New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 34 - Section 2

March 5, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos



Color on Alum
Rock Avenue


Rudy Tenes

Rudy and Lily's


Arvind Kumar's


Where's the
parking lot?

River ...

... Park and

At the
Gene Pool


Bracey Tiede


for sale?

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County “Ethics Task Force” on the Horizon

Pervasive political scandals spur action

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

At the recent State of the County event, Chairperson Jim Beall stated that the Board of Supervisors should immediately establish an Ethics Task Force made up of members of the Board. I believe the rationale for this recommendation stems from recent ethics scandals. These scandals pervade current events at the federal, state and local levels and have led to a distrust of government and elected officials. The creation of a task force would establish stronger ethics and lobbying ordinances this year. I strongly support this idea and I plan to ask the Board to appoint me as a member.

I believe that the Board of Supervisors and County staff currently practice high ethical standards. However, we must take proactive measures to uphold this practice and the trust of voters. We must also continue to operate for the good of the people and serve those individuals who most need County services. I believe the establishment of this Task Force will achieve this objective. Because the Task Force is not yet created, no scope of work has been defined. I have ideas that I believe are important to consider and I look forward to proposing two specific issues that I introduced in November 2005 but which were not adopted.

The first proposal prevents all elected officials from holding any business interest or job other than that position to which they were elected. The proposal would extend the current prohibition applicable only to members of the Board of Supervisors and apply it to all other County elected officials. I firmly believe that every County elected official receives adequate compensation and we must all focus on the office for which we were elected.

The second proposal requires disclosure of fundraising solicitations by all Santa Clara County elected officials. As elected officials, we often lend our name to various organizations that provide services to the community or advocate for a specific cause. This involvement generally requires us to either directly or indirectly fundraise on behalf of these organizations. Many of these organizations have or will have business with the County. The proposed ordinance requires County elected officials to report direct fundraising solicitations twice a year. An elected official would have to comply with this provision if they send out direct solicitation letters, open up their home for use as an event location or pay the majority of the costs for a fundraising event.

These two proposals do not represent the totality of potential changes. Lapses in ethics can occur at any level of County government. The Task Force should not only identify ways to bolster policies applicable to County elected officials, it should also review policies applicable to all County employees. County employees have frequent contact with the public due to the wide array of services it offers. County employees must act in the most ethical and professional manner possible. The Board of Supervisors should establish policies that will achieve this objective.

Transparency in government is the hallmark of ethical governance and maintains the trust of our constituents. As elected officials we must set higher standards for ourselves and uphold the confidence of our constituents. We must also insure that every County employee behaves in an ethical manner. When distrust of government appears at an all time high, we must work to rebuild that trust. I look forward to using the work of the Ethics Task Force to further the goal of ethical governance.

Pete McHugh
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County 

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Police Chase Eases to a Halt at NNV Headquarters

Chasers, chasee, 3 SJPD cars, 1 tow truck interrupt napping editor

Driving under the influence of Bean Juice?

NNV always has its ear to the ground for interesting stories to entertain or enlighten our readers, but recently on a Saturday afternoon while we were singularly inattentive (napping with ear to pillow - to be exact), a noteworthy “event” dropped into our laps … er, actually into our driveway.

Wafting up through our bedroom window, a chorus of men’s voices broke through our sweet slumber. When the conversation became intense, there was nothing to do but to get up and peer out through the mini-blinds. Egads! A newsworthy event was unraveling right beneath our noses.

A shiny, silver VW (hatchback style) was stopped, motor running, in our driveway with the driver’s side door standing open. Two San Jose Police Cars blocked the open end of the drive. What sort of caper was goin’ down? (We live in unincorporated Santa Clara County and don’t see many SJPD cars around here.)

With bedhead hair and in stocking feet, your editor wandered down the front steps to interview the cops. “Hey, whatcha doin’?” I asked professionally.

One of the policemen calmly answered, “We were chasing this guy and he pulled up in your driveway.” I wanted to say, “Do you realize that you’ve chased a guy right onto the property of a hotbed of journalists who hunger for juicy stories?”

However, what I did inanely say was, “We didn’t hear a thing!” “Well, he was able to slip around the corners faster than our cars could go,” replied the officer, as though this explained why we had heard nothing.

“The driver is in one of our cars now, ma’am. A tow truck will be here soon to take away his car.” At that point a third SJPD car pulled up just as our across-the-street neighbors arrived home. Talk about rumors getting started! Would our neighbors be seeing “Eastside Newsletter Editor Murder Victim” headlined in the next day’s Mercury News? That would create some excitement on sleepy Highland Drive.

One of the officers walked round and round the Volkswagen noting the license plate number (there was none on the front) and the vehicle number. I snapped a photo. Then, feeling sheepish, I slipped into our back yard and tried to get a clandestine, but more comprehensive, picture through the lattice of our gate. The policeman was pointedly not touching or disturbing the open car door. ‘Trying not to smudge any latent prints,’ I thought to myself.

After about thirty minutes, two of the squad cars (including the one with the driver who was the toasted focus of the police chase in it) drove off. Just one black-and-white remained to wait for the tow truck. Another fifteen minutes passed before the truck appeared just as our mailman drove up to our box. The mailman, too, must have conjured up some wild headlines in his imagination. He watched as the tow truck lowered its ramps into the street. The tow guy didn’t think twice about handling the open driver’s door as he got in the car, put it in gear and drove it down the driveway and up the ramps onto his truck. So much for my smearing-the-prints theory, hey?

I grabbed my binoculars and focused on the rear of the VW. California license # 5NIH694, I noted. Would you believe this was as juicy as the story got? But, speaking of juice, there’s one more liquid clue to report. Sitting on the passenger seat of the stolen (?) car was a blocky carton of Silk brand Soy Milk. I got back in bed with my moist socks and contemplated a wild and wooly car chase featuring a guy who drinks soy milk. Definitely doesn’t qualify as juicy, does it?

Well, that’s it – unless a keen reader can elucidate the rest of the story. The readership of NNV is waiting!

Think I made all this up?  Click here for the photos.

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------ Community Resource Notice -------

Is stroke affecting your family? Regional Medical Center of San Jose

at 225 N. Jackson Avenue – now a “Primary Stroke Center” – is offering

monthly Stroke Support Groups for patients, families and caregivers.
Call 1 (888) RMC-8881 (English or Spanish) or 1 (888) RMC-8811 (Vietnamese). Read more.


NNV Briefs

bulletWhen I had the 20D - Murphy and the shutter gods by Richard Brown
bulletMount Hamilton Road Pedestrian Fatality - “In the wrong place at the wrong time”
bulletNeighbor Captain Jose Guerrero Takes New Position as “Wildland Officer” with SJFD
bulletNew “Kid” on the Block – Café.com at Cruz/Alum Rock Library
bulletCounty Commission Readies Historic Preservation Ordinance - Input invited from Dana Peak
bulletNeighbor Dennis Nahat’s Romeo and Juliet - See this romantic ballet with someone you love!
bulletEast Side HEROES - You can be a hero to two outstanding East Side girls by Enrique S. Flores
bulletNotable Neighbor: Super Sue Brown - Division Winner in Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon
bulletDeRose Winery Visit Recommended in Sunset Magazine - Started in Highland Drive cellar!
bulletSpring is Busting out on the Boccardo Trail - Hike scheduled for March 11th by Lark Burkhart
bulletOn the Avenue: First Church of the Nazarene makes its big move
bulletFunny Stuff Department
bulletNew PACT Organizer - Watch for Tim around St. John Vianney
bulletBeautiful Sights Department

When I had the 20D

Murphy and the shutter gods

By Richard Brown

The cedar waxwings came in large flocks and they were everywhere for just a brief period, a stopover in their wanderings. Such a sleek and elegant bird. I really wanted a good picture of one.

They were all over the trees in our yard and we enjoyed watching them with our binoculars but my digital camera, too short on range, wasn't up to getting a good shot. I borrowed a digital SLR, the Canon 20D, from a friend. It had a 200mm (300mm in 35mm talk) medium telephoto lens, still not ideal for shooting birds but considerably better than my camera with a standard zoom lens. By this time, however, the waxwings were no longer in our trees and it seemed that I, now loaded for bird, could no longer get close to any (Murphy's law) and eventually they just disappeared entirely.

I took the camera with me yesterday morning with not much luck until on my way back, I was attracted to a commotion in one of the trees. And just as I approached, a cedar waxwing landed directly in front of me. What luck! It was perfect. I pressed the shutter...nothing. And again...nothing.

So interesting at such a moment how we expect a response if we just press harder.

Finally, I switched the camera off and back on. It cleared the problem. I brought it back up. I was about a half second shy of getting that shot.

So while I'm damning Murphy and cursing the shutter gods, they held out some compensation. A flicker landed in the tree next to me. I snapped the shot. It was in silhouette with full backlighting. A shadowy shape against the sky. Don't move! I worked my way around towards the light, stay, twiggy branches everywhere, stay, stay, always obscuring the shot, stay, snapping as I went, any shot is better than none, stay, each shot better than the last, stay, until finally I had good light and a subject in the open, stay...snap. And then she flew off.

Click here to see Richard’s photos.

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Mount Hamilton Road Pedestrian Fatality

Victim and driver both “in the wrong place at the wrong time”

At about 8:45 AM on the morning of Monday, February 6th, a large number of sirens could be heard coming up Alum Rock Avenue, veering off and ascending at Mt. Hamilton Road. When the wailing sirens ceased, helicopters could be heard hovering over the intersection of Miguelito and Mt. Hamilton Roads. A woman at the side of the road had been hit by an out-of-control car. Unfortunately, there was no need for haste. The woman died at the scene.

Two days later, the Mercury News reported that the victim was an Ethiopian woman named Elizabeth Melaku, a 48-year-old caregiver to the Aiassa family who apparently live nearby. Ms. Melaku was doing an errand at the side of the road when a west-bound (that’s downhill) car driven by a man named Robert Cole went out of control, crossing into the eastbound lane and onto the shoulder where she was struck and killed, according to the news report. Mr. Cole suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.

Ms. Melaku was a very much beloved nurse/caretaker to several families here and in Santa Cruz. She moved from family to family as they needed her and became like a member of the family in each home where she worked.

NNV wondered with incredulity at the infinitesimally tiny possibility of an out-of-control car skidding (?) exactly into the place where a person stood. Mount Hamilton Road is many miles long with scores of “blind” and hairpin curves. It just defies logic that the one-and-only out-of-control car on the road ran into the possibly one-and-only person who happened to be at the side of the road.

Also, rather incredible is the fact that many nearby neighbors were unaware of the accident until we asked them about it a week later! We have been seeking further information about the condition of the road – or the frequency of “incidents” at that curve - and our queries have elicited only responses that “it’s a dangerous curve” and “a dangerous place to pull out onto Mt. Hamilton Road.” But, this “incident” didn’t even involve a car pulling out! We have heard that a bicyclist might have been a factor in the driver's loss of control.

NNV will welcome comments from people who drive those roads in hopes of sharing information which might help prevent tragedies such as befell Elizabeth Melaku and Robert Cole. But, perhaps, nothing in this world could have intervened that morning.

If you have comments, E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.

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Neighbor Captain Jose Guerrero Takes New Position with SJFD

Faces new challenges as “Wildland Officer”

NNV set out to interview Fire Captain Jose Guerrero, one of the three shift Captains for Engine Company 2, on a sunny Tuesday last month. It became quite a challenge when, mid-question, he (and all the other Station 2 firefighters) were suddenly called away to an apartment fire on Jackson Avenue. With hopes dashed for an interview that day, we ran outside with our camera and snapped away at the departing fire engines. It took until the following Friday before neighbor Jose found a moment to spend on the phone answering our burning questions.

So, what was the impetus for a story on this handsome firefighter all of a sudden? Captain Guerrero has just left his long-time home base at Fire Station 2 on Alum Rock Avenue. He’s begun a new challenge as the San Jose Fire Department’s Wildland Officer replacing Captain Juan Diaz, who was recently promoted to Battalion Chief. Among other duties related to the Wildland Officer position, Jose will be the primary SJFD representative to the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council where he will work with the CDF and other Fire Departments in the County to help coordinate their County-wide wildfire prevention and education activities.

This is an enormous change for 41-year old Captain Guerrero, but he says he’s looking forward to a change of pace, “something different - outside of responding to 9-1-1 calls,” he explained. He’s happy to be taking on a new role and says the position offers enhanced opportunities for promotion. NNV is especially pleased that the new Wildland Officer is someone who has spent his life in and around the East Foothills and who has a great understanding of the wildfire threat here.

Jose loved being at Station 2! He hated to leave after spending fourteen of his eighteen years with the fire department there. He says he will always have a lot of good memories and life-long friendships among Station 2 personnel. He told NNV, “You know, we are a product of our experiences and I had so many positive experiences there. It’s helped me develop in ideals and character.” The Station 2 years also helped develop camaraderie and muscles too when Jose and his buddies biked up to Eagle Rock in Alum Rock Park before their shift and up through the Boccardo Trail afterwards. These two strenuous bike-hikes take 1 ½ and 2 ½ hours respectively!

So, how did Jose get focused on firefighting as a career? He actually started out as a computer programmer and worked at Sun Microsystems. This meant working indoors, of course, and he realized he would prefer to be working outdoors and he really would like to be working in a career which would allow him to help people – because, he explains, “It feels so good!” He earned his AA degree in Fire Science at Mission College and was hired by the SJFD at age 22. He’s now within hailing distance of a Bachelor of Science degree from UC Long Beach, which has been a very long-term goal.

We asked whether Jose, the first firefighter in his family, would want his children to follow in his path. Jose and his beautiful wife, Rosa, have five children ages 19, 18, 17, 16 (years) and 23 months! He says he’d be very proud if any of them (2 sons, 3 daughters) chose firefighting careers, but he knows that only they will make the decisions on their life’s work.

Jose and Rosa are products of our East San Jose neighborhoods. They met as students at Mt. Pleasant High School and have been together ever since. They feel quite fortunate to live here in our Alum Rock neighborhood so close to Jose’s work when so many SJFD firefighters have to commute here from far distances. The Guerreros are active members of Saint John Vianney Catholic Church. Jose says, “My family is a great source of strength to me.”

Just three days after he finished tying up loose ends at Station 2, Captain Guerrero assumed his new position. He’ll “have a desk” at the SJFD Bureau of Field Operations on Montgomery Street, but he will no longer have a home base as he has had for the last eighteen years. Now he’s adjusting to an “8 to 5” job after all those years of firefighters’ shifts. “It was time to move on,” he says simply.

According to Station 2 Battalion Chief Jose Luna, "Captain Guerrero has served the community at Fire Station 2 in the ranks of firefighter, fire engineer and fire captain. I have been fortunate to have him as one of my company officers for the last six years.

He is interested in his local community both on and off duty. His new position as combination staff and Wildland Officer will be a great asset to the Department on a number of levels – he has demonstrated a strong wildland experience in this battalion, throughout the city and on statewide mutual aid strike team incidents. He has a very positive and deep interaction with the Spanish-speaking community (he is frequently requested by Spanish-speaking media) and a great sense of humor (watch out). He is energetic, enthusiastic, he strives to educate and inform, and he is a quick learner."

Click here for photos.

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New “Kid” on the Block – Café.com at Cruz/Alum Rock Library

Get javaed and juiced every day of the week at the library?

Well, we knew that coffee and coffee shops were popular, but who knew that our little neighborhood could support a full-fledged java emporium inside the Cruz/Alum Rock Library?

Early in February a sleek, grand-looking coffee and pastry bar opened in one corner of the library’s internet café area located at the building’s northeast corner. Called Café.com, the new business caters to library-goers and Alum Rock Village shoppers looking for coffee and espresso drinks as well as freshly-baked pastries. Even bagels, biscotti, sodas, fresh fruit, juices and smoothies are available.

Apparently library patrons of 2006 want the same treatment at the library as they might get at a Barnes and Noble book store. Wanting to encourage people to spend time lingering and connecting with friends right in our libraries, the San Jose Public Library decided that a pilot program featuring on-site refreshments would be an appreciated new attraction. Traditionalists have a hard time being convinced that library materials and refreshments are compatible, but when it’s pointed out that patrons have been handling books and eats simultaneously in their homes just about forever, it’s hard to argue that the two don’t mix.

Café.com entrepreneur Cristina Pinheiro brings impressive restaurant experience to this new venture. She and her husband, Lee, own and operate Café do Canto which features traditional Portuguese dishes in nearby Little Portugal. On the day of Café.com’s grand opening, Cristina introduced herself and her young counterman, Hugo Alneida, an eighteen year old sure to connect with the library’s youthful clientele from Lick High School across the street.

The café is open during all the library’s hours. Hours of operation are: Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 PM; Monday, 2:00 to 7:00 PM; Tuesday and Wednesday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM; Thursday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. For more information visit or call (408) 808-3090.

Click here for yummy photos.

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County Historical Heritage Commission Readies Preservation Ordinance

Your input is invited

From Dana Peak, Historical Heritage Commission

The DRAFT Revised Historic Preservation Ordinance, pertaining to the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, was presented to the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission (HHC) by the Ordinance Ad Hoc Committee in a study session on Thursday, February 16. The purpose of the study session was to review what this DRAFT Revised Ordinance contains.

In March and April, the HHC will discuss the DRAFT Ordinance and take testimony from the public regarding agreement/disagreement and consider alternatives to the document as drafted. This summer, a Final Revised DRAFT Ordinance will be presented to HLUET, a Board of Supervisors policy committee, and the Board of Supervisors for consideration and adoption.

The (tentative) schedule for future review, comment and ultimate action on a proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance for unincorporated Santa Clara County is:

March 16, 2006: HHC Meeting - Public Comment

April 20, 2006: HHC Meeting - Public Comment

May 4, 2006: Planning Commission - Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment regarding repeal of Santa Clara County Code Section C1-91

June 15, 2006: HLUET Meeting - Public Comment

August 15, 2006: Board of Supervisors Ordinance Introduction

August 29, 2006: Board of Supervisors Action

The HHC Ordinance Ad Hoc Committee members and staff welcome your continued interest and participation in this ordinance development process. Comments or questions can be e-mailed to the Historical Heritage Commission at or call (408) 299-5798 for further information.

To review the Revised DRAFT Ordinance and background on the development of the document, click here for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Web page or go to and click on “Plans and Programs,” “Historic Preservation Program,” “Historic Preservation Ordinance.”

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Neighbor Dennis Nahat’s Romeo and Juliet

See this romantic ballet with someone you love!

Shakespeare's timeless testament to the power of love explodes onto the ballet stage March 9 through 12 with Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley's stunning production of ROMEO AND JULIET. All the beauty, humor, adventure and tragedy of the frightening urgency of youth is danced to the brilliant and emotive score of Sergei Prokofiev. Mt. Hamilton neighbor Dennis Nahat's theatrically intimate choreography grips the senses and compels us, once again, to believe in love at first sight.

This is ballet on a grand scale with forty-five dancers, full symphony orchestra and three-acts of glorious spectacle featuring a lavish masked ball, electrifying sword-fights, and lover's intrigue. Ballet San Jose proves that actions speak louder than words.

ROMEO AND JULIET plays March 9 through 12 ONLY at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets call the Ballet Box Office at (408) 288-2800, contact TicketMaster, or visit online at

Also, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley COUNCIL presents "CELEBRATION," a Gala Evening celebrating 20 years of great ballet in Silicon Valley honoring Artistic/Executive Director, Dennis Nahat and our dancers. Beshoff Motorcars of San Jose is the event sponsor for the fourth year in a row.

The event will be held Saturday. March 18, 2006, 6:00 PM to Midnight, at the Imperial Ballroom of The Fairmont San Jose, 170 South Market Street, in downtown San Jose. Music and Entertainment by WAYNE FOSTER ENTERTAINMENT of Beverly Hills. Live and Silent Auctions

$250.00 per person, Donor tables $2,500, Sponsor tables $3,500.

Gala Reservations, (408) 288-2820 x 240,, Deadline: March 10.

Dress: Black Tie and your dancing shoes.

Click here for a ROMEO AND JULIET photo. Click here to read more about our neighbor, Dennis Nahat and Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley.

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East Side HEROES

You can be a hero to two outstanding East Side girls

By Enrique S. Flores, President, East Side Heroes

Every year, East Side Heroes Volunteers commit their time and energy to encourage friends, family, coworkers, and employers to help donate to the Annual East Side Heroes Scholarship Fundraiser. The East Side Heroes Scholarship aims to make educational dreams come true, by awarding 4-year scholarships to qualified 8th grade students who get accepted into the private high school of their dreams on their own merit, but simply cannot afford the tuition cost.

This year, East Side Heroes received a total of 17 applications from students excited about a college-prep high school education! Two applicants met all the criteria required, thus we decided to take on the challenge of trying to raise enough funds for two full scholarships. From the start, it has taken the generosity of community members like yourselves, coming together to make these East Side Heroes Scholarships a reality. The two students selected this year are: Ana Plascencia who is currently an 8th grade student at LeyVa Middle School in East San Jose, and Alma Acosta who is currently an 8th grade student at Morrill Middle School in East San Jose. We need your help, so that both Ana Plascencia and Alma Acosta may begin classes at Notre Dame High School this coming school year, Fall 2006.

Both Ana and Alma submitted strong recommendation letters from their teachers, both wrote six amazing essays, and both have dedicated extensive hours to serving their community. Ana Plascencia has maintained a 3.6 overall GPA, and is also a very talented mariachi player and singer, who performs for families with incarcerated relatives, the elderly, and in Children’s Hospitals with cancer patients. Ana also enjoys teaching children to play instruments and sing. Alma Acosta has maintained a 4.0 GPA, is part of the MESA program, serves as a peer mediator and peer tutor, enjoys video production and participates in graffiti removal projects. Both Ana and Alma aspire to be the first in their family to graduate from a 4-year university and become lawyers.

Ana and Alma indicated that their first choice high school they would love to attend is Notre Dame High School located in downtown San Jose. Notre Dame is a college prep Catholic school which “educates young women for success and leadership and prepares them to live as well-educated, self-confident, and socially responsible women, sustained by religious faith and guided by spiritual values.”

This year’s 3rd Annual East Side Heroes Scholarship Fundraiser Dinner will be held at Bellarmine College Preparatory, 960 W. Hedding St., San Jose, CA 95126 on Friday, April 21, 2006! Tickets are $150 per person or $1,500 per table. MC will be Honorable Judge Katherine Lucero and the special welcome will be by Supervisor Blanca Alvarado. We are also looking for event sponsors.

For more information or to RSVP contact: All donation contributions can be mailed directly to East Side Heroes, P.O. Box 1164, Santa Clara, CA 95052. Tax ID # 76-0774783. Thank you for your kind generosity.

Click here to read more about Enrique Flores and East Side Heros.

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Notable Neighbor in the News

Super Sue Brown - Division Winner in Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon

East Foothill neighbor, Susan Brown (the other half of NNV Alum Rock Park feature writer and photographer, Richard), bested all the women in the 60-65 year old division in the 13.1 mile Kaiser Permanente ½ Marathon in San Francisco on February 5th. At age 63, Sue is a veteran of dozens of such races, although she didn’t begin running until age 40. Of the 2,078 women participants, Sue placed 277th with a time of 1:47:08. Says Richard, “She was faster than 84% of the runners under (age) 25, or 30 or 35.”

Speedy Sue has run in scores of races including the Boston Marathon and has perhaps a hundred medals and plaques commemorating her successes.

Sue originally took up running as training for skiing which she and Richard would do every weekend. “She found it wasn’t the perfect training for skiing but it did improve her stamina,” says Richard. “Most importantly she really enjoyed it.”

In case readers suppose that elite runners like Sue Brown simply hop into a race and “shine,” it should be noted that she trains avidly. You may see her running frequently in and around Alum Rock Park accompanied by Richard on his bicycle. Or, you may see them both on their bikes. She’s very good at that too!

Sue’s day job is as an RN at Kaiser in Milpitas. We can imagine that she applies herself just as diligently with her duties there. She has the boundless energy and enthusiasm of a teenager!

When the times were first toted up for the ½ marathon, Sue was placed third in her division. However, it was not long before it was discovered that the runners who placed first and second hadn’t gotten to the finish line legitimately. Following is Richard’s description of the “aha moment” when they realized “Sue won!!! She was Rosie Ruized.”

Writes Richard: During our run in the park Wednesday morning, suspicion finally set in and Sue mentioned how curious it was that she had never heard of the two women who had beaten her. Everybody knows the names of the competitive runners and these drew a blank. And now two of them from nowhere running together at the top?

When we got back to the house, there was an email waiting from teammate, Ralph. He had just had the same kind of moment when his brain suddenly kicked in and went, Hey! The reasons for his suspicion were the times which to him seemed highly improbable for that race in that division. He checked back to previous races and none of the times broke 1:40 and yet here suddenly were two 1:38s. Sue contacted the organization and learned they had already been suspicious and said all three women (there was also a smokin' 75 year old. Not.) had started early. Really early. Really, really early. There are easier ways to cheat on a race so Ralph is holding to the dumb innocents theory. That they had started an hour and a half early so they could finish without using up the entire morning and hadn't a clue about the consequences of coming through the chute with the competitive runners. This is what chips are for. Every major race should use them. 7500 entries is a major race.

Sue is getting pretty lax about her race results. She wasn't going to do anything and didn't really care whether it was a 1st or a 3rd. She has plenty where those came from. Only after I reminded her there were two other people who would not place because of this, she decided to do something. She has already been approached at work by someone wondering about the two place advancement in their standing.

Coming off an injury, not her fastest time but still would have “placed” her in the 55 to 60 division and she would have been 4th in the 50 to 55 division as shown here.

Place Name City Age Overall Time Pace
1 Susan Brown San Jose CA 63 1099 1:47:08.0 8:11/M
2 Barbara Brady Livermore CA 61 1535 1:52:56.0 8:37/M
3 Kate Thornton San Francisco CA 61 2077 1:59:45.0 9:08/M
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DeRose Winery Visit Recommended in Sunset Magazine

Neighbor Al DeRose started the winery in his Highland Drive cellar!

In the March edition of Sunset, there’s a suggested one-day, spring-flower-viewing road trip from the Bay Area to Pinnacles National Monument featuring thirteen stops along the way. One of the stops, we’re happy to report, is at DeRose Winery near Hollister. NNV readers may remember that we featured a story on Highland Drive neighbor, Alphonse (Al) DeRose last year. Italian-born Al and his nephews “grew” DeRose Wines from a small, homegrown effort into an award-winning, full-scale, top-drawer enterprise.

A selection of absolutely delicious DeRose vintages is available for sale at Antipasto’s on McKee Road, but if you want to go to the source, you can find the winery (and its auto museum) at 9970 Cienega Road, Hollister. Free wine tastings are held from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM each Saturday and Sunday. The auto museum is open from 11:00 to 3:00 only on the first Saturday of the month – or by appointment. Call ahead at (831) 636-9143.

Click here for the NNV story on Al DeRose and here for the DeRose Winery Web site.

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Spring is Busting out on the Boccardo Trail

Hike scheduled for March 11th

By Lark Burkhart, Public Information Specialist, Santa Clara County Open Space Authority

The green foothills are a good sign that a closer look might yield a glimpse of spring wildflowers nestled in the new grass. Volunteer activity leader Paul Billing will lead a hike on Santa Clara County Open Space Authority’s Boccardo Trail north of Alum Rock Park on Saturday, March 11, to see what might be blooming.

Hikers will meet in front of the Youth Science Institute in Alum Rock Park at 1pm. The Boccardo Trail is a sometimes-steep 6-mile roundtrip hike that peaks at a 1,896-foot elevation with a gorgeous view of the city below.

Don’t forget to wear a hat and sturdy shoes and bring water. Binoculars and a camera are always a good idea as there is so much to see along the trail.

For more information about the Boccardo Trail or Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, visit or call (408) 224-7476.

Click here for photos from last year's hike.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

First Church of the Nazarene makes its big move to Evergreen

Logos Christian Fellowship moving in March 19

NNV has discovered that church moves just don’t happen very fast! A banner went up in January announcing that the Nazarenes were moving to “The Point,” their new church in Evergreen. This meant that Logos Christian Fellowship Church could be moving in and setting up shop tout de suite. After all, the two congregations have been waiting patiently (or not) for more than a year longer than expected to move into their respective new venues.

And, happily, that time has come!

Logos Pastor Isaac Neal phoned and says their debut service will be on Sunday, March 19. They sent out the pews to be refinished and they have new carpeting installed. The Logos congregation moves from a location on McKee Road near the 101 freeway.

Click here for a photo. Click here to read First Church of the Nazarene’s 2/5/06 farewell letter to the Alum Rock community from Pastoral Team Leader Jim G. Cooper on our Letters to the Editor page.

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Funny Stuff Department

Gary Rauh sent us a photo he took in the parking lot behind the YSI Thrift Shop one day. It shows a dilapidated box spring leaned very carefully against posts which support signs (in English and Spanish) prohibiting dumping such stuff on those premises. The irony, huh? Well, at least it was leaned up very neatly! Maybe the miscreants thought the posts were meant to keep box springs from leaning against the fence? Or, maybe they agreed that $1,000 was just fine with them, too.

At Save Mart one week last month there was a sign in the produce department which caught our attention. “Red Blobe Grapes 99 cents/pound.” Where on this here blobe of ours did the signmaker at SM learn to spell? Well, at least the price was right (and the brapes were very good!)

Click here for photos.

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New PACT Organizer

Watch for Tim around St. John Vianney

PACT (People Acting in Community Together) has a new young “organizer” in its ranks. Tim Lilienthal came to work at PACT, our local bulldog of social justice, just three months ago. He divides his time between toiling downtown at PACT headquarters on The Alameda and mentoring the PACT LOC (local organizing committee) at St. John Vianney here in Alum Rock as well as two other LOCs.

Tim graduated with a degree in Sociology from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 2001. While St. Joe’s is not exactly a household word here on the West Coast, according to Tim, it’s a well-known basketball stronghold in the East.

Tim cut his community service teeth with two years of organizing projects around Philadelphia following graduation. He spent a year in El Salvador learning Spanish, he says. He also worked in Oakland before applying for this opening with our local PACT organization. Tim says he’s learning the ropes and getting up to speed ASAP. There’s a lot for a young out-of-towner to learn about the issues, politics and personalities here in our valley.

Click here for a photo of Tim.

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Beautiful Sights Department

Every February a small, raggedy, insignificant-looking shrub on Alum Rock Avenue suddenly decides to chuck its anonymity and turn itself inside out pumping up a dazzling extravagance of luscious luminescent coral blossoms. It stands alone near the edge of the busy street just west of Kirk Avenue. Soon it will give up its petal treasury and resume its shabby life across the street from the big new houses being built at what was once Bill’s Pony Ranch.

Click here for a photo.

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East Side Bullfighter? “Torero” Rodolfo (Rudy) Tenes

Really, this is no bull!

Last month neighbors Rudy and Lily Tenes were featured in a Mercury News Valentine special representing a mature romance (they’ve been married fifty years!). However, it wasn’t the photo of the Fleming Avenue couple posing lovingly at the Carmelite Monastery that caught the attention of NNV – it was the line which said Rudy was an ex-bullfighter!

“Oh, yeah, right! Rudy Tenes, the guy who translates stuff for PACT and the St. John Vianney newsletter, was a bullfighter! Give us a break! We know the Teneses from the years that PACT (People Acting in Community Together) was helping East Highlanders get some traction addressing the 1998 landslide which closed the entrance to Alum Rock Park and rendered Crothers Road a defunct casualty. We did not know this steady, droll, then sixty-something-year-old PACT leader was a daredevil athlete who took on the bulls of Mexico as a young man.

Rudy and Lily met in San Francisco 55 years ago when Rudy was visiting from Baja California. They found they enjoyed dancing together and, when he returned to Mexico, they began a long-term correspondence. Lily did not know that Rudy was a torero. Just to keep things simple, he told her only that he worked in his father’s business. This was the truth – his father was a famous matador and his business was bullfighting! Rudy and his brother, Pepe Luis, who was two years older, learned the art as a matter of family tradition. “We grew up at a bullring plaza,” says Rudy, who was a bullfighter from 1947 to 1952. Presumably, it did not escape young Lily’s notice that Rudy was an elite athlete (read: one totally buff dude).

Even though the expectation was that Rudy would carry on in his father’s and brother’s slippered footsteps, he realized that he didn’t want a future in which his family would live with the horrific casualties wreaked by the bulls. His dad was gored 14 times! His brother was gored three times – once so badly that the bull’s horn went through his arm pit and came out through the back of his shoulder. When Rudy went to pick up his wounded brother by lifting him under his arms, Rudy was surprised to have his hand enter and travel the path of the wound.(!)

Rudy says that he doesn’t think he fell prey to the bullfighter’s adage that “Through the wound, escapes the courage” which portrays the early end to many young bullfighter’s careers. Though he still had the courage, he knew he didn’t especially like to be in the limelight and had no desire to become famous. He knew he would like to escape a life which, before the advent of penicillin, meant painfully infected and even gangrenous wounds.

At the same time he was fighting the bulls, he was also in the Mexican military and working for a physician as an assistant. The doctor thought Rudy was such a natural caregiver, that he tried to persuade him to go into medicine. Rudy, however, was much more enamored of artistic endeavors and thought of studying to be an architect.

This didn’t come to pass, however. Rudy immigrated to San Francisco in 1953 and married beautiful, irresistible Lily in 1955 and they were very soon on their way to their family of five children. Rudy earned his family’s living through several disparate careers. By a fluke (he unexpectedly won a contest) he became an announcer for a Spanish-language radio station. It seems that no one had yet gotten a handle on marketing to local Spanish speakers. Rudy was in the right place at the right time – or as he would put it, this is what God had in mind for him. He had been a careful observer of the bullfight announcers in his youth and found he had the necessary gifts for a successful radio career speaking his native tongue fluently and convincingly. He became a bona fide radio personality and wrote scripts for Hispanic media, radio, television and newspapers.

Among the advertisers he represented was Crescent Jewelers. Eventually, he found that he was spending as much time promoting them as he was with his other radio work. He really enjoyed the business aspects of the jewelry trade and liked it so much he left the media behind and went to work fulltime for Crescent. The entrepreneur in him soon had him opening his own jewelry business, Esmeralda Jewelers. Before he retired in 1996, he had a corporation with three first class jewelry stores.

But, that was not all! Rudy’s artistic bent prevailed. He is a published author and sometimes illustrator! In 1979, he wrote Mano a Mano* (Hand to Hand), a work of fiction featuring characters from San Jose’s East Side and across the Mexican border. It tells the story of young Mexican bullfighters and the unscrupulous “agents” who purport to represent them. In a review, the Mercury News said of the book, “A magnificent tragic comedy involving characters from Mexico and (the) USA. A sequence of comical situations, sometimes very dramatic and real that take the reader on a trip to San Jose, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Mexico City and back to (the) USA. A book that must be read, simpatiquisimo.” Rudy is currently working on another manuscript of a more serious work concerning foreigners who migrate to the United States and how difficult it is for them to “blend in with the system.”

A few factoids about bullfighting learned from Rudy: Bullfighting in Spain and Mexico are quite similar. Spanish bulls, however, are generally larger than Mexican bulls. However, this means that Mexican bulls can be quicker. Spanish audiences are very critical and unsympathetic to the matadors. Mexican audiences tend to be tenderhearted. Portuguese bulls are a larger breed than Spanish and Mexican bulls. Portuguese bullfights do not involve “picadors” who wound the bulls to weaken them. Matadors in Portugal face the full potential of each bull.

The wounds created during a goring are complex and dangerous. Through its instinctive head thrusting motions, the bull’s horn makes multiple tunnels from one point of entry. Until antibiotics were discovered in the 1940’s, many gorings were fatal because of infection. This is no longer the case.

American bullfighting is different than Mexico’s, Spain’s or Portugal’s. Here the SPCA protects animals from “cruelty” and the bull is never slain. The bulls’ horns are covered with protective material. The sport is still thriving in valley towns such as Tracy, Gustine and Escalon – and it has quite a loyal following. Sometimes you can find Rudy and Lily in the audience cheering on the matadors – when they’re not selflessly giving of themselves in one or another of their enormous repertoire of volunteer commitments.

* While Mano a Mano literally translates to “hand to hand,” it also means “face to face” (as in a confrontation) and also refers to a bullfight in which two rival matadors take turns fighting several bulls each - according to The American Heritage Dictionary.

Click here for photos of Rudy, Lily and bullfighters.

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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.

March Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

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

Citrus Yellowing: This is very common this time of year. Our local clay soils hold onto their nutrients more tightly during winter. An easy solution is to apply a 2-4" layer of rich compost or manure as mulch. Very little pruning needs to be done to remove yellowing. Remove only dead, diseased or broken branches after mid-month to avoid a late frost.

Fruit Tree Disease Control: Spray apples, pears and loquats for fire blight. Remove any diseased blackened twigs at least 9 inches below affected area. Use a fixed copper spray such as Microcop or Bordeaux during blossom. For brown rot on stone fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines), do the same during blossoming. The blossom times vary so watch your tree to determine when to spray. A tree care calendar can be found at (PDF file).

Snails and Slug Control: Now's the time to scout out your yard for hiding snails and slug trails. First step is to remove the hiding places such as thick plants, boards, stones, and leafy plants touching the ground. Using drip irrigation instead of sprinklers will reduce the moist surfaces that they favor. Hand pick early or late, squash in place, drop into soapy water or toss into the trash. Vertically sided tuna cans of beer regularly filled will work. Copper foil or tape installed to surround planters or trunks will work if the slug/snail is forced to climb completely onto the tape. Keep the tape clean. Baits that contain metaldehyde are unsafe for pets and children; use iron phosphate products such as Escar-Go! or Sluggo instead. The UC Pest Note is at

Powdery Mildew on Roses: This fungus forms powdery masses on the leaf, stem and bud, distorting and stunting them. The USDA compared spray materials that target black spot and powdery mildew. Safer Insecticidal Soap, WiltPruf, Volck Oil, Volck Oil plus baking soda, neem oil, and neem wax were applied weekly for twenty-two weeks. Neem wax, neem oil, Safer's, and Volck Oil plus baking soda showed marked disease reduction. To each gallon of water, add three or four teaspoons of horticultural oil (Volck Oil). Or you can skip the spraying if you grow varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew. The Santa Clara County Rose Society has a list on their website at

Spittle Bugs: These bugs are more of a nuisance than damaging and look awful on your plants. They are little blobs of wet, foamy, spit-like substance with a little tiny bug in the center of the blob. They seem to appear overnight and then are gone in about a month. Use a strong water spray to wash them off or squish with a gloved hand.

Buying Vegetable Seedlings: Bigger is not always better. The smaller plant may be less developed but will root faster in your garden. Quality is what's important. Look for dark green leaves and a thick stem with no yellowing or shriveling. Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects or clusters of eggs. Check the bottom of the pot for roots growing through; it's been in the pot too long if you see them. Pop the cell out at the nursery and only buy the ones without matted roots. Water them well when you get home before planting.

Moss and Algae in Lawn Control: Both moss and algae can form a barrier against water and air movement into the soil. The problem usually occurs in neglected lawns. The cause may be poor drainage, too much water or rain, soil compaction, restriction of air movement, thick thatch layer, acidic soil, low soil fertility (moss), heavy shade (moss), and high soil fertility (algae). For moss control, fertilize the lawn. Change the soil pH to a range of 6 to 7 if acidic by applying a lime product. Test kits for pH are available at your local garden center. Reduce the amount of irrigation. Improve the soil drainage by contouring or installing drain tiles. Remove excess thatch. Selectively prune trees and shrubs to reduce shade. Reduce compaction by aerating the soil. Chemical treatments will only solve the problem temporarily. When you have control, be sure to rake the dead material and remove. Reseed bare spots. The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns can be found at to explain these techniques to control moss and algae.

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Celebrating Ceanothus

Heavenly blues, super-shiny leaves – blooming now

By Arvind Kumar

It was at the Yerba Buena Nursery demonstration garden one spring morning in 2000 that I had my first encounter with ceanothus. At a bend in the path stood a bush 7’ tall, with shiny green leaves and striking blue blossoms. What made it startling was the buzz made by hundreds of big fat bees rushing from flower to flower, eagerly feeding on the nectar and pollen. Until that moment, I didn’t know a plant could command such attention from wildlife.

I learned later that California is home to some 60 species of ceanothus (by comparison, the entire east coast has only one species of ceanothus). They are found in habitats from the sea to the mountains and the desert. In habit, they range from groundcovers to subshrubs and shrubs to tree-like varieties. The genus Ceanothus is a vivid symbol of California’s rich biodiversity. If you want your garden to feel rooted in California, plant a ceanothus.

Although the flower color varies from white to blue to purple, ceanothus are unsurpassed in the shades of blue, their dominant color. February and March are the peak bloom times for most ceanothuses. The fragrant flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other insects. Even after the blooms fade, the evergreen foliage gives the plant a neat, attractive look throughout the year.

According to the new book, California Native Plants for the Garden, ceanothus has been cultivated in Europe as a garden plant since 1713. These sun-loving plants like well-drained soils, and do best on a slope or a berm. They dislike summer water, which shortens their lifespan.

If you are looking for a robust groundcover, try Ceanothus griseus horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’, which grows to 3’ tall and 8’ wide. You can prune or tip pinch the upright branches to give it a lower profile. At a friend’s garden, another variety, Ceanothus maritimus, was in full bloom in the middle of February.

I have been very pleased with Ceanothus foliosus medius, a subshrub to 2’ tall by 3’ wide. A local native, it is doing well in a south-facing bed that gets sun all day except late afternoon. It has been blooming since late October.

For a floriferous shrub, try Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ which gets to 6’ tall. Ceanothus dentatus, a coastal species, did well in our San Jose garden’s clay soil, growing to 5’ tall and 8’ wide in 4 years. Ceanothus cuneatus is a local native with white flowers that covers huge swaths of land in the Mount Hamilton Range.

In the tree-like category, we have the 18’ tall Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ or Ceanothus arboreus from the Channel Islands.

This is a small sample from the incredible diversity of Ceanothus varieties. The Sunset Western Garden book has a much longer list. Many ceanothuses are available at your local nursery. If not, visit your local native plant nursery for a wide selection of ceanothus.

Success with ceanothus requires sun, well-draining soil, and watering the first couple of years until the plant is established. Thereafter, let benign neglect be your motto for ceanothus care, and both you and the plant will thrive.

Click here for ceanothus photos.

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34th Annual Wildflower Show

Premier Botanical and Horticultural Event of the South Bay

By Arvind Kumar, Publicity Chair, California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter

The 34th Annual Wildflower Show, the premier botanical and horticultural event of the South Bay and Peninsula, will take place at Mission College in Santa Clara over the weekend of April 22-23, 2006.

The Wildflower Show is a two-day expo showcasing the diversity and beauty of wildflowers of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Over 400 species of wildflowers and native plants are displayed, each accurately labeled, many suitable for the home garden. Knowledgeable botanists and gardeners are on hand to answer questions. Books, posters, seeds, note cards, and other wildflower-related items are available for purchase. This year’s show will also offer free classes on native plant identification, wildflower gardening, and gardening with natives.

Now in its 34th year, the Wildflower Show is a well-known and loved tradition in the South Bay and the Peninsula. Organized by the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society, this educational event is free and open to the public, and suitable for the entire family. Here one can learn about the breathtaking diversity of California’s native flora, and even pick up ideas for the home garden.

The venue is the Mission College Hospitality Management Building, conveniently accessible from the Great America Parkway exit off Highway 101 in Santa Clara. Parking is free in the designated lot. The Wildflower Show is sponsored by the Mission College Biology Department.

For more information: • (650) 691-9749

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4th Annual Going Native Garden Tour

Visit wonderful private gardens nearby

By Arvind Kumar, Publicity Chair, California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Gardens that are water-wise and low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing as well as attractive to birds and butterflies: growing numbers of Bay Area homeowners are incorporating native plants into their gardens, and you can see many of them firsthand on the Bay Area’s 4th annual tour of home gardens landscaped with California native plants. The Going Native Garden Tour returns Sunday, April 30, 2006, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This tour opens a variety of gardens for viewing - from townhome lots to 1-acre plots, from newly planted gardens to established ones. You won’t have to go far to see one: these gardens are located all over the Santa Clara Valley and the Peninsula. Visit as many as you like - for pictures, for ideas, for inspiration.

What’s special about California native plants? They are adapted to our soil and climate, and are easy to care for. Many of our native plants are naturally water-wise and drought tolerant. They support a wide variety of wildlife that has co-evolved with them. And their distinctive look and elegant beauty gives your garden a sense of place that is uniquely Californian.

The tour is open to all. Admission is free; registration is required at before April 29, 12 noon, or until the tour reaches capacity, whichever comes first. Space is limited; register early to ensure a place. For more information, email

Click here for our story on the tour last year.

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Playful Art, Touching Memorials, Rippling Water, Fresh Air, Easy Path, Great Lunch

Guadalupe River Park and Gardens – Visit to the Southern Half of the Trail

Plan a visit to downtown’s charming interior corridor

If you haven’t yet found your way to the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens downtown, you have a treat awaiting you. Not only will you enjoy previously unreachable scenic vistas of the Guadalupe River, you’ll find, as you walk along the easy trail, that you’ve become a participant in a parade of thoughtful outdoor public art installations which punctuate the path. However, the works of art do not insist that you take them in; if you prefer to simply walk along in our superb South Bay atmosphere – you can do that too.

The river meanders through willow thickets and cityscapes. If your enthusiasms lie with engineering challenges and seeing how San Jose has tamed its flooding problem, you’ll enjoy seeing the hardscape which reshapes and redirects the river. As recently as 1995, the usually tame Guadalupe swelled up over its banks and inundated parts of our city’s downtown. The new park and gardens are, in part, a happy side effect of a Federal flood protection project!

One chilly morning in December, Park and Gardens Education Coordinator Kary Wilson gave New Neighborhood Voice a special tour of the “downtown half” of the 2.6 mile trail which roughly runs from the 280 freeway to the 880 freeway. We started at the new Visitor and Education Center at 438 Coleman Avenue, not far south of Taylor Street. Kary, who was a Wildlife Biology major at Humboldt State, showed us around the center which features local archeological artifacts as well as being headquarters for staff and volunteers. She pointed out the new signage which announces the presence of the otherwise inconspicuous entry to the trail. We observed the river from the bridge above before we left the mundane street scene and descended onto the deep green trail on our way south to downtown.

There was still a glitch in the path where the Union Pacific Railroad has put up barriers to keep pedestrians off their tracks. There is a temporary, makeshift, bypass, but it’s hoped that soon a permanent undercrossing will be constructed. The park and gardens project was an enormous, decades-long undertaking and it’s not surprising that not everything jelled on schedule for last September's grand opening.

Much of the public art along the way represents some significant aspect of San Jose history or lore. There are tributes to the Native Americans (Ohlones and Muwekmas) who lived here first. There are bas reliefs of the animals which roamed the river banks. A small “neighborhood” of charming old houses rescued from the former flood plane, stands at the edge of the trail. Nearby is a particularly creative construction, the “Gene Pool,” which is a small pool with a surprise waiting under its clear water. Smooth stones lie in its depths - each inscribed with a person's first name. If you’re not in a hurry, you can stop and study the names and conjure up the myriad ethnicities of the people who live in our valley.

Many of the art installations which are now seen as part of this outdoor art gallery already existed in isolation before the trail consolidated them. Near the HP Pavilion, there is a tribute to the Bay Area’s Olympian ice skaters as well as a full size carousel.

San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts, which itself makes a historic architectural statement based on its Frank Lloyd Wright design, backs up to the Guadalupe between Park Avenue and San Carlos. The CPA and its public art make a wide bulge in the river trail. Nearby is the Veterans’ Memorial with its platoon of white flags and etched glass tableaus featuring the words of America’s defenders of many eras. Here also is one of many sculptural pieces sent to San Jose by one of its several “Sister Cities.” Meanwhile, below, the Guadalupe gently flows along inviting walkers to stop and rest on its terraced banks. At lunchtime, downtown toilers bring their lunch or their books and lounge within earshot of a rushing terraced fountain.

The trail’s southern terminus is in Discovery Meadow which is the big green back lawn of the Children’s Discovery Museum. It incorporates all sorts of playful sculptures and even an enormous Monopoly Board. This is a great place to pause and watch the world go by. There are plenty of shady benches.

Kary guided us back north taking us along vistas not seen on our southbound trek. Near a Light Rail station, we came upon a bevy of brightly painted tigers – each sporting a few unexpected extra limbs! By the time we reached the underpass at West Julian we were chilled and ready for a warm lunch. We took advantage of the wonderful offerings at Lowry’s Irish Coffee House which is situated just right for trailwalkers. Finally, we visited the confluence of the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek, a place most sacred to the first people who dwelled here. Our very leisurely tour took us a couple of hours, but yours can take half that or much, much less – if you’re in a hurry. But, you’ll probably find that you won’t want to be in a hurry!

Within the northern half of the park, near the back of the Education Center is a historic orchard and the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden; the latter is home to the largest collection of rose varieties in the Western Hemisphere! We’ll leave it and the rest of the bucolic northern trail for another tour on another day.

Click here for our photos.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletIs it true that Rafiki’s Coffee Hut is going to morph into a Starbucks?
bulletIs it true that Rafiki’s was for sale?
bulletDo any of our lowlife mail thieves ever get caught around here?
bulletIs it true that some idiot was crashing his vehicle through plate glass windows?
bulletDoes it still look like we’ll be getting a Costco Warehouse store here in East San Jose?
bulletIs it true that Anthony Caruso’s project on White Road will have only nine parking spaces?
bulletDoes it still look as though a Home Depot store will replace Mervyn’s on Story Road?
bulletSo, what happens to the Mervyn’s business?

Q. Is it true that Rafiki’s Coffee Hut is going to morph into a Starbucks?

A. No, it won’t. At least according to the counter clerk.

Q. Is it true that Rafiki’s was for sale?

A. Well, yes and no. Some days it was and some days it wasn’t. One day early in February, a sign appeared in the front window indicating that the business was for sale. Everyone around Alum Rock Village was bummed at the thought of Rafiki’s changing hands – or closing even! But, then, next day the sign was gone. “Well, is the business for sale – or not?” we asked the same clerk. “Sheesh! I don’t know!” she said, or something close to that. One explanation coming from a regular habitué: the owners, Luke and Liesl Violante, didn’t quite have all their ducks in a row in order to sell the business. But, suddenly, this week there's a "Sold" sign on the door. Bummer!

Click here for photos.

Q. Do any of our lowlife mail thieves ever get caught around here?

A. Yes! According to Veronica Wildanger of the Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch, one was caught red-handed recently. YESSSSSS! We’ll find out what sort of justice was meted out (if any) and let you know. Anyone for our public stocks plan?  Click here for pillory photos.

Q. Is it true that some idiot was crashing his vehicle through the plate glass windows of a bunch of Eastside businesses last month? Was he caught?

A. Yes, and no, but almost yes. This creative criminal drove into seven businesses including one on McKee Road. Once inside, according to an SJPD officer, he grabbed the cash register and hightailed it. At last, at break-in numero seven, he met up with a security camera system and bingo! he and his vehicle are identified. At this writing, he hadn’t been caught yet, but it shouldn’t be long before this parolee is back making license plates (or whatever jailbirds do nowadays).

Q. Does it still look like we’ll be getting a Costco Warehouse store here in East San Jose?

A. Yes, if all is approved by the city, we’ll have a big (approximately 147,000 square feet) new one story Costco wholesale/retail warehouse and tire center and a 16-pump retail gasoline station near the intersection of Automation Parkway and Hostetter Road. While this location is not exactly at our back door, it sure will beat driving out on Coleman Road past the back of the airport – or all the way down to Senter Road nearly to Tully. Yippee!

Q. Is it true that the Subway Sandwich Shop, juice store and pizza business going into Anthony Caruso’s project on White Road (across from the Lick High parking lot) will have only nine parking spaces for 5 or 6 businesses?

A. Yes, strange but true. For some reason, the city planning folks think that by linking this little retail center’s meager parking to the city lot behind the Planned Parenthood Clinic, YSI Thrift Shop, etc., there will be sufficient parking for all. People who compete for the spaces in the city lot think that adding Caruso’s customers’ cars to the mix is going to create more mayhem. As it is, all the spaces all around the buildings are full every afternoon and cars are parked up and down Manning Avenue. There is a plan to mitigate some of the parking shortage. Employees of Alum Rock Village businesses will be given passes to park in the James Lick High School parking lot which will relieve some of the crowding. However, not everyone is comfortable leaving their car so far away from work. It will take some persuasion to convince workers that their vehicles are safer in the school lot, which has regular patrols, rather than just outside their doors.

Click here for a photo of where they plan to make a connection between the parking lots.

Q. Does it still look as though a Home Depot store will replace Mervyn’s on Story Road just east of Capitol Expressway?

A. Yep! The deal is all but done. We should have a 114,700 square foot store and a 34,768 square foot outdoor garden area just as soon as Mervyn’s and all the other minor shops on that lot can be demolished and replaced.

Q. So, what happens to the Mervyn’s business?

A. Rumor has it that it may be moving to the Pak ‘n Save location on Capitol at McKee, but it doesn’t seem logical to put a Mervyn’s right across the street from a Target, does it? Pak ‘n Save is closing officially on March 11th. We’ll keep our ear to the ground.

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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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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 3/3/06.

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