New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 26 - Section 2

May 1, 2005

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Not Schuster


Be sure to vote if you can


Still for sale


St. John Vianney


What's this in
Alum Rock Park


Alum Rock Avenue

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What’s So Good About James Lick? Plenty!!

Ten great reasons to choose Lick

From Joanne Makishima

1. Our commitment to boost academic skills

• Extensive school-wide tutoring program

• Support classes in math and English

• Bilingual and sheltered classes for English Language Learners

2. Our students are college-bound!

• Class of 2005 accepted to the following:
CSU: San Jose, Chico, Cal Poly, Long Beach, Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco, more
UC: Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Irvine, Davis, San Diego
Private: Santa Clara, USC, National Hispanic University

• Academic Outreach Programs with San Jose State University and National Hispanic University for grades 9 - 12

Every student has been set up with a planning account in  

3. Honors and AP classes? We have them!

• English (all grade levels), Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, Biology, Calculus, US History – all approved by CSU/UC

• 20% of our students are enrolled in Accelerated, Honors, or AP courses

4. Music to our ears – Our music program continues to grow!

• Band

• Choir

• Piano

• Guitar

5. Comet Family Resource Center – Help for students and families in need.

• 9 support groups focused on special issues

• Social Service resources and referrals – 7 outside service providers on campus

• Crisis counseling

• Nearly 400 students will receive services this year

6. Special Programs and activities

• Death Valley Science Expedition – A once-in-a-lifetime experience for JL students

• Camp Anytown Diversity Training – A life-altering experience for JL students

• Algebra 2/Physics NASA Program – A unique opportunity for JL students

• Noche Latina Cultural Celebration – A community-building event for everyone

7. Athletics – GO COMETS!

• Fall
Football – 2nd in League 2003
Cross Country – CCS Qualifiers
Tennis (Girls)

• Winter
Wrestling – 2004, 2005 League Champs

• Spring
Badminton – 2004 League Champs
Tennis (Boys)

8. Extreme Makeover – Lick Edition

• New football stadium – Fall 2005

• New all-weather track – Fall 2005

• Complete renovation of Administrative Services Offices – Summer/Fall 2005

• New science wing constructed in 1999

9. We’re on the rise!

• Greatest improvement of STAR Test scores among all high schools in Santa Clara County. Improvement of 51 points over the previous year.

• Pass rate on High School Exit Exam improved from 28% to 61% in Math, and 50% to 66% in English Language Arts.

10. Small school (1050) = LOTS of personal attention and recognition. WE KNOW OUR KIDS!

• ESUHSD counseling ratio average – 550:1. James Lick counseling ratio – 350:1

• Teaching staff: 50 professionals dedicated to educating your child.


NNV Note: Joanne Makishima is a Counselor at James Lick High School, E-mail, Phone (408) 347-4446.

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McKee Road – A History

By Patricia Loomis

NNV Note: Neighbor Patricia Loomis wrote many superb articles for a series called “Signposts” about the stories behind the names of San Jose’s streets. The first increment of the series ran in the San Jose News between 1971 and 1977 and was compiled and republished by the San Jose Historical Museum Association in a hardbound book of the same name in 1982. NNV is reprinting some of the Signpost pieces which were written about our venerable Eastside streets. These stories are used with permission. Special thanks to Patricia Loomis for letting NNV use her stories - and to Carol Schultz for lending us the Signposts books.

When the state capital was moved from San Jose to Vallejo in 1851, Joseph Olcott McKee helped — literally. He and his father, both seafaring men, moved the state archives — the records of the "legislature of a thousand drinks" — north from Alviso aboard their sloop.

Two years later Capt. Henry McKee was dead and his son had given up seafaring and settled near San Jose.

The road which ran east to the hills from the captain's 15-acre ranch on the east bank of Coyote Creek was called McKee road. Thirteen ranchers petitioned the county supervisors for the road on Oct. 4, 1853, and McKee road became No. 52 in the county's road file. Names on the petition included some still familiar . . . Woolsey Shaw, Henry C. Skinner, Andrew L. Huyck.

Joseph 0. McKee was born in Upper Middletown (later Cromwell) Conn., as was his father, and was 19 when he set sail in the "Isabella," captained by his dad, to come to California. The ship left New York in November, 1849, and dropped anchor in San Francisco Bay in May of the following year.

The crew deserted for the gold fields, but the McKees elected to make their fortune in the shipping business. They hauled goods up and down the coast, made a trip to Valparaiso, Chile, for a load of flour, and finally operated sloops on the Bay. Reportedly, Joseph 0. McKee transported the first fruit from Santa Clara County — pears from the old Mission orchard at Santa Clara — to the San Francisco market from the docks at Alviso.

Capt. Henry McKee died in a ship accident in the fall of 1852, shortly after his wife and children had departed from the East Coast to join him in California. When they arrived in January, 1853, Joseph sold his sloop and bought the farm to make a home for his mother and sisters. But following a plow was not for Joe, and he became a carpenter, then an architect and builder.

He never lost his love of sea and ship and in later years built a 42-foot yacht called the "Camarado" which he sailed from Alviso. He was founder of the South Bay Yacht Club in April, 1896, and served as its first commodore.

Joseph 0. and his wife, Rachel (Clevenger) were the parents of four daughters. One, Isabella, married a neighboring rancher, Azariah Lundy, for whose family the road in the Berryessa district is named. Another was the wife of H. G. Coykendall, early manager of the California Prune and Apricot Association (now Sunsweet).

The old home place, where Joseph 0. McKee lived until his death in 1907, is now part of the San Jose High School campus. A few blocks of McKee between the creek and the freeway now bear Julian street signposts. Where the four little McKee girls played with their dolls and rolled their hoops, high school teen-agers swim and play tennis.

If you missed it, click here for Patricia Loomis' article about Alum Rock Avenue.

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Santa Clara Valley Water District – Ready to Answer Your Water Quality Questions

Primary water resources agency for Santa Clara County

By Richard P. Santos, Director

I am Richard P. Santos, your District 3 representative on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. Along with Joe Judge, the District 2 representative, I work closely with San Jose Councilwoman Nora Campos, the Plata Arroyo Neighborhood Association, and the Mayfair Improvement Initiative Group to ensure that your community’s water needs and concerns are addressed.

The Water District is the primary water resources agency for Santa Clara County, its 15 cities and nearly 1.8 million residents. We make sure you have clean, safe water at your tap; help reduce the threat of flooding during winter; and we care for Santa Clara County’s magnificent watersheds, including 10 reservoirs, more than 800 miles of streams with nearly 50 miles of trails, and large groundwater basins.

This is my second, four-year term on the Water District Board and my first year as Chair. Joe Judge has represented your water needs for more than 16 years, serving as Chair several times, and we have both developed trusted working relationships with your neighborhood associations. For example, throughout all phases of the Lower Silver Creek flood protection project, Director Judge has held many community and business meetings and met with members of your neighborhoods to gather your input and concerns for the Water District Board of Directors. This project has enhanced neighborhoods along Lower Silver Creek by providing much needed flood protection for homes, businesses, and schools.

The Water District, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is currently evaluating flood control designs for Upper Berryessa and Upper Penitencia creeks, seeking options that are both environmentally sensitive and acceptable to the local communities. For more information about projects in your neighborhood, visit our website and search “Coyote Watershed.”

In addition to these large construction projects, the Water District also maintains our river and stream channels, allowing runoff water from winter rains to be carried quickly away from nearby homes and businesses, thereby preventing flooding. Our routine stream maintenance program includes sediment removal, vegetation management, and bank stabilization.

Due to the $8 billion State budget deficit, the Water District will lose $51 million of local tax revenue from our water management and water conservation programs. Our biggest challenge is to continue providing acceptable levels of service to our communities. We have eliminated 90 vacant employee positions and, along with other measures, reduced costs by $6 million. Assembly Bill 1590, proposed by Assemblymember Sally Lieber and also supported by Assemblymember Joe Coto, is designed to keep our tax dollars local, reduce the financial impact to Water District projects and programs, and allow us to continue providing high-level service to the community. You can help by voicing your support for Assembly Bill 1590 to our State Legislators. You can find contact information for your Assemblymember at

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has a great outreach program of education, information and public services. If you would like to learn more about water recycling, water conservation, and water re-use, etc., please visit our website at or call (408) 265-2607 ext. 2238. You may call me directly at (408) 234-7707. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you, provide you information and hear your concerns.

Click here for photos of Richard Santos and Joe Judge.  Contact information for our state legislators is also on the NNV Government Contacts page.

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Notable Neighbor: Anne Dunham

Iowa Girl Who Lives in the West Makes a Difference in the East

YSI leader changes hats but sticks with East San Jose

By Nancy Valby

After careers as a teacher and hotel/restaurant manager Anne Dunham started a third career at the Youth Science Institute (YSI). Under her tenure as Executive Director, major improvements were made at our beloved Alum Rock Park Center.

Home to YSI since 1953, the center now boasts an up-to-date live animal exhibit featuring birds of prey. Here you can see a hawk or an owl just a few feet away peering down at you from its perch. Or you can watch a volunteer “fly” these non-releasable birds on the lawn to exercise them. The birds also participate in many YSI educational programs. They are properly cared for in a new aviary built to current Fish and Game standards for captive birds (You need a license to keep them.) Take your family for a visit and stop in at the interactive area of the main room.

Just about every Eastside kid is touched by YSI either by visiting the center or experiencing a YSI school program. YSI provides science education to 50,000 kids and their parents each year.

Now, after 14 years at YSI, Anne has made a course change. As the new Director of Operations at Grail Family Services (GFS) in the Mayfair area of east San Jose, Anne continues her passion for teaching people, especially kids. GFS provides literacy programs for children and parents with Read 2 Me, after school activities for elementary students, ESL, parenting, and health and nutrition classes.

GFS also houses a children’s library. It is a long walk to any public library from the Mayfair neighborhood! GFS received grant money and a donation of 5,000 children's books from Scholastic to expand the library this summer. A branch of the PlaneTree health library, with books in both Spanish and English, is also open to the public at GFS.

Just to be sure that the Eastside kids served by GFS have a YSI experience, Anne has already hooked some of them up to YSI summer camps and school programs!

Pretty good connecting on the Eastside for someone who lives in the West and comes from Iowa.

Learn more about YSI and GFS from their websites, or  Or better yet, call Anne at (408) 347-4892.

Click here for photos of Anne.

NNV Note: In addition to her great leadership skills, Anne has extraordinary writing talent. She wrote frequent, thoughtful stories for East, the Neighborhood Voice and contributed an elegant little essay when NNV was just getting off the ground. Click here to read Filling the Vase in NNV Edition 3.

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NNV Briefs

bulletRotary Club Hosts Library Foundation, Honors NNV! “David E. Lazzeri Community Service Award”
bulletOn the Avenue – The Elegant Avenue - Café Elegante and Salon Elegante on Alum Rock Avenue
bulletReady … Set … Celebrate! New Alum Rock Library Grand Opening – Saturday, July 9th
bulletMexican Heritage Plaza Reinventing Itself – Reaching out to the greater community
bulletAlum Rock Filly Wears Spring Hat
bullet“Celebrating Our Diversity” St. John Vianney’s Fiesta coming up soon from Tina Morgado
bulletKeith Bush Creates New Public Art for Casual Drive-By Connoisseurs
bulletAffordable Housing Fair Draws 3,500 from Sandra Dixon
bulletRenaissance Kids Wow Parents, Community by Doug Kleinhenz and Nancy Gutierrez
bulletNew NNV Feature – Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photos
bulletPainted Ladies Fill San Jose Skies
bulletUrban Arts Festival at Lick High School Sponsored by Renaissance Academy from Nancy Gutierrez

Rotary Club Hosts Library Foundation, Honors NNV!

“David E. Lazzeri Community Service Award” given

Surprise award delights and humbles your editor

The Rotary Club of San Jose East Evergreen hosted the San Jose Public Library Foundation at its luncheon meeting on April 19th at the San Jose Country Club. The spokespeople of the Foundation - Eleanor Dickman, Jan Fox and Marie Bernardi were joined by San Jose Library Director Jane Light to acquaint the Rotarians with the progress of the new branch library being built in Alum Rock as well as other new libraries and newly renovated libraries around San Jose – and to solicit their support and advocacy.

NNV was sort of a “facilitator” helping the Rotary folks and the Foundation folks get together, but it was a total surprise when Rotary President Maggie Wilhelm suddenly announced to the gathering that the club was presenting the first-ever “David E. Lazzeri Community Service Award” to Judy and Allan Thompson. That’s us folks! Maybe NNV readers already know that “your humble NNV editor” is Judy Thompson and “the NNV IT department” consists of singular spouse, Allan Thompson, but this was the first official recognition of our “contribution of service to and for the local community … initiating and sustaining the New Neighborhood Voice newsletter, and important on-going work in fire prevention and safety” as the commendation says.

Well, your humble editor blushed and did a tongue-tied response which came nowhere near being adequate for the honor being bestowed. We know now that David Lazzeri was a much loved young member of this Rotary Club who passed away very recently in his mid-40’s. To be honored in his name is truly touching and we will make every effort to live up to this distinction.

Click here to see the award and to read more about David Lazzeri.

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On the Avenue – The Elegant Avenue

Café Elegante and Salon Elegante on Alum Rock Avenue

Ever been to Portugal? Budget too tight to plan a trip overseas this summer? It turns out that you can easily do the next best thing and save yourself the hassle and expense of traveling many time zones away.

NNV was drawn recently to a charming mural painted on the outside wall of a small café in the 1600 block of Alum Rock Avenue. The mural, painted directly on the bricks, depicts the furnishings of a café right down to the steam rising from two cups of coffee on the little round table between two wire-backed chairs. Windows complete with curtains, shutters and flower boxes are painted as background and up-top, over-all, there is an elaborate sign painted in freehand Old World letters.

“Café Elegante” reads the sign. Your NNV editor studied the sweet details of the mural before going around to the front of the small building and realizing that it sits within the boundaries of East San Jose’s “Little Portugal” neighborhood – as a matter of fact, a banner over the sidewalk removed any doubt that somehow a border had been crossed and suddenly NNV was in a delightful foreign land.

Outside the little café sit several honest-to-goodness round tables in the shade of market umbrellas. Portuguese men sit quaffing coffee, taking turns speaking English and in their native tongue. The proprietor comes and goes among the men speaking to them in Portuguese and serving them from a European style menu. Forming a courtyard with the café’s outdoor dining patio, is another building – an old house which has been converted to the café’s sister business, “Salon Elegante.” Up the front steps and inside, one finds oneself in a pleasant (maybe even “elegant”) beauty salon where hairstylist Diana Lopez smiles a friendly hello.

Diana’s son, Anthony Tacquez, it turns out, is the painter of the mural on the café. “He just decided to do it one day!” said Diana. “He painted it from his imagination. The City didn’t like it and wanted us to remove it at first, but they seem to be ‘okay’ with it now,” she added.

NNV is glad the City relented and allows this little piece of pictorial European charm to remain in one of our Eastside neighborhoods. Café Elegante is a tiny slice of Portugal transported to San Jose and the mural makes it all the more special.

So, forget the passports and security checks and “fly” off to Little Portugal in your car - or take the bus down the Avenue! It won’t be hard to imagine that you’ve just gotten off a tour bus and found yourself in a Lisbon neighborhood rubbing elbows with the locals. Enjoy the potted orchids while you’re at it. Have breakfast – or a dessert - before coming back out the Avenue to your hotel (errr, house) for a nap.

Click here for photos of Café Elegante.

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Ready … Set … Celebrate!

New Alum Rock Library Branch Grand Opening

Save the date – Saturday, July 9th

Our community’s big, wonderful glass and marble library branch is nearly finished and almost ready for us to move in. It will soon open its doors to quench our inexhaustible lust for information with all manner of media including, of course, the humble book. It’s been an ongoing treat to watch the building materialize from the “ashes” of the previous old stores. We saw the enormous glue lam-beams installed. We watched as it went through its yellow stage and wondered if we were getting a lemon colored building. We held our breath until the huge windowed walls emerged from behind the draped scaffolding. It’s been the talk of the Village for months!

The celebration will begin at the rear (main) entrance on July 9th, probably around 11:00 AM. After the ribbon is cut, we’ll surge in and scope out the new spaces and mentally book-mark a comfortable place which will become our little nook. We will take in the fine public art. We will revel in a brand new, top drawer facility in our sometimes overlooked community. We may even get a lump in our throat.

Parking Logistics Will be Challenging!
Meanwhile, the transition from the old Alum Rock library to the new Roberto Cruz - Alum Rock library should necessitate some interesting parking logistics. The old branch (which sits on White Road behind the parking lot of the new branch) will close its doors to customers at the end of this month. However the librarians there are promised a month more for the transition. So, the plan seems to be that the old building will be demolished to make way for more parking for the new branch just a few days before the new branch’s grand opening on Saturday, July 9th.

The grand opening will be a big, big, big occasion with lots of folks wanting to be on hand for the dedication celebration, festivities and food. Where will they all park? (NNV’s experience at the recent opening of the new Berryessa branch on Noble Drive was that there were cars parked along the curb on Noble and all the nearby streets as well as in the parking lot – Alum Rock Avenue and White Road are main thoroughfares which don’t permit much curbside parking.) It looks as though the parking lot at Lick High School across the street from the front of the library will be the designated parking area for the opening – and perhaps for a while until the old library is razed and its footprint given over to a new parking lot. Much patience and cooperative spirit are going to be necessary, but the new branch is going to be worth every moment of temporary discomfort.

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Mexican Heritage Plaza

Reinventing – and improving itself – from the ground up

Reaching out to the greater community

East San Jose's Mexican Heritage Plaza is entering a critical phase in its growth as a result of two developments. First, MHC (Mexican Heritage Corporation) has received a $1 million grant from the State of California to implement a capital improvement program. Second, MHC has completed a critical milestone of its strategic plan, and hired a permanent Executive Director for the Plaza, Marcela Davison Aviles, following an extensive international executive search.

MHC and its staff are working closely with the City of San Jose Redevelopment Agency and General Services Department on the capital improvement program, to ensure that this grant is leveraged to fully upgrade and re-furbish the physical plant and achieve full value for every dollar spent. Spawned by these significant steps, MHC recently announced that during the execution of the capital improvement program, when limited programming will be scheduled, it will engage in an intensive review and revision of its operations and business plan. This effort has been formally launched as "The Mexican Heritage Plaza Social Venture Collaborative -- A Community-Based Strategic Re-development of a Multicultural Visual and Performing Arts Model."

MHC seeks to leverage the $1 million state funding with additional support for its organizational capacity building process to ensure the Plaza’s sustainability. We intend to review our business model, including present cost structure and fund development plans, to ensure that the Plaza emerges from this period with both the financial and operational capacity to fully take advantage of the new capital improvements.

Plaza management and the MHC Trustees believe that the expansion and improvement of the Plaza’s physical plant must be combined with a re-building of a curatorial vision, programs and services in order to achieve a business model that is economically sustainable. This requires a re-examination of the Plaza’s business plan to re-define the present revenue paradigm at the Plaza, from both a contributed and earned revenue standpoint. Ultimately, our goal is to re-open with not only a refurbished and improved facility, but with a renewed vision and programming strategy for the future that will raise the bar in terms of artistic quality, artistic breadth, audience experience and community service.

The project for which MHC seeks support presents a unique opportunity for the creation of community and collaborative strategic model to re-define the Plaza’s business model, to achieve a fully multi-cultural artistic and cultural program focus, to leverage our communities’ existing processes of creativity and historic artistic expression and to explore new and contemporary aesthetics as well as fund and revenue development models. In this regard, MHC and its Trustees have approached Bay Area community foundations and the corporate community for assistance with this effort at re-inventing our business model to encompass elements of social entrepreneurship and to develop a sustainable plan for income generation that would supplement MHP’s philanthropic fund development activity with business income.

We firmly understand that a vibrant performing arts center brings both economic and cultural gains to a community and we see the Plaza as yet to realize that full potential.

NNV Note: Mexican Heritage Plaza is the scene for many plays in English. A play (in English!) by noted San Francisco playwright Octavio Solis will open May 19. See the MHP Web site,, for details. Click here for some Mexican Heritage Plaza photos from two years ago this month.

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Alum Rock Filly Wears Spring Hat

Over the years, NNV has carefully observed one of the horse heads on the wall at the corner of Alum Rock and Mountain View Avenue as it struggled with blinder vines and leafy bridles. This spring, not to be outdone, one of his sister horses has begun sporting a large flower-laden Victorian hat. This fluffy mauve chapeau droops fetchingly over her flirty forelock.

A definite asset to the neighhhhh-borhood. Click here to see her.

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“Celebrating Our Diversity”

St. John Vianney’s Super-Duper annual 3-Day Fiesta coming up soon

Be a part of this traditional community event!

From Tina Morgado

This year’s St. John Vianney Fiesta is ramping up for the Friday through Sunday period, May 20th through May 22nd. It’s a must for the entire family with an all new venue for 2005.

This is an event that has been cherished by the East San Jose Community for over 30 years. Entry is FREE!!

Enjoy carnival and booth games such as the popular Football Toss, creative and fun games for kids such as the Duck Game. You can try your luck at balloon popping or at the ball toss or darts. There are cool prizes for everyone!

Enjoy great food, exciting rides and the famous Sunday Chicken BBQ and Raffle. Plus LIVE Entertainment daily that will be sure to please folks from all walks of life! This fiesta is f-u-n and ONE OF A KIND! For more info call (408) 258-7832 or visit

St. John Vianney is located at 4601 Hyland Avenue in the East San Jose foothill neighborhood near Alum Rock Avenue and White Road. You can catch the west end of Hyland off White Road north of Alum Rock Avenue. Or you can take Marian Lane or Maro Drive north off Alum Rock. Hours Friday, 5-20 – 5:00 to 11:00 PM; Saturday, 5-21, 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM; Sunday, 5-22, 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM with the Famous Chicken BBQ starting at Noon until 6:00 PM or until the food runs out. Cost is $7.00 for adults, $4.00 for children under 12..

Pencil this one in your calendar!

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Keith Bush Creates New Public Art for Casual Drive-By Connoisseurs

Highland Drive sculptor, Keith Bush, recently installed the latest in his series of thoughtful, playful metal constructions – this one is on a concrete abutment in the middle of the shrubbery in the front of his home in the 15000 block of Highland Drive near Brundage Way.

Titled “Rolling through the path of life,” the piece sits serenely on its skinny rear daring gravity to tip it over into the storm grating below. Keith enjoys livening up the East Highlands (or your home or neighborhood if you would like to commission him!) with his bright and sometimes wickedly witty, metal creations. Keith designed and fabricated the outstanding steel gates at Tierra Encantada on Alum Rock Avenue this past winter.

Click here for a photo of "Rolling."

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Affordable Housing Fair Draws 3,500

From Sandra Dixon

The Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR) held a free Affordable Housing Fair on Saturday April 2nd from 10 am - 4 pm at Parkside Hall in downtown San Jose. Ken Yeager, City Council, District 6 welcomed the public to the event.

Yeager spoke to the collaboration between SCCAOR and the City of San Jose in educating the public about housing opportunities and getting information to the REALTORS® about housing assistance programs to put more working families into homes.

Attended by more than 3,500 members of the public, the fair consisted of over 70 exhibit tables dispensing information on first time home buying programs, housing assistance programs, finding a loan, and the steps to purchasing a home. More than 30 seminars on home buying topics were held in five areas of Parkside Hall, including seminars in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese. The seminars taught attendees the basics of getting a loan, purchasing a home, and how to find and utilize a variety of down payment and closing cost assistance grants and loans.

San Jose City Councilmember Dave Cortese's office hosted a table to publicize the benefits of living and owning a home on the East Side. The table also gave out information about the businesses that make up the vibrancy of the East Side community. Dave Cortese is an ardent supporter of affordable housing and was very happy to have a presence at the event.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide renters and first time homebuyers crucial housing information by holding this event”, said SCCAOR 2005 President, Jim Myrick. “In my experience, I have found that many people who have been renting for years, could have purchased a home sooner if they had realized the programs that are available.”

Established in 1896, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® (SCCAOR) is California’s oldest and Northern California’s largest real estate association, representing more than 9,000 members and serves as the voice of the real estate industry and protects private property rights. SCCAOR members subscribe to the highest standards and ethical practices of real estate professionals.

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Renaissance Kids Wow Parents, Community

Renaissance Academy Academic Exhibition shows off students' skills

By Doug Kleinhenz and Nancy Gutierrez

The Renaissance Academy of Arts, Science, and Social Justice, a new small middle school in the Alum Rock School District, had its second academic exhibition on March 24th. At the exhibition, Renaissance students demonstrated their mastery of content and curriculum in math, science, social studies, and language arts.

Students were partnered up and each partnership explored a topic of their choice, and created a presentation and display for the topic. Some of the topics exhibited by the students included the daily life of ancient Egyptians, different forms of fiction, ratios and proportions, and the science behind tsunamis. Parents, community members, and teachers inquisitively visited the many exhibits as students enthusiastically presented their topic and volunteered why their topics are important.

The motivating, enthusiastic, and engaging environment also included performances by Renaissance Academy's amazing band which featured three solos, the after school break dancing team, and the Academy's spoken word group, "The Funky Poets." Throughout the evening, middle school students beamed with pride as they presented their academics and performances. What a great success!

The Alum Rock School District as well as Renaissance's parents, teachers, community members, and students should be very proud.

Click here for photos from this event.

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New NNV Feature – Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photos

Neighbors Richard Brown and his wife Sue are frequent hikers and bikers in Alum Rock Park. Richard recently offered his excellent photos of park flora, fauna and geology to share with the readers of New Neighborhood Voice.

We’ll start this month with his marvelously detailed photos of a couple of the park’s wild Tom turkeys. He caught them in parade stance, grandly displaying their buffed-up feathers. Surely some babe-a-licious come-hither hens swooned for these guys!

Click here to see the photos.  Click here to read D.J. Johnson's article about turkeys in the park.

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Painted Ladies Fill San Jose Skies

If you didn’t see the skyful of butterflies early in April, you missed one of Mother Nature’s Finest Moving Picture Shows! It’s been estimated that as many as one billion Painted Ladies (Vanessa Cardui) migrated from the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico to the Northwest over a period of about a week.

On April 2nd, the skies over East San Jose appeared to be full of blowing, orange confetti. The fluttering floosies flew precisely from Southeast to Northwest stopping only to refuel (and powder their noses?) on the occasional flowering shrub. At NNV, the bright blue spikes of our frontyard Pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum) offered foot tall smorgasbords of ruffled, crepey blossoms – each just right for a lady to “do lunch.”

These flapper girls may not have simply eaten and run. They just might have left us something to remember them by. Watch for little larvae this summer playing at some shrubbery near you.

Click here for photos of the Painted Ladies.

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Urban Arts Festival at Lick High School

Sponsored by Renaissance Academy, Hosted by JLHS

Celebrating creativity here in the ‘hood!

From Nancy Gutierrez, Renaissance Academy

Students from Alum Rock elementary district as well as East Side high school district will be displaying and selling their art work at an exciting event at Lick High on Saturday, June 4th. The festival will be held in the parking lot and on the grassy area in front of the school from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

There will also be local artists participating as well as a performing arts stage where local bands will perform. Students will recite poetry and do monologues. There will be BBQing and a special area for kids to do arts and crafts. It's going to be a fun day celebrating the creativity of our community! Admission is free.

Renaissance Academy parent Elizabeth Alvarez is chairing the event working with Renaissance lead teacher Nancy Gutierrez and James Lick Director Rick Esparza.

If you’re interested in showing or selling your artwork or performing, please contact Elizabeth Alvarez at 518-1540. There will also be a Web site available soon.

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The National Hispanic University Launches Recruitment Campaign
to Encourage Latino Students to Pursue a College Education

Four Year University on Story Road encourages non-Latino students as well!

From Jeff Villarreal, NHU

The National Hispanic University (NHU) is launching an aggressive campaign to recruit and encourage more Hispanic students throughout the Bay Area to go to college and be part of the NHU experience.

"With the opening of Sobrato Hall, a-state-of-the-art, learning facility located on Story Road in East San Jose, people are starting to take notice,” explains Dr. David Lopez, NHU President. “Now the next step is to fill our classrooms with highly motivated students. Con Ganas!"

NHU, one of only two four year universities in San Jose serving over 900,000 people, is now capable of increasing its student base from 500 to 1200 students.

Today, only one in ten, or 10 percent of Hispanic adults in the U.S. have college degrees. Of those Hispanics who do enter college, 65 percent drop out before earning their degree. "These statistics have not improved over the years and have actually worsened, explains Dr. Lopez, but education at NHU addresses these concerns head on."

Dr. Roberto Cruz, founded the National Hispanic University (NHU) 20 years ago with these statistics in mind. As a result, he saw a need for a new and innovative approach to educating Hispanics. He felt that the traditional education system was failing to take into account the social, cultural, economic and linguistic experiences and needs of Hispanic students. This innovative approach resulted in providing students with accessible and affordable quality education opportunities for economically marginalized and underserved students. His vision, leadership and approach have resulted in a higher graduation rate than that of the national average for Hispanics.

The objective of the recruitment campaign is to keep that dream alive and generate enrollment to capacity. Furthermore, Hispanic students and students in general who are socially, culturally and economically marginalized would be able to realize their dreams of getting a college degree in an institution that is determined to serve and support their education needs. Si se puede!

For more information call (408) 273-2715 or visit the National Hispanic University at:

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The Incredible Shrinking Dollar

Why is the dollar falling? Is this good or bad?

By Jason Papier

Many of us have heard that the “dollar is falling” or that the “dollar is weak”. But what does this mean? Why is the dollar falling? When will it stop? What will happen if it continues?

Let’s first discuss what people mean when they say the dollar is “weak” or “falling”. By definition, the “strength” of the currency is relative to the values of other currencies. Let me explain. Let's say right now the dollar trades equal to the British currency, the pound (GBP). 1 dollar equals 1 pound, so an item that costs 3 pounds can be purchased for 3 dollars. If the exchange rate changes so that 1 dollar buys 1 1/2 pounds, the dollar is “rising” and getting "stronger" against the pound. In this scenario, an item that costs 3 pounds can be purchased for 2 dollars. On the other hand, let’s say the rate changes so that 1 dollar only buys 1/2 a pound. In this scenario, then the dollar is “falling” and is now “weaker” against the pound. An item that costs 3 pounds will cost us 6 dollars.

In general, in recent years the dollar has been falling against other currencies. So, many are saying that the dollar is now weak. But it is important to note that everybody does not agree that the dollar is weak. Our current administration believes that while the dollar has been falling, it was not at a fair level to begin with. They feel that the value was too high. The administration points to the trade imbalance as proof. In their view, the dollar has been falling back to what they consider a normal level and the weakening of the dollar, they believe, may be healthy for the economy.

How can a weaker dollar be good? A falling dollar has many advantages. It makes US goods less expensive overseas and foreign goods more expensive at home. In other words, it encourages sales of US goods and services both abroad and in the US. Higher sales create better earnings for US companies. It also makes foreign labor more expensive which may mean more US jobs. Finally, if US sales are higher and prices of goods rise, it will result in more tax revenue for the government. And many people view this as the cause of the downward pressure on the dollar. Namely, that the current US budget deficit is simply too high to sustain.

To many of us, this scenario sounds appealing. How can more sales of domestic products, higher earnings, competitive pricing with foreign goods, more tax revenue, and shrinking trade and budget deficits be bad? The answer is that while a weaker dollar may be beneficial if moderately applied, a continued drop or a long-term weakness can have the opposite effect.

Perhaps the major drawback to the weakening of the dollar is that it creates inflationary pressures. Commodities, which are priced on the global market, become relatively more expensive. Thus the raw materials we use to produce our goods will likely cost more, resulting in higher prices of goods. Furthermore, since we buy so many foreign goods, the price of items such as fruits, vegetables, and other staple goods will likely rise. But while the higher cost of foreign goods makes US items comparatively more inexpensive, domestic producers have been under such pressure to keep margins low, they may now simply choose to increase their own prices as foreign prices rise.

Second, a falling dollar makes investing in US securities less attractive. By simply holding goods in US dollars, the value will decrease as the dollar weakens. This means less financing of debt, such as government bonds, unless interest rates rise. Therefore, as the dollar weakens, the government must raise interest rates on government securities to continue to attract investors. This means the government must pay more on borrowed money. It also results in higher interest rates on other items, such as home loans and credit card bills. To see how this affects the stock markets we can look to 1987 when Secretary Baker declared a US policy to allow its currency to fall 35%. The resulting pull out of foreign capital was a major factor in the stock market collapse.

Finally, if the dollar weakens enough, it could create an unfair advantage to US firms resulting in less competition. Protectionist strategies in the past on automobiles, consumer electronics and other goods have generally had the undesirable effect of less innovation, slower reaction to consumer needs, and higher prices.

So, now we know that a weak dollar can stimulate the economy but that if the dollar falls too fast, if it falls for too long, or if it stays weak for a long period of time we, as consumers and investors, could be in for trouble. The administration must walk a very fine line. While some currency devaluation may help the economy and reduce pressure on the budget deficit, too much will result in higher inflation, loss of foreign capital, and reduced competition.

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

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 fee-only 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.

May Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 (our new telephone number) with your gardening questions or check out our website at

Ants in the House: The first step of ant control is clean up any food crumbs or spills that might attract the ants. Store food in tight containers. Keep the ants outside by caulking cracks and crevices. Use baits that contain boric acid. Place baits in locations that are not accessible to pets or children. Control with baits can take several weeks; ants take the bait back to the nest where it is effective. The pest note with more information is

Carpenter Bees: These bees are similar in appearance to bumble bees, are about an inch long and do not sting. They are considered beneficial insects because they pollinate many plants and trees. For their nests, they tunnel into unpainted softwood such as pine, fir and redwood used for house or garden structures. Adults overwinter in the nests, emerge in the spring, mate, deposit food in the tunnels and lay eggs. The tunnels are sealed with wood pulp and the new adults chew their way out. After the bees emerge, fill the holes with steel wool and wood filler. Apply paint to the surface to prevent re-entry. Further information is available at

Earwigs: Earwigs are second only to snails and slugs in plant damage. While they are beneficial because they eat insects such as aphids, unfortunately they also feed on soft plants. Earwigs can do quite a lot of damage if there is a high population. They feed at night and hide in moist, tight-fitting places during the day. Trap them by putting out moistened, tightly rolled newspaper or corrugated cardboard in the evening. In the morning dispose of the paper and the trapped insects. Another method of control is a covered container such as a small margarine tub with holes cut halfway up the sides. Pour in about an inch of soy sauce and a thin layer of vegetable oil in the container. Empty as needed. Other control methods are available at

Gophers: Gophers are more properly called Pocket Gophers. They make their presence known with crescent shaped mounds of dirt in the garden. Snacking on plant and tree roots as they tunnel through the soil, they are active year round and can have up to three litters per year in well watered areas. They can also gnaw on irrigation lines and divert water into their tunnels, making it difficult to properly water plants. Adults live about three years. Homeowners can use several methods to control them. Locating the main tunnel is the first step. Placing Macabee or box traps or poison baits are explained in detail in Another method involves excluding them with wire fencing. Ultrasonic devices and chewing gum have been tested and are not effective.

Mulching: As summer nears and efficient watering practices become more important, mulching is an effective technique to keep soil temperatures even, to retain moisture in the soil and to prevent weeds from germinating. Mulching with organic matter such as chipped tree trimmings, compost, or bark not only reduces water usage but also improves the organic content and texture of soil. Apply at least two to three inches of material (three to six inches of larger bark pieces), keeping it several inches away from the trunks of trees and shrubs to prevent crown rot. Renew every few years as it decomposes and enriches the soil.

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Did You “Go Native”?

Going Native Garden Tour - Big Success

Several Eastside gardens included in the itinerary

By Bracey Tiede

Sunday, April 17th, dawned sunny, promised to be mild - and it was. We set aside the whole day for doing the Going Native Garden Tour. We laid out our itinerary starting at the north end of the tour and heading back south and east to home. We headed up the peninsula to visit a hillside garden up on Skyline Boulevard. The fog was just clearing as we arrived. The elaborate garden included ceanothus (California lilac) still in bloom, native iris of all colors, low manzanitas sprawling down the hill, and the native California rose being trained on a large redwood arbor. At the bottom of the garden beyond the deer fencing was a shaded pathway through dripping redwoods. This was a fine garden for strolling, with decomposed gravel and stone pathways winding down the hill.

The next garden was completely different in style. The spare Japanese design included the same manzanita and iris but the plants were spaced out over a gentle slope covered in shredded mulch under tall oaks and firs instead of redwoods. The effect was serene and peaceful and more subdued in color. Heading farther south, we stopped at a sunny spot with undulating mounds containing a mix of natives and Mediterraean climate plants such as Pride of Madeira with huge blue towers of blooms covered with bees, taller manzanitas with deep red bark on the twisted branches, and a nice selection of cactus and succulents in the hottest spot in the garden. Many salvias including several natives were beginning their first bloom of the year.

We arrived at the large Palo Alto garden to find our first lawn and large pond with a waterfall and creek flowing into it. This garden was clearly owned by a plant lover. In addition to the many Mediterranean climate plants such as roses and viburnums, specimen plants of many natives were tucked in here and there for discovery as you walked the many paths. A Styrax officinalis var. redivivus or snowdrop bush had many beautiful white blooms and a mild fragrance. Mimulus (monkey flower) of many colors were blooming and the buckwheats were cheery with their yellow puffs.

We ended the day at fellow columnist, Arvind Kumar's, colorful garden filled with wildflowers and blooming shrubs. Clearly the day had been a huge success for him with many more visitors this year compared to last year.

Early reports of garden visits indicates that the Third Annual Going Native Garden Tour's number of visitors per garden is up at least 50% over last year. The combination of great weather, beautiful gardens, friendly volunteers and visitors made for a very satisfying tour for everyone involved.

As a member of the organizing committee this year along with Arvind and others, I am incredibly proud of everyone who volunteered to make this tour the wonderful experience it was. If you are interested in attending next year's tour, please visit to be notified.

Click here for photos from the Going Native Garden Tour.

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More Deer-Resistant Plants

Gary and Ellen Rauh’s vineyard-tested additions to the list

Gary and Ellen grow not only wine grapes, but assorted flowers and shrubs at their home in the East foothills. They’ve discovered by trial and error just which plants become instant deer-fodder and which ones the deer disdain.

Sometimes looks can be deceiving – some of these look like Lollipops for Bambi for sure! You can add Lion's Tail, Coral Bells, Myrtle, Lenten Rose, Kafir Lily, Bleeding Heart, Periwinkle and Calla Lily to your list.

Of course, there are never any absolute guarantees of deer-proofness. Remember the operative word is “resistant” – if push comes to shove, deer will eat anything including your fence.

Click here for the NNV Dear Resistant Plants page.

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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.


Stewards of the Land

How one couple is restoring their ranch in San Jose

By Arvind Kumar

Barbara and Scott Springer are not ranchers in the traditional sense. They don’t raise cattle or horses or other animals of commercial value on their 12-acre property in the foothills of east San Jose. They don’t farm the land, either. They just live there, and take care of the land.

They moved to their Clayton Road property in 2001 with no prior ranching or farming experience. “We didn’t know what we were getting into,” Barbara says. “We wanted an acre or two. And then we found this property, and decided to take it. It was an eye-opener, learning about wells, etc.”

Not long after moving, Barbara happened to read Judith Lowry’s book, Gardening With a Wild Heart (UC Press). “That book changed my life,” she says simply. Lowry’s book is about restoration gardening, which aims to create habitat in the home landscape with the use of locally native plants. “It made me think about the potential of this place,” Barbara says referring to her ranch. “The book is more about a philosophy of gardening and it inspired me.”

So began one couple’s journey into the world of native plants, restoration, and the environment, something they had scarcely thought about before. Barbara began by looking for information on the Internet and found the excellent Las Pilitas Nursery site ( She found out about the local chapter of California Native Plant Society (, as well as their Gardening with Natives group ( She attended several meetings and soon met other people in her own neighborhood like Master Gardener Bracey Tiede.

Also through the web, she discovered Yerba Buena Nursery ( and learned about their landscape design service. She asked them to design a native plant garden for her front yard.

When Annaloy Nickum, the designer, visited them, she not only saw the front yard but also got a tour of the entire 12-acre lot. “On the walk, she pointed out all the natives I already had, like coffeeberry and toyon,” Barbara recalls. “She got me excited about my place. She opened my eyes.” As a result, Barbara became interested in restoring the entire property, not just the front yard.

In the end, Barbara created her own design for the garden. Unlike the monster homes that have begun to dot these hillsides, their modest 50-year-old house and garage are set into the hill unobtrusively, maintaining the rural character of the area. Immediately surrounding the house is a lovely garden of California natives, with trailing sage, sulfur buckwheat, bird’s eye gilia, penstemon, and foothill sedge, set off against well-mulched beds.

In the remainder of the ranch, Barbara and Scott act as stewards, removing non-native grasses and plants, and allowing the naturally occurring California native plants to flourish. And as the native plants regenerate, so does the wildlife.

They spend 30 hours per week propagating, planting, mowing, and watering. They plant 150 plants each winter. The young plants are watered either by drip lines or by hand -- with 300 feet of hose. “Summer time is most labor intensive,” she explains. In the first year, plants are watered once a week; in the second year, once a month; third year onwards only once in the summer, if at all.

Each spring, Barbara and Scott invite friends for a walk around the ranch. It is a real treat – to see Flint Creek and its riparian habitat, to walk through oak woodlands, to rub against chaparral shrubs and inhale their intoxicating fragrance, and to stand on the grassy hills and gaze at the valley view.

Any surprises along the way? “I used to be a typical displaced Californian under the impression that California has a hot, dry fire season followed by a rainy season, that it has no fall or spring like the East Coast.” She says it was a revelation to learn that indeed California has seasons, but they are very different from the East Coast’s. The time of dormancy in California is summer, not winter. The time for germination and growth is winter, not spring.

What do the neighbors think? “A couple of them do know what we are doing, but they have a different perspective. For example, they consider fiddlenecks (Amsinckia sp.) to be a weed because they say they kill horses. I consider fiddlenecks to be a source plant for painted lady butterflies. I understand where they are coming from. Their approach, as well as generations before them, is to “tame” the land for farming or ranching purposes. My approach is to help the land to do what it wants to do. I think we can co-exist and benefit from what we each have learned. They share ideas on weed abatement and I share tips on planting oak trees.”

“The European annuals have the live-fast-die-young philosophy, and they overwhelm native plant biology. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. When I see the yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis), I just want to close my eyes.” Then she brightens up. “But then we look at the oak trees we have planted and we know they will be here for a few hundred years. Although they are only five feet tall now, we can start to see the difference.”

Barbara reflects on how her gardening interests have evolved. “My old home garden had a pretty design, but thinking back, it seems so stagnant. It had no life. It looked the same – the same flowers, the same colors – all the time. I now appreciate the cycles of the seasons, of seeing things grow from seed and then change with each cycle. When native plants go through phases, they attract different types of wildlife.” In summer, the shade cast by dead wood attracts lizards. Insects come to flowers in spring, looking for pollen and nectar, and where the insects go, so go the birds. “When I saw the monarch caterpillar on my milkweed, I was so excited. I thought to myself: I allowed it to come here. Being part of that cycle is what I really love.”

Barbara Springer’s Favorite Natives:

Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), Valley oak (Quercus lobata): Collect acorns. Seal them in a Ziploc bag with moist peat moss, and put them in the fridge. When they germinate a few months later, stick them in the ground. Excellent habitat trees.

Narrow-leaved milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) for the butterflies.

Ceanothus sp. for beauty and looks, excellent landscape plants.

Winifred Gilman Sage (Salvia clevelandii ‘Winifred Gilman’): easy to grow, beautiful purple color, wonderful aroma, the hummingbirds love it!

Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is dramatic, fast growing. “My favorite grass.”

Plant when the rains have softened the ground, from Thanksgiving through January. Grow plants from seed, cuttings, nurseries, and plant sales.

Click here for photos from the Springer Ranch.

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Want to write or take photos for New Neighborhood Voice? NNV welcomes reporters, essayists, poets
and camera bugs. More “Voices” = a richer NNV. E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.



A Cat’s Tale

“For my dream, Catrene”

By Schuster “Es” Thompson

NNV Note: Inspired by the recent comparison of his work to that of the late Hunter S. Thompson, Schuster “Es” Thompson, the NNV cat, indulged himself in a large wad of catnip before writing this piece for the current edition of the newsletter.

A Cat’s Tale

A somewhat cataleptic cat named Catrene climbed up into a catalpa to catalogue her recipes for catfish and catbird. She liked the ones which featured catsup and catmint best of all.

Being a Catholic cat, Catrene studied her catechism which she read in her native Catalonian. When she had finished, she drank an infusion of catnip and catawba wine until she was in a catatonic state. She dreamed of taking a catamaran to Catalina.

She liked to sit catercornered from the cattle and caterwaul catty gossip to them - when she wasn’t laid up with catarrh. But, it was Catrene’s fascination with caterpillars that used up all nine of her lives. One day she was categorizing such creepy creatures near the catacombs. As she sat watching them and catacombing* her hair, a hunter with cataracts mistook her for a catamount and catapulted a boulder at her wee head.

The cataclysm rendered Catrene’s corpse so kaput that the hunter could salvage only her little kitty-cat rump. He took it to the taxidermist and had it stuffed and mounted for his collection. This was the first-ever use of the ancient Catalonian word “catasstrophy.”**

S.T. 4-20-05

* This is an example of poetic license. I assure you that I am fully licensed and that my license is current and in good order.

** Today we use the modern French spelling “catastrophe,” but, of course, the meaning is unchanged.

Click here for photos of Schuster before and after imbibing the nip.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletI haven’t gotten around to mailing in my Library Measures A and B ballot. Is it too late?
bulletIs a May 3rd postmark sufficient or does the ballot have to be in by May 3rd?
bulletI did not receive a ballot for the Library Measures. Why not? I live in San Jose.
bulletWhat does it mean that the little Foothill Print Shop suddenly has white blinds drawn?
bulletWhat’s happening with Saint John Vianney’s plans to do an extensive building project?
bulletHas Alum Rock Park sprouted some new public art?
bulletWhat's Alan Henninger’s recommendation as to which pesticides or herbicides not to use?
bulletWhy are some properties along Alum Rock Avenue allowed to go to wrack and ruin?
bulletWhy does NNV continue to publish articles by Ed Allegretti now that he’s moved to Mississippi?

Q. I haven’t gotten around to mailing in my Library Measures A and B ballot. Now it’s May – is it too late?

A. No, maybe not if you hurry! You can deliver your ballot to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose up to 8:00 PM on May 3rd. You can call them at (408) 299-VOTE for information.

Click here for a related photo.

Q. Is a May 3rd postmark sufficient or does the ballot actually have to be in the Registrar’s hands by May 3rd?

A. A May 3rd postmark will not work. The ballot must be in the Registrar’s office by May 3rd.

Q. I did not receive a ballot for the Library Measures. Why not? I live in San Jose and am interested in the Alum Rock Library’s success, too.

A. The ballot was sent only to residents of unincorporated Santa Clara County or to people in the towns whose libraries are part of the county’s library system. The present Alum Rock Library is part of the County’s system. The new branch which is being built at the corner of Alum Rock and White Road will be part of the San Jose City library system, but County funds from the Alum Rock area will definitely stay with the new Alum Rock branch. The more County residents use the new branch, the more the County will shell out. Support for the County Library measures = support for the new City branch.

Q. What does it mean that the little Foothill Print Shop on the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner suddenly has white blinds drawn? Is this a sign of some activity about to happen in the Village? Are we going to get some wonderful new restaurants and businesses soon?

A. Steve Song, the real estate agent handling the property, says that we’ll have to be patient a bit longer. Like a year longer! He said the blinds simply mean that the shop is vacant. Next will come an environmental inspection. There are known environmental issues to be cleaned up. Remember, there was a gas station on the corner where Brasil Auto Repair is now and gas stations = environmental hazards. The print shop itself also contributed some chemicals which will have to be eliminated, too. So, no permits have been pulled. No construction bidding has happened. But, Steve assures NNV, there will be retail businesses there – we just have to hold our horses.

And, speaking of the Village, the shiny black tiles which had peeled off the front of Las Delicias restaurant leaving it looking slummy, have been replaced and it all looks tidy and polished again.

Click here for photos.

Q. What’s happening with Saint John Vianney’s plans to do an extensive building project in the parking lot across the street from the church? It seems like the project hasn’t seen any action since its inception a couple of years ago.

A. You’re right, the ambitious Vision 2020 project which would have included a large two story building hasn’t gotten off the ground. There is a fund drive to which parishioners have donated generously – however the drive has come up significantly short.

The church has a new pastor, Father Tim Kidney, who wants to be sure the project gets done so he’s championing a scaled-back single-story plan which is not such a formidable challenge. The new building will include a multi-purpose room, gymnasium, meeting room and storage.

By the way, Saint John’s previous pastor, Father Larry Hendel is now serving as a chaplain in Kosovo!

Click here for the signage depicting the original plan.

Q. Has Alum Rock Park sprouted some new public art? We saw a strange multi-roofed pagoda-like thingamajig near the Creek Trail recently. It’s interesting – but is it art?

A. NNV saw it too and took its photo. We thought it has a nice sculptural/architectural feel with a definite Asian-fusion character. We noticed on close look that water is collecting in its base which of course is a no-no unless you’re practically inviting mosquitoes. We’d be interested in our readers’ critique. What say you?

Q. After reading about garden chemicals killing bees in our area, I wondered what Alan Henninger’s recommendation would be as to which pesticides or herbicides not to use in our garden.

A. Alan says that the list of bad actors is long. Reading the label before using (or, better yet, before buying!) garden products should help to understand whether there are caveats about poisoning beneficial insects. He went on to say, “Two friends of mine who migrate between California and Minnesota recently won a case in Minnesota Supreme Court which states that if one knows that bees are flying in the area, the person has a duty not to use harmfully labeled pesticides during or preceding bee flight time. ‘David the Beeman’ said that California has a similar law which isn’t enforced.” Sounds like it’s time for a little self-enforcement and self-restraint, doesn’t it? After all, bees are necessary for one-third of our food supply!

Click here to read about Alan's bees.

Q. Why are some properties along Alum Rock Avenue allowed to go to wrack and ruin – changing from “stately” to “eyesore” in a matter of weeks? Isn’t there anything the community can do?

A. Well, first one must determine whether the property is in City jurisdiction or County jurisdiction. You can looks for clues like the color of the street signs (City: Black, County: Blue). Readers can also call the County Planning Department at (408) 299-5770 and ask their help determining the jurisdiction of the property in question. Or you can call the City’s Code Enforcement office at (408) 277-4528.

What is a violation in the City may not be a violation in the County and vice versa. If you read a recent question to the Action Line column in the Mercury News concerning illegal parking at a residence, you may remember that the answer included information which said that people can park cars only on paved areas of their property. The County doesn’t seem to have any such restriction. On properties in unincorporated Santa Clara County, one can park as many “registered and operable” vehicles as one wants – even on grassy areas.

There are limits on how many days one can have “For Sale” vehicles sitting on one’s property. Think in terms of 3-5 days. One may not have garbage or junk cluttering up the front of one’s home. It must be out of sight from the street. IF you would like someone from the County Planning Department to come out and cite violations in the Eastside County pockets, you can phone John Toth at (408) 299-5751. He’ll take your name and address and send you a complaint form to fill out. You send it back to him and he’ll come out and take a look, and, we hope, convince our messy neighbors to clean up their property. Don’t hesitate to be a cranky, squeaky wheel. You will remain anonymous.

As far as weed abatement goes, you need to call the County Fire Marshal’s office and leave a message on the hazardous vegetation customer service line at (408) 282-3145.

Click here for recent photos of blight on Alum Rock Avenue.

Q. Why does NNV continue to publish articles by Ed Allegretti now that he’s moved to Mississippi? We find some of his ideas to be quite offensive.

A. It looks like the writing is on the wall. NNV was deluged with polite, but no-nonsense messages questioning the relevance of long-time NNV writer Ed’s missives to our readership. We now think we can best serve our readers by celebrating the wonderful diversity and tolerance of the Bay Area and focusing on local news (and “dish” as one reader wrote). But we are grateful to Ed for all the fine historical writing he did for NNV.

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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© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome. 
To Subscribe: E-mail with "Subscribe" in the Subject line. 
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Privacy Policy: Your contact information will not be sold, distributed or visible to others. 
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 4/29/05.

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