New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 20 - Section 1

October 3, 2004

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Put Tanya on Board (ARUSD)

At the NHU Dedication


Norris - Notable Neighbor

He was quite a
Fella - and also a
Notable Neighbor



Another poem
by Spencer

are in
Section 2

Engine Company 2, the Empire Engine Company, ready to roll from Station 2

Truck Company 2
is also ready to go

The Jaws
of Life


You'd think Eleanor Roosevelt was
commenting on the current election


Newsletter Headlines

bulletPombo’s Road Still on the Drawing Board, Alum Rock Freeway study “funding likely”
bulletEditorial: Vote for Tanya Freudenberger for ARUSD Trustee - And for John Leyba, too
bulletJames Lick Moves Into New Era - API increase impressive, More to be done by Bill Rice
bulletHospital Closure Creates Unexpected Casualties – Carol Schultz in the news … again
bulletSobrato Hall Dedicated at NHU - Neighbors say, “Please turn down the lights!”
bulletSan Jose Fire Station 2 – Part 2, What fire engines and trucks are at this station?
bulletA Notable Neighbor – Re-Noted! Spaulding Norris trades for smaller home on a flat lot
bulletFall Leaves - A Poem by Spencer Olsson Nitkey
bulletEleanor Roosevelt in San Jose - Seems “W” could learn something from her!
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletSmithsonian Exhibit at the Mexican Heritage Plaza – Free! And a new wall mural!
bulletARUMC’s Annual Community Sunday - Smiling People, Tasty (Free!) Food ...
bulletPACT Candidates Forum on Public Education, hold officials accountable!
bulletCounty Historical Commission - Less onerous Preservation Ordinance by Edward Allegretti
bullet Alum Rock Youth Center’s 1st Anniversary Celebration Breakfast
bullet On the Avenue (Alum Rock Avenue)
bullet On the Road (McKee Road)
bullet Wing it to the YSI Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park
bulletSuper Sunday Party Benefits Youth Science Institute
bulletAlum Rock Park “Stars” on PBS TV! Did you watch Huell Howser and Ranger Jane Lawson?
bulletWest Nile Virus – “Coming soon to a theater near you” by Dorothy "D.J." Johnson - YSI
bulletFunding Your Child's Education - Part 4, Creating and maintaining a plan by Jason Papier
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletOctober Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bullet“…A kid’ll eat ivy, too; Wouldn’t you?” - Part 2: The impatiens come back!
bulletTaqueria Time! Great tacos and seafood for your MHP tour - or anytime by Robin Edwards
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletDoes anyone know how much rain fell during the Sudden Sunday Surprise rainstorm?
bulletDoes anyone know what has become of Boesch Hall? Last we knew, it was for sale.
bulletIs it true that the Alum Rock Library branch will begin closing on Mondays?
bulletWhy are closures like this happening to our libraries?
bulletIs it getting to be the season when we need to watch out for infatuated ungulates?
bulletAre “they” finally finished with the new Mario’s and Marco's façade?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

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Pombo’s Road Still on the Drawing Board

Alum Rock Freeway study “funding likely”

(Just when you thought he had given up on it!)

Pombo’s Road is not dead. Recent letters to the editor of this newsletter have implied that U.S. Representative Richard Pombo (R. Tracy) has given up his mission to build a six-lane highway over the Mount Hamilton Range into East San Jose. One letter clearly stated that feasibility studies were not going to be done – therefore the subject was kaput. We folks who live in the neighborhood where the road would be built could stop worrying about it and go on with our pleasant way of life.

Well, a headline in the September 3, 2004 Pleasanton Weekly dashes all thoughts that Pombo has given up on “the Alum Rock Freeway” and gone on to other environmental mischief. “Funding likely for Pombo freeway study,” blares the headline. Its subhead, “Money in Transportation Bill to look at Hwy. 130 corridor” says it all.

According to the article, Pombo announced the week before “that he has secured funds to launch a federal feasibility study for a new freeway that would link Interstate 5 south of the I-580 near Tracy to I-680 and Highway 101 in San Jose, possibly using the Route 130 corridor.” The specific alignment has not yet been set, but the writing is on the wall, isn’t it? For the uninitiated, Route 130 is Alum Rock Avenue and Mount Hamilton Road! So much for going back to our usual complacency.

The Weekly article goes on to describe the new freeway even to details such as that, per Pombo, it “would be restricted to passenger vehicles only, allowing it to be built to less costly construction standards” and “We’re studying the possibility of making this a toll road where if you’re driving by yourself or in an SUV you pay a toll…..” Sure sounds like Dick has focused down pretty tightly on this project, doesn’t it?

“Pombo who now chairs the House Resources Committee, sought funds for the feasibility study last year as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has included the project in its 2004 Transportation bill that could by approved by Congress and signed by President Bush later this year.” Got it? There’s not much of “this year” left, so we should soon know the lay of the land.

Now you have the choice of praying that Congress and George Bush don’t sign the bill or you can do something proactive like reminding our Congresspeople that A.) We live here. B.) A road here is not appropriate. C.) A new road won’t accomplish anything long-term because it would soon bog down with traffic from the newly built-up Tracy area. The ball is in your court.

Click here to read the article in the Pleasanton Weekly. Watch our Letters to the Editor page for comments and new inputs on Pombo's road between editions.

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Editorial – Editorial – Editorial

Vote for Tanya Freudenberger for Trustee of Alum Rock Union (Elementary) School District

NNV supports Neighbor John Leyba, too

NNV is proud to know Tanya Freudenberger and truly pleased to support her campaign for a seat on the board of ARUSD. Tanya did not ask us to editorialize on her behalf, but she is just such a natural for the job (and precisely what the district needs!) that it seems really appropriate for us to tell our readers about Tanya and ask them to support her too.

NNV knows Tanya, an East Hills dweller, from several years of affiliation with PACT (People Acting in Community Together), the organization which goes to bat for the little guy and teaches citizens how to hold their elected officials “accountable.” Now Tanya wants to be one of those elected officials for the next four years and we can tell you that she knows accountability from the inside out! From her experiences via PACT, she knows what it means to work hard and represent the needs and values of her constituency. Tanya is not a “glad-hander” or a “hail-fellow-well-met” type and definitely not one of the “good ole ‘boys.’” Tanya is as genuine and sincere as anyone we’ve ever met and she has no agenda except to advocate for the happiness and success of the children in our community.

Tanya is a selfless, tireless worker. She has been active in many, many arenas – especially those concerning youth. She has taken on many responsibilities in the organizations she has joined. She has earned many kudos; the one that fits her best is “Community Hero.” Click here for our story on how many years she (and PACT) worked on the Alum Rock Youth Center before it was completed.

In July, Tanya was appointed to fill the vacant trustee seat of Adriana Garza after competing with two other candidates for the interim position. In order to continue as a board trustee, she must win the seat in the November 2nd election. Obviously, this will be a big, national election in which school board contests will get short shrift, but we neighbors can get out the vote for Tanya.

NNV is also supporting another neighbor, newcomer John Leyba, for a seat on the ARUSD board. John, too, will put all his many strengths into bringing new vision to our district – which, sadly, is the lowest performing in the County. Click here for John's Web site.

Vote Tanya! Vote John!

Click here for photos of Tanya on the campaign trail and here for a photo of John Leyba. See our Letters to the Editor page for a letter from Gaye Dabalos outlining ARUSD problems and endorsing John.

NNV invites other opinions and endorsements for our Letters to the Editor page. Send an e-mail to with “Letter to the Editor” in the Subject line, please. Include your full name, which will be used with your letter. No contact information will be published. Short, constructive letters are more likely to be published – and read!

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James Lick Moves Into a New Era

API score increase impressive

There's a lot of work yet to be done

By Bill Rice, JLHS Director

The New Era at James Lick High School has begun and the results are positive. Back in March we reported that our tenth graders had great success on the High School Exit Exam. They improved the language arts passage rate by 11% (from 55% to 66%) and the math passage rate from 27% to 60%, an impressive 33% increase.

The news is even better on the STAR tests taken by all California high school ninth through eleventh graders every May. These tests count most heavily toward each school’s Academic Performance Index (API). Each school is given a target API that it must meet, and each year that target gets higher.

Schools that do not meet their API for two consecutive years are subject to becoming intervention schools. Once a school becomes an intervention school and still does not meet its API, it is subject to state sanctions. This is exactly what occurred at James Lick.

The target API for James Lick for 2004 was 537, or a fourteen point increase over the 2003 API. This year when the scores were reported in August, James Lick had improved its API by an astounding 52 points, increasing to an API of 575. This was not just the highest improvement in the East Side Union High School District, but it was the second largest for all schools (K-12) in Santa Clara County. There is a lot of work yet to be done, but clearly there is a new era at James Lick.

Click here to read a Letter to the Editor from Jasmine Hatch, a 2004 Lick graduate, who has a new plan to make James Lick proud of her.

Click here for last month's article on New Realities at James Lick, here to read our interview with Bill Rice and see his photo, here for our interview with Co-Director Joel Herrera and here for our interview with Co-Director Richard Esparza.  Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

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Hospital Closure Creates Unexpected Casualties – With More to Come

Carol Schultz in the news … again

Neighborhood Historian (and special NNV contributor) Carol Schultz was making news herself the other day when she and one of her numerous photo albums were pictured on the first page of The Valley section of the Mercury News. Seems that the fallout from the impending closure of San Jose Medical Center includes the loss of the hospital’s Family Health Center clinic which trains family practice doctors.

Carol’s son, Michael, was a “regular” at the hospital-sponsored clinic throughout the last two decades of his lifelong illness. He passed away two years ago at age 47 from the effects of a rare immune-system disorder with which he was born. Carol documented Michael’s care and interactions with his outstanding caregivers with photos mounted in a small album. She tells NNV, “My heart breaks for the fate of the residency program at Family Practice. Those doctors that participated in the program were all from Stanford. The care Mike received from them the last 22 years was simply terrific….the VOID their departure leaves is incomprehensible….where will those patients go ???” Carol says she gets “too emotional when the subject comes up, because I know how it benefited Michael to be under their care.”

SJMC’s training program for family practice residents will not be the only casualty of the announced December closure of the hospital and probable relocation of many of its services to Regional Medical Center. Not only will these residents lose their program, but hundreds of employees at the various local HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) hospitals (San Jose Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital and Regional Medical Center) will be laid off as the staffs from three hospitals are blended and reformulated to fit into just two hospitals.

The hastily changed plans of HCA to suddenly close SJMC with only a few months’ notice (rather than the several-year-long evolution from SJMC to Regional) have resulted in enormous uncertainty, animosity and panic. The loss of Carol Schultz’ beloved Family Health Center is just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. The writing’s on the wall - there will be an unprecedented amount of teeth-gnashing, many heads will roll and boatloads of fur will fly before the dust settles on San Jose’s hospital crisis.

Click here for our article on the plans for expanding Regional Medial Center.

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Sobrato Hall Dedicated at National Hispanic University

Dignitaries, Luminaries, Ordinary Citizens flood the campus

Neighbors say, “Please turn down the lights!”

The dedication ceremony of its marvelous new learning center, Sobrato Hall, brought out so many folks to National Hispanic University on the morning of Friday, September 17th that parkers overflowed the campus lots and made even broad Story Road look like a parking lot. It seemed like an ambitious stretch to expect a crowd on a Friday, but there were hundreds of visitors out for a gander at our community’s impressive new educational resource.

There were lots of official looking men in black suits and ladies dressed to the nines. There were TV crews and interviews of luminaries going on in the library. The 65,000 square foot building didn’t need much gussying up for the event; it’s brand new and glossy as all get out. When NNV visited President Dr. David Lopez in August, and went on a guided tour, there were still boxes of books stacked in the library ready to be shelved. Not so on Friday; they were ready!

It appeared that all 400 of NHU’s charter high school (Latino College Prep Academy) students were on hand for the party. They were smartly dressed in white shirts and black skirts or pants. The girls even wear shoes alike - black Mary Jane style slippers.

At noon guests queued up for an elegant al fresco lunch served from silver warmers. From noon until two, Open House prevailed. NNV hopes that many neighborhood dwellers visited the campus to see the wonder that is growing up in their midst. There is some grumbling about the inevitable changes which are happening in that traditionally residential neighborhood - and there are more to come.

According to the Mercury News of 9-18, the university plans eventually to build another, mirror image, building to complement Sobrato Hall. The article also mentioned that “the eleven acre (campus) has plenty of room for expansion.” It seems that it’s incumbent on NHU and its neighbors to establish a friendly relationship – obviously neither is going away anytime soon!

Click here for photos of Dedication day.

NNV Note: We had occasion to speak recently to a woman who lives several blocks from the campus and, even at that distance, she says, the nighttime lights from the campus are so bright that she and her neighbors can’t see the stars in the sky. If NHU is going to be a good neighbor, it sounds like it needs to dim its brights!

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San Jose Fire Station 2 – Part 2

What fire engines and trucks are at this station? What can they do?

NNV Note: This is a continuation of our articles on San Jose Fire Station 2 on Alum Rock Avenue, which started in last month’s edition. Click here to read that article and see the photos. This article includes links to other Web sites. Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

Today, Station 2 is the home for two fire companies: Engine Company 2 and Truck Company 2 (yes, they are numbered for the fire station they are assigned to). Each company has a captain, two engineers and two other firefighters for a total of five firefighters on each shift. Generally, the captain and the engineers drive the vehicles. Engineers operate the equipment and firefighters put out fires or rescue people but everyone is trained to do a lot of different tasks. Station 2 is also the headquarters for Battalion 2, which consists of seven fire stations on this side of San Jose, so there is also a Battalion Chief on each shift for a total of 11 people.

Engine Company 2
On the right side of Station 2 (as you face the station) is Engine Company 2 with three red vehicles. Jose Guerrero is the captain on Shift C and this is the “Empire Engine Company.” The history of the Empire Engine Company goes back more than 150 years but that’s another story for the next edition.

Engine Company 2 has three vehicles: Engine 2, Brush Patrol 2 and Water Tender 2. They responded to over 4000 calls last year – that’s about 11-12 times per day for EMS calls, less than once per day for fire calls and a little more than once a day for other calls.

Engine 2 is a red Spartan “Gladiator Classic” chassis with KME Fire Equipment and a 1,500 gallon per minute pump. It carries 500 gallons of water, 600 feet of 5-inch hose to connect to fire hydrants or other sources of water and 1,200 feet of 2 ½ and 3-inch hose to fight fires. It also carries a lot of fire fighting and emergency equipment including a medication locker and a defibrillator. Look for “E2” on the engine and “Empire Engine Company” on the front.

Brush Patrol 2 is a red Ford/Westate vehicle that carries 260 gallons of water and 200 feet of hose. It’s at Station 2 because this is just the kind of vehicle needed to fight wildfires in this area.

Water Tender 2 is a really big red International Harvester Paystar 5000 vehicle with 3 axles and a big tank that holds 2,000 gallons of water (that’s eight tons!). It also carries 300 feet of hose. This is the only Water Tender on the east side of San Jose. And you can guess its purpose. Since Engine 2 could empty its tank in about 20 seconds, Water Tender 2, if needed, brings in a lot more water for use in areas where fire hydrants are not nearby.

Truck Company 2
On the left side of Station 2 (the section with the taller door) is Truck Company 2 with two lime-green vehicles. Oscar Martinez is the captain of this company on Shift C.

The color of the vehicles isn’t always a good way to tell them apart because, as you will see in our photos, a red, replacement fire truck was at the station on the day we took pictures because the regular lime-green fire truck was out for maintenance. Chief Luna says, “Generally, engines carry water, hose and a pump to extinguish the fire and truck companies are responsible for search and rescue and carry the necessary equipment to get the job done (that may mean a lot of specialized equipment with specialized training).”

Truck 2 is a lime-green “fire truck” with a pump, 65 foot ladder and an especially short wheelbase which can negotiate tight switchback corners (we saw a red American Lafrance “replacement truck” from the maintenance yard at Montgomery and Park where all the maintenance is done).

Truck 2 also carries the “Jaws of Life” which can be used like a big can opener to get into cars and other vehicles when doors can’t be opened after a crash. Engineer Dan Gamban and Firefighter Felipe Ibarra demonstrated how these tools work while we were there. The big pry bar (it can pry either open or closed) weighs 60 or 65 pounds and can pry open a door or whatever needs to be done to get access to injured people in a car. There’s also a jack and a cutting unit with blades like a really big, fat curved pair of tin snips. The engineer operates a hydraulic pump unit which powers the tools. Click here for the Jaws of Life photos.

Light Unit 2 is a lime-green vehicle that carries big floodlights and other tools and equipment (we saw some big power saws and other equipment while we were there). The purpose of this unit is to provide the lighting at crash sites or a fire at night, especially when the firefighters have cut the utilities so a building can be entered safely.

Battalion 2
Station 2 is also the headquarters for Battalion 2, which consists of seven fire stations on this side of San Jose. The other stations in this battalion are Station 11 on The Villages Parkway, Station 16 on South King Road, Station 19 on Piedmont Road (just north of Penitencia Creek Road), Station 21 on Mt. Pleasant Road, Station 24 on Aborn Road and Station 31on Ruby Avenue. Station 19 is usually the first station that responds to fires in Alum Rock Park now that the Alum Rock Avenue entrance to the Park is closed. Click here to check the location of these stations.

All of these stations are smaller than Station 2 and have one engine company (numbered, of course, after the station) and four people on duty except Station 16, which also houses USAR 16 (Urban Search & Rescue) and has a total of nine people per shift. There’s also an ambulance at Station 31.

SJFD Communications in this Area

Want to listen to the San Jose Fire Department with your scanner as they and other fire departments coordinate their operations in this area?

The SJFD primary (dispatch) frequency is 155.0250 MHz. The command frequencies used in this area are 153.9800 MHz. and 154.1150 MHz.

Click here for other frequencies used by the City of San Jose.

So, how does Battalion Chief Jose Luna keep track of these nine companies with 20 vehicles and 39 firefighters and engineers on his shift? He has a Chevrolet Suburban, which looks like a little fire engine. See the sidebar for more on how fire engines are dispatched and communicate and how they respond to a potentially large fire below.

OK, how do they use all this stuff?
In the November, 2003, edition of NNV, Fire Captain Ralph Ortega’s described how the SJFD responded to a wildfire that was starting east of San Jose, “I was at Station 31 at Ruby and Aborn when the bell struck for a fire in the East Foothills. Upon leaving the station the captain saw smoke in the hills and immediately called for a Tier 1, then 2, then a Tier 3 response, and he did this all before reaching the end of the street. Good call!”

Tier 1 dispatches 3 engines, 2 brush patrols (BPs), 2 Battalion Chiefs and activates BP groups, other stations move up to cover more area and we advise the California Dept of Forestry (CDF) that a Tier incident is occurring.

Tier 2 dispatches 3 engines, 4 BPs, 1 water tanker, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Duty Chief, 1 Safety Officer, 1 Wildland Officer, 1 Medical Officer, the Incident Dispatch Team and advises CDF that SJFD can't send any mutual aid to assist them at this time.

Tier 3 dispatches 2 engines, 3 BPs, 1 water tanker, a request for assistance to CDF, 1 Public Information Officer, 1 Mechanic, station move-ups and notifies Santa Clara County Fire District of possible mutual aid requests.”

Since each “Tier” (Tactically Integrated Emergency Response) adds to the one before, this means eight fire engines from several stations were on the way to this fire before the first engine reached the corner from Station 31 – plus nine brush patrols, two water tenders and many other vehicles with three Battalion Chiefs, five other officers and the Incident Dispatch Team. You can see how the Mutual Aid works as the CDF planes and engines join the group while engines and trucks from other SJFD stations and other fire departments either come to this fire or move to back up stations that have responded to this fire. Click here to read more about the SJFD Incident Dispatch Team.

The plan is, of course, to respond to a potentially major fire with overwhelming force just like a military operation. There’s always criticism if the response is too little or too slow – but no one complains if there is an engine standing by that is not needed to fight a fire!

Click here to read Ralph’s article again, which we can all appreciate more now. Ralph is no longer the Wildland Program Manager – that position was eliminated during one of the budget cuts earlier this year. However, we have heard that the department hopes to restore the position soon.

Click here for the Fire Station 2 photos for this article.  Click here for the SJFD Web site.

Next time we’ll cover the history of Station 2 and the 150+ year-old history of the Empire Engine Company from San Francisco which is now at Station 2. Meanwhile, please don’t hesitate to take Chief Luna up on his invitation to visit Station 2 and you might also take your kids to see the reproduction of the Empire Engine House façade in Kelley Park's History Museum.

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Click here for Section 2 of the October 3, 2004 Newsletter

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

--------------------------- 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© 2004-2005 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 4/30/05.

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