New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 36 - Section 2

May 7, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Alum Rock
Music at City Hall

Pala, George
and James Lick


The ARA horse


Brian Nguyen -
spelling whiz



Lake Linda Vista
is no more


YSI Summer
Camps in ARP


Springtime at

Springer Ranch


White Road
Food Lockers


Just what
we need!

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Defensible Space?

Here's how to prepare for the upcoming fire season!

Wildfire Awareness Week May 7-13

By Fire Captain José Guerrero, San Jose Fire Department

I recently assumed the administrative position of Wildland Program Manager for the San Jose Fire Department. Of my eighteen years with the department, fourteen years have been with San Jose Engine Company 2, one of nine Wildland Companies in the city. In those years, I have had an opportunity to respond to many vegetation fires in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Zones. In addition I have had the opportunity to respond outside Santa Clara County, as Engine 2 is one of five strike team engines in San Jose. As I responded to the fires in local and out-of-county areas, the words “Defensible Space” were constantly in my mind.

Structure protection and fire extinguishments are our primary goals once the fire has occurred. As we prepare for this upcoming season, prevention and awareness is our goal.

March and April 2006 brought record rainfall to the area and vegetation growth is expected to exceed last year’s growth. As a homeowner, the following tips will assist in minimizing the fire danger around your home.

• Have a plan and practice it (without one you won't know what to do)

• Become more aware of your surroundings (think fire safety)

• Post your address so that it is clearly visible (on your house, beginning of your driveway, or both)

• Have available a ladder that can reach the roof

• Consider shutters or fire resistant drapes

• Have what we call a “Defensible Space” around your home, which means an area clear of combustibles around your home to a minimum of 100 feet

• Trim any tree branches hanging over your roof

• Space trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart (choose plants that are fire resistant)

• For trees taller than 18 feet, prune the lower branches to at least 6 feet from the ground

• Trim any branches within 10 feet of chimney

• Make sure the chimney has a ½ inch wire mesh cover and cover all vents and openings with ¼ inch wire mesh (to prevent flying embers from entering)

• Keep roof and gutters clear of leaves and needles

• Consider a fire resistant roof when you install or replace your roof, class C or better (this alone may save your home)

• Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet away from all structures

• Locate LPG tanks at least 30 feet from all structures and give the tanks at least 10 feet of clearance

• Use ½ inch fire resistant mesh screen under porches, decks, house, and floor areas (keep weeds and grass from growing under them)

• Identify at least two exit routes from your house and neighborhood (try to travel away from the fire's path)

• If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Firefighters commonly use the following quick method to help determine whether a home is defendable under fire conditions when fire resources are sometimes limited. Firefighters ask themselves these questions:

C- Clearance

Does the home have a minimum of 100 feet clearance?

Is there enough clearance to successfully defend this home?

R- Roof

Is the roof type combustible?

Are there tree branches hanging over the roof?

A- Access

Is there safe access for the fire engine and its personnel?

Are there tree branches impeding access to this home with our fire engine?

F- Fuel

What kind of fuel is there around the home and how will it react under fire conditions?

Is the fuel going to burn hot and quick?

T- Topography

Is the home located with slopes greater than 30 degrees?

Can firefighters safely extend hose lines around the home taking in consideration the slope?

Will the fuel begin to pre-heat as a result of the slope around the home?

The previous are just a few questions firefighters consider when resources are limited. In the Wildland Fire Season that begins in May and lasts until approximately October, for vegetation fires within the WUI Zones, we respond with two engines and one Battalion Chief. Firefighters recognize the importance in delivering as many resources as early in the fire as possible to minimize its potential of damaging property and threatening lives.

Your local fire station has literature on these items and other issues concerning wildland areas. Please feel free to visit your fire stations to learn more about becoming fire safe. Or click here for the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council 20-page guide for homeowners, Living With Fire in Santa Clara County. It provides more detail on making a Defensible Space around your home and recommended fire resistant plants as well as other useful information. Note: This guide still has the older 30 foot minimum for Defensible Space, rather than the San Jose Fire Department recommendation for 100 feet above, but you can adapt this information for your local fire agency recommendations or requirements.

Captain José Guerrero
Wildland Officer
San Jose Fire Department

Click here for the San Jose Fire Department Web site. Click here to read more about Captain Guerrero in the March NNV.

NNV Note: Governor Schwarzenegger has declared that May 7-13 will be Wildfire Awareness Week. This annual outreach campaign is designed to educate residents throughout California about the upcoming Wildfire Season and what they can do to prevent wildland fires around their homes.

Wildfire Awareness Week is sponsored annually by the California Fire Safe Council, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) and, locally, by the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council.

It has been another wet winter in Santa Clara County. This could mean high fire danger in our Wildland Urban Interface areas due to an above-average growth of brush, grasses and other plants – which could become hazardous fuel once the hot summer months descend upon us.

Captain Guerrero’s article above was first published in the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

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Alum Rock Little League Season Debuts

One dry day for annual hoopla

ARLL now includes girls’ softball

By Rich Tayor, President, Alum Rock Little League

The weather cooperated on April 1st, allowing Alum Rock Little Leaguers to kick off their baseball and softball seasons with Opening Day ceremonies. Alum Rock Little League has been providing baseball activities for the community's youth since 1952. Many of the parents and volunteers played little league baseball here as kids.

Festivities began with all the teams parading through the neighborhood around Painter Elementary School, home of the little league complex. The players and coaches were accompanied in the parade by San Jose Police and Fire department vehicles, and the San Jose Saberkittens cheerleaders.

Randy Lira, a local DJ and little league volunteer, emceed the event, announcing each team as they ran onto the field. For the first time, ARLL is supporting a girls' softball program. The girls' teams added a lot of color and enthusiasm to the festivities. Randy gave special acknowledgement for all of the Alum Rock neighborhood businesses that support the league with their contributions.

Local resident Paul Johnson was on hand for the activities. Paul has been volunteering as an umpire since the league's inception in 1952. He has umpired over 2000 games in his long career. Paul still comes out to enjoy watching the kids play ball and continues to help wherever he can.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Fabian Espinoza, the youngest player in the league, and by Councilwoman Nora Campos who was in attendance for the festivities. The ceremonies were followed by a full day of baseball games for all age divisions. Since that day, the rain has made it difficult to get games in, but the season is still young and warm dry days are just around the corner, we hope!

As president of the league, I cordially invite you to come and watch our local kids play ball. Our complex is located on Patt Avenue, on the grounds of Painter Elementary School. The games are all held at Painter Elementary except for our Juniors, who play at San Jose High. The games at Painter start at 5:30 PM on weekdays. On Saturdays, games are at 9:00 AM, 11:30 AM, and 2:00 PM. Our season runs from April 1 through mid-June. Games are held Monday through Thursday evenings and all day on Saturdays. Post season championship games and all star tournaments begin on June 18 and run through July. If you have any questions, please call me at 259-1627.

Click here for photos.

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Win-Win for KIPP Heartwood Academy and LUCHA School

Both will move from shared campuses to Grandin Miller site

In most cases, the question of “surplus” parcels in the Alum Rock School District remains up in the air. One piece, however, seems to have been resolved in a very propitious way.

On the list of underused properties which the district could sell, lease or recycle was the site of Grandin Miller School near King and Story Roads. Several entities wanted it. The City proposed buying or leasing it for housing and retail. Non-profits wanted it to expand their programs to East San Jose. NNV readers may remember that various stakeholders counseled the ARUESD board to “go slow!” and “do not sell!”

Fortunately, the board of trustees has taken a very measured approach which has allowed a three-way marriage involving Miller School and two small schools in the district, KIPP Heartwood Academy and LUCHA. KIPP, which has been located on the campus of Lee Mathson Middle School, and LUCHA, which has shared space at Arbuckle Elementary School, were both ready for new space as they expand to meet the needs of an additional grade each year.

KIPP Heartwood Principal, Sebha Zhumkhawala and her assistant Aylin Bell were truly ecstatic at the news – even though it means pulling up stakes and moving their middle-schoolers - lock, stock and pencils – to an old elementary school. LUCHA (which will eventually grow to include K-4) will mesh perfectly with grades 5 - 8 at KIPP. Referring to LUCHA’s principal, Ms. Zhumkhawala told the Board of Trustees, “Mr. Smith and I are very excited to work together.”

There will be some kinks to be worked out. KIPP’s big kids will need P.E. facilities which are not provided in elementary schools (think: P.E. lockers and dressing rooms, for example). Resourceful Ms. Z. has no qualms about making it work.

Meanwhile, back at Mathson Middle and Arbuckle Elementary, you can bet that the administrators are cheering the board’s unanimous decision. They will no longer have to contend with the challenge of having two disparate student bodies sharing schools meant for just one. Who else was cheering were the members of the audience at the school board meeting when this decision was made. A no-hands-down “win-win” for Alum Rock schools.

Click here for a photo.

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

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

at 225 North Jackson Avenue now offers Cancer Support Groups in
English, Spanish and Vietnamese for patients, families and caregivers.
Call 1 (888) RMC-8881 (English or Spanish) or 1 (888) RMC-8811 (Vietnamese).


NNV Briefs

bulletSpringtime Haiku by Alum Rock Park Ranger Roger Abe
bulletFarmers’ Market Still On Tap for Lick High School Parking Lot - Mid-June start date
bulletRegional Opens New Center for Advanced Imaging by Victoria A. Emmons
bulletCelebrating Local Hero Cesar Chavez - Eastside kids march and rally
bulletAirport Looks for Community Input - How would you spend $200K curfew fines?
bulletJim McEntee Legacy Art Project from County Supervisor Pete McHugh
bulletRunning the Boston Marathon on Behalf of Two Others by Kate Gates
bulletToney New Book Store at Eastridge Mall - Barnes & Noble Moves In!
bulletLa Boheme for Little Kids at Chavez School? With Opera San Jose – it’s elementary!
bulletEastside Youngsters Present City Hall Rotunda Concert - Three bands and a choir
bulletEast Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update
bulletOn the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue - Horse now completely blind
bulletNew Parking Plan for Alum Rock Village - Lick lot available after 3:00 PM without permit
bulletMajor Financial Institution "Invests" in Alum Rock - Washington Mutual opens branch
bulletSpelling Whiz Brian Nguyen - D.C. Bound! by Supt. Ken Van Meter, Milpitas Christian Schools
bulletHubbard Eagles Learn On the Run by Doug Paganelli, Hubbard Administrator
bulletEast Alta Vista Crime Story Moral: Make sure your home looks occupied; Be a good neighbor
bulletLake Linda Vista - Wild, wet winter, but the pond’s no more on Kirk Avenue
bulletYouth Science Institute Summer Camps in Alum Rock Park
bulletWhat Do You Know About the Alum Rock Railroads? by Alum Rock Park Ranger Roger Abe
bulletLet’s Protect Our Creek! Join the preservation effort by Alum Rock Park Ranger Roger Abe

Springtime Haiku

By Alum Rock Park Ranger Roger Abe

you know, when I get down
I get down--

a feathery touch
loose threads in the towel
hurry, fiddleheads!

the ghost of a kite--
the lingering taste of sugar

one eye, six whiskers
one eye, three whiskers--this Spring

the fresh paint hides
stains of old sunshine
stains of old Easters

eddies in the air--
a crooked, red willow root
conducts spring runoff

the egg under the chicken
is warm

the cat's ear
shepherd's purse

shush, mourning dove
it is only the night passing
tranquility, hoo-hooo

locking the restroom
I replace the baby bird
on the ground outside

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Farmers’ Market Still On Tap for Lick High School Parking Lot

Mid-June start date planned for Alum Rock Village Farmers’ Market

Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association Director, John Silveira, attended the April meeting of the Alum Rock Village Business Association to explain the progress of our neighborhood’s soon-to-be-realized shopping dream.

To the delight of the members of ARVBA, John reported that all the proper forms had been filled out and filed by their April 13th meeting. John was in the process of finalizing an appointment with the City Planning Department which, it seems, holds the key to such developments.

In Lick High School’s tidy, renovated parking lot, John foresees thirty-or-so vendors selling their home-grown produce, an artisanal bakery (perhaps something like Beckmann’s) and booths or tables representing the merchants of Alum Rock Village. All of the fruits, nuts and vegetables will be grown in our part of California and we can expect luscious tree-ripened goodies at some of the most reasonable prices around.

Our miserable spring weather will probably create a negative impact on the quality of “stone fruits” available early in this farmers’ market season. As the summer wears on, however, later produce will not be affected. We’ll all have to be brave and tolerant of some less-than-beautiful farm products until the impact of Spring’s record rains, sleet, hail and snow wear off.

The market will be held every Sunday through Fall. Watch NNV for hours. The market and parking will be free to the public. Rejoice!

Click here for photos.  Click here to track the progress on the permits and to submit your comments on this project (click on "Get details" and then on "Submit Comments").

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Regional Opens New Center for Advanced Imaging

Provides greater convenience for outpatient diagnostic care

By Victoria A. Emmons, VP Public Affairs & Marketing

Getting a mammogram just got easier. Regional Medical Center of San Jose recently opened a new outpatient imaging center located near the hospital campus. The Center for Advanced Imaging, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Regional Medical Center of San Jose, is now scheduling outpatient diagnostic imaging tests at its new site, in close proximity to the main hospital campus.

“We are excited to be offering this expanded outpatient service in a more convenient location and for longer hours than previously available,” said Rani Kaur, director of the new Center.

Kaur was on hand to greet visitors at an April 4 open house at the Center. Physicians, office staff, patients, volunteers, elected officials, hospital employees, media and other guests wandered through the array of freshly-painted and decorated rooms filled with state-of-the-art imaging equipment. The hospital’s Nutritional Services Department provided a sumptuous buffet, complete with souvenir goblet.

The facility is located at 2375 Montpelier Drive, Suite 10, only one-half block from the Regional Medical Center of San Jose campus on Jackson Avenue. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8 am to 7 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to 12:30 pm by calling (408) 926-6235.

The new Center will offer diagnostic examinations for:

• Mammography

• Ultrasound

• General X-Ray

For more information, call Regional HealthSource at 1 (888) RMC-8881 (English/Spanish) or 1 (888) RMC-8811 (Vietnamese).

Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a full-service, acute-care hospital and an affiliate of HCA (NYSE:HCA), the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, composed of approximately 180 hospitals and 91 outpatient centers in 23 states, England and Switzerland.

Click here for photos of the Imaging Center Opening.

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Celebrating Local Hero Cesar Chavez

Eastside kids march and rally

Chavez’ “Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle”

March 30th was gray and glowering as more than 1,000 elementary and middle school children marched their way to Cesar Chavez Elementary School to celebrate the life of the man who gave his name to the school - labor leader and activist Cesar E. Chavez.

The children walked in undulating queues via King and Story Roads from their respective schools to Chavez School’s front yard where they assembled for an exhilarating rally. NNV accompanied the children from Mildred Goss Elementary School along with ARUESD trustee, Tanya Freudenberger. Passing motorists honked their horns and shouted in appreciation when they noticed the focus of the march. “Si se puede!” hollered the kids.

Many speakers addressed the sea of children seated before the dais. The common themes, “work hard to honor the memory of East San Jose hero, Cesar Chavez” and “Si se Puede!” (Yes, we can!) were integrated throughout the speakers’ words. Because the rally was held during a week of national angst over immigration policies, some speakers exhorted the children to go home and tell their parents to fight hard for immigrant rights.

Tiny tots in large sombreros took the stage, medium size kids recited “pieces” learned by heart, big kids performed Aztec dances and mariachi music. The mood was festive despite the threatening sky.

The “Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle,” written by Cesar Chavez himself, was read in both English and Spanish. The touching words are as follows:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.

Grant me the courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.


Click here for photos of the march and rally.

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Airport Looks for Community Input

How would you spend $200K curfew fines?

In October 2003, Mineta San José International Airport (SJC), with the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), revised the curfew portion of its noise control program from a weight-based curfew to a noise-based curfew. The revised noise control program also included enforcement provisions where operators are fined $2,500 for every curfew intrusion. To date, the Airport Curfew Fund has collected $202,500.

As a part of SJC’s Good Neighbor Policy, the Airport is inviting the local community to submit their recommendations for the use of these funds. The following criteria should be included within all proposed recommendations. The Airport Curfew Fund Program(s) should:

• Offer some benefit to the community

• Be related to operations at the Airport

• Enhance the interaction of the Airport with the community

• Enhance the relationship between neighbors and the Airport

(Under Federal Law, the Airport Curfew Funds may be used only for expenditures that are directly and substantially related to the operation of the Airport.)

Ultimately, the Airport Curfew Fund Program(s) should benefit the surrounding communities, enhance Airport/community relations, and support responsiveness on Airport issues of community interest.

To submit your recommendation, please fill out the official “Airport Curfew Fund Program” form. The form, along with submission instructions, can be found on the Airport’s website, Submissions are due May 15, 2006.

Selected proposals that meet the criteria and Federal Law requirements will be presented to the San José Airport Commission for review at their June 5, 2006, meeting and then go before San José City Council for final approval in August 2006. For more information, please call 408-501-0979 or email

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Human Relations Breakfast Kicks Off Jim McEntee Legacy Art Project

Civic Center Plaza art will memorialize East Hills hero

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

On March 30th, the County’s Office of Human Relations held its 34th annual breakfast award ceremony. During the ceremony, the County recognized fourteen exceptional County residents who dedicate their time working tirelessly on both peace building and non-violence efforts. The annual breakfast also served as the official kick-off for the James P. McEntee, Sr. Civic Center Plaza Public Art Project, led by members of the Jim McEntee Sr. Legacy Committee. The Committee believed this event would be an appropriate time to kick off this effort. Mr. McEntee served the County for over 27 years as the Director of the Office of Human Relations and those present at the breakfast were Jim’s past friends and colleagues who are committed to the community and always prepared to make positive changes.

The Office of Human Relations’ annual award ceremony gives each County Supervisor the opportunity to thank residents from our Districts who help others improve their lives. This year, I was honored to present the award to Armina Husic, the Director of the Center for the Survivors of Torture based at the Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI). As a former refugee, Ms. Husic is uniquely qualified for this position and has assisted hundreds of survivors of political torture in our County. She is a passionate advocate for victims, especially of severe trauma, and advocates for psychological and social service support for all torture victims. I commend Ms. Husic for her dedication and I believe her good work affects not only past victims, but also their families, children and all those that come into contact with them.

Although the Jim McEntee Art Project was formally introduced at the breakfast, the Jim McEntee Legacy Project began in June 2005 when my colleagues and I voted to re-name the Civic Center Plaza after him. The Board, with the public’s input, chose the County’s Plaza because Jim and others used it as a gathering place for all members of our community. The Art Project is the second phase of the Legacy Project that involves installing a public art memorial on the Plaza that will evoke memories of Jim and his life-long devotion to peace. The Committee plans to have the groundbreaking of this art memorial on or near Jim’s birthday in 2008.

The Legacy Committee has commissioned Carlos Perez, a well-known San Jose artist to be the Art Project’s creator. In the spirit of Jim’s own inclusive ways, the Committee held three focus groups to have the community be a part of the planning process. The Committee believes that input from those that have worked closely with Jim will help identify potential themes for the art memorial. Visit for more information about the Public Art Project.

As Director of the County’s Office of Human Relations, Jim worked closely with many individuals and groups resolving various types of disputes and promoting peace. The Legacy Committee hopes that an art memorial for Jim will promote the desire in others to help those in need and work toward peace. I highly encourage all residents to take part in the process of creating the public art memorial. Together we can ensure that the art project is a true reflection of a great man, and one that will honor his contributions and the legacy he left behind.

Pete McHugh
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County

NNV Note: Click here for a report on one of the focus group meetings in the Saint John Vianney newsletter.

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Running the Boston Marathon on Behalf of Two Others

Shaved ½ hour off previous attempt

By Kate Gates

Running in this year’s Boston Marathon as a member of the Run for Research team was a great experience. The team consists of 250 runners from all over the country and runs and raises money for the American Liver Foundation. Team members, the patients with liver disease who were matched with the runners and their families met for a team dinner two days before the marathon. We listened to inspirational stories about the many challenges people with liver disease face in their lives. It helped us to gain a greater appreciation of our health and helped us to come together as a team.

On the day of the marathon the Run for Research team met for breakfast at 7 AM. After breakfast and inspiring words from the team directors and the coaches, the team boarded buses for Hopkinton. Runners spend three to four hours in Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton waiting for the start of the race. It is a staging area that offers runners a place to stretch and relax under one of the many tents. It was great to talk with runners from different areas of the country and the world before the start of the race.

The marathon starts at noon and this year the Boston Athletic Association instituted a new change to a two wave start. The runners started the marathon in two waves with the first wave starting at noon and the second wave starting at 12:30. This change was made to help streamline the start procedure and cut down on congestion. Runners are placed in corrals prior to the start of the race according to their assigned number. After the starting gun is fired it takes 10 to 15 minutes for each wave of 10,000 runners to cross the start line.

In this year’s marathon, I ran on behalf of two individuals. Angus. a 20 month old boy born with biliary atresia and Ashlyn Dyer, a 27 year old runner who recently lost her life after a hit-and-run accident in the Presidio in early March.

Angus has suffered through the many problems and complications associated with biliary atresia, a rare and life threatening disease that affects the ducts of the liver. He underwent a liver transplant in April 2005. The transplant saved his life. Post transplant, Angus has suffered through many medical complications. He has had many procedures, many emergency room visits and numerous hospitalizations. At one point last December, he underwent general anesthesia six times in three weeks! In the past few weeks, Angus's condition has improved. He is doing much better and is anxiously waiting the arrival of a new sibling who is due in late April.

Ashlyn Dyer, 27, was hit by a vehicle while jogging in the early morning of March 2nd in the Presidio. She was training for the LA Marathon. I was also training for the LA Marathon and out running on the roads in the Hillcrest neighborhood at the same time that Ashlyn was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Police feel that there is no question that the driver knew that Ashlyn was hit. The driver did not stop or call 911. Fifteen minutes elapsed between the time she was struck and the time she was found by a park ranger. During that time she suffered irreversible injury to the brain caused by lack of oxygen. If the driver who struck Ashlyn had called 911 at the time of the accident, doctors feel that she would be alive today. Police have been unable to determine the identity of the individual who caused the accident. Ashlyn was removed from life support on March 12th and her organs were donated to give others life. Ashlyn gave the gift of life to others. The life of Angus, my patient match, was saved by an organ transplant. I placed Ashlyn's and Angus's pictures side by side on the back of my running shirt. “New Neighborhood Voice” was printed just above the two pictures.

The weather conditions for this year’s Boston Marathon were close to perfect. The crowds were energizing and very supportive. Team members would give words of support as they passed each other along the marathon route. The team had a very large cheering section organized outside of Newton Wellsley Hospital at Mile 16. Members of the cheering section would shout out our names and blow orange whistles as we passed them. Throughout the entire 26 miles, we heard many very enthusiastic shouts of encouragement from people of all ages along the route. I finished the race in five hours, four minutes, 36 seconds - over a half hour faster than last year.

Click here for photos of Kate before she left for Boston.

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Toney New Book Store at Eastridge Mall

Barnes & Noble Moves In!

We book lovers can quit whining that we don’t have a “real” book store on the East Side. A completely wonderful and beautiful full-size B&N opened its doors at Eastridge in March and is just waiting for your business. You’ll find a ubiquitous (but new and shiny) coffee shop (Starbucks) inside the book store. Couldn’t be one-upped by the Cruz/Alum Rock Library, now could we?

The entrance to the glossy new store is on the mall’s south side (opposite from the Reid-Hillview Airport side) and, as usual at Eastridge, there is lots and lots of free-and-up-close parking.

A Bed Bath & Beyond shop is being built at the moment and will be B&N’s next door neighbor soon. Eastridge Mall is looking better every day. Its 2005 renovation is holding up beautifully. Pretty soon we won’t have an excuse not to visit our stepchild of a mall! Now if they could just get our See’s Candies Shop back, hey?

Click here for photos.

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La Boheme for Little Kids at Chavez School?

With Opera San Jose – it’s elementary!

Every student at Cesar Chavez Elementary School now knows what an opera is – thanks to six singers, one piano accompanist and one announcer from Opera San Jose!

Twice on the morning of April 11th, the Chavez cafi-torium was filled to capacity – first with the big kids, then with the children of the lower grades. The announcer first schmoozed the students a bit, explaining what they could expect to see and hear during the following 35 minutes. Proper audience decorum was explained, of course.

The opera stars – four handsome gents and two ravishing ladies – were all costumed in 19th century period garb befitting the story they enacted, Puccini’s La Boheme. The intriguing (and sad) tale of struggling young artists was made easily understandable by the very broad gestures of the singers – and of course it was in English. The singers and their wiseacre “asides” had the kids feeling as though they were always “in” on an inside joke. It didn’t escape anyone, however, that one of the ladies, dear cough-racked Mimi, “died” on the stage – the faces of the children were anguished.

The singing was outstanding! Among the audience members sat Opera San Jose President, Irene Dalis. She was not to be disappointed. She and the students heard rumbling stentorian basses, a rich baritone, a poignant tenor and the beautiful women’s soprano tones.

The littlest kids weren’t able to quite exercise adult decorum, but it’s a pretty safe bet that all the children of Cesar Chavez School went home that day and told their folks that they had seen a real opera at school. All thanks to an outreach program of Opera San Jose which makes such cultural treats affordable!

Click here for photos.

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Eastside Youngsters Present City Hall Rotunda Concert

Three bands and a choir make rotunda reverberate

James Lick High School Music Director Tomoko Nakajima wanted a unique Spring Concert performance venue to demonstrate to her band and choir students just how special they and their music-making talents are. District Five City Councilmember Nora Campos had the answer. How about making music in the beautiful crystalline rotunda of the new City Hall complex? Her staff paved the way for a wonderful event which unfurled on a Wednesday afternoon last month.

Ms. Nakajima invited performances by the band students of the two middle schools which feed into Lick High School - Joseph George and Pala. She prepared the Lick band and choir. Someone, somewhere, placed an order for the sun to pierce a rainy week and the students played and sang their hearts out in brilliant sunshine which illuminated the glass dome.

The middle school bands played first. The enormous energy and enthusiasm of their directors is something to behold. The beyond-live acoustics of the space makes it difficult for musicians to hear themselves and their neighbors playing, but these young people soldiered on heroically. The percussion sections thundered and boomed. “Just like playing Carnegie Hall!” spoofed Pala director Ted Henderson.

The Lick choir sang confidently and well. The young voices were sweet and true.

Ms. Nakajima saved the Lick band for the piece de resistance – and they did not disappoint. Their musicality showed through the reverberations and demonstrated the improvement which a couple more years of maturity brings.

Ms. Nakajima’s beaming smile stroked all the student musicians with her loving appreciation of a job well done. Lick Principal, Bill Rice, proudly pointed out to the middle school performers that they can continue with their music studies right here in their neighborhood high school. And then, everyone was treated to cake in the fabulous dome.

This event was a community collaboration involving several entities making beautiful music together. Not only was Councilmember Campos and District Five instrumental in making arrangements, but the City’s Redevelopment Agency and the Dr. Robert Cruz/Alum Rock Library helped support the event.

Click here for photos.

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East Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update

You’re invited to participate. Want to know more?

You may remember an article in the February NNV which said that the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council had been selected for a federal grant to develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans for Communities at Risk from wildfires in Santa Clara County. Click here to review the article. Work on this grant for the East Foothills area east of San Jose started in April.

Developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan involves identifying fire prone areas and prioritizing appropriate measures, such as limbing trees and removing underbrush, to reduce the wildfire risk. This grant is just for a study project – it does not include any actual work to reduce the risk of fire and will not require any property owners to do anything. The resulting plan will be used to organize work we foothill residents can do ourselves and to apply for future grants for larger projects.

If you would like to be involved in this study, or just know more about it, please contact Allan Thompson at or call (408) 272-7008.

The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council is a non-profit organization whose participants include most of the fire departments in the County as well as local government departments, open space authorities, companies, homeowner associations and individuals. Local matching funding is needed for the federal grant. Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Jose Water Company and some individuals have already contributed to the project. More matching funding is needed and grants and donations are appreciated. Please contact Allan if you’d like to help fund this work or make a tax deductible donation to the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council.

Click here for the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council Web site.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

Horse now completely blind

It finally happened. The poor horse who has bravely tried to see through the obscuring vines growing on his head can no longer see out onto Alum Rock Avenue. For several years, the vine has encroached on his muzzle, growing like a green bridle, miraculously sparing his vision. He was always able to see the traffic going by – first with both eyes then with one. Now he is totally blind. Perhaps all that’s left for him is to dream of the horses and carriages which once plied the bricked slope of Alum Rock Avenue right in front of his hitching post near Mountain View just east of Kirk Avenue.

Click here for photos.

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New Parking Plan for Alum Rock Village
Lick lot available after 3:00 PM without permit

Visitors to Alum Rock Village can now park in the James Lick High School parking lot across the street after school Monday through Friday and all day on weekend days. The lot is fenced and patrolled. Parking is free. Sometimes parking in the Village is scarce. Now we have an alternative which should mean fewer parking tickets for over-extended stays in the one hour slots. If you hadn’t noticed, the pedestrian crossing lights at White Road now flash the time remaining to cross. This should make reluctant crossers more comfortable navigating the busy streets.

Click here for a photo (the sign is under the horses).

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Major Financial Institution "Invests" in Alum Rock

Washington Mutual opens branch at Tierra Encantada

The revitalization of East San José has taken another substantial step forward with the opening of a major financial institution in the Alum Rock corridor. The grand opening of Washington Mutual at Tierra Encantada represents more than just opening the doors to a new bank branch, more importantly it represents opening the doors to reinvestment in the community.

"East San José residents are flexing their economic muscle resulting not only in incredible buying power, but substantial saving power as well," said Councilmember Nora Campos. "The business community and financial institutions like Washington Mutual are recognizing this trend, and are investing their money in the Alum Rock Corridor."

"The reason we chose to introduce Washington Mutual to the Alum Rock area is because we saw a need in the community. As our other area branches serving the community are at their maximum capacity, we know we can successfully meet that need," said Victoria Lira, Branch Manager at Washington Mutual. "We're excited to be involved in a growing area that has shown a lot of activity and effort from the city and community. We're happy to be a part of it."

Recent public and private investments led by Councilmember Campos in the Alum Rock Neighborhood Business District has resulted in many visible improvements attractive to residents and businesses. The Alum Rock Development Strategy calls for a dynamic mixed-use neighborhood with interactive retail in a pedestrian friendly environment.

In 2005, Tierra Encantada became the first transit oriented, mixed use development built in East San José. Built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style, the complex features 93 affordable units for rent, 12 to be built town homes for first-time homebuyers, and 7,200 square feet of retail space. As Tierra Encantada's newest retail partner, Washington Mutual affords residents the financial institution needed to handle all of their banking needs in the area where they live.

Anchored by the Mexican Heritage Plaza to the west and the Alum Rock Village to the east, the Alum Rock Corridor is home to a thriving, vibrant neighborhood business district. The Alum Rock Development Strategy, led by Councilmember Nora Campos and the Redevelopment Agency, is creating an exciting fusion of new mixed-use developments like Tierra Encantada and established, landmark businesses, such as PW Market, Peter's Bakery, and Mark's Hot Dogs.

NNV Note: The architects for the Tierra Encantada project were MBA architects headed by Marvin Bamburg, a founding sponsor of New Neighborhood Voice. The wrought iron gates were designed and fabricated by NNV founding sponsor, Keith Bush. Click here to read more about Tierra Encantada.

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Spelling Whiz Brian Nguyen - D.C. Bound!

Or should we say “spellbound”?

By Ken Van Meter, Superintendent, Milpitas Christian Schools

Eastsider Brian Nguyen has been invited to Washington D.C. to participate in a national-level spelling bee. Brian, currently an 8th grade student at Milpitas Christian School (in San Jose’s Berryessa district) placed second in the state level competition for the Association of Christian Schools International, ACSI. Brian has attended Milpitas Christian since he was in second grade and has been admitted to Bellarmine College Prep for High School. After winning the local competition in January, Brian went to Sacramento on March 23 and was one of the last two participants standing. Only the top two places are invited to the finals in the nation’s capitol in May. In addition to his prowess in spelling, Brian was part of an award-winning team in the Northern California Sim City science fair. We are very proud of Brian and wish him well at the finals.

Click here for a photo.

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Hubbard Eagles Learn On the Run

Big Five and Target help equip dedicated young runners for 10K Race

By Doug Paganelli, Hubbard Administrator

A group of seven devoted teachers and administrators at Hubbard Elementary School began a Running Club for their students. Twelve students were chosen to participate in the tri-weekly practices and the whole club has been training since the beginning of December. In the early practice sessions, most of the club was running less than a mile. Three months later, the entire club ran the San Jose Mercury News 10K on March 26th.

After the first meeting of the Hubbard Running Club, coaches and students met at the Big 5 across from the Eastridge Mall. Big 5 generously donated running shoes for all student club members. With their new shoes on, the club was ready to begin training. Led by Hubbard administrators and teachers Ms. Gingold, Ms. Amutan, Ms. Rennie, Ms. Fedane, Mrs. Sarkes, and Mr. Huerta and myself, the students learned to stretch, breathe, and pace themselves. As they trained together, the club became a team--dedicated to running and building their school spirit.

Hubbard Running Club not only dedicated itself to running after school three days a week, but it also went on a Saturday run in Los Gatos in February. Many of the students’ parents joined the club for the four mile run. The club enjoyed an impromptu breakfast in the parking lot after the run. All members felt that they were well on their way to being able to complete the 10K race.

Already equipped with running shoes, race day loomed near and the club had no uniforms! The Target on King Road kindly donated $250 to the club so that shorts and socks could be purchased. The uniforms were completed with the donation of Hubbard Elementary shirts by Hubbard Elementary School. Hubbard Running Club ran the 10K race and crossed the finish line as a TEAM!!

Click here for photos.

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Crime Story on East Alta Vista

Moral of the story: Make sure your home looks occupied; Be a good neighbor

A neighbor wrote to tell NNV readers a story about burglaries at the house across the street from hers. The property has been for sale and empty for quite awhile. She helped the cops catch the bad guys the SECOND time they tried to break in using a bolt cutter on the LOCKBOX. This was between Xmas and New Years. She called the cops during the bad guys’ suspicious movements and was still on the phone as they were trying to get away. The deputies caught them on the corner of Alum Rock and Brundage, right where she told them their truck would pop out of the neighborhood.

The villains actually admitted to the deputies that they were the prior burglars! They had a police scanner and there were some trading cards (stolen?) in their truck when they were booked. The first time they broke in, they got a bunch of power tools left in the garage (broke a window) on 12/22. The cops indicated that the burglars may have been casing other nearby houses, too, because they looked empty during that Xmas time frame.

And talking about stupidity and gall, some young couple wanted to use that vacant house’s driveway for a Lovers’ Lane. It was a harmless thing, but they were trespassing and the “events” were going on well past midnight. There was no way of knowing whether they might burgle the house too! The sheriff was called; the deputies came out; they let the kids go. Sorta gutsy pulling down into a home’s driveway, isn’t it!?

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Lake Linda Vista

Wild, wet winter, but the pond’s no more on Kirk Avenue

As recently as last winter and spring, there was a long narrow lagoon on Kirk Avenue in front of Linda Vista Elementary School. There was no escaping wading from car to sidewalk without leaving your auto’s tail hanging out in the traffic lanes. Parents were stoic, kids’ feet were wet. NNV called the city and the county to see if anyone would fix the situation. No one would take responsibility. It was another of those city/county blended jurisdiction stories. Somehow someone decided to take responsibility and fix the dad-gum thing last year and the change is miraculous. Can anyone tell us who should be thanked?

Click here for photos.

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Youth Science Institute Summer Camps in Alum Rock Park

Kids’ favorite vacation activity available again - close to home

YSI is accepting applications for its venerable summer camp program in Alum Rock Park. The day camps offer exciting and fun natural science themes suitable for big and little kids – right here in the richness of Alum Rock Park. Prices are very reasonable and scholarships are available.

To register your child(ren), call (408) 356 - 4945 or click here.

Click here for a photo.

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What Do You Know About the Alum Rock Railroads?

By Roger Abe, Park Ranger, Alum Rock Park

Well, if you ask local historians or train buffs, you might get some kind of knowledgeable answer, but most people might just answer, “What? What railroads?” (This, of course, excludes you, dear regular NNV readers who have seen Judy’s Alum Rock Park History Series.) But don’t you think there should be something right in the park to tell the story?

You would think people who visit Alum Rock Park would be curious about the old elevated roadbed abutments decorating the hillsides as you meander up Penitencia Creek Road. There have been previous incarnations of interpretive panels in the park that have provided glimpses into the meaning of these structures, but unfortunately, there are no historical markers about them in place now. At the moment, there is nothing onsite to explain how railroads impacted local culture, politics, economic development and all the related drama surrounding railroads. 25 cent fares, train crashes, saloons, dance halls, hotels, restaurants, bathhouses, zoos, the Natatorium, business scandals, a world-wide popular spa destination, crowded park use, bankruptcies--those abutments may no longer carry “the Iron Horse” or “the Big Red Cars” but they and their cohort, The Trestle, (all about 96 years old) still represent an era of over thirty years during which railed mass transit served both the park and the neighborhoods on this side of town.

There are few now who can remember those times. If you would like to help commemorate the Alum Rock Railroads, please contact Roger Abe at Alum Rock Park at 259-5477 or The park is seeking historical photos or information, volunteers, partners or sponsors to create historical markers to tell some of the stories of the Alum Rock Railroads - another grand, but nearly forgotten part of our community heritage.

Click here for old postcards of the Alum Rock Park railroads.

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Let’s Protect Our Creek!

Enjoy new benches. Join the preservation effort.

By Roger Abe, Park Ranger, Alum Rock Park

I grew up near Los Gatos and enjoyed having a creek where I could fish and play. Of course, that was when a lot of Santa Clara County was still rural and there were far fewer residents. Now things are different. Santa Clara County is now home to almost 1.8 million people. Urban sprawl has caused negative impacts on the environment. Our local creeks and waterways are not as healthy and beautiful as they were when I played in them as a kid. Fortunately, people have realized that things needed to change and our creeks needed to be protected. Laws have been passed to protect the environment and various species of plants and animals have received special designations to protect them from further harm.

The Upper Penitencia Creek, which flows through Alum Rock Park, is rare for this county in its qualities of stream flow, temperature, species it supports, etc. We’re finding out, more and more, it’s really special. We need to keep it that way for our local heritage and neighborhood pride, and for mandated environmental concerns. Upper Penitencia Creek has been identified as one of the more healthy creeks in the county. It is home to many different types of plants and animals. Species of special concern include steelhead trout and California red-legged frogs. Both of these are listed as Federal Threatened Species.

In an effort to protect OUR creek, how we manage and how we use the creek in Alum Rock Park will be changing. We are implementing various strategies to protect Penitencia Creek from human impacts. Places where park visitors have been used to playing in the creek will now be fenced and posted with signs saying “Do Not Enter.” I’m sure a lot of you may have noticed how some spots in the summer had become virtual wading pools with accompanying litter, siltation and habitat degradation. These activities, if allowed to continue, will lead to further declines in the populations of the wildlife that make Alum Rock Park the special place that it is.

New fences and benches that have sprung up around the Quail Hollow bridge and the Vistor Center pedestrian bridge are due to the efforts of Eagle Scout Candidates Marcus Olsen, Jonathan Paul, Owen Salfen, Jr., Justin Drew, Kenneth Love Villar and their industrious helpers, and West Valley Park Management Intern, James Oliveri. We also must thank our friend and neighbor, Arya Pathria (you may know him as The Laughing Man), for sponsoring projects, as well as the generous local merchants who provided donations and discounts on materials. These added structures are meant to protect wildlife habitat and newly planted native plants. They are also meant to protect people from precarious perches. Since rocks in the streambed are now out of bounds, please take advantage of the new benches for restful spots to take in the creek atmosphere or open views of Eagle Rock.

This creek and this park are both special. Everyone says so. Please help us to keep it a special place of beauty and an unspoiled resource.

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You Dig It?

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

May Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

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

Tree Squirrels: There are four species of tree squirrels in Santa Clara County, two native (Western Gray and Douglas') and two introduced. All four can be pests but the law allows only trapping of the two introduced species. They are the Eastern Gray Squirrel and the Eastern Fox Squirrel, also known as Fox Squirrel. Photos of these animals may be found at The Eastern Gray also has a fully black form. Poisoning and shooting are not allowed in this county. Excluding the pests can work if you are diligent. Fruit trees can be protected by pruning to keep the tree small enough to cover with bird netting, small plants can be covered with wire mesh and openings into buildings can be blocked with hardware cloth or sheet metal screening. Exclusion only works if there is sufficient food elsewhere so the squirrel doesn't have to work hard to find it. Further information on trapping can be found at

Powdery Mildew: This fungus produces a white powdery appearance on leaves and sometimes other green plant parts. It can be found on roses, dahlias, chrysanthemums, peas, chard, and squash. Some rose varieties are so susceptible that you should think about 'root pruning' (dig it up). An effective non-toxic spray can be made with baking soda. To each gallon of water add 2-1/2 tablespoons of horticultural oil and four teaspoons of baking soda and mix well. Use a fine sprayer and apply to affected plants. This can also help prevent black spot on roses and some foliar vegetable diseases. Some plants may show some sensitivity. See the Pest Note on Powdery Mildew at for more information and control suggestions.

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

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

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

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Ecological landscaping services: design/consulting, renovation, maintenance

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


Local Natives for San Jose Gardens

"My favorite locally native plants"

By Arvind Kumar

My home garden is approaching the fifth anniversary of installation, but it doesn’t really look that old. The toyon is newly planted, the frying pans are in their second season, the coyote mint is in its third season, and so on. And yes, some plants – like the oaks and the elderberry – have been in the ground for the full five years.

The garden has changed and evolved along with my thinking. I originally wanted a showy native garden, and that’s what the landscape designer gave me: plants from all over California, selected to maximize color and beauty through the seasons.

But before the garden was planted, I came across Judith Lowry’s superb book, Gardening With a Wild Heart, and that made me look at my garden in a whole new way. The garden was not merely to please my aesthetic sense; for the butterflies and birds and other critters, it was their habitat, their “home”: their lives depended on it. My garden’s purpose was not only to look good (to please me and the neighbors and keep the property value up) but also to support life.

That meant no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or weed-and-feed - no chemicals of any kind. These chemicals are touted as harmless to humans, but they are devastating to small critters. I must admit that giving up the convenience of Roundup was not easy, but when I read about its toxicity to amphibians, I realized what it had done in my own yard. Toads used to show up in my garden every winter, but after a large application of Roundup (to remove Bermuda grass), they disappeared without a trace.

The goal of creating habitat led me to locally native plants, plants that once grew right here in San Jose, plants which have coevolved with local fauna in relationships of mutual benefit. A consultation with Judith Lowry got me started on a path of discovery and learning that still continues.

The Santa Clara valley floor, so thoroughly urbanized today, was once a vast grassland studded with valley oaks. Spring displays of wildflowers like poppies, lupines, and goldfields must have been spectacular. It is fascinating to research what grew here once, and try to grow it in the garden in such a way that it is pleasing both to humans and to critters.

My garden has changed in other ways, too. As the plants have matured, problems with the original design have become more apparent. When shrubs reach their mature size, it becomes easy to spot the poorly placed ones. In the backyard, any shrub over 2’ tall looks better next to the fence rather than the middle of the garden. We have had to reposition some and remove some.

Then there is the issue of what the plants want. The Douglas iris was unhappy in the sunny frontyard, but multiplying merrily in the shady backyard. The pink-flowering currant didn’t appreciate full sun either: out of three planted, the one that survived is in the shade of the neighbor’s flowering plum. What a performer it is: this winter it looked ravishing with its pendant pink umbels.

The yarrow has a mind of its own: it volunteers here and there, grows slowly to form a little colony, and has a clear preference for sun. As the elderberry has grown, the yarrow below it has been displaced by mugwort which thrives in the deep shade.

The table lists my favorite locally native plants, their characteristics, and cultural requirements. If you are looking to introduce something new to your garden, I encourage you to try something from this list. And when the plant is established in your garden, show it off to your neighbors and friends as a local native. Every garden should have one.

If you are lucky enough to have a whole new garden to plant, you may find this list complete enough to populate the entire garden. It includes 5 trees, 3 vines, 6 shrubs, 4 grasses, 13 perennials, 8 bulbs, and 13 wildflowers, all locally native. I’ve listed only those plants which are easy to grow and care for, and which have proved their credentials under my brown thumb over the last five years.

Click here for Arvind's table of his favorite locally native plants, their characteristics, and cultural requirements.

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Spring at Springers’ Ranch

Dedicated stewardship of “viewshed” property

In what might become a springtime ritual, a group of diehard lovers-of-the-outdoors gathered for the second year at Springer Ranch on Clayton Road on an April Sunday.

The visitors were from various walks of life, but all had an appreciation of Scott and Barbara Springer’s sensitive stewardship of their nearly pristine hillside acreage on Clayton Road. The Springers are attempting to discourage non-native invaders and filling the gaps with California native plants. They are creating an environment friendly to the birds and insects which live in symbiosis with the plants which existed here before farmers and casual gardeners diluted and obscured the local flora.

Barbara takes advantage of many opportunities to find rare native plants, bulbs and seeds. She propagates new trees and shrubs by the score. She and Scott have planted a stand of native oaks which, one day it’s hoped, will be a beautiful grove visible from the valley floor. They’ve seeded poppies and clarkia. Barbara has built nest boxes to attract nesting California bluebirds.

A creek zigzags through the ranch creating havoc in the winter – trickling lazily in the dry months. During the April pilgrimage, Youth Science Institute Animal Curator DJ Johnson found a large jawbone washed out of the creek bank by recent storms. Could it be a boar, deer or cow? Decidedly the remains of a cow, she reported after a bit of research.

The little group stopped in the Springers’ barn to gaze at a large cocoon in a small clear-sided box. It was as though these adults had permission to become children again, but, of course, with the advantage of meeting Mother Nature on a peer basis. With Barbara and Scott’s carefully prepared invitation, Mother Nature has taken up residence at Springer Ranch.

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.


White Road Food Lockers

A little piece of Alum Rock history

“Gone but certainly not forgotten”

By Lori Karadunis Frost

The White Road Food Lockers started in the 1940’s and continued running until September 2001. John and Myrtle Karadunis owned and operated the storage plant for over 40 years until their death. Myrtle died in 1969 and John in 1978. Son and daughter in-law Edward and Linda Karadunis continued keeping it open.

It began when John and Myrtle started storing frozen goods for individuals and small businesses. At that time no one had home freezers.

They would also buy whole beef, pork and lamb, butcher the meat and sell it cut and wrapped. Their customers were able to rent a locker to store their goods and come back and get what they needed weekly, etc. They also had a cold storage box to hang meat. Hunters from all over would bring in their game (deer, elk, antelope and wild boar). Fishermen would bring their sturgeon, salmon, trout and halibut and have it cut and wrapped. Some local ranchers would bring in a raised animal after slaughter. Depending on the type of animal, some meats would be aged by hanging in cold storage for several days at a time. Some folks would have the Karadunises butcher the animal and wrap the meat. Others might take it home and do it themselves then bring it back to put in the locker (freezer).

Over the years the walk-in freezer and walk-in refrigerator would be used for many events. Local organizations would store their food for fundraising events. Local families would freeze their fruits, vegetables, nuts and baked goods. This way they could have their summer corn crop or blackberries anytime during the year. It was a good place to keep the goods that you would find on sale at the local markets by keeping them frozen for a few months at a time.

We have many special memories of people coming in with their goods. Hunters would have to also bring in the horns/head of the animal that would be checked by the Fish and Game Warden. The wild animals would have to be tagged (Fish and Game regulated). One woman stored large quantities of sweet potato pies for her church bazaar every year. Families trying to cater for their reunions used the lockers. The occasional wedding cake or flowers found their way there.

We want to thank all who came in with all their years of business. We had customers from all walks of life: farmers, doctors, chiropractors, judges, salesmen, plumbers, carpenters, high tech and aerospace engineers.

This property located at 412 North White Road was torn down and redeveloped in November 2001. Now the Terra Mina Apartments (157 apartments) are here. Some of the other neighboring homes were also bought to make this new development.

John and Myrtle also raised silver foxes and sold the fur back in the early 1930’s. They had one son, my dad Edward, born in 1936. They had several walnut trees, almond trees and marionberry bushes on the property. I remember having black and purple hands as a young child from picking the berries and husking the walnuts.

My father, Edward Karadunis, married Linda Howe in August 1958. They had three children Dean, Lori and Corine. We grew up across the street on White Road from my grandparents. We have many special memories of helping cut and wrap meat to be quick frozen for customers and making hamburger and sausages with the grinder. We remember Grandpa’s BBQ steaks, cooked with oak. We remember playing in the tree house. There were several sheds on the property we could make into forts. There was a motorcycle and bicycle race track in the back. As we got older, my brother put in a bucking barrel and a fire pit so we could have fun parties with friends. When you were in the backyard away from the road you felt like you were somewhere out in the country. This lot, along with the several neighboring lots, gave us some wide open space. We had a great view of the foothills.

On this property there were three small homes. All of us kids lived there one time or another after we married.

If you have any stories to share with us send them to: and

Click here for photos.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletIs it true that a Trader Joe’s is going in next door to the new Costco in North San Jose?
bulletWhy didn’t Rafiki’s go after the coffee shop opportunity in the Cruz/Alum Rock Library?
bulletHow is the campaign to get a Peet’s Coffee in the Rafiki’s location coming along?
bulletWhy don’t we try to get Jamba Juice to move into Rafiki’s old space?
bulletWhy has the city allowed the promised “La Bodega” site to become such a blight?
bulletIs it true that mail thieves robbed the mailboxes on Highland Drive again in April?

Q. Is the rumor true that a Trader Joe’s is going to go in next door to the new Costco in North San Jose?

A. Alas, no. We asked District 4 Councilmember Chuck Reed’s Chief of Staff, Armando Gomez, if this “answer to a community’s prayer” could possibly be true. He was totally sympathetic to our desire for a TJ’s within hailing distance, but said that the Trader Joe’s folks claim that East San Jose and Berryessa don’t offer the right “demographics” to make a go of a store here. This is the same answer we got when we asked if the new lineup of stores at the renovated Eastridge Mall could include a Trader Joe’s. Both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have been actively courted according to Mr. Gomez. Heaven only knows what we have to do to show these desirable stores that we’re here, we like to buy trendy food and we have $$$ to spend!

Q. Why didn’t Rafiki’s go after the coffee shop opportunity in the Cruz/Alum Rock Library?

A. At one point they thought they would expand into the library. As a matter of fact, owner Luke Violante attended early library planning meetings to be sure that the City and the Library honchos knew that Rafiki’s was interested in having dibs on the proposed However, as time went by, Luke and his wife Liesl, found they were sufficiently busy with one shop without making a commitment to service the library.

Q. How is the campaign to get a Peet’s Coffee and Tea place in the Rafiki’s location coming along?

A. We’re not sure, but we know that quite a few folks took advantage of Peet’s to suggest that our neighborhood would be a super place for them to install a shop. It won’t hurt to jump on the band wagon – you know, the squeaky wheel gets the java! We are hearing vibes that Starbucks might move into the 'hood.

Q. Why don’t we try to get Jamba Juice to move into Rafiki’s old space?

A. There would be too much competition with the new Juice Zone which is one of the promised shops which will be in the new “San Antonio” center several doors behind Rafiki’s. There will also be a Subway Sandwich shop and a New York Pizza business in the new center.

Q. Why has the city allowed the promised “La Bodega” site (the dilapidated pink double-wide building at Manning and Alum Rock which used to house a dry cleaner and a little Asian produce store) to become such a blight? No one will want to bring classy new businesses to Alum Rock Village if that bombed-out-looking store front is going to continue to affront the senses!

A. The City has bent over backward encouraging La Bodega’s owner to get his project going. Everyone is baffled about its failure to materialize. Owner Rogelio Ruiz has told the press over and over that the project will be underway momentarily. And then, nothing happens. He has certainly lost all credibility with the folks he has “shined on.” The question now is: If he ever does open a business there, will people remember how Mr. Ruiz allowed the building to sit there blighting the neighborhood for years? Will they be so enthusiastic to patronize his business? NNV thinks he’s burning bridges left and right. And, yes, the City needs to do something about the blight!

Q. Is it true that mail thieves robbed the mailboxes on Highland Drive again in April?

A. Yes, all the mailbox doors in the area around NNV headquarters were hanging open again on a Sunday morning. People who hadn’t left mail in their boxes were unscathed. People who let mail build up in their boxes lost checks, statements, bills … all sorts of stuff that thieves use to steal identity or pilfer bank accounts. However, please don’t think that your mail is safe if you empty your box every evening. We had mail stolen here at NNV headquarters twice in broad daylight. We would absolutely LOVE to know who it is that practices the MO of leaving all the mailbox doors open like tongues hanging out. He/she/they clearly doesn’t/don’t care if you know your box has been opened. They must not be worried about how soon you’ll discover the crime. Or … are they metaphorically sticking their tongues out at us?  Click here to decide for yourself.

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Copyright© 2006 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© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 5/5/06.

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