New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter- Edition 32 - Section 2

December 4, 2005

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Frank Chavez


Steve Southwell's
stained glass

And a fox on Gay Southwell's deck


Cosmos and
Grecian statue


Nicken the
Chicken is


Comcast Box
crash test

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James Lick Update

Every student “oriented” at new Cruz/Alum Rock Library

By Kathy Evans, Librarian, James Lick High School

As the librarian at James Lick High School, I was excited about the opportunity to partner with the staff at the new Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock library and to let you know how wonderful Nora Conte and the entire staff have been to our students and staff. Even before the library opened, our school was lovingly partnered and involved in the development of the collection. Later, Michelle Amores worked with us to publicize and involve our students in the Grand Opening last July. In August, when school began, Ms. Conte worked with me on our library card drive, which was incredibly successful. We were able to issue almost three hundred cards to our students. To put it another way, one third of the students now have new library cards. And, we have just finished a mammoth feat … virtually every student at James Lick has had a tour through the new library. In order to do this, librarians Vicki Mata and Sharon Snow were tireless, even going so far as to conduct tours in the morning before the library opened … the only way we could provide an orientation for all of our students. Because of the enthusiasm and excitement they generated, many students signed up for future volunteer programs and there is a new “cool factor” associated with the library.

Our staff has also been included in the outreach program. Every James Lick teacher was given a packet with detailed information about services and events, and a personal business card from Ms. Mata so they could contact her for any support they might need. Our teachers are busy planning projects that include library components in an effort to fully utilize this wonderful facility. All of us at James Lick are so grateful to have our new neighborhood library up and running and to have such wonderful librarians as a resource.

Poet Laureate back on campus
Art Rodriguez, the author of East Side Dreams and the poet laureate of James Lick paid us a visit in September. Every year Mr. Rodriguez generously gives of his time and books to our students, and it’s no exaggeration to say that that his books are the most widely read in the school. His autobiographical stories are set in the East Side and tell an inspirational tale of a troubled boy who grows into a respected and admired man. In fact, East Side Dreams is so popular that next year the book will be required reading in all alternative schools in California. So if you or your teens are looking for a good read, I would recommend our own local author, Art Rodriguez.

New literary club
James Lick writing coach, Teresa Heger, is establishing a new literary club for all of our budding authors. The kick-off event is a Short Story Contest, which has generated quite a bit of interest. We are honored to have Tegan McClane, the Director of Arts for the City of Sunnyvale and a panel of judges judging all entries. A first, second, and third place award will be announced and posted on School Loop. All participants will be given certificates, and students will have work published in a literary magazine at the end of the year. If you would be interested in supporting the arts at James Lick and would like to make a tax deductible donation for the contest or the Spring publication of our literary magazine, please contact me at (408) 347-4480. Your generosity would be most appreciated.

Students prepared for exams
October saw students and teachers preparing for the state high school exit exam (AKA the CASHEE) through a four-week intensive tutoring program. After school, James Lick offered all students Math and English content review along with proven test taking strategies from the Kaplan Institute, a leader in the field of test prep. Administration and staff at Lick are committed to providing our students the support they need to be successful and we wish everyone the best of luck on passing the exit exam.

Kids see Cantinflas and the Nutcracker
We recently took sixty James Lick students to see Cantinflas at the Mexican Heritage Theater and they loved it! Herbert Siguenza, of the comedy troupe Culture Clash, wrote and starred in this play about Mario Moreno; better known as Cantinflas, a comedian Charlie Chaplin once called the greatest comic ever born. Through a wonderful program called Arts Express, the City of San Jose offers a wide variety of arts experiences for students in grades 4 through 12 - all at no cost. Various arts organizations partner with the City of San Jose to provide performances to students, recognizing the vital role of the arts in learning. Karen Park and her staff coordinate over three hundred schools and do a fantastic job of bringing in literally hundreds of kids to these performances. We also have trips to Opera San Jose and The Nutcracker scheduled for this month, bringing our students the rich cultural experiences San Jose has to offer.

Health, eating habits and exercise
Our Biology program is also off to a strong start with our popular focus-unit on Nutrition and Lifestyles, designed to help students make better eating and exercise choices. The unit addresses the California State Standards 1A, E, G, and H, and beginning with the study of macromolecules, students are taught exactly how the body assimilates fats, proteins, and lipids. Then, through a series of projects, including food logs, cell models, and carbohydrate, enzyme and lipid labs, students are taught exactly how critical diet can be. Reinforcing the link between health and diet was former Eastside resident, Dr. Elizabeth Arias, a preventive cardiologist and chief resident from the University of Seattle, who gave a series of lectures to our students on the maintenance of a healthy heart. Suddenly, Biology teacher Roberta Cabigas says, it seems fruit and yogurt are in demand here at Lick!

Help for Math learners
Math Dept. Chair, Sue Vieira asked that we inform families of our students that there are several math tutorials available for our kids. School Loop is our on-line homework center where students and parents can get the latest information about grades and assignments. Another service is, an interactive math site where students can get help when they need it. And every afternoon the James Lick Tutor Center has teachers who are available from 3:15-4:30. If your James Lick student would like to use any of these services, just have them contact their math teacher for the necessary log-on information.

Annual Noche Latino
Once again Ms. Llanos-Richards and her NCULatino club brought James Lick and the community another Noche Latino extravaganza. The theme was tropical nights and through the clever use of lights and a fog machine, guests were transported South of the Border where hot salsa Music was provided by DJ Angel. Entertainment and food was courtesy of Ms. Huerta’s Folklorico de James Lick and over two hundred people including students, parents, and past scholarship recipients had a wonderful time. If you’ve never been to a Noche Latino, make sure you plan on coming next year for the time of your life.

Coming soon
James Lick has had a wonderful year so far due to a consistent Administration (thanks to Superintendent Bob Nunez) and a dedicated staff, and we look forward to moving our students even further in the upcoming months. We still have many activities ahead of us, such as our Christmas Food Drive, Adopt-A-Family, Arts and Crafts Faire, and our annual Gift of Reading program. We here at James Lick look forward to providing our students and our community a wonderful holiday season.

Click here for Music Director Tomoko Nakajima’s invitation to the Lick Winter Concert.

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Code Enforcement, What Code Enforcement?

Neighbor gets royal runaround from County staff

In last month’s NNV we ran an FAQ regarding a property on Clareview Avenue at Alum Rock which was surrounded by beaucoup vehicles and trash. NNV’s advice was to call John Toth at the County Planning Department and register a complaint. A reader decided to do just that regarding a property further up on Alum Rock Avenue which is undergoing an enormous amount of possibly non-permitted work.

Here is what he wrote to NNV:

WHAT is the story on that house on Alum Rock Avenue near Alum Rock Park with all the statues in the front yard? Is it OK for contractors to work on Sunday, and do they have permits for all the work being done, conversion of the garage to living space, and paving over the front yard?

We moved up here from the “barrios.” You know, those places where the garages are illegally converted into apartments to house several families. Those barrios where the front yards are paved over to provide parking for half a dozen trucks and cars in various states of disrepair.

Here is my own experience with “Code Enforcement.”

September 25th: A Sunday, and the contractors were at it again, hammering and sawing into the early evening. They were converting the garage into “living space.”

September 26th: I checked with the building department and found that Sunday is not a legit working day for contractors in the county. The County Sheriff enforces that noise ordinance.

I asked if there was a building permit issued for this particular house. In less than two minutes the receptionist verified there was no permit issued. Source: Santa Clara County Building department – phone 299-5770.

I asked about enforcement, they referred me to their web page and on to Code enforcement. I was told that it is not a building department issue, that it was a code enforcement issue. Web page

The form “ERA Code violation referral form” was downloaded, filled in complete with address, and APN# and faxed to 279-8537 (there is a different number, 288-9198, as of this writing) that Monday.

Nothing happened. The work without permits continued.

On September 27th: I re-faxed the form with the note “they’re still at it” at the bottom, and filed both fax confirmations with the complaint form. The fax confirmations show a copy of what was sent, the receiving number, the time, and the status “result-OK.” It’s a handy defense to the excuse, “Gee, we never got it, are you sure it was sent?”

On September 28th: I phoned to see if the faxes had been received, or if they wanted another copy. The receptionist checked the violations book (pending) and said “we have multiple complaints on that property; you don’t need to send it again.” I didn’t get her name.

On November 7th: I found that while I had been away, they had paved over the front yard. I phoned the Code Enforcement office, (direct line - 299-5751) and was informed by Mr. Toth, the lead official, that it was a building department issue, and that a permit had been issued on October 27th. I asked him what the permit covered, and he said he didn’t know and referred me to the building department. Earlier in the call, I had asked about the fax I sent, and they denied ever getting it, and they asked where I sent it, and from where I downloaded the form. Never once did they ask what the faxed complaint was about.

Building Department November 7th: I called and was told that I would have to come down in person to get a copy of the permit information and it would cost $4+ for the service and a few cents per page for each page, at 70 W. Hedding, San Jose, on the 7th floor of the East wing.

November 8th: Building Department, the receptionist pointed me to “the book” to see the permit information. Fortunately I knew the date of issue of the permit. I found it and asked for a copy. She said come back tomorrow after lunch and I can pick it up. I copied the information from the book and declined to come back another day.

November 8th: Unsatisfied by the previous day’s phone call to Mr. Toth, I decided to speak with him and ask for the complaints file on the property. He showed absolutely no interest in my complaint, denied receipt of the fax, and claimed that it was now the responsibility of the building department. He expressed that his expectation was that a building inspector would note the un-permitted work and inform him of the violations. I asked him what about the specific complaint form that I have now placed in his hands.

It seemed to me that the building department defers to the code enforcement, and code enforcement defers to the building department and in the meantime faxed-in complaints are ignored. Who monitors that?

November 8th: So, I began to wonder who was in charge of a county department, and how they monitored and measured performance. After all, a City has a mayor, but what about a County? I went up to the 11th floor to ask the County Executive that question. The receptionist pointed me to the 10th floor, and suggested that our County Supervisor Pete McHugh, 299-5030, or ( would be our person. The receptionist referred me to his zoning issues aide: D. Murillo at 299-5037. I left him a message to phone me. He called and said send him over the info, he'd send me his contact information. I never heard from him again. He did talk, and listen, but in the end nothing happened.

November 9th: Fresh equipment at the site and the full complement of contractors showed up this morning. I guess the building inspectors didn’t see anything.

November 16th: It now is a complete barrio home complete with the wrecked inoperative cars parked in front!

Note: building permits are required for almost everything. Even if you do-it-yourself or the work is not seen because it’s inside of your home – those are not exceptions. Building codes protect you and your neighbors from fires and from structural failure due to below-par construction. Even the pro’s get it wrong sometimes, so it is a wise move to have permits, and inspections.

Response from Santa Clara County Staff

County Staff has spent several hours responding to the issues raised in the article. We received a complaint on September 27th. We went to the site and found no evidence of the conversion of a garage to living quarters. It was a conversion to storage. Since a garage conversion to storage still needs a permit, the owners were notified that they needed to come in and apply. They are given time to comply as a matter of ordinance.

Building permits have been issued for a carport, kitchen remodel, re-roof, and chimney repair. Santa Clara County does not regulate front yard paving. The plans for the garage conversion were submitted recently and the plan check is pending.

The issue of working on Sunday is related to noise and enforcement is handled by the Sheriff’s Office. Some confusion may have occurred due to the fact that there are other code enforcement actions occurring on Alum Rock in addition to this project.

Valentin Alexeeff, Director, Santa Clara County Department of Planning and Development

What do you think?

Would you like to see more code enforcement or less?  Are you satisfied with the County's response?  NNV recognizes that the County has limited resources during these tight budget times.  Are they spending our money where we want them to?  Send a Letter to the Editor to or call (408) 272-7008.

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If You’re Afflicted by Stroke, Regional is Ready!

Regional Medical Center implements vital stroke care programs

By Ben Stephenson

Stroke Warning Signs

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Not all these warning signs occur in every stroke. If some warning signs start to occur, don’t wait. Get help immediately! Stroke is a medical emergency – Call 911!

Source: American Stroke Association

If you or a loved one suddenly suffered a stroke, would you know what to do?

“Understanding the warning signs can help save your life,” says Cathy Parker, RN, director of cardiovascular services at Regional Medical Center of San Jose. “And seeking treatment at a hospital that is a certified stroke center can improve your chances of leading a normal life afterward.”

That’s why Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services Agency changed its longstanding policy last August on how ambulances deliver stroke patients. No longer will paramedics route these patients to the nearest hospital, but instead they will be sent to hospitals with certified primary stroke centers. The new policy will go into effect on January 23. Four hospitals in the County have already completed stroke center designation and five more, including Regional, will soon be certified by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). That makes Santa Clara County a leader in providing stroke care in California.

According to two new studies presented earlier this year at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2005, hospitals with certified, designated stroke centers administer clot-busting therapy and respond with needed tests and exams for acute stroke patients better than hospitals lacking certification. Giving clot busters within three hours of symptom onset can reduce disability from stroke.

“The concept behind designated stroke centers is to reduce mortality and complications and improve clinical outcomes so more people that experience stroke can go home to resume the rest of their lives, instead of having to go to long-term care or extensive rehabilitation,” says Maurine Connors Potter, B.S., M.S., executive director for international accreditation at the Joint Commission based in Oakbrook, Ill, and co-author of one of the stroke studies.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death. A type of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain, stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die. Getting the right help quickly is critical to a stroke victim’s survival.

Regional is taking a proactive approach to stroke care in initiating treatment procedures prior to certification that ensure stroke victims get immediate care upon arrival at the hospital. Now, when a stroke patient arrives by ambulance, Regional has a pre-assembled care-team, comprised of an emergency department doctor, emergency department nurse, respiratory therapist, lab technician and nursing supervisor, to rapidly diagnose and administer treatment.

“Organization and the ability to employ an effective treatment process are crucial to the treatment of stroke victims, and our stroke center is designed to offer both,” says Parker.

Regional’s upcoming stroke center designation is yet another step toward increasing its stroke treatment capabilities. In June, Regional announced its participation in the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines – Stroke initiative. Developed to help hospitals improve the overall quality of care available for its stroke patients, the initiative effectively employs proven, science-based guidelines from the American Stroke Association, American Heart Association and the Brain Attack Coalition that address acute stroke management, primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and secondary stroke prevention.

“Our participation with the American Stroke Association gives us access to a vital resource when it comes to stroke treatment,” said Parker. “Not only that, we can compare and contrast our efforts with other hospitals involved with the Get With The Guidelines – Stroke initiative to continually improve our treatment capabilities.”

In conjunction with its upcoming stroke center designation and current treatment initiatives, Regional is also planning to establish a stroke education support program. Offering advice and information from pertinent medical officials and hospital staff, the program will serve as a forum for stroke victims, their family members and loved ones to receive support in dealing with several aspects of stroke.

“We find there is a significant need for those affected by stroke,” said Carol Woodward, Regional’s director of rehabilitation. “As far as we know, this support program will be the first of its kind available in East San Jose.”

For more information about Regional Medical Center of San Jose and its services, please contact (888) RMC-8881 (Spanish or English) and (888) RMC-8811 (Vietnamese).

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NNV Briefs

bulletCommunity Invited to Foothill Presbyterian Musical Offerings
bulletBoccardo Trail Christmas Bird Count Scheduled for December 18 by Lark Burkhart
bulletWarner Heights Loses Battle to Maintain Placid Status Quo by Ruth Brewster
bulletLick Winter Concert – A “Joyful Noise” to Raise Funds
bulletHillcrest Neighborhood Watch Hosts Halloween Parade by Richard and Veronica Wildanger
bulletAlum Rock Park - Eye-Level Hawks, a “Tentative” Tarantula by Richard Brown
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue: Pulque Fresco se vende. Say what?
bulletRAINBOWS - "From Hurt, through Healing, to Hope" by Lily Tenes
bulletPACT Honors Eastsiders, Jim and Ann McEntee - Lives spent promoting Social Justice for All
bulletMarguerite Terrace Now Offers New Flexible Rental Option from Stephanie Mitchum Murphy
bulletPressed for Time? Need New Tires? Neighbor recommends nifty new service by Richard Brown
bulletFrank Chavez Appointed to ARUESD Board of Trustees
bulletSave the Date for a Special Date With Romance! Try a little Romance by Joyce Baker

Community Invited to Foothill Presbyterian Musical Offerings

Hear music of the season at two December concerts

McKee Road’s Foothill Church offers an outstanding program of music for our community as well as its own congregants. Music Director Jay Jordana invites accomplished choruses and soloists to perform at the church throughout the year – and encourages Eastsiders to avail themselves of top-drawer musical talent – for only a minimum suggested donation.

On Sunday, December 4th, Voices of the Valley, a community chorus of fifty voices, returns to the church to offer holiday music at 3:00 PM. The program features “a variety of modern and ‘jazzy’ arrangements of traditional carols, as well as works by J.S. Bach,” says Ms. Jordana. The suggested donation is $10.

Then, on Friday, December 16th at 7:00 PM, the public is invited to attend Foothill’s 6th Annual Festival of Carols. Again Voices of the Valley will perform as will Foothill’s Glory Ringers Handbell Choir, the Chancel and Children’s Choir, and the Recorder Ensemble. The suggested donation – just one canned good per person – will benefit the Lord’s Pantry.

For more information, call Ms. Jordana at (408) 258-8133 x105.

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How Many Birds Are On the Boccardo Trail? Want to help count?

Christmas Bird Count in East San Jose Foothills scheduled for December 18

By Lark Burkhart, Public Information Specialist, Open Space Authority

Rain or shine, the bird counts always go on. This year Santa Clara County Open Space Authority volunteers will count along the Boccardo Trail in the East San Jose Foothills on Sunday, December 18, and in and near the Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve south of Calero County Park on Friday, December 30.

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 with 27 people as an alternative to a Christmas Day contest that rewarded the team who shot the most birds. It has grown into the largest citizen-run conservation effort in the world. This year approximately 55,000 participants will fan out across the Americas to record every bird they see in their designated area during a 24-hour period.

Volunteers don’t need to be birding experts to participate. If you can spot birds or keep a written tally, you have the required skills. To take part in the bird count on the Boccardo Trail or at Rancho Cañada del Oro, please email Michelle Acuna, OSA Volunteer Coordinator, at or call (408) 224-7476.

For more information about the Boccardo Trail or Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve, visit the OSA website at

Click here for photos from last year's bird counts.

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Plethora of New Homes Inundates Eastside Neighborhood

Warner Heights loses battle to maintain placid status quo

By Ruth Brewster

Early this October, the residents of Warner Heights received some troubling news. The 3.19 acre lot at the corner of Morrie Drive and Fleming Avenue was in the sights of the Braddock & Logan Group. This is the same group that is building on Alum Rock next to The Jordan School and also at the corner of Clayton and Story Roads.

The planned development in the Warner Heights neighborhood consists of 12 single family detached homes. At the Planning Commission Hearing on October 26th, members of the community expressed their concerns about traffic, road conditions, and the impact these homes will have on the neighborhood. Specifically, the builders want to use Mace Drive as the entrance to the street intended for the new homes. This means additional traffic for the residents of Mace Drive. The alternative presented by the homeowners was that the new street could branch off Fleming Avenue. We were told that branching off Fleming would be more costly to the developer due to the grade of the land and that is why he opted for the Mace Drive entrance. We also learned that this same developer, Braddock & Logan Group, is planning on building 18 single family homes at the former site of the Korean Baptist Church at 143 Fleming Avenue.

Many concerned residents of Warner Heights gathered together and invited Jim Sullivan of Braddock & Logan, as well as Nora Campos, our city council representative, to hear our concerns. We were greeted by Mr. Sullivan, and Todd Rufo, a representative for the office of Nora Campos. We discussed the need for improvement to Fleming Avenue past Warner. There is one area in particular that is only 18 feet wide. It is basically a one lane road in many areas. If more traffic is going to be routed this way it must be widened.

We also asked that the developer consider the style of homes to be built. The existing homes are all older, ranch style homes and the new homes should complement the existing homes, not contrast with them. Many residents of the area asked why the city hasn’t yet given us a neighborhood park. With each home that is built, the developer is required to allocate land or pay fees for such projects. Yet, with all the new homes being built around here, we still have no parks within walking distance.

In the end the developer wins, the city gets their money, and the neighborhood is left with the burden. It is difficult to be heard over the racket of new construction, but we will continue to speak up in our fight for neighborhood parks and road improvements.

Click here for a related Letter to the Editor.

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Lick Winter Concert – A “Joyful Noise” to Raise Funds

$$ will buy and repair instruments

Come sing carols! Eat holiday goodies!

The James Lick High School band and chorus will present their Winter Concert for the enjoyment of the school and community on Tuesday evening, December 6th. It will be a traditional concert featuring popular and classical music held in the Multi-Use room. A public sing-along of Christmas carols will follow.

Beginning at 6:30 PM there will be a pre-concert show featuring the talents of student-organized ensembles. The concert begins at 7:00 PM with the Christmas carol sing-along following at 8:15 PM.

Music Director Tomoko Nakajima says, “Audience participation is encouraged! Drink hot chocolate and sing your favorite holiday tunes accompanied by student musicians.”

This is the sole fundraiser for the Band and Chorus program at Lick High. Funds for Lick’s music program are extremely limited and actually pay only for books and paper supplies. According to Ms. Nakajima, the program needs dollars for very basic things such as purchasing and repairing instruments and providing materials such as guitar strings.

Tickets are $4 in advance, $6 at the door. Refreshments will be available for purchase. For more information, please call Ms. Nakajima at (408) 347-4447.

Click here to read more about Nakajima's Band (and Chorus).

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Neighbors Join Hands for Security – and Friendship

Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch hosts first annual Halloween parade

By Richard and Veronica Wildanger

On Sunday October 30th, residents of the seven streets in the Hillcrest neighborhood came out to celebrate Halloween by hosting a parade and block party. Over 150 residents - half kids in costume - turned out for an afternoon of games, piñatas, food and a parade that wound up and down the streets. Several decorated golf carts and a Model A Ford escorted the large group on the route. Other residents came out and cheered the procession.

The party, just like Neighborhood Watch itself, was a community effort of folks lending tables and chairs, helping to decorate and then bringing food and drink for the potluck. This fits well with the theme that Neighborhood Watch is not just about crime prevention but about community, mutual support and friendships.

Since the Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch’s inaugural meeting in September, the group has tackled the issue of speeding. We’re working with the county to get a formal speed study conducted and then to implement solutions. We’re also tackling the problem of mail theft and we held a session about identity theft. An email network to alert neighbors of everything from door-to-door sales scams to lost pets has been developed.

Click here for photos of Hillcrest Halloween Parade.

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Alum Rock Park - Musings on Eye-Level Hawks, a Snarling Bobcat, a “Tentative” Tarantula

Even casual walks yield many wildlife sightings

By Richard Brown

Sue and I enjoy living close to Alum Rock Park and you will find us there nearly every day. We met up with an Audubon group on a recent Sunday morning and we find it to be an invaluable experience being around people who can identify all of the creatures by either sight or sound, to hear something and know where and what to look for. A few more of these treks and we hope to manage somewhat on our own, at least here in our own park.

Sue was already excited finding a chestnut-backed chickadee by ourselves. But any Audubon member will tell you it's not a matter of just toting up sightings. There is a joy in the many diverse and colorful species and an entertainment side to observing behavior. By half past noon, after an educational morning of interesting sightings, we had returned to the main park area, the "civilized" area with lawns and buildings. It was here that a junco was spotted close-by in the grass, standing absolutely still. There were comments all around on such unusual behavior, to see this bird frozen like a statue. And at that moment, the junco suddenly flew up into a tree and a Cooper's hawk came in at eye level, directly at us, veering off at the last moment. Some could feel the wing beats! My first time being strafed by a hawk and it was impressive.

Birding could be considered a means to an end. It goes beyond looking at birds. It brings with it a greater observational skill and, in turn, a heightened awareness and appreciation for everything around you. And in a park as richly endowed as this one, opening your senses brings to you all of the life that you are immersed in. Yet most would have walked by unaware of this “city,” unheedful of its choruses. Here, patience is more than just a virtue; it is its own reward. Quite often, if you stand in one spot for a brief period, you become part of the scenery and things will happen around you that you could not have experienced otherwise. Binoculars are helpful here too. If you stand quietly in one place for a prolonged period, it is less likely you will be seen as "gone 'round the bend" if you have your binoculars.

Yesterday, while watching some woodpeckers, we heard a snarling sound. We continued our observations which were punctuated at intervals by the snarling. Out of curiosity we extended our stay until finally, there was some rustling in the bushes near us and a beautiful rusty red bobcat came dashing out. We had merely gone for a brief walk in the afternoon to test and compare binoculars, expecting to see no more than the Stellar's jays that are everywhere and the turkey vultures overhead. But instead we saw the bobcat. And a red-shouldered hawk circling and screeching above us, then a red-tailed hawk soaring above the hills and our very first time watching one of these great predators tuck and go into a dive.

Then, as we watched a jay knocking on a branch, mimicking the manner of the woodpeckers it sees all around, a woodpecker arrived with an acorn in his beak to chase off the jay. A sudden loud whooshing sound made us look up to see a flight of egrets gliding directly over us at tree top level. I would not have believed air rushing over wing could make such a noise. The sight, the sound, the closeness and the speed of this formation could not have been choreographed for better effect. We had no expectations and yet we encountered all of this within the course of one hour. And, of course, Sue's chickadees.

The tarantulas were also out on our day with the Audubon. The girls hang around the burrow while the guys wander about on the make. You can see the male has hooks on the front legs to restrain the female's fangs. Then he still has to make a safe getaway. This little guy is just a bit tentative.

Click here for photos of the tentative tarantula and the hawk.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

Pulque Fresco se vende. Say what?

Want to amaze your holiday guests with something special and novel to grace your bar for December parties? Want to be the first on your block to offer home-made hooch – without having to fabricate your own still? Look no further than Alum Rock Avenue where you’ll find a sign offering “Pulque Fresco.”

What is it? According to the dictionary, pulque (pronounced “pool’-kay") is “a thick fermented alcoholic beverage made in Mexico from various species of agave.” “Fresco” is Spanish for “fresh” or “cool”, depending on what you want it to mean. However, according to one knowledgeable Eastsider, the word “pulque” is also used by convicts as a synonym for “pruneau” or “prune-o” which is fermented just-about-anything which prisoners surreptitiously distil under their bunks to quench their thirst and alter their dismal state of mind.

If agave beverages sound a bit familiar, you’re right. Tequila is also made from the juice of the Central American “century plant” which is an agave. With any luck, Alum Rock Avenue's pulque is not prune-o.

Click here for photos.

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"From Hurt, through Healing, to Hope"

By Lily Tenes

We are pleased to announce that St. John Vianney Parish is again sponsoring the RAINBOWS program starting on Monday, January 9, 2006. RAINBOWS is a grief support program for children (grades Kinder thru 8th) by helping them work through their grief process associated with death, divorce or significant loss.

RAINBOWS is an international, not for profit organization that fosters emotional healing among children grieving a loss from a life altering crisis. Since it is necessary for emotional healing to take place after a significant loss, the purpose of support groups is to provide those grieving an opportunity to share their feelings in an accepting environment supported by trained, caring compassionate adults.

For more information call Lily at 272-1861 or Email There is no fee. Registration forms are available at the Parish Office Center, 4600 Hyland Ave. Children do not have to be in the parish to attend.

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PACT Honors Eastsiders, Jim and Ann McEntee

Lives spent promoting Social Justice for All

Neighbors Jim and Ann McEntee of East Hills Drive were honored as 2005's “Community Builders” at PACT’s (People Acting in Community Together) 20th anniversary Leadership Luncheon on October 27th at the Wyndham Hotel.

More than thirty years ago, Jim, a Roman Catholic priest and Ann, a nun, fell in love as they worked together. They married and served the church together in less formal ways until Jim’s death last year. They raised a family of eight children (some were naturally “their own,” the rest were nurtured as “their own”). Ann now has fourteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Ann continues the legacy she and Jim started many years ago of organizing activities which promote understanding and appreciation of our multicultural community. She is actively involved in “Just Faith” a justice-focused church program which she and Jim helped organize together.

Jim was instrumental in building the County’s Office of Human Relations into one of the best in the United States. With his guidance, the County initiated its Homelessness Program, a Dispute Resolution Program, the Network for a Hate-Free Community, a Youth Task Force, and the Citizenship and Immigration Program. Jim’s focus on the most vulnerable people in our community led him to serve on the Boards of Directors of many local community organizations.

At the luncheon, Ann accepted the award reminding the large audience of their mission “to bring about peace and justice.” She said her favorite quote from Jim is “Don’t look for the flaws … be wise and kind and somewhat blind.

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Marguerite Terrace Now Offers New Flexible Rental Option

Continuing care retirement community adds month-to-month rental option

From Stephanie Mitchum Murphy

Marguerite Terrace is pleased to announce it will now be offering a new flexible and affordable month-to-month rental option. The continuing care retirement community, located on Kirk Avenue at Alum Rock, also continues to offer its traditional residency plan where a one-time entrance fee and monthly service fee ensure residents of priority access to on-site health care, if ever needed.

“With the senior population in the area on the rise, we felt a rental option would make the lifestyle at Marguerite Terrace a possibility for more people who may not want a long-term commitment,” said Bill Platt, chief executive officer of California P.E.O. Home, which owns and operates Marguerite Terrace. “With its close proximity to so many nearby cultural and recreational activities, plus on-site services and amenities and the availability of health care, Marguerite Terrace already offers an exceptional value in senior living.”

The flexible rental option is one of several changes Marguerite Terrace has implemented as part of an exciting year of growth and restructuring. Earlier this year, the not-for-profit continuing care retirement community announced a new name and that it is open to all older adults. All of these changes reflect the growing demand from area seniors for affordable independent living options.

According to ESRI Business Solutions, a leading geographic and demographic data company, more than 117,272 people age 65 and older, will be living within a 10-mile radius of Marguerite Terrace by 2008.

And with the first of the Baby Boomer generation to reach this age group in 2011, Marguerite Terrace is positioning itself to meet the needs of people who want a flexible rental option as well as those who select an entrance fee option.

“Looking at the demographics and talking with area seniors, the decision to add the flexible month-to-month option was clear,” Platt said. “With the rental option, older adults who are interested in a flexible month-to-month plan will be able to call Marguerite Terrace home.”

About Marguerite Terrace:
Marguerite Terrace is one of two continuing care retirement communities owned and operated by California P.E.O. Home. Offering a variety of apartment options, Marguerite Terrace is located in proximity to cultural and recreational attractions, allowing residents to live active, independent lifestyles. The availability of on-site care services provides residents with peace of mind for the future.

Click here for our Marguerite Terrace Tour story and photos.

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Pressed for Time? Need New Tires?

Neighbor recommends nifty – and reasonable – new service

By Richard Brown

I'm sure there are many of you who feel as I do that there are better things to do with your time than sit around a tire shop. I just had 4 tires replaced on my wife's car without stepping out of the house. No, I do not have a personal assistant to do these things for me. I used a unique service available in our area.

The business is called House Call Tires and they will install tires at any location in Santa Clara County. Their trucks are outfitted with all of the necessary equipment including dynamic balancers. With one phone call, I selected my tires and set up an appointment time for the installation. I would gladly pay extra for this service but I found the prices are competitive with regular tire shops.

I spoke with the owner, Danny Lee. I wondered how he could charge so little to do this. I asked how he could make a profit. He doesn't. He's concentrating on building up his business which is only two years old and he is still building a customer base. The work can be done at your home or business. You can park it in a lot and they'll come out and change the tires. Anyone with a business can appreciate the time saved; if you're paying someone's wages to sit around waiting for a tire change, now you can have it done while they're on the job. You can schedule a time for them to come out, maybe to a shopping center, a job or business meeting, a restaurant perhaps and come away with new tires.

Why would anyone want to waste their time in a tire shop? Danny's shop is at 1650 Berryessa Road. The phone number is (408) 923-8473.

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Frank Chavez Appointed to ARUESD Board of Trustees

Board makes appointment to fill vacancy

The recent flurry of activity in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District involved filling a vacant board of trustees seat when trustee Esau Herrera resigned after many years in the elected position. The seat briefly was held by Jaime Alvarado who had a change of heart and resigned the appointment. The seat is now filled for the next year by the appointment of businessman and community activist Frank Chavez on November 30th. The board will elect a new president on December 8th.

The challenge to the school district and the community continues, however. A new Superintendent of Schools must be found and hired soon to replace interim Superintendent, Dr. Anthony Russo. In next fall’s election, three ARUESD board seats will be open. People interested in improving our schools and community need to begin contemplating the role they want to take on now. The Letter to the Editor by John S. Leyba, "A Call to Serve!," spells out the importance of using your gifts by taking on responsibilities to better the world around you. His message is just as appropriate now (even after the vacant board position has been filled) and bears repeating. NNV hopes readers will take it to heart.

Click here for a photo of Frank Chavez.

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Save the Date for a Special Date With Romance!

Try a little Romance (and Tea)

By Joyce Baker

On Sunday, February 12th between the hours of 2:00 and 3:30 PM the Friends of the Library are hosting a sale of Romance novels at a price you can’t beat – 5 for $1.00! In addition, we’ll provide you with a cup of tea! Yes, we know it’s not “great literature,” but sometimes it’s comforting to escape to a fantasy world, especially in the long, dark days of winter. All proceeds will be used for programs at the Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library branch. Mark your mental calendar for this Valentine-y event.

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County Board Approves $3.2 Million for Juvenile Ranch

“Investment in County’s high-risk youth is vital to their future success”

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

On November 1, 2005, my colleagues and I approved a three-year spending plan to enhance the County’s Juvenile Ranch programs. The plan will use $3.2 million in the first year and $2.8 million the following two years. We made this decision because we strongly believe that an investment in our County’s high-risk youth is vital to their future success. The Probation Department believes that these enhancements will increase the success rate of youth who complete the program and reduce youth recidivism. The three-year commitment will give my colleagues and me the opportunity to monitor the progress of the program and to determine its viability. If found viable, the Board will determine the ongoing funding necessary to continue the program. We hope that this investment will prove successful and benefit the youth who enter into our juvenile detention system.

Currently, only 59 percent of the youth successfully complete their detention program at either the James Ranch or Muriel Wright Center. The County aims to raise this level to 90 percent. The new program will focus on three main elements to achieve greater success. The first element will revamp the initial assessment to properly determine each youth’s risks and needs. The second element will decrease the staff to minor ratio for more individualized and group counseling sessions. The third element will incorporate a new cognitive-based behavior management program. This enhancement is modeled after programs in Missouri that reduced the number of juveniles who re-offend to just 8 percent.

The cornerstone of the new program is the shift to cognitive-based behavior management. This program allows staff to get to know the youth on a more individual basis. Staff can use this knowledge to identify and replace pro-criminal thinking and behaviors with those that are pro-social and more positive. The goal of this strategy is to decrease rule violations and criminal behaviors at the ranches by increasing impulse control and problem-solving skills. The youth can use these skills to avoid a re-offense and re-admission into our correctional institutions.

The new program will also provide a more balanced holistic approach that stresses accountability, rehabilitation, and responsibility. The parents and family will play a more active role and will assist in the development of a transition plan. This plan will identify aftercare service needs and facilitate successful re-unification with the family. The program will also include intensive supervision, family counseling and home visits, as well as a 6-month Community Based Aftercare program following release.

Of the $3.2 million the Department plans to spend this year, $425,425 will go toward one-time costs. These items include $114,425 for staff training and cognitive behavior programming, $50,000 for equipment and furnishings, $160,000 for transition program services and $100,000 for capital program study. Approximately $2.8 million will fund 25 additional full time equivalent positions to help decrease staff to youth ratios at the ranches. Since the program will begin in the middle of the fiscal year, $1.34 million will go toward staffing. The department will use the remaining $1.46 million to reconstruct the living area at the James Ranch. Staff anticipates fully implementing the enhanced Ranch Program by January 2007.

I believe that the Board must continue to invest in our youth. We must continue to fund programs that will help our high-risk youth rebuild their lives and instill values that will prevent a re-offense. All of our youth deserve a chance to learn the skills necessary to become responsible and productive citizens. I am confident that this new program will give them that chance.

Pete McHugh
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County 

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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. This month, your regular writers, UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede and Native Plant Expert Arvind Kumar, are taking a well-deserved hiatus.  Watch for their next contributions in the February 2006 edition. Meanwhile, your editor and Deva Luna (see story below) will try to fill the void.

A Phenomenal Plant, Stained Glass, A Doll House, Foxes and Flowers

“Passing acquaintances” flirt with friendship

One day a sometime writer for NNV invited your editor over to her house to see the “miracle plant” growing in front of her house. A stem had grown practically before her eyes, jack-in-the-beanstalk style, from a mundane succulent rosette. Now it was twenty feet tall with odd tight little blossoms opening up on new sections as the stem soared higher and higher. Gay Southwell and her grandchildren had recorded its progress and thought the plant worthy of the NNV readership.

On the day after the big blow of November 14th, your editor donned her walking sandals and ambled over hill and dale (well at least from the south edge of Alum Rock Park to its western rim) to see the phenomenon. Despite the gale-force winds of the night before, the plant still stood erectly with no obvious ill-effects. Phenomenal it is – although not especially photogenic. Up close, one sees hundreds (thousands?) of dried crepe-papery blossoms at eye level with new fresh ones opening up in higher and higher bands - and more and more flowers forming along the broomstick-like shaft. It appears that it can keep on shooting up and producing tiny flowers until it pierces the cloud cover.

Gay, a “passing” acquaintance, gave your editor a tour of her neighborhood and of her fascinating, character-filled, home. It seems that her husband was a professional stained-glass artist – as well as being a high school math teacher. Now, here was something phenomenal and photogenic as well! Steve Southwell’s large creations simply take the breath away! The afternoon sunlight illuminating the rich reds in the glass – and projecting crimson images on the floor inside – brought back memories of first kaleidoscope thrills of childhood.

Gay showed your editor her doll house from her 1940’s childhood in Kansas City, Missouri. It still has the original furnishings – her granddaughters play in it now. She shared favorite paintings and a book of poetry compiled by Caroline Kennedy. Gay loves the illustrations and she reads it aloud to her grandchildren.

Outdoors we looked out together over the fuzzy tan hills that serenely ring the north side of the park. And Gay pointed out where a fox had stood on her deck drinking from the dog’s water bowl. The fox was so unafraid (or thirsty) that it hung around even past its welcome!

What was a passing acquaintanceship has begun to sprout small flowers of friendship between two women who like doll houses, flowers and foxes, spine-tingling poetry, tawny hillsides and walking in the hills. Not to mention a mutual passion for stained glass.

Click here for photos.

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To run your ad in New Neighborhood Voice, E-mail or call (408) 272-7008

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.


Community Building, One Step at a Time

Neighbors forge new ties sharing and swinging in the “Neighborly Swing”

By Deva Luna

The Neighborly Fence
I always wanted “back-fence neighbors,” so when we built an 8-foot deer fence around our Mt. Hamilton Road property, we built four gates into the fence, one for each neighboring property. It was an act of faith. We didn’t even know anyone.

One year we had a tea party and invited everyone to come by (we really wanted people to walk through the gates, and come through the orchard!). It was a success, even though some people drove over. Some of us exchanged phone numbers (in case of emergency). But everyone has their own very busy lives, and nothing much changed.

Another year we had a wreath-making party. More people came for this event. But still the gates stayed closed. Occasionally I griped to my friends about how isolated this neighborhood seemed, compared to less wealthy ones, where people are more dependent on each other to watch a child, or jump a dead battery.

Life, for us, is also busy, with work and home, interests, family and friends. Large properties require large expenditures of time and money for upkeep. The gates stayed shut and weeds grew around them.

The tide turned one day, on a simple occurrence. I ran out of milk for a recipe I was making. My usual responses were:

  1. do without

  2. make a different recipe

  3. go to the store and buy more milk

I tried something different. I called one of my neighbors (we had exchanged phone numbers at the tea, and never used them).

“Susan, this is your neighbor up the hill. I have an off-the-wall request. Do you think I could borrow a cup of milk?”

She said, “Sure, I’ll meet you halfway.”

I walked down the stairs into our orchard with a jar. She came through the gate holding a half-gallon of milk. “I just bought this and we have plenty.”

Something lonely in me tore loose and tears came to my eyes. She noticed and asked what was wrong.

“I’m not sad, I’m happy. It’s been so long since I had this kind of neighborly contact.”

This began the sharing that enriches lives. Flowers from the garden and extra fruit from the trees (now producing more since being protected from hungry deer) were passed through the gate. Children came to hold the chickens and jump on the trampoline. We were invited to dinner. We invited them to use garden space on our side of the fence.

The Neighborly Swing
Susan’s partner Larry loves power tools. Before we knew his name we just called him “The Power Tool Guy”.

I found a rusty old garden swing that was being thrown away. When Larry saw it, he rightly assumed I’d never get it fixed up, but would set it up, rust and all. He offered to clean it and paint it. He took that swing completely apart, hung it in his garage and power-sanded every last bit of rust off. It gleamed. He bought new screws and paint and put a cushion on it. It looked better than new!

At this point I thought it needed joint custody. Down in the orchard between our houses, is an old spreading walnut tree (no longer being stripped by deer, did I mention?). We placed the swing, now dubbed “the neighborly swing,” under the shade of the tree and invited the whole family to think of it as their extended back yard. Now, in the summer evenings, sometimes Susan and I weed and water in the garden, Larry plays his guitar on the swing, the kids shout from the trampoline, and there are no weeds blocking the gate.

Near the neighborly swing I cleared a large circle in the orchard and planted wildflower seeds. I placed a Grecian pedestal in the center of the circle and put the sprinkler on it to water the seeds. Up they grew, and on warm evenings we’d sit and swing and wait for the blooms. One day I went into the orchard to water the seedlings. I turned to look at the circle and laughed out loud! I was surprised to see something on the pedestal--a statue of a Grecian girl! Did elves or fairies place her there? Nope. I knew it was our neighbors, and it delighted me.

I am filled with gratitude for the connection that cup of milk brought into my family’s life. And there are three more gates.

Click here for photos.

NNV Note: Deva Luna is a horticulturist, landscape designer, gardening instructor, and occasional writer. Deva says she likes the idea of living in an intentional community, but is willing to live in an unintentional community.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletHow does one lose a chicken named Nicken? Am I dreaming?
bulletWhat happened to our TV reception during the wee hours of Sunday, November 6th?
bulletDo any of the Alum Rock area neighbors still use the County Library system?
bulletAny news on the renovation of the old Alum Rock Stables at the edge of the park?
bulletWhat number do I call to report junked cars in unincorporated Santa Clara County?
bulletWhy doesn’t NNV have a “police blotter” as one of its features?

Q. How does one lose a chicken? Signs around the East Highlands recently indicate that someone is looking for a chicken named Nicken. Am I dreaming?

A. Well, so far we’ve determined there really is/was a chicken named Nicken and that it lived on Highland Drive. Neighbor Joyce Baker who lives on Alum Rock says she sighted the bird in her back yard recently, but swears she didn’t cook it. One evening we actually heard people walking by calling out “Nick-ennn, Here Nicken!” Another neighbor who lives close to Nicken’s home says she’s heard that the bird was originally named “Stew.” NNV thinks Nicken got the drift and flew the coop. Or do we say “flu” the coop nowadays when writing of our feathered friends?

Click here for the Nicken flyer.

Q. What happened all of a sudden to our TV reception (and Cable TV on-line connections) during the wee hours of Sunday, November 6th?

A. People living in the East Highlands area had their connectivity rudely interrupted when a wild driver careened around the Brundage/Highland bend and whacked the Comcast Cable TV box – and how! The box was reduced to smithereens – heaven only knows what the vehicle looks like! Many folks who were awake at 3:30 or 4:00 AM were perplexed by their link to the outside world going inexplicably black. Presumably this drove these night owls back to bed where all of us self-righteous early-to-bed-early-to-rise folks were frittering away our time energizing our brains for the day to come. By the way, the out-of-control vehicle left behind lots of white paint on the demolished green box. Speculation is that it was a white pick-up truck.

Click here for photos of the Comcast Box Crash Test.

Q. Do any of the Alum Rock area neighbors still use the County Library system now that our old Alum Rock branch was supplanted by the City of San Jose’s shiny new Cruz/Alum Rock library?

A. Actually, yes. The County Library System still has a following of loyal folks whose history goes way back with the County’s Alum Rock branch. Some people drive up to the Milpitas Library on Milpitas Boulevard to enjoy the depth of its collections. It’s actually a larger library than the new Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock branch and will become even larger when its new facility is built on Main Street. Its collection needs to be more comprehensive because it is a city library (City of Milpitas) as opposed to the Alum Rock library which is a branch of the main (Martin Luther King) library downtown.

The collections at the Cruz/Alum Rock branch will gain more “depth” as more books and materials are “processed” before being added to the shelves – there hasn’t been time yet to get everything unpacked. You know how it is when you move. It always takes a while to get to all the boxes!

Click here to read more about our award-winning County libraries.

Q. Any news on the renovation of the old Alum Rock Stables on Alum Rock Avenue at the edge of the park? Hasn’t it been a long time since anything has happened there?

A. Nothing is happening! There seems to be a stalemate which might help keep the old property in limbo a while longer. Limbo is a good thing when we see every square inch of empty land around here being filled with big, white, cookie-cutter houses all of a sudden.

Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust (BABTT), the group whose mission is to preserve barns and equestrian property around San Francisco Bay, can’t save Alum Rock Stables without the support of local people who care about it. Meanwhile, people who care about the stables haven’t come forward to make themselves known. No one NNV has spoken with is enthusiastic about a bunch of McMansions being built on the edge of our park, but, then again, no one has said, “What can I do to help?” Will you?


Q. What number do I call to report junked cars in unincorporated Santa Clara County? Excess vehicles make our neighborhood look tacky as all get-out!

A. For junky vehicles stashed on private property you can call County vehicle abatement at (408) 299-5793. For vehicles parked long-term on the streets, the number is (408) 299-2311 which is the County Sheriff’s non-emergency dispatch number. Even registered vehicles must be moved every 72 hours.

Q. Why doesn’t NNV have a “police blotter” as one of its features? I heard on the radio recently that the B. of A. at Toyon and McKee was held-up and can’t get any information about it.

A. It does sound like a good idea for someone to be compiling crime info for our area. NNV would be interested to know whether readers would favor (and contribute data to) something like this.

We do update our bulletin board and letters pages as new items come in – potentially we could do the same with crimes as they’re reported to us. NNV isn’t able to extract any more information from our law enforcement agencies than the average citizen can, however. Let us know what you think. E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.

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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.

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--------------------------- 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 
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 12/3/05.

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