11:30 AM and caused a flurry of calls to the San Jose Fire Department. “People seemed really scared and confused,” said Fire Capt. Larry Salo. “Most of them knew it wasn’t an earthquake, only that something terrible was happening.” Some callers told the dispatchers that they were calling from under tables!

On the day the article appeared, December 22, 1979, there was not yet a determination of the dollar loss from the storm. However, Capt. Salo hazarded that his preliminary guess would place the damage “conservatively” at $100,000.

“It doesn’t take too many damaged roofs to reach that figure,” he added.

A related weather story in the same issue of the Mercury News pointed out that there had been a twister in Half Moon Bay on February 22 of the same year which “destroyed several buildings in that small community.” And, before that, there had been a small tornado sighted on the Mt. Hamilton horizon on March 26, 1973 - it never touched down.

So, boy-oh-boy, while we’ll probably never become part of Tornado Alley (knock wood) please don’t jinx us all by saying “It can’t happen here!” Man-oh-man, it can!

Click here for two San Jose Mercury News clippings of "our" tornado.

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NNV Briefs

bulletA Mountain Climber’s Eye-View of Santa Clara Valley
bulletProper Punishment for Punks who Pilfer the Post?
bulletCounty Historical Commission - Less onerous Preservation Ordinance by Edward Allegretti
bullet“Along the Avenue” - New monthly NNV feature!
bulletYSI Co-hosts “Autumn Afternoon” Event
bulletLick Your Packrat Habit - Boost Lick Boosters - Sell your excess "stuff"
bulletDon’t Miss This Event Again! - Mark your calendar for October 9th
bulletNotable Neighbor: Max Schultz - Downtown’s “Mr. San Jose” lives in the ‘hood
bulletNNV Updates List of Feature Writers - Invites more writers

A Mountain Climber’s Eye-View of Santa Clara Valley

Take a look – any time night or day – from the summit of Mount Hamilton

(Without leaving your home!)

When the August grass fires sent plumes of smoke into the sky over our eastern hills, you could have taken a peek at them as they appeared from the Lick Observatory. Their Web-Cam scans the local terrain and is updated every four minutes giving everyone access to valley views usually reserved for those intrepid enough to hie themselves up tortuous Mount Hamilton Road.

The revolving camera captures weather and atmosphere changes throughout the day and gives nighttime vistas of the sparkling city lights which Lovers’ Lane aficionados can only dream of.

Click here for the view right now and here for some fire photos from last year. You can also watch the “Daily Movie” to see how the view changes or look at archived still photos.

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Proper Punishment for Punks who Pilfer the Post?

If you could catch one, what would you like to do to the mail thieves who “stole your identity” or robbed you of your peace of mind when they filched that order of new checks from your mailbox or absconded with your (or your next door neighbor’s) outgoing letters?

Doesn’t it seem that these greedy cowardly creeps deserve to have their own peace of mind severely interrupted? After all, they prey on a sacrosanct (but patently vulnerable) commodity, the United States Mail. They live off the fruits of your labor and they don’t give a hoot that you can no longer trust the safety of your own mail in your own mailbox for Pete’s sake!

So, let’s say the police have one of these scumbags by the collar – caught red-handed with your mail. What penalty would you suggest would fit the crime? Jail time sounds good, doesn’t it? Cleaning up roadside debris every Saturday for 25 years in a look-at-me-orange jumpsuit resonates pleasantly, n’est pas? Or, how about imposing a multicolored tattoo spelling out “MAIL THIEF” in embellished Olde English letters on his Neanderthal forehead?

As far as we know, none of San Jose’s mail-and-peace-of-mind thieves has received such a fitting penance. However, as was reported in a recent Mercury News article, a San Francisco judge has ordered a mail thief to wear a sandwich board sign and parade outside a local post office for eight hours. The sign would say “I stole mail. This is my punishment.” The sentence was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals! There was, of course, one dissenting judge. He wrote, “To affirm the imposition of such punishments recalls a time in our history when pillories and stocks were the order of the day.”

Wouldn’t it warm the cockles of your heart to personally help put your mail thief’s head and arms through the holes in a pillory say, for instance, on a raised pedestal mounted in the middle of the intersection of Alum Rock Avenue and White Road? Or, alternatively, in the parking lot outside Save Mart? The dissenting judge would never “affirm” this method of punishment, but then he’s probably never suffered the insidious consequences of having his mail stolen. He’s never had to close his bank accounts, plead with banks, re-establish his good name and good credit, run up enormous long-distance bills and wasted weeks worth of time chasing down the endless loose ends of his shattered finances.

If he had, that judge would probably whistle a different tune and paste that sandwich board on the thieving dude for the rest of his life!

Click here for "photos" from our dreams of proper punishment for mail thieves.

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County Historical Heritage Commission Meets Again

Less onerous Preservation Ordinance discussion interrupted

By Edward Allegretti, Member, Historical Heritage Commission of Santa Clara County

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Historical Heritage Commission was held on August 19 at 6:30 PM but the draft Historical Heritage Ordinance was not discussed. We tended to other business which was necessary since we had no meeting in July.

At our September meeting, the commission will hold a special workshop to only review the ordinance. We shall discuss the various issues and direct staff to give a final draft of the ordinance. The public is welcome to attend the workshop which will be more informal in style than a regular meeting.

We hope to have this completed this calendar year, to hold public hearings starting in January or February, then to forward our final draft to the planning commission and Board of Supervisors for approval. The commission will meet next on September 16th, 6:30 PM, in the Supervisors' Chambers in the County Office Building.

Click here for the Santa Clara County Planning Office Web site for the proposed ordinance and here for the meeting agendas and archived reports. Click here for our August article on this subject. Comments or questions can be e-mailed to Ed Allegretti at or to the Historical Heritage Coordinator, Dana Peak, at Watch our Community Bulletin Board for the latest information on the HHC meetings.

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“Along the Avenue”

New monthly NNV feature!

Beginning with this edition, NNV will feature a photograph in each issue of some of the strange, wild, unusual, beautiful or thought-provoking scenes along Alum Rock Avenue. This month’s unusual scene was snapped at the corner of “the Avenue” and Decker Way. Did you ever expect to see an elephant’s-eye-high corn crop growing along the sidewalk? Click here to take a look!

If you see a sight-to-behold along Alum Rock, snap a photo to share with our readers or call us at 272-7008 and we’ll see if we can go take a picture. For readers who live along the McKee Corridor, we’d welcome sights and scenes from McKee Road. Shall we call it “On the Road”?

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YSI Co-hosts “Autumn Afternoon” Event

The Deckers open their wonderful home

An unusual “Autumn Afternoon” benefit for the Youth Science Institute will be held at the splendid Los Gatos home of Gil and Sandy Decker on Sunday, September 26th. The Deckers’ 1907 Craftsman Style home has undergone two years of loving “reconstructing, refurbishing, restoring and updating” which guests can enjoy as they dine on a sumptuous buffet and take part in a silent auction from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. The Deckers are longtime friends and enthusiasts of YSI and are generously opening their home and underwriting the event in order to help raise funds to support YSI’s multitude of educational programs. Tickets are $100 per person. 100% of funds raised will go toward the support of YSI programs.

Click here to see the invitation.

RSVP: (408) 356-4945 extension 15 or e-mail:

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Lick Your Packrat Habit

Boost Lick Boosters' (hopefully) humongous first-ever Flea Market

Sell your excess "stuff" - Support Lick Athletics!

The Booster Club at James Lick High will be holding a B-I-G Flea Market Saturday, September 18th beginning at 5:00 AM in the school parking lot. This first-ever event will host loads of folks just like you who want to sell their cast-offs, junque, bric-a-brac and craft-y items - as well as many vendors who will be selling new merchandise at great prices. Spaces cost just $15. Want to be a seller and have a table - or would you rather be a buyer taking advantage of this early holiday shopping opportunity?  Chairperson Lynnette Rodriguez says that early arrivers will find the very best bargains if they arrive when the sellers are just unpacking! So set your alarm clock and get hustling that morning.  There will be concession stands (selling that big cup of java which will help make up for your early-bird arising?)  Lick athletes will be on hand to help.  Come and meet them and support Lick's athletic teams.  Call Lynnette at 258-6697 for more information.

Click here to see the James Lick sign board inviting you to this event.

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Don’t Miss This Event Again!

Mark your calendar for October 9th

Invite a friend!

There’s an item on the NNV Bulletin Board this month which needs a little augmentation so that readers will know just how special this event is. It’s something that’s rare – one of those “Darn, I missed it again!” sorts of things.

How many times have you vowed to yourself that you would venture up to Los Altos Hills to visit the California Native Plant Society’s Native Plant Sale only to discover that you missed the only two annual windows of opportunity? Except for one Spring event and one Fall event (this one), the nursery is not open to the public.

So this is it! Fall is the very best time to plant California native plants because the rains that will be coming along – next month if we’re lucky – will give each plant its best possible start. In our climate, the winter rains are what support below-ground growth which fosters above-ground growth and blossoms the following spring.

CNPS will offer hundreds of species, “accurately tagged and lovingly nurtured” by their volunteers. Experts will be available to answer your questions. What more could you ask?!

The sale takes place Saturday, October 9th from 10 AM to 4 PM, at the Hidden Villa Ranch, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. The ranch is two miles west of the I-280/El Monte Road exit. Free parking for sale customers. Come early for the best selection; bring boxes to carry home your purchases. Cash or check only. For more information call (650) 941-1068 or email or visit

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Notable Neighbor: Max Schultz

Downtown’s “Mr. San Jose” lives in the ‘hood

Neighbor Max Schultz of Holly Drive was honored recently at the National Concierge Association Conference (NCA) held in Las Vegas August 12-14. Max (AKA “Mr. San Jose” for his consummate knowledge of the city and its history as well as the friendly service he provides visitors to San Jose) was awarded the coveted Concierge Outstanding Service 2004 Award. The award is given annually for “above-and-beyond” service in the concierge industry; the winner is chosen by NCA’s executive board. Max has been an employee of San Jose’s Convention and Visitors Bureau for about four years and is now Sales Manager of Theatre Venues and Small Groups. The SJCVB interfaces with visitors to the city and takes a leadership role in marketing San Jose as a globally recognized destination.

NNV Note: Max Schultz and his mom, Carol (AKA San Jose Mayfair writer and NNV neighborhood historian) share their family home near Toyon Avenue.

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NNV Updates List of Feature Writers - Invites more writers

Dorothy (“DJ”) Johnson, Bracey Tiede and Arvind Kumar have faithfully written about birds in Alum Rock Park, gardening tips and growing California native plants, respectively, for NNV for many months now. Their writing is simply excellent and their contribution to the newsletter is outstanding. We are belatedly acknowledging their fine writing skills and loyal support by adding their names to the Feature Writers list on our “About NNV” page.

There they join Edward Allegretti and Meaghan Clawsie, our wonderful original volunteer writers who jumped on board immediately when New Neighborhood Voice was not much more than a gleam in your editor’s eye. Ed continues to create interesting stories and also provides updates on the Historical Heritage Commission on a regular basis. Meaghan, who is sidelined by twin babies (one boy – one girl) born in April, wrote an article for NNV as recently as last winter on the topic of the Peterson Trial. Their participation truly gave heart and inspiration to the initiation of NNV.

Take a look at the list of writers and photographers on our “About NNV” page and see just how many of our neighbors have taken time to create something for NNV. You’ll be surprised to see just how many busy people (more than 60!) have penned stories and poems or snapped photos. Amazing isn’t it?

Newcomer (new to NNV, but a longtime Eastside resident) Carol Schultz who is sharing her wonderful collection of old neighborhood stories and clippings with us is a special new treasure for NNV. Her coming forward to offer her “old stuff” has encouraged us mightily.

The roster of NNV writers is a constantly growing phenomenon. We hope you will want to add your voice as well. What’s your métier? What’s your beef? What’s your passion? Let us know.

E-mail articles to us at or write the old-fashioned way, lick an envelope, stick a stamp and send them to NNV at 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA. 95127. Or, if you just have an idea for a story, give us a holler at (408) 272-7008.

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----- Special NNV Sponsor Message -----

Capitol Automotive & Performance, Call (408) 267-2292, Click here for photos

3520 'B' Pearl Ave, San Jose, Complete auto repair – domestic & foreign cars & light trucks

Free pick-up & delivery of running vehicles by appointment, locally owned by Gary Rauh, Jr. 


Longtime Architect (and Neighbor) Marv Bamburg

Loves new challenges – designed YSI’s aviary

He’s thrilled by “Being progressive in design”

NNV interviewed Founding Sponsor Marvin Bamburg, the architect who designed the new aviary for the Youth Science Institute’s nature center in Alum Rock Park, by e-mail. Marv lives with his wife Bonnie in the Ridgeview neighborhood off Alum Rock Avenue near the San Jose Country Club. Marv and Bonnie are dedicated community volunteers – active in many arenas. Marv’s business is MBA ARCHITECTS and he specializes in residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation and mixed use projects.

NNV: My idea is to introduce you in a biographical way rather than as just a businessperson so that our readers get a sense of who you are and what you do.

NNV: Where were you born?

MB: Chicago, Illinois.

NNV: Do you want to tell us how you met Bonnie?

MB: We had a blind date for New Years Eve '59-60. It was arranged by her dad and my roommate. She was living in Millbrae and I was temporarily stationed in San Bruno (Navy). The last blind date either of us ever had. We were married 4 months later and immediately left for a 3 year tour in Japan where both of our children were born.

NNV: Where did you go to school?

MB: High school was New Trier in the Northshore suburbs of Chicago. Graduated from the University of Illinois in 1958 with a degree in architecture. Then it was off to the Navy. In those days you were drafted or you enlisted. I chose the latter so I could go to OCS. I served 5 years on active duty with the Navy's Seabees and 17 more years in the reserves.

NNV: Did you always know you wanted to be an architect?

MB: I think my father "programmed" me to want to be an architect. He saw that I possessed the qualities required.

NNV: We never thought about military architects! How much “architecting” did you get to do during your time in the Navy?

MB: I had 2 years with the Seabees on Okinawa building a Marine Corps base. My next three years were spent in Japan serving on the admiral's staff and then as design officer for the Navy's military construction branch there. Real design opportunities were hard to find, so I returned to civilian life to pursue my career.

NNV: Who is your favorite architect?

MB: There are/were many good architects from whom I have learned a great deal. I prefer not to select only one as favorite. Those that influenced my career the most were Wright, Corbusier, and Saarinen.

NNV: Julia Morgan’s buildings at Hearst Castle withstood a 6.5 earthquake last year. Will buildings built to the current state of the art fare as well?

MB: Probably better. Every time we have a major quake, the codes are fine tuned. We continue to learn more each time. How buildings are connected has become quite important in recent years.

NNV: How long have you been an architect in this area?

MB: I came to San Jose in 1964. I was licensed in 1965 and started my own practice in 1968.

NNV: Did you design your own house?

MB: Our current home on Ridgeview Avenue was designed by Bill Higgins, a pioneer San Jose architect, in 1946. It was a modest contemporary house of 1600 square feet. Bonnie and I added over 2000 square feet to that, mostly on the second story and remodeled about 75% of the original ground floor.

NNV: How about others in the neighborhood?

MB: Our son's house is down the street only 3 houses. I originally designed that remodel for us, but ended up buying our current home and selling the other to our son. He has been spending all his spare time for the last ten years working on that job, and it may take another 5 years to finish it.

NNV: Do you specialize in any particular projects?

MB: We have done a great deal of affordable housing and housing for disadvantaged groups (mentally ill, elderly, etc.). We also do some historical preservation work.

NNV: What are your favorite projects?

MB: I like a new challenge, so my favorite projects are those that we have never done before.

NNV: What are you most proud of?

MB: Probably my most exciting design was for a building in Redwood City. It was done while I was employed by Wm. Hedley and was the sales pavilion for Redwood Shores. Unfortunately, it was founded on bay mud over 80' deep; in the 89 quake it became wracked and was subsequently demolished.

NNV: How did you happen to design the Youth Science Institute’s aviary in Alum Rock Park?

MB: We have been YSI supporters for almost 30 years when our kids were participants. I just volunteered to help and was assigned that project.

NNV: Was it your first aviary?

MB: Yes, and probably my last. Doesn't seem to be much demand for them.

NNV: Were there special challenges?

MB: There are in every project. At YSI certainly budget was a restriction. Protection of the animals and ease of cleaning up were prime considerations. The uneven terrain contributed to the challenge.

NNV: Have there been any funny incidents which you think our readers would appreciate which you can share with us?

MB: You mean other than the plumber connecting the hot water to the toilets? There are many instances in the course of construction that could be considered humorous if it were not that they were so potentially costly. I learned long ago not to be too critical of my fellow man, for there, but for the grace of God, go I. We humans do some of the darnedest things - buildings built on the wrong lot, taking house designs from the valley and using them in the hills, drawing plans for rooms without any doors, etc.

NNV: Will you comment on the rich variety of home building styles here in our area?

MB: I have seen much greater richness in home styles in the Northshore community of Chicago, where I grew up. We have variety here, but also too many tracts with monotonous repetition. Currently the Mediterranean style is in "vogue" so you can bet that will be overdone. I believe that buildings last far too long to be subject to trendy styles and changes in consumers’ taste. Architecture should be timeless, which is why the historic styles developed. Since architecture is a continuously developing art form, the styles evolve through time giving rise to the "periods" of classical architecture.

NNV: To what lengths do you think the County should go to protect exemplary buildings from demolition?

MB: If the benefit to preserving historical buildings is mainly to the public, then the public should bear the cost of such preservation. For the county or any other jurisdiction to dictate to a private owner conditions of preservation that strap him financially, is not right or fair. The public should pay for what the public gets. However, educating such owners to the value of their building resources is wise and may encourage the owners to pay for it on their own.

NNV: What would you like to see in our neighborhood which would make it a better place to live?

MB: I would like for all hillsiders to support the local businesses. If the business climate here improves, we will get better stores; higher quality stores. Good restaurants in the Village and surrounds must be encouraged by our patronage.

NNV: What are your “passions”?

MB: That's hard to verbalize. I can get passionate about a lot of things - politics, freedoms, tolerance, art, architecture, music, diversity ...

NNV: What else might you like to say about yourself or your business which I didn’t think to ask?

MB: I approach my practice as a service-provider. I subjugate my ego to that of my clients, so that the buildings I do for them represent their values and aesthetic tastes more than mine. Of course, I must be satisfied with the end result also, but the building is for them, not me. I want to encourage environmentally sound construction and design and try to educate my clients to make the right choices. Sustainable design and green buildings are the current buzz words for many things we have always done, but there are many new methods and materials which must be better understood and used to decrease the consumption of environmental resources. We generate our own electrical power at home and at work. When it comes to architectural styles, I always prefer modern and/or contemporary. Being progressive in design gives me a big thrill.

Click here for photos of the YSI Aviary.  Click here for Marv's MBA Architects Web site, enter the site and click on "Projects" to read about and see some of the other projects Marv has worked on.

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Funding Your Child's Education - Part 3

How much should you save?

By Jason Papier

NNV Note: This is a continuation of Jason’s article which started in the June/July edition. Click here to read the first part and here to read the second part in the August edition.

Rather than asking “How much should I save,” a better question may be, “Where should I put my savings?” I always encourage parents to save for retirement first, and education second. I do this because there are simply more options and better flexibility with education planning than with retirement planning. If needed, a student can usually get a student loan, but you cannot get retirement loans.

If you are not sure whether you’re saving enough for retirement, consult a professional who can prepare a retirement analysis for you. A retirement analysis gives you a basis for making financial decisions; you can try different scenarios and see how they affect your retirement picture.

Once you are comfortable that you are putting enough aside for retirement, spending your remaining income really comes down to priorities. Remember that when it comes to saving for education, every little bit helps. Don’t wait until you think you can fully fund a savings program; that day may never come. Instead, see if you can afford a salary deduction of $15 a month. If, after a couple of months, you haven’t noticed any appreciable change in your lifestyle, you may want to try adding another $5 or $10. If you get a raise, see how much of that can be added to the monthly savings plan. Chances are, you won’t notice a difference.

Birthdays and holidays are also great opportunities for educational saving. In my family, my nephews have 12 aunts and uncles. Suffice it to say, they have plenty of toys and video games. But they love money. Children seem to recognize money’s value at a very young age. So, instead of adding to their pile of toys, my wife and I usually try to give them money for college savings. We make the check out to the children and put it in a card. A nice mix of toys and money will give the instant gratification children want on their special days, as well as a practical, helpful gift they can enjoy years after they’ve forgotten about Sponge Bob.

Because of the power of compounding savings over time, any amount that can be saved is beneficial. In fact, given an initial contribution of $5,000, and contributing only $25 a month towards one of the tax-advantaged savings programs, in 18 years your account savings will be $33,085 (assuming growth of 8% per year)! So don’t worry if you can’t contribute a lot now, just get started and give what you can, it really adds up.

Tax advantages
I’ve been talking about “tax-advantaged” savings plans throughout this article. Tax-advantaged refers to savings plans that provide tax breaks to encourage certain types of savings. IRAs are examples of tax-advantaged plans designed to promote retirement savings. The Federal government has developed similar tax-advantaged plans to promote educational savings. Below, I discuss these plans, as well as several alternatives, in more detail.

To explain the benefit of a tax-advantaged account, let me first explain how taxes are normally assessed. As you know, when you earn income from work, it is taxed at your income tax rate. If you invest this money, all earnings are subject to income tax or to capital gains tax. So any money you earn, whether it comes from work or from investments, is taxed.

Tax-advantaged plans, however, work in one of two ways. Some allow for income to be saved before taxes are taken out. These plans, usually retirement plans such as 401k’s, allow you to deposit and earn money on your investments tax-deferred. When you eventually withdraw the savings, it is taxed at your current income tax rate. Other programs, such as Roth IRAs and educational savings plans do not allow you to put money in your account before paying taxes. However, all earnings and qualified withdrawals can be taken tax-free. Whether tax breaks are given at the beginning of the investment or at the end, these programs are a gift you should not overlook.

To give an example of how tax-advantaged educational savings can benefit you, over a period of 18 years, every $2,000 invested in a tax-advantaged program will result in an EXTRA $14,000 versus a taxable account!! Now that’s putting your money to work! The benefits are not nearly as great for shorter time periods. This is why I strongly urge people to take advantage of these programs as early as possible.

Savings vehicles
There are six major options for educational savings: 529 Savings Accounts; Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (formerly known as Education IRAs); gifting money to students; saving in a traditional savings account; retirement accounts; and US Savings Bonds. Certain life insurance products are sometimes also marketed as educational savings vehicles. Without going into too much detail, I am of the opinion that life insurance is best suited for insurance purposes and not always appropriate as an investment choice.

Of the six major options, gifting money to students and savings accounts are the least desirable. Savings accounts have NO tax advantages and so should be eliminated first. Giving money to a student (under the Uniform Gift to Minors Act [UGMA] or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act [UTMA]) has several drawbacks. First, you as the gifter are responsible for paying any gifting taxes. Second, that money is now in the child’s name and at age 18, that child can choose to spend the money however he or she wants. Unfortunately that may not be on one of the items you intended it for. Third, because that money is in the child’s name, it has an unfavorable financial aid treatment. Finally, while minors may have a lower income tax rate, the tax savings don’t compete with the tax-advantaged plans available for education purposes.

Choosing the right savings vehicle
At this point, we are left with four tax-advantaged options: 529 accounts; Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (also known by their acronym CESAs); savings bonds; and certain IRAs.

While some IRAs currently allow for withdrawals for education, these plans weren’t designed for this purpose. It concerns me that at some point that opportunity may be closed by tax legislation. If it is, the savings you had placed in the accounts for educational funding won’t be eligible for withdrawal for education purposes. For that reason, I do not recommend retirement accounts as educational savings vehicles.

Of the three vehicles remaining I am going to focus on the 529’s and CESA’s. That is because while all three types of plans provide for bond holdings, 529’s and CESA’s also provide a much broader range of investment choices. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of 529s and CESAs, and then examine scenarios where each may be most advantageous.

529 Savings Plans
529 plans, named after the section of the Federal tax code that refers to them, are administered (set up and run) by the states. Every state now has a 529 plan available. Note that a person does NOT have to be a resident of a state to contribute to its plan. In fact, states are competing against each other for your money, which has led to better offerings and lower costs. It is worth noting that while the states administer the programs, another party, usually an established financial institution, is responsible for the investment options. For instance, California’s ScholarShare program’s investment options are administered by TIAA/CREF.

529 accounts are considered assets of the custodian (parent), with the student named as the beneficiary. This allows for greater eligibility for financial aid. In addition, the beneficiary designation can be revoked or moved to another member of the family at any time. Each contributor to a 529 account can contribute $11,000 per year to the account. The lifetime value of an account can usually exceed $200,000 (it’s $280,000 in the California ScholarShare plan). Unlike most other types of savings vehicles, 529’s have no limits on contributions by those with higher income levels. And, anyone may contribute to a child’s 529 plan. Finally, 529s usually feature options designed to take the guesswork out of the investing process. These “age-based” investment plans re-allocate the holdings depending on the time students have until they are expected to enter school. (More on the advantages of age-based programs under the “plan maintenance” section, below.)

The primary concern with 529 plans is that the law that allows for these savings plans is set to expire in 2010. So, by 2010 Congress will have to consider whether to extend the tax treatment of 529 programs. I believe that 529s will either be extended or grandfathered, or replaced by another program. There is simply too much money in these plans and too many people participating to end the program. Furthermore, tax credits and breaks are constantly changing, along with our country’s tax laws, so any plan can be revoked or changed at any time. Often, tax savings programs are modified to close loopholes or to stop people from taking advantage of programs in a manner they were not designed for. So far, this has not been an issue with 529s. So, we continue to invest in 529s, knowing that we are making the best decision given the information and tools we currently have.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (CESA’s)
CESAs have 3 drawbacks when compared to 529s, and one major advantage. The first drawback is that CESAs have income limits for contributors. Joint filers are ineligible to contribute during any year their Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is above $220,000. The contribution limits are reduced along a sliding scale for those with a MAGI between $190,000-$220,000.

The second drawback is that CESAs have low contribution limits. Each contributor can only contribute $2,000 total per year to CESAs. Additionally, each beneficiary can only receive a total of $2,000 combined per year in the account.

The third drawback is that for federal financial aid calculations, CESA savings are treated as an asset of the student, not the guardian or custodian. Federal aid calculations look at a student and parent’s savings and assess how much of that savings should be used to pay for college. Custodial assets are assessed at a contribution rate of 5.6%. However, student’s assets are assessed at 35%. Thus, assets in a student’s name receive unfavorable financial aid treatment when compared to those in a parent’s name. (Assets in a grandparent or other relative’s name, such as 529 plans, are not assessed at all, resulting in the most favorable treatment.)

Where CESA’s trump 529s, and this can be very valuable, is in their flexibility for funding lower education. CESA’s can be used to pay the tuition, fees, supplies, and equipment costs for elementary and secondary school. This includes computers and software for education. Additionally, CESA’s are not sponsored by the state or any other government agency. Therefore, CESA accounts can be opened virtually anywhere, with unlimited investing options.

Have a question about this article or other financial planning topics? E-mail Jason at

Next edition: Creating a plan, plan maintenance and summary

NNV Note: Jason Papier, his wife Susan and dog Scout live on Holly Drive with a beautiful view of the SJCC and its surrounding communities. Jason's financial planning firm, PW Johnson, is an NNV sponsor and is located just off Highway 101 and Mathilda in Sunnyvale. He provides financial planning services to clients who seek a long-term relationship with an advisor.

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You Dig It?

Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with Eastside gardening and related topics here.

September Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 299-2638 with your gardening questions or check out our website at

Master Gardeners are moving! Our hotline and administrative office will be moving from its current location at 700 Empey Way near Valley Med Center to 1555 Berger Drive at Old Oakland Road. We will be in the same building as the Registrar of Voters and the Finance (taxes) Department. It's also called Building 2. This location is very handy for east side residents. We are moving the week of September 6 so the office will be closed a day or two for the move. Call first before dropping by to make sure we are back in business. The phone number and email remains the same. The move also includes the 4-H program and other UC Cooperative Extension programs. More information about Cooperative Extension can be found at 

Brown Spots on Apples: You may have noticed small areas just under the skin that are brown and corky. The spots may even appear after harvest. This problem is called bitter pit and is caused by a calcium deficiency early in the spring. Bitter pit can be treated by spraying the leaves with calcium nitrate at the rate of one tablespoon per gallon of water in the spring just after bloom and again one or two months later. Mark your calendar as a reminder.

Leafcutter Bees: Do your rose bush leaves have smooth round holes in them? The likely culprit is the female leafcutter bee. The bee cuts smooth round or oval leaf fragments and uses them to line each underground brood cell that she fills with nectar and pollen. When the cell is ready, a single egg is sealed inside. The larva pupates (matures) in the chamber and emerges in the spring. The hole in the leaf is much larger than an ordinary caterpillar would make and is very smooth as if a miniature cookie cutter was used. The bee can chew off a leaf fragment in less then a minute with its sharp jaws. The leafcutter bee is considered to be a beneficial insect.
And rose leaves seem to be their favorite.

Spider Mites: Spider mites are closely related to spiders and are about the size of the period on this sentence. They feed on many kinds of plants. They suck out plant juices from leaves, flowers and the blossom end of fruit. Plant leaves may become stippled with yellow and webs may be visible. Hotter temperatures and dusty conditions encourage them. Conserving natural enemies by not using pesticides, providing sufficient irrigation and reducing dust may all help control mites. Periodic washing of leaves with water can be very effective in reducing mite numbers. If treatment is necessary, spider mites can be controlled with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil or neem oil. Releases of predatory mites have been used in some situations. More information is available at 

Watering Trees: This is one of our most asked questions. Surprisingly, even if a tree gets watered every time the lawn does, you still need to deep water twice during the summer. Use a soaker or drip hose around the tree at the drip line and let it slowly drip for 2 to 3 hours. A mature ornamental tree or street tree may not need any water. Mature fruit trees should be watered by filling a watering basin around the tree every three or four weeks. Young fruit trees need watering every two weeks. Don't let lawn sprinklers hit tree trunks as this may cause crown rot and kill the tree.

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A Time for Indolence

Summer in the native garden

By Arvind Kumar (

Summer in a native garden is a time for indolence. The moisture in the ground has all but gone. Most plants have reduced their rate of growth or gone dormant. The buckeye is leafless (but not dead!), the bunchgrasses a golden brown, and the wild grape has turned purple, ripening before the foliage turns a bright red in fall.

What does a native gardener do all summer? If truth be told, not much. This is not the time to plant: the daytime heat and lack of soil moisture can prove deadly to young plants. If you must plant, be sure to water the new plants several times a week until the rains set in. This is most definitely not the time to prune: pruning causes most plants to want to grow new stems and leaves, and summer time is when their reserves are at their lowest. Pruning in summer forces plants to put out new growth—and the effort can kill them.

If you are the kind who can’t keep still, here are a few things to work on. If the poppies are looking ratty, cut the drying stalks back to an inch above the ground and water lightly. In a week or two, they will bloom again. You can keep them going the whole year round this way.

Collect seed for next year. The glorious blooms of spring are gone, and if you want to propagate your favorites to new beds, this is the best time to collect seed. Sally Casey taught me to use inexpensive coin envelopes (made of paper); never use plastic bags or glass bottles which can trap moisture. Label the envelopes with the plant name and date of collection, and put them away until late fall.

This is a good time to get the weeds. Get the sow thistle before it goes to seed. Get the dandelion out by the taproot. Mulch well afterwards: this will keep the weeds down for good.

Personally, I welcome the summer rest. The garden has kept me busy from late fall to spring, planting, pruning, weeding, and mulching. Now is the time to take a break. Time to lie down on the swing with a good book, and make plans for the next season.

Before settling down, though, how about some fresh grape juice? Cut ripe bunches off the California grape vine (Vitis californica), wash thoroughly, mash with a potato masher, and strain through cheesecloth. The dark purple beverage is to die for. Yum.

Let me introduce you to the books that got me started. Four years ago, I knew little about gardening, and even less about native plants. My forays into the garden had been sporadic and disappointing, not to mention lethal to the plants. I realized I needed a garden that could survive on its own, that didn’t demand constant attention.

One of the books that helped my thinking evolve was Nancy Bauer’s The Habitat Garden Book: Wildlife Landscaping for the San Francisco Bay Region. This slim, 56-page booklet is the best introduction a neophyte can have. Instead of talking about the nitty gritty of gardening technique, it focuses on the purpose of gardening. It is immensely satisfying to know that my gardening hours are going into creating and sustaining habitat for other critters. This is not so much a how-to book as a what-to book. It is beautifully produced, with color photos of many butterflies, caterpillars, and plants. It strikes a good balance between native plants and beneficial non-natives. It is one of treasures in my library. Coyote Ridge Press, P.O. Box 192, Sebastopol, CA 95473-0192,

People new to natives quickly discover that the plants they are being asked to grow can’t be found in common gardening tomes like Sunset’s Western Garden Book or American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. It is regrettable that California natives are not better known in the gardening world.

You can save yourself some frustration by looking elsewhere. Get yourself a copy of Marjorie Schmidt’s Growing California Native Plants. This 366-page paperback, published by University of California Press, is the most authoritative—if not complete—book on growing California natives. For hundreds of plants, from wildflowers to perennials to shrubs and trees, the book carries detailed information, such as habit, foliage, flowers, fruit, distribution, cultural requirements, and estimate of garden value. If you are trying to grow California native plants for the first time, chances are that the plant you want is included in this book, and is available at a local native nursery. My only complaints are that the color pictures are few and don’t do justice to the plants, and that the book hasn’t been revised since 1980, the date of its first printing. Still, this is the final word on California natives today, and is well worth having.

Several new books on native gardening are in the works, and the first of the new breed came out in 2000: Sally and Andy Wasowski’s Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. With its stunning photographs, this 184-page large format softcover is suitable for the coffee table. The cover itself is to swoon over: an image of sulfur meadowfoam in a creek bed of river rocks, flanked by orange poppies and purple irises. Even though it does not specifically cover the Bay Area, the book includes many plants native to Northern California. The first half of the book contains chapters on the envelope garden, courtyard gardens, and planting and maintenance tips. There are lots of garden plans to examine, along with striking photos. The second half of the book is a plant reference: a photo of each plant is accompanied by text which covers the habitat, soil, water, exposure, foliage, ornamental value, and description. Get it from Contemporary Books, 4255 W. Touhy Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60712-1975.

I hope you find these books useful in thinking ahead and making plans for the next season. In doing so, you might discover what I’ve come to know: anticipation can be just as much fun as the real thing.

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Curtis Horticulture,, (408) 259-9974, CA Lic #826409

Ecological landscaping services: design/consulting, renovation, maintenance

Specializing in native and drought-tolerant landscapes. We live and work in the neighborhood.


“…A kid’ll eat ivy, too; Wouldn’t you?”

The DEER are eating our ivy – as an appetizer!

2004 seems to be the Year of the Ravenous Deer! Everyone living in deer-accessible areas has a “You won’t believe it, but the deer are eating my -----------s this year” story. We’re always told that if the deer get hungry enough, they will eat virtually any plant, so they must be under some particular stress this year.

A deer (singular) or some deer (plural) have begun raiding the plants which grow around the edges of our front deck. These deer are not skirting the edge of the deck from below and stretching their necks to get at the goodies. Mais non! These thieves are clomping around the several levels of the wooden deck, grazing as though dining at a cafeteria. We have discovered some peculiar likes and dislikes.

For instance, the deer have nipped off all the impatiens blossoms, some leaves of the lemon tree, the tips of the leaves of purple heart “wandering jew,” the “million bells” petunias and most all the blossoms of the ivy “geraniums” and Martha Washington pelargoniums.

The plants they’ve left untouched include some which one would suppose deer would definitely deem delectable. For instance, they haven’t touched the upright fuchsias which are growing in an easily reachable pot. Perhaps those little hot pink ballerinas are not as sweet as they look. The deer don’t seem to desire the lily-turf liriope even though its flower spikes are fat with blossoms.

They dissed the society garlic (no surprise, I guess, although its flowers look yummy) and the creeping Charlie, Swedish ivy and other sorts of tender plectranthuses. They didn’t like the lamb’s ears even a little. And they left the “pincushion flower” scabiosa strictly alone. They clearly found all the thick succulents much too gross for their tender deer tongues – even though many have sent up a stalk of delicious looking candy-corn-like flowers.

I guess what’s really amazing (and galling) is that the crusty critters feel comfortable climbing up on our front stoop (within inches of our front door!) to nip each chubby flower cluster off our ivy geraniums leaving them naked and colorless just as they were beginning to put on their second show of the season. To add insult to injury, each lollypop-stick stem is left untouched as a painful reminder of the scores of beautiful blooms which have ended up as deer fodder.

Do you think that if we planted part of our front yard in oats, the deer would knock off raiding the people flowers? After all, isn’t it true that mares eat oats and does eat oats? And if we could just find a way to keep the bucks from stopping here!

NNV Note: From neighbor Pat Benham, whose front yard has provided a Bambi Banquet all summer, comes her suggestion for plants which she’s discovered do not appeal to deer. Says she: “Some plants which have never been eaten are the dodonaeas (hop bush), scaevola, pennisetum (purple fountain grass), phormium (flax) and ajuga.” Pat bought some plants called “Gold Coins” at OSH “because they looked a little chewy and I thought the deer might leave them alone. They have!” NNV doesn’t know what family “gold coins” are in, but Pat says they are low and spreading and always have flowers. If another reader can clue us in as to just what the official name is for this plant, we’ll add it to our list of recommended deer-resisters.

Click here for photos of the plants the devious deer didn't devour.  Click here for our updated Deer Resistant Plants page.  Please send us your entries and comments.

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Mystical Convergence Brings Dresser Back Home

Eastside “Chalet” architecture earned special recognition

By Ed Allegretti

Several years ago it was my intention to drive down Alum Rock Avenue and attend to some errands. While proceeding from my house on Edgemont Drive down Alum Rock Avenue I veered onto Mt. Hamilton Road in order to follow a sign that advertised an estate sale. It is always my desire to look for, yet I’m not always successful, some antique bargain or an old book on an interesting history topic.

After following some signs up Alum Rock Avenue, onto Crothers Road, and further up a private drive, I came upon the estate sale. It was a “good” estate sale in so much as there were many interesting items and antiques. Amongst those items was an old burl wood, marble topped dresser from around the 1870’s. Certainly I didn’t need a dresser but I was very attracted to this piece of furniture and after learning that the price was reasonable, I bought it. Buying something large often is a problem when one realizes a truck is necessary and one isn’t owned by the purchaser. It was my good fortune to notice that there was a truck in the driveway, to learn that it belonged to the man running the estate sale, and that he would consider delivering it if I didn’t live far away.

When asked by this gentleman where I lived, I informed him that I was only a short distance away at 10981 Edgemont Drive. He looked at me somewhat strangely and inquired if my house was the one with the swimming pool at the hair pin turn. I said, yes, that is my house yet the swimming pool has been filled in. He further asked, you’re sure, it is the one that is designed somewhat like a chalet? After confirming this was true he looked even more strangely and informed me that the dresser I purchased once resided in my house! I came to learn that this man was selling the contents of his aunt and uncle’s house, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Reitano, who in fact originally built my house in 1956 and occupied it for 7 years.

This gentlemen and I made plans for him to deliver the dresser back to its former home. Not only did he deliver the dresser but he brought along the original plans, an aerial photograph of the house and neighborhood, misc. papers, and an interesting article from the San Jose Mercury News. He kindly gave this all to me as he felt it belonged to the house. Sadly, Mr. Reitano was dead while Mrs. Reitano was terminally ill at the time of the estate sale so I was not able to meet them. This story from the Sunday Magazine Section that he gave me is from October 13, 1957 and reads:

Unusual ‘Chalet Home’ Hugs Hillside
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Reitano have an individually styled house at 10981 Edgemont Dr. which resembles a Swiss chalet on a hill overlooking the San Jose Country Club.

The residence represents considerable house packed into a small space – 1,200 square feet.

Mrs. Reitano drew the plans and she and her husband did some of the work in building.

Living space was consolidated by making a master bedroom in a semi-open balcony at the top of a staircase. A second bedroom and bathroom is on the lower level.

The house is designed so it is as comfortable and cozy for two persons as it is for over 20.

Most striking feature of the exterior is the unusual roof line emphasized by heavy shakes and trim of turquoise paint under the eave overhang and other areas.

Used brick, cedar wood and stucco are used for the exterior building materials. The brick fashions the lower lever of the house including the facing for a two-car garage built under what is the living room.

Wrought iron is used in the exterior as a trim for the upper deck, and, inside for the balcony rails.

The warmth of the interior is characterized by natural wood surfaces punctuated by strong areas of colored wallpaper.

The living room has a dramatic ceiling. The open beams project along an extreme pitch which starts at 7 feet and reaches a maximum height of 19 feet at the top of the gable, tapering off again to a lower level in the balcony bedroom.

A fireplace in the living room has a low hanging black wrought iron hood framed by a wall of used brick.

Plank oak floors are enhanced by oak furnishings and oak built-ins, which include the top of a dining bar off the kitchen.

The dining room, which appears as an extension of the living room, has a straight and low ceiling papered with a colorful pattern between the beam and the other wood wall areas.

The paper is also carried over to the front of the wood accordion doors for the kitchen storage cabinets.

Charm of the Reitano house is in its effective and original use of a small space to achieve a somewhat expansive living area.

As can be assumed, the interior and exterior of the house has been painted different colors from that described in the article. During the tenure of the second owners (I am the third) the above mentioned swimming pool was installed while a family room was added, bringing the square footage to its current 1,600. The second owners, Mr. and Mrs. Tip San Filippo, also remodeled the kitchen cabinets.

During my tenure in this house, which started in January of 1998, I had the swimming pool filled in while enclosing the upstairs balcony bedroom for more privacy and noise reduction. Otherwise, there are many original features. These include: the light fixture hanging above the interior stairway, the windows, the wood wainscoting, exterior bricks, and the used bricks and hooded fireplace described in the article.

I found it interesting to consider that all three owners, Mr. Reitano, Mr. San Filippo and I are all of Sicilian roots. One may also find it curious to note that in addition to being Sicilian, Mr. San Filippo and I both married blond haired women five years younger than ourselves, and that both of these women had two boys from a previous marriage! While Mr. San Filippo’s stepsons are now raised and gone, my two stepsons currently are taking their place at 10981 Edgemont Drive.

If you have an interesting house that should be profiled in a future edition, I’d be very happy to chat with you about it! E-mail me at or call (408) 258-3269.

Click here for photos of this unique house and the dresser.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletWhat’s going on with the ratty looking house on the corner of Cragmont and Alum Rock?
bulletWhy don’t we see any action going on at the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner?
bulletHow about the deli/produce store planned for the dilapidated pink building on Alum Rock?
bulletWhat sort of business is going into the old K-Mart store on McKee Road near the 680?
bulletWhy does it say “Thank you Rafiki’s” on the James Lick electronic sign-board?
bulletWhy was Alum Rock Park closed on August 28th and 29th?

Q. What’s going on with the ratty looking house on the corner of Cragmont and Alum Rock Avenue – the one with the yellow tape strung around the lot? Will it be torn down?

A. It looks like that old house will not be an eyesore in our neighborhood much longer. NNV called the secretary at the First Church of the Nazarene (across Cragmont from the house in question) because that house and lot were part of the church’s property. The church has sold all its Alum Rock real estate parcels to another congregation and will be moving into its brand spanking new church in Evergreen just as soon as it’s ready for occupation. “We’ll be moving into the new church by the end of the year,” secretary Wally Williams assured us.

Ms. Williams put NNV in touch with the pastor of the church which will probably be moving into the old church. “Maybe as soon as October,” said he. He tells us that the house most probably will be torn down to make way for a church parking lot – in the short term. In the long term, some more exciting adjunct to the church may be built. Because all the i’s have not yet been dotted or t’s crossed in the real estate transaction, the pastor asked NNV to hold off on announcing his congregation’s plans. Watch this space for developments.

Click here to see photos of the current situation.

Q. Why don’t we see any action going on at the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner? Is there a buyer – or not?

A. Actually, there was lots of action in July when J.E. Blanton closed down Foothill Printers, moved out all his presses and retired. He’s now getting his house in the Lyndale neighborhood ready to sell and is working so hard that he says he now understands “why they put ‘tired’ in the word ‘retired’.” He and his wife are moving to Ceres, but if you need a printer, continue to call his old phone number, 258-7412 and you’ll reach the printer who bought his business.

Meanwhile, potential buyers have expressed an interest in buying the corner. Steve Song, the real estate agent handling the corner, says that the first potential buyer changed his mind, but there are others waiting in the wings. He says that he thinks the buyer may build “retail with offices above.” The buzz is that Buyer #1 hadn’t done his homework and wanted to build an Auto Supply type store on the corner – certainly not something which would complement the ambiance of Alum Rock Village. If he had carefully gauged the character of the area, he would have known that his idea would meet beaucoup flak. Councilmember Nora Campos is very aware that the neighborhood would like something appropriately “village-y” and she is helping to guide the project in that direction.

Click here for a photo of J.E. on his last day at Foothill Printers

Q. How about the deli/produce store which is supposed to go into the dilapidated pink building at Alum Rock and Manning at the east edge of the Village? It’s taken on the look of a Baghdad bombing site! Wasn’t it going to be open by last Thanksgiving?

A. Readers might remember that we reported last spring that the owners had their permits in their hands and everything should have been rolling shortly. Apparently, those were not the ultimate permits, but it looks like they have them now. According to the August issue of the San Jose Business Journal, “La Bodega” family market and deli “will open its doors before the end of the year.” The owners are working with the Redevelopment Agency on plans for an ambitious facelift worthy of the very special, sophisticated business they plan to open.

Click here for our last photos of the new Deli interior.  Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

Q. What sort of business is going into the old K-Mart store on McKee Road near the 680?

A. We can see now by the signage that it will be a “Kohl’s” and that they’re “Now Hiring.” But, what is a Kohl’s? According to Christine Silva Burnett in Councilmember Nora Campos’ office, Kohl’s is a department store chain in the Mervyn’s mode. She’s heard good things about the chain – for instance, like Target, they make a point of developing good relations with their neighborhood community. Sounds good! The building is looking good, too. What a welcome change from dog-eared old K-Mart!

Q. Why does it say “Thank you Rafiki’s” on the James Lick electronic sign-board? Is there some connection between the Coffee Hut and the school?

A. Karyn Neujahr, Lick’s Activities Director, says that it’s her responsibility to keep the sign updated. She inputs the information into her laptop and sends it over her telephone line to the sign. Unfortunately, her office is on the back side of the school – far from the sign - and it’s a long way for her to walk over to the sign to see if it’s displaying what she wants it to say. So, she tucks her laptop under her arm and goes over to Rafiki’s office and connects using their fax telephone line to convey the changes to the sign. This way, she can just pop out of Rafiki’s office and look out their west window to view the sign. Much more convenient than making the trek back and forth multiple times to see if the information she’s sending to the sign is properly displayed.

Karyn says that the sign got really stubborn when she wanted to take the “First Day of School” message off the sign on the second day of school. She had to take everything off and start from a scratch and it was midmorning of the second day before the sign was correct again. She mentioned that she’s really chagrined when there are erroneous things on the sign and that she does her utmost to be sure that it’s right!

Click here to see the James Lick sign board "Thank You Rafiki's".

Q. Why was Alum Rock Park closed on August 28th and 29th?

A. Alum Rock Park was closed due to "extreme fire related conditions." The Park Rangers determine the conditions by daily readings within the Park and by the availability of CDF (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) staff and equipment (that means fire crews and airplanes).  You can call (408) 259-5477 for the status of the Park.

Of course, the San Jose Fire Department has the primary responsibility for fire protection in Alum Rock Park but, when there is danger of wildfires spreading quickly, the CDF is also called in.

The CDF 2004 emergency response air program for the state includes 19 Grumman S-2T 1,200 gallon airtankers, four Grumman S-2A 800 gallon airtankers, nine UH-1H Super Huey helicopters, and 13 OV-10A airtactical aircraft. From 13 air attack and nine helitack bases located statewide, aircraft can reach most fires within 20 minutes.

The airtactical planes fly overhead directing the airtankers and helicopters to critical areas of the fire for retardant and water drops. The retardant used to slow or retard the spread of a fire is a slurry mix consisting of a chemical salt compound, water, clay or a gum-thickening agent, and a coloring agent. At nine pounds per gallon, an S-2T can carry 10,800 pounds. The S-2A can carry 7,200 pounds.

Click here for more information from the CDF Web site including links to more on these old Navy anti-submarine warfare planes that have been converted to airtankers.

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You can send comments or letters to the editor (Click Here to see the Letters)

E-mail us at 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 take photos, write articles or essays?  Please let us know!  And don't miss our new Letters page on Deer, Fire and/or Drought Resistant Plants if you'd like to share information with our readers.

Community Bulletin Board (Click Here)

E-mail to let us know about your events of interest to our readers.

--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
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Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 10/29/04.

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