New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 37 - Section 2

June 4, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

EVA artist
Clyde Stout


Crothers Road
Fuel Break


At the
Coffee Cup


writing team

With some of
their stories


The prize
at the ...

... California

Lisa Blaylock
realty star


Kiwanis Club


Going Native
Garden Tour

Beautiful blooms
in our area


at RMC




Engine 2 in Alum
Rock Village

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Chartres-Style Labyrinth Right Here in the Neighborhood

The Turners do garden trains, fairy trains, leprechauns, crafts – for you!

Neighbors Ellen and Ray Turner’s lives are infused with enough challenging projects to make one’s head swim.

At first, NNV knew only that Ellen is the editor of St. John Vianney’s weekly newsletter, a prodigious undertaking done extremely well. Then, someone mentioned Ellen’s backyard labyrinth. Later, someone else mentioned Ray’s “garden railroad.” Finally, it came to light that Ellen and Ray are artists who would be part of the Artists’ Open Studio tour over the Mothers Day weekend.

Curious about a hand-laid labyrinth made-and-embellished with mosaic tiles by an editor-type lady, we had to go see her creation. Up in the hills we went - via Mt. Hamilton Road. Ray Turner met us at our car and captured our attention with the colored concrete hills of his Mystic Mountain Railroad. The G gauge (“Think G for Garden,” said Ray) railroad winds around three sides of the Turners’ house, delimiting three sides of the labyrinth with about a quarter mile of track.

Ray has created small town scenes, farmscapes, tunnels and flyovers through which his wonderful trains run. The little engine chugs along and there are quite literally “all the bells and whistles” one associates with railroading.

Truth to tell, the teeny-tiny scale landscaping was more interesting to your editor than the little trains. Ray pointed out itty-bitty leafed and flowered varieties of thyme and baby tears. Living miniature elms and evergreens dotted the landscape. A bright blue lobelia plant is pruned to be a tiny flowering shrub. The parallels between little railroads and dollhouses are huge.

Ellen arrived to point out that we were standing on the labyrinth. Of course! The circle of tan pavers surrounded us. Ellen said she didn’t quite know what compelled her to suddenly want to make a labyrinth about five years ago. She hadn’t known much about them before the impulse struck her. The Turners are people of enormous faith and are never surprised when “The Spirit moves them.”

Ellen’s labyrinth is modeled after the one in Chartres Cathedral in France. It’s a forty-two foot circle paved concentrically to a mid point structure. Meditators step onto the outside ring of pavers from a point on the east edge and proceed to walk in a continuous path following the pattern to the middle. It is considered very comforting and focusing. Ellen said it took her months of work and that one of her knees is still swollen from the hands-and-knees effort.

Ellen is into trains almost as much as Ray is. She specializes in “fairy trains” which, if Ellen is to be believed, are a necessary accompaniment to regular garden trains. Why? Because if fairies are given their own trains, they won’t do their mischief on the serious trains. Ellen and Ray create fairy trains for sale. They’re cast of resin and take the forms of animals and other non-traditional-railroad shapes. One engine is a rabbit. One is a swan. The latest is a smoking dragon. Ellen even has a little fairy train which runs around the outside perimeter of a large flower pot!

Are you into Irish lore? Or leprechauns? Ellen is making a leprechaun to represent each of Ireland’s 32 counties. She has six made so far. They’re totally her creations, absolutely one of a kind. They’re about thirty inches tall and dressed to the nines – each doll’s outfit reflective of his station in life. Yes, they are for sale!

Also for sale are small stools and children’s tables. Ellen paints them intricately – often using illustrations from children’s books of the 1920’s and 30’s as her inspiration. They are exquisite and the sort of quality that means they will become family heirlooms.

Ray and Ellen’s property is actually more than a garden train-labyrinth-artist studio. They have a courtyard swimming pool and a tennis court! They also have a guest house which can sleep five – although it’s probably more suitable for two to four people. They are happy to rent it out to you folks looking for lodging for visiting family members who don’t quite fit at your house. There’s even a small kitchen so your visiting relatives won’t be knocking at your door for breakfast. The next guests arriving are coming from England.

When asked what else they would like us to tell you about them, Ellen and Ray said we should mention that they believe that their home, with its extraordinary view of the Santa Clara Valley is a blessing from God and they are meant to share it with others. They host retreats there and other small religious group gatherings of all religions.

Click here for photos. You can learn a lot more about Ellen and Ray Turner’s objets d’art for sale by viewing their web site,

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Legal Eyes: Who Pays if Tenant’s Dog Bites?

There’s no “one free bite”

By Stephen F. Von Till, Attorney

Q: Tenant’s Dog Bites Neighbor. Is landlord liable?

A: No. But there is an exception.

Some dog attacks cause horrific injuries, sometimes death. Attacks may be provoked or unprovoked. Scars, disability, medical expenses, and wage loss may result. Who is responsible for damages?

Contrary to common belief, there is no “one free bite” in California. Civil Code 3342 says “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

A landlord is not the owner. He is not ordinarily liable for his tenant’s dog. But if the landlord has actual knowledge that the dog is dangerous, the landlord is responsible. The landlord has a legal duty to keep her property safe from dangerous conditions, including harboring dangerous animals.

The landlord has the power to evict. A landlord can require his tenant to get rid of the dangerous dog or move. Thus, if the landlord knows of the danger and does nothing, the landlord may be jointly responsible for the harm inflicted.

In Donchin v. Guerrero two Rottweilers attacked Ms. Donchin and her small Shihtzu dog. Ms. Donchin suffered a broken hip in the attack. The dogs’ owner was an uninsured tenant of landlord Mr. Swift.

But landlord Mr. Swift denied that he knew the dog was dangerous. He claimed that he had no responsibility for the attack.

How does one prove a landlord’s “actual knowledge” in the face of denial? Circumstantial evidence is admissible in a court of law and often may be quite persuasive.

In the Donchin case the court found from the circumstantial evidence that the landlord “must have known” that his tenant’s two Rottweilers were dangerous. Neighbors and the postman testified to numerous dangerous encounters with the dogs. An animal behavior expert testified that the dogs were probably vicious toward everyone they encountered, including landlord Swift during his regular visits to the premises. Bottom line: a jury was entitled to disbelieve the landlord’s denial and to find the landlord jointly liable with his tenant.

If one teases a dog or otherwise negligently provokes the animal, the injured party may have some responsibility for his own injuries. A jury is entitled to find that the injured party is partially at fault. Damages are then reduced by the percentage of comparative fault assessed by the jury.

The lessons: Don’t keep a dangerous dog. Don’t let your tenant keep a dangerous dog. Don’t provoke or tease an animal. And make sure you have standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies. These policies generally require the insurance company to provide you with a defense and to pay the damages if you are found responsible.

NNV Note: Hillcrest neighbor Steve Von Till writes the newspaper column "Legal Eyes." He has given permission for us to re-print his columns in NNV. Steve has over 35 years in law practice. See his website at His office phone is 510.490.1100. Click here for a photo at a Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch picnic.

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Vintage Rose = Village Charm

New little shop draws enthusiastic clientele

A suggested itinerary for a shopping jaunt for you and your friends

Although hidden deep behind Mario’s Barber Shop, Vintage Rose Consignment Closet managed to have a grand, Grand Opening on the first Saturday in May.

Tina Pricolo’s sign took its place beneath the Dog Groomer’s sign and the Tattoo Parlor’s sign. The neighborhood took notice. Many, many folks stopped to shop at this tiny shop which is chockfull of fun things to wear and charming, eclectic “bric-a-brac.” We use the term advisedly after discovering that it’s defined as “ornamental objects valued for their antiquity, rarity, originality or sentimental associations.” It would be a rare person who couldn’t find something at Vintage Rose which struck a chord or provoked a smile – or filled a gap in a decorating scheme.

A steady flow of patrons visited Tina on opening day and many went away with the objects of their affection. So many folks wanted to avail themselves of the opportunity to sell treasures on consignment through Vintage Rose that Tina had to actually turn some people away – until she caught up.

If Vintage Rose’s first month is indicative of the future, it looks as though classy little shops can make a go of it in the Village. Of course, it behooves us, we who care about our little shopping mecca, to spread the word and help to grow an enthusiastic clientele which can find what they’re looking for right here in the neighborhood.

NNV can dream up a great example of a Wednesday afternoon itinerary in the Village. Vintage Rose is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so how would it work for you and your friend(s) if you lunched at Thai White Rock Café, bargain shopped at YSI Thrift, gift shopped at Vintage Rose, had a cup of tea at Café.Com in the new library and stopped at Peters Bakery for the evening’s dessert? Another day, you could include a haircut at one of the Village’s many salons, order custom-made jewelry at Marco’s and eat Mexican food. The possibilities are endless – and they’ll get even better when the new shops open in Anthony Caruso’s building on North White Road which should open in July.

Click here for photos.

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

Need to find a physician? Call Regional HealthSource

for Physician Referral & Information at 1-888.RMC.8881

(English and Spanish) or 1-888.RMC.8811 (Vietnamese).
Regional Medical Center of San Jose, 225 North Jackson Avenue.


NNV Briefs

bulletKaren Tatro is Gone - Her legacy will long be remembered
bulletYSI Invites Us to Do Lunch at the Wyndham Hotel – On Them!
bulletSlurpy the Kangaroo Visits Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch Picnic
bulletSanta Clara County Land Conservation Initiative by Peter Drekmeier
bulletWarm Weather Brings Out Alum Rock Park Critters by Richard Brown
bulletOn the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue Charm
bulletFirst and Second Year Teachers Appreciated by ARUESD - BTSA “Colloquium”
bulletMusic Lives! at Foothill Presbyterian Church by Margaret Montgomery
bulletWildlife Center of Silicon Valley Releases Hummers
bulletFlinty Fleming-ites Stare Down Neighborhood Development
bulletArt Show At Antipastos - East Valley Art Leaguers show and sell
bulletTurn Your Fancy to Thoughts of Firebreaks and Fuel Reduction?
bulletCome Get Your Chuckles While Benefiting the Alum Rock Youth Center
bulletThe Coffee Cup - Great coffee, Michelle’s wonderful smile by Sucheon Sung
bulletThree Fine Young Writers Making Their Marks - The Rodriguez brothers earn kudos
bulletHomemade Healthcare at Reasonable Costs by Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA
bullet“Boys” Car Club Meets California Mille Car Rally
bulletNeighbor Lisa Blaylock Named to Elite Real Estate Group
bulletTears and Smiles Mark Kiwanis Club Turn Around Luncheon

Karen Tatro is Gone

Her legacy of community work will long be remembered

Our community has lost a treasure.

The life of Karen Tatro, whose light shone so brightly, ebbed away early in the morning of Tuesday, May 16th. She was a woman with many links to our community and she leaves not just her husband and children, but scores of friends, with rents in their hearts.

Karen was a paragon of transparency. One had only to look into her clear eyes to see through to her guileless soul. She was intelligence, grace and integrity personified.

As recently as this past winter, Karen expertly shepherded a major renovation at the Youth Science Institute Thrift Shop on Alum Rock Avenue. This was the last project she undertook before she fell ill. It was typical of Karen to make commitments and take on big responsibilities for the organizations to which she belonged. Our community was the beneficiary of the generosity of her spirit.

Karen was a friend of New Neighborhood Voice. She made a point of expressing her appreciation of our efforts. And, we know she carried that thoughtfulness through to all the folks whose path she crossed.

Hundreds of “Friends of Karen’s” attended a memorial service at Foothill Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, May 23rd. An overflow of parked cars flooded McKee Road. Every pew and folding chair was put to use inside the sanctuary. The service was superb, but a melancholy feeling lingered – that Karen was simply gone too soon.

Click here for a photo of Karen and here for the story on the YSI Thrift and Gift renovation.

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YSI Invites Us to Do Lunch at the Wyndham Hotel – On Them!

Inspiring an aptitude for science and a love of learning

Want to lunch at the Wyndham on Wednesday, June 7th? There will be lots of your Eastside friends there. And the lunch is free.

What’s up? The Youth Science Institute wants us to let them explain just what inspires them to teach science to 30,000 kids each year. They would like us to sit down to lunch and enjoy a one hour program, Science Matters!, which will inform us and inspire us as they have been inspired.

The Wyndham is at 1350 North First Street in San Jose. We will need to arrive by 11:30 to park and get situated for the 12:00 noon program.

What’s the catch? Well, we will have to RSVP (to Leyla Gunduz) at (408) 356-4945 x 17 or The RSVP deadline has been extended to Monday, June 5. That’s not so hard – is it?

If YSI inspires you, you'll have an opportunity to make a financial contribution to support their programs. There is absolutely no obligation to make a contribution. And no minimum or maximum gift amounts.

Click here for the YSI flyer with directions to the Wyndham Hotel.

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Slurpy the Kangaroo Visits Hillcrest Party

Neighborhood Watch Picnic at the Wildangers

Finally, finally, the weather settled down and allowed the Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch folks to have a Sunday afternoon get together on May 7th. Richard and Veronica Wildanger hosted a quiet, easy-going front yard party complete with a huge vat of lemonade, lots of snacks, a plant exchange and a baby kangaroo!

Say what? Yes, baby Slurpy, just seven months old, arrived in a cloth pouch carried by a neighbor who sometimes has the pleasure of taking care of exotic animals for her licensed animal-handler friend. Slurpy is very much a baby, but his feet are about as long as those of a seven foot tall basketball player. His eyes, with their fringed eyelashes and black “liner” are quite deer-like, but there’s something dachshund-like about his head, too. The rest of his body looks to be constructed by a committee. He was allowed to frolic a bit, but only while being grounded by a firm grip on the base of his tail.

The plant exchange was a surprising success. There were some good-size bedding plants, a gingko tree, succulents and house plants. It appeared that everyone could find something they didn’t already have and were happy to swap.

There were tables of informative “literature” on various topics – earthquake safety, Neighborhood Watch concerns, etc. NNV had a table and we were happy to meet Hillcrest neighbors who have been long-time newsletter readers as well as new folks who were interested in subscribing. One man even volunteered to write a column for NNV! We will accept his offer for sure!

Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch really, really has engaged the attention of their neighborhood. (It’s the one on McKee Road with the stone posts at Fairway Drive.) The Wildangers are super “community builders” and don’t hesitate to go the extra mile to make good things happen. We could all take a lesson and work at getting our neighbors to care about one another.

Click here for photos from this event.

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Santa Clara County Land Conservation Initiative

To protect hillsides, ranchlands and agricultural lands

By Peter Drekmeier, Campaign Coordinator, People for Land and Nature (PLAN)

On May 8, People for Land and Nature (PLAN) submitted more than 62,000 signatures in support of the Santa Clara County Land Conservation Initiative to the Registrar of Voters. 36,040 valid signatures are needed to qualify for the November ballot, so the campaign is in excellent shape.

The Initiative will amend the County General Plan to help protect hillsides, ranchlands and agricultural lands by reducing the number of developable parcels permitted in rural areas. It places additional safeguards on scenic views, streamside corridors and sensitive wildlife habitat. Whereas current open space protections could be changed at any time by a simple majority of the County Supervisors, the environmental safeguards of an initiative can be weakened or repealed only by the voters.

For more information about the Land Conservation Initiative, please visit or call (408) 947-7529.

We look forward to working with you to protect the natural areas that make our community such a great place to live and work!

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Warm Weather Brings Out Alum Rock Park Critters – Including Pacific Rattlers!

Be cautious and respectful of these valuable park dwellers

By Richard Brown

With the warm weather, nature's community becomes alive and we enjoy the emergence of all manner of wild critters. It is also a time to be more alert to these sometimes less visible (and not always audible) "bad boys."

They make a good argument for staying on paths and trails. The few we have encountered this way were visible and easily avoided. Try to stay out of tall grass and brush but if you must go there, wear hiking boots. Be careful around rocks, stumps and logs. Be aware of where you place your hands and inspect an area before sitting down.

Hands, feet and ankles are the most common sites for snakebite. If bitten, do not apply a tourniquet. Do not cut the wound or try to suck out the venom. An extraction device (Sawyer Products), available at sporting goods stores, may be used and has been shown to remove up to 30% of the venom if applied within 3 minutes of the bite. Read the directions for its usage before venturing out. You may wash the bite area with soap and water and a cold damp cloth may be applied. Remove any jewelry that may constrict swelling. Do not allow the consumption of alcohol. Calm the victim and transport to the nearest emergency facility.

It is important to realize that the great majority of Northern Pacific rattlesnake bites are not fatal. Click here for a photo and here for a primer on what to do before and after an encounter.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

Avenue charm

A simple colorful hand-painted mail box brings a smile to passersby on the Avenue just a little east of the Village and its hustle and bustle. The little houses painted on the box mirror the small tidy homes of the neighborhood. Sweet accidental public art! Click here for a photo.

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First and Second Year Teachers Appreciated by ARUESD

BTSA “Colloquium” celebrates beginning educators

Last year at this time NNV went - out of curiosity - to find out just what was meant by the title of an event called a “BTSA Colloquium” which was being held at the ARUESD offices. This year, when Gay Southwell sent the invitation to the 2006 event of the same name, it was no surprise that BTSA (pronounced “bitsa”) stands for “Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment” – and, that it’s a program which employs about a dozen seasoned and/or retired teachers to provide mentorship to first and second year teachers “to make a difference in their performance, retention and satisfaction.”

On May 11th this year’s Colloquium, hosted by the Silicon Valley New Teacher Project Advisors of ARUESD, was held at Sheppard Middle School which, as it turns out, is on Rough and Ready Road (yes!) directly behind the Target on Capitol Avenue near McKee (but, don’t try to get to Sheppard from Target – t’won't work!).

This year there are so many new teachers, 110 I think, that they filled two rooms. This number is up from 75 last year so it seems as though the mentors have a real challenge with the “retention” aspect with which they are charged. Of course, the mentors are not responsible for the vagaries of the school district.

NNV visited with Gay Southwell and her mentees. Most are quite young and ARUESD is their first school district. Some are new to the district, but hardly new to teaching. Almost all are from distant places and came here for the climate – and the challenge of teaching here in Alum Rock. All have an eagerness about them that would make one feel quite confident about placing one’s children in their trust. Just one mentioned that she was leaving. To teach at a Performing Arts School in New York City! – who would second guess her choice?

School Board President Kim Mesa and Trustee Tanya Freudenberger both spoke to the assembled teachers and mentors - thanking them and encouraging their valorous efforts to educate the children of Alum Rock. ARUESD Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Piche represented the district, giving her own words of appreciation and thanks.

A lovely buffet was enjoyed by all. Click here for photos.

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Music Lives! at Foothill Presbyterian Church

Great programming right here in the neighborhood

By Margaret Montgomery

Yes – music is alive and well in the Bay area. This fact came through loud and clear on Friday evening, May 5th, when we were treated to a performance by the Hewlett-Packard Symphony Orchestra in our church sanctuary. Fifty eager performers filled every square inch on the platform and expressed their love and dedication to music in no uncertain terms.

The program, titled “A World Tour of Ethnic Cultural Music,” included musical expressions of Spanish, Austrian, German, Romanian, Hungarian, French and American Indian music. It got off to a ragged start with Chabrier’s very rhythmically difficult “España,” but began to stabilize into a more predictable Mozart. Had these two pieces been reversed, the players might have found their rhythm before being flung into the Chabrier. But by the time they reached the Grande Finale of St. Saens’ majestic “Organ Symphony,” with Sara Pfeiffer at the console, they were really flying.

In between, we heard Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” Charles Widor’s virtuosic “Toccata” for organ featuring Sara Pfeiffer, a rousing Bashir-Dzodtsoeva “Dance” with Mark Cousins at the piano, a Bartok trio and a C.P.E. Bach quartet. But the highlight to this listener was a four movement suite, “From a Moonlit Ceremony,” based on native American Indian songs and dances by George Frederick McKay. The music was melodic and descriptive – sometimes wistful, sometimes energetic – with good contrast between movements and very listenable. Tom-tom and tympani were impressive.

The conductor, George Yefchak, who professes to be a chemist (!), has done a yeoman’s job of molding this collection of raw talent into a disciplined, well-trained group of performers. His excellent conducting technique was strong, precise and easy to follow and he deserves much credit for developing this group over the twelve years they have worked and played together.

These HP employees and friends have demonstrated the fact that one need not be a YoYo Ma, a Joshua Bell or a Jon Nakamatsu to perform and enjoy music; nor does it take a Michael Tilson Thomas to elicit musical expression from the performers. When the need and the love and the desire are there, it will come out. “If you build it, they will come.”

At the conclusion of the program, one of the neighbors who came with me said, “Wow!” And that just about says it all. Jay Jordana has done it again!

NNV Note: Margaret Montgomery is a member of Foothill Presbyterian Church where’s she’s been reviewing music performances for several years. She has a comprehensive background in music teaching and performance. Margaret lives at Marguerite Terrace and will move to PEO’s sister facility in Alhambra when Marguerite Terrace closes later this summer.

Foothill Presbyterian (on McKee Road east of Toyon) offers excellent music programming on a regular basis. Most programs are on Sunday afternoons and only a nominal donation is asked. For more information, call Foothill Music Director Jay Jordana at (408) 258-8133 x105 or e-mail Watch our Community Bulletin Board for upcoming programs.

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Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley Releases Hummers

Buffet fundraiser at hillside home

A scenic drive high into the hills above Evergreen took a sell-out crowd to a private home for a brunch-buffet on the Saturday before Mothers Day. It made for a very special Mothers-Day-Eve event!

To raise funds for expenses at our local wildlife rescue center on Penitencia Creek Road, one of WCSV’s volunteers opened her home to WCSV’s “fan base” for an unexpected variety of endeavors.

The home is located on a rural road not far from the Sikh Temple near Quimby Road. The views to the west are spectacular and the day did not disappoint. The hosts not only had a large blue and gold talking parrot for guests to enjoy, but they also had a large aviary full of all sorts of birds. And, as if the birds were not enough, there were a pair of goats, a potbellied pig and a pony in a paddock which guests could (and did!) enter.

On the home’s back deck there were all sorts of plants which attract hummingbirds and butterflies for sale as well as a silent auction featuring hummingbird themed art and ornaments.

Inside the home there was an outstanding buffet featuring both vegetarian and omnivorian (is this a word?) fare. Peeled avocado halves stuffed with shrimp salad were disappearing as fast as the plate could be replenished. Wine was donated by Clos la Chance wineries.

The family room was dominated by ongoing hummingbird programming. There were videos shown and then a live hummer specialist spoke and answered questions from the large fascinated crowd.

The culmination of this humdinger of a hummingbird event was the release to the wild of injured hummers which had been nurtured back to health by the volunteers and staff of WCSV. Being able to put a bird or animal back into its natural habitat is the best reward these dedicated folks can think of.

Click here for photos. Click here for WCSV’s web site and see their wish list. You may be sitting on something which you no longer need, for which they are pining!

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Flinty Fleming-ites Stare Down Neighborhood Development

What part of “We don’t want it” doesn’t the City understand?

The folks of the Fleming Avenue community do not want new homes to be built on the lot where the Lord's Baptist Church sits now. Period.

At a meeting at the church on Thursday evening, May 18th, San Jose Senior Planner Carol Hamilton, told the assembled neighbors and church members that the City is waiting for citizens’ input before making the final decision on the development of the land. She and Jim Sullivan of Braddock and Logan – the would-be developers – got some input all right!

Mr. Sullivan reiterated that Braddock and Logan has agreed to reduce the number of proposed homes from 18 to 14 and is willing to build a ½ acre “pocket park” to boot. However, the community does not want any new homes to be built because the traffic situation is horrendous on their street (and neighboring streets) as it is – with quarter mile backups at peak traffic times.

The City Planning Department is willing to do “traffic calming” measures and perhaps create a left turn pocket at the corner of Fleming and Alum Rock. They would also work with CalTrans to retime the stop lights at that corner to give more time to the drivers on Fleming and Kirk. However, the community does not want traffic flow to be improved on Fleming because the improvements would simply draw more drivers to this extremely narrow “collector” road. What they want is fewer drivers. Period.

The City does not encourage parks less than an acre in size. They would not allow B&L’s ½ acre pocket park. But, they say, they are “looking into” purchasing a 1.5 acre parcel of land from the Joseph George Middle School campus and creating a city park. This is not a new idea, but it got trotted out to see if anyone would be mollified.

No one was mollified. About anything. Braddock and Logan may give up on developing the parcel, according to Mr. Sullivan.

What would make the Fleming community happy? Some folks would like to see the City buy the property from the Korean Church people and turn it into a much-needed full-size park. But, there is a contingent of Fleming neighbors who are anti-park because parks breed loitering and mischief. That group might be happy only if another church moved in. Or maybe not.

When we left the meeting, it certainly looked as though the long-running stalemate would continue indefinitely. The Fleming community is really, really smart, strong, organized and flinty. So far, they have caused the developers and the city to retreat several times. They are not taking this imposition on their neighborhood lying down. The final resolution is scheduled for June 13th when the planning commission will take its recommendations to the City Council. Or, maybe not.

You can see this determined community’s excellent, informational blog at

Click here for photos from the meeting.

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Art Show At Antipastos

East Valley Art Leaguers show and sell

Antipastos opened its “west wing” to the members of the East Valley Art League on a May Saturday. It was a wonderful chance to meet artists who live in the Alum Rock area, Berryessa and Evergreen – and, of course, to see their lovely work.

When NNV arrived outside the restaurant, there was a picnic table with at least one artist sharing his craft. Clyde Stout had his sketch book in hand showing sepia-toned sketches featuring cowboy themes. EVAL President, neighbor Sally Holt, proclaimed Clyde as her right hand man.

Inside, every wall of the little dining room was covered in framed art. Most were watercolor paintings – at least one was a floral still-life done in pastels. Most were for sale and the friendly artists were happy to explain their work. The prices were quite reasonable for matted and framed artwork.

Sally Holt says that there are quite a few opportunities for art shows in our area this summer so if you’re looking for original art at affordable prices, watch for EVAL Art Show signs and pop in.

The Art League meets at Foothill Presbyterian Church on the third Thursday of each month. You're invited.

Click here for photos.

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Turn Your Fancy to Thoughts of Firebreaks and Fuel Reduction?

It’s time to think “Fire Safe” again

It’s that time of year again when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of …. cutting weeds and making his home and neighborhood “fire safe.” Actually, it’s not just young men, but folks of all ages and genders who live in or near our fire-prone hills, who have to temper their carefree summer with a little attention to the serious side of living here.

It’s really not the daunting chore that many think it is. There are nice folks at the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council whose mission is to help us all to protect our homes and communities. They offer a free 20-page step-by-step guide called Living With Fire in Santa Clara County which will help you create “Defensible Space” around your home. It’s on their Web site, or you can ask for your own paper copy. Or you can use SJFD Wildland Officer Captain Jose Guerrero’s recent NNV article as your guide.

On the closed part of Crothers Road (which hasn’t carried traffic since the landslide of 1998), County workers have mowed and chopped down the five foot tall weeds which were growing below the retaining wall which holds up Highland Drive. This is part of a continuing effort to maintain a firebreak between Alum Rock Park and the East Highlands neighborhood. The Alum Rock Park rangers are working on fire prevention in the Park and will also work on more of Crothers Road later this spring and early summer.

The fire agencies and neighbors working with SCFSC are planning ways to reduce fuels and improve firebreaks throughout Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas such as ours. You can find out more about them and avail yourself of their expertise by calling (408) 975-9591. Or see their web site at

Click here for photos of the work on the fuel break.

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Come Get Your Chuckles While Benefiting the Alum Rock Youth Center

Second annual Comedy Benefit at neighborhood Moose Lodge - Silent Auction, too!

Set aside Friday evening, June 23rd, for a rollicking good time featuring seasoned comics who are ready to tweak your funny bone for one of the very best causes around.

The evening is a real bargain at $30 per ticket. The outrageous fun begins at 7:00 PM at Local Moose Lodge 401, 1825 Mount Pleasant Road.

Here’s what ARYC’s Ed Solis has to say about the event:

All money raised will go directly to support youth summer and after-school programs in East San Jose. We will have a silent auction and mariachis before the show kicks off. This year we have two comics who are currently on tour with the Latin Kings of Comedy! Luke Torres will kick off the show and act as the evening's MC. Luke has been featured on HBO and starred in Space Jam with Michael Jordan.

Johnny Sanchez will be up next. Johnny has been a headliner at the Improv, The Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store.

Our headliner will be none other than Rudy Moreno. Rudy has been on TV, in movies, and has headlined all around the globe.

This is going to be a great fundraiser and please remember, these are OUR children, our youth: please come out and support our recreation programs. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Alum Rock Youth Center, (408) 251-5757, or at the Hank Lopez Community Center, (408) 251-2850.

Click here for the flyer.

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The Coffee Cup

Great coffee, Kim’s fine pastries, Michelle’s wonderful smile

By Sucheon Sung

NNV Note: Sucheon Sung sent us the following brief story about the Coffee Cup. He is the man who is going to marry Michelle Tran, the little shop's owner. We wanted to know lots more about this Country Club Plaza favorite so we asked Sucheon a few more questions. Our questions and his answers follow his original story.

The Coffee Cup has been open for business since 1994 but underwent a change of ownership in January of 2004 when Michelle Tran took over. Michelle has enjoyed providing an outlet for neighborhood patrons to come by and have some fresh coffee and pastries with friendly service. The atmosphere at the Coffee Cup is always friendly and welcoming with regulars stopping in frequently, some dropping in and out while others stay, sitting at the outside tables having conversations over a hot cup. Michelle prefers to be more of a host for her customers than the mechanical service agent that one encounters at the more corporate coffee and pastry houses. She believes her customers appreciate that.

The Coffee Cup specializes in the following:
Cappuccinos/ Espressos
Fresh pastries
Fruit smoothies

NNV: Is running a little shop something that Michelle always wanted to do?
Sucheon Sung: She'd had ideas about running a small business but didn't know what kind. She looked into opening a small restaurant but couldn't find the right location. She was working at The Coffee Cup before she took over. There was a period where she was just learning how it was run and decided it was something that she could manage. So she bought it when the previous owners decided to sell.

NNV: Is she the first in her family to run a small business?
S.S: Her Mother and Father ran wholesale/retail food businesses in Vietnam.

NNV: What is your profession?
S.S.: I work for an environmental company. We specialize in groundwater monitoring and sampling.

NNV: Where do you live?
S.S.: Michelle and I just bought a house in North San Jose near Piedmont High School.

NNV: How did Michelle choose the Country Club Villa location?
S.S.: She knew it was a great location while she was an employee of the Coffee Cup. It was the only coffee/pastry shop in the area.

NNV: Are you or she related to the people who ran Anh-Son bakery which was in the same shop?
S.S.: No.

NNV: Where did they move to?
S.S.: We do not know. We believe Anh-Son bakery is still up and running.

NNV: Who bakes the pastries for the shop?
S.S.: Kim, who has been with the Coffee Cup for about 5 years.

NNV: What is the best seller?
S.S.: The ham & cheese croissant.

NNV: About how many "regulars" come every day?
S.S.: It’s hard to say. Most of her customers are regulars who live in the neighboring area. Usually, about 20-25 regulars gather in the mornings in the inside and outside sitting areas. Other regulars just come pick up coffee and pastries to go.

NNV: Who else works in the shop?
S.S.: Besides Kim, her other part-time helper's name is Li. Michelle's two sisters Tu and Tracy help out occasionally.

NNV: How many children does Michelle have?
S.S: Michelle has one son (Dustin - age 9) from her previous marriage. Michelle and I are engaged and will be married on Sept. 30 of this year.

NNV: Does Michelle have a "philosophy" or favorite saying which is meaningful to her?
S.S: She doesn't have a favorite saying. But she (we) have a simple philosophy of having strong moral values, working hard and being good to our family and friends.

NNV: Is there an interesting story about how you came to be engaged to Michelle?
S.S.: I've lived in this community since 2000. I shared a house located right off of Mt. Hamilton Road with some friends and used to drive down to the Coffee Cup for a mocha. Okay, I lied. I used to drive down for Michelle's fantastic smile. The mocha came in a distant second.

Click here for photos.  Click here for a story on the Coffee Cup "regulars."

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Three Fine Young Writers Making Their Marks

The Rodriguez brothers earn kudos for creativity, compassion

There is a three man writing team developing in our Eastside neighborhood. All three sons of Berta and Victor Rodriguez of Decker Way are demonstrating remarkable writing skills which show enormous promise.

Victor, 14, is sometimes called “Little Victor” by his mom to distinguish him from his dad, “Big Victor.” However, he’s now taller than either of his parents. His writing has grown by leaps and bounds too. This past winter, an assignment in his eighth grade class at Merryhill School (formerly Rainbow Bridge) was for the students to choose a topic currently in the news, write what they personally thought about the topic and then what they thought Martin Luther King Jr. would do about it. Victor decided to write on a topic which resonated with him. After hearing family members discussing the unfairness which gay people face, he wrote a touching essay on “Gay Problems.” He turned the composition in to his teacher. It was so well written that the principal, Mrs. Quinn, read it to the entire student body at an assembly! Victor was honored for his heart-felt (and persuasive!) writing.

Middle brother, Joshua who is nine, is in third grade at Linda Vista elementary. He has always been keen on writing. When brother Victor did a writing project on dinosaurs as a fifth-grader, Joshua (then a kindergartner) wrote his own book on dinosaurs and turned the surprise story in to his teacher. He did it entirely on his own. Berta and Big Victor were quite shocked to know that Joshua could and would write a very fine story (on scratch paper) and have the moxie to turn it in to the amazed teacher asking her to please staple it for him.

This spring Joshua was assigned a book-writing project at school. Using very classy cursive writing, he wrote a story called “A Dog for Me” - complete with excellent illustrations. The cover is illustrated with a sad-eyed black dog’s face. On the dog’s pink tongue, Joshua printed the book’s title. Sticking out of the back corner of the book cover is “Runner’s” tail. It was no surprise that the book won a first place certificate of merit at the 29th Annual Young Authors’ Faire early in April, an event sponsored by the Santa Clara County Reading Council.

Garrett Rodriguez is now age seven and finishing up first grade at Linda Vista. He, too, has an abundance of imagination, writing and illustrating talent. His story, “A Queen and her Little Prince,” was loosely based on an honest-to-goodness trip to Disneyland which his family took. But, in the story, the little boy (named Richard) and his mother visit the park without any inconvenient siblings in the picture. Garrett’s book was also entered in the Young Authors’ Faire and won first place!

Victor, Joshua and Garrett’s finished writing projects are so beautifully produced that their teachers often suggest that Berta has had too much of a role in “helping” her boys. Not so! says Berta. While she is an involved mom and makes herself available when the boys sit down to do their homework, Berta says the boys just plain love writing and will do it spontaneously. She (the model for Garrett’s “Queen”) is creative and she’s a perfectionist. Victor, Joshua and Garrett apparently have inherited her bent. Both Berta and Big Victor can “spin a tale” and hold listeners rapt. These are special genes.

So, watch for very good things to come out of Decker Way. By the way, Berta and Victor are both products of our neighborhood. "Bert" attended St. John Vianney and graduated from Notre Dame High School. Victor went the public school route and is a graduate of James Lick High and National Hispanic University. He works at Apple. Their families are longtime Eastside residents. Big Victor’s folks, grandparents Otilio and Ignacia Rodriguez live on Maro Drive. Grandparents on Berta’s side are also named Rodriguez! Grandma Antonia lives on Staples Avenue and Grandpa Guadalupe lives on Porter Lane.

Click here for photos.

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Homemade Healthcare at Reasonable Costs

Loved ones can stay in their own homes

By Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA

When the inevitable onset of aging begins to take its toll on loved ones, families learn that the choices available are either too expensive or the default choice is to send a loved one to a nursing home. An alternative choice is to hire a home care service to assist the client in their own home. Unfortunately, home health care is often astronomically expensive, causing poverty rather than happiness. However, Santa Clara Valley has the choice of East-Side based Home Care Network, Inc, (HCN), a home health care agency that provides care at about 50 percent of the cost of other home care agencies.

My background is as a homecare RN. HCN is my “brainchild.” We offer an alternative to both convalescent homes and other home care services. With 175 active Caregivers providing care for up to 24 hours a day, HCN tallies more than 17,000 hours of personal home care monthly.

Bud Curtis praised HCN for the care the network had given his aunts who were aged 94 and 102 years old. “If we had put them in a convalescent home, they would have died quicker," he said. "They received personal care 24 hours a day and that is why they lived as long as they did. My aunts were very happy to be able to live and die in the comfort of their own home."

In a normal situation, Caregivers will help the ill, Alzheimer's sufferers, hospice patients and others with daily activities like bathing, dressing, meal preparation, housekeeping, shopping and errands and also medication reminders. However, the care is not simply for the client. Our goal is to provide care for both the client and the family. We give respite to the family, allowing them to lead a somewhat normal life and to be able to sleep at night. Our Caregivers tell the family, “Go take a nap, a walk, or read a book; we will care for your loved one".

Aside from giving the family a break, HCN allows the elderly or ill to die in the comfort of their own homes. Instead of passing away in the uncomfortable and impersonal confines of a convalescent home, clients are where they feel safe, secure and loved. And when a Caregiver lives with a client for months at a time, they become quite close. As Pam Rosengard explains of her late grandmother Mabel, a client of HCN from November 1997 to July 1999, "Violet (Mabel's Caregiver) was like a daughter to her. She provided excellent care. Out of all the agencies we tried, and we tried the most expensive ones available, Home Care Network was the best by far, even though they were the least expensive."

HCN's care isn't only for the elderly. We also serve those who, as an example, may have a degenerative disease such as Multiple Sclerosis or ALS (Lou Gehrigs disease). And when flu season comes around, our Caregivers are dispatched to help care for babies and children whose sick parents are in bed.

For more information about HCN's service, please contact me at (408) 254-4650 or

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“Boys” Car Club Meets California Mille Car Rally

Bob Sletten attracts the ladies (well, one) and other animals

Hey, we had an opportunity to enjoy the California Mille old car tour absolutely free and close-up when 67 classic cars buzzed through Alum Rock via Mt. Hamilton Road and Alum Rock Avenue on their way to downtown San Jose on May 4th. The owners of the Alfa Romeos, Studebakers, Porsches, a variety of Mercedes and other nimble old timers had to pay $4,800 per couple to take part in the four day rally, but folks standing along the edge of Alum Rock had to pay nothing at all to see the parade of oldies-but-goodies glide by.

At the critical corner of Alum Rock and Mt. Hamilton, perhaps ten collector cars and their owners were gathered to watch the Mille cars make their turn. These car collectors were not entered in the rally. They were making an “occasion” of the event complete with tailgate picnics. These folks turn out for any-and-all car events – celebrating with food and fun.

Neighbors Bob Sletten, Rick Wilson and Keith Bush were there chowing down on tailgate goodies and urging on each vehicle as it made the turn from Mt. Ham to Alum Rock. Proclaiming themselves “The Boys’ Car Club” (well, they are male) the three managed to distract the Mille drivers and provoke many waves (and other hand gestures).

Bob, Rick and Keith each had their own classic car parked there by the side of the road among some really old timers (people and cars). Only Bob, Rick and Keith were flirting with the Mille drivers and passengers – the other parked drivers were pretty decorous.

Apparently a Dear Abby article the previous week had gone to Bob’s head. It claimed that many women consider bald heads to be alluring, so Bob was showing off his smooth coiffure, bobbing his shining head in the sunlight to reflect in the eyes of the drivers as they came around the corner. Much to his amazement, one passenger, a woman fairly hanging out of her …. car, caught sight of Bob’s glistening scalp and was inspired to toss him her chemise. But, wait, was it her perfumed garment after all?

No, it was something even more precious to Bob. The voluptuous maiden threw a treasure directly to Bob. A warm, brown, furry mass landed in Bob’s outstretched arms. “Yessss!” he yelled as he looked into the eyes of a small stuffed koala.

Bob proudly fastened the koala to the windshield of his 1963 Porsche. “She singled me out and threw her bear to me!” he crowed. Keith, Rick and the other sideliners figured that the lady simply had bad aim or was trying to knock bobbing Bob down.

Meanwhile, lower down on Alum Rock, your editor was trying to snap photos of each Mille car as it whizzed by. Little red car, after little red car sped by in a blur. The drivers did not slow down long enough for a decent photo. By the time I walked up to the corner of Mount Hamilton Road and the stationary tailgaters, I was happy to find wonderful old cars posing prettily by the San Jose Country Club. And, of course, there were the members of the Boys’ Car Club, the koala bear, the photogenic golden Porsche and especially Bob’s alluring pink head. Could Dear Abby be right?

Click here for photos.

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Neighbor Lisa Blaylock Named to Elite Real Estate Group

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage International President’s Elite

Lisa Blaylock of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage San Jose Main has been chosen as one of the company’s International President’s Elite – a prestigious honor bestowed upon the top 3 % of more than 126,000 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage sales associates worldwide.

“It is with great pride we announce that Lisa has been selected as a member of the prestigious International President’s Elite," said Joe Brown, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Silicon Valley president and chief operating officer. “Lisa is an outstanding real estate professional and is regarded as one of the most talented sales associates within Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. It is an honor to present this award to her. She is truly an asset to our company."

As a member of the company’s International President’s Elite, Lisa will be extended an invitation to attend the company’s “Elite Retreat,” a three-day conference exclusively for the company’s top producing sales associates scheduled for later this year in Chicago.

Lisa became a Realtor® in 1986. A full-time professional, she says she enjoys using her experience and expertise to help her clients realize their real estate dreams. She has been recognized repeatedly throughout her career for her outstanding level of sales and for her superior level of service.

Lisa works primarily by referral and is looking forward to her Fourth Annual Client Appreciation Party this August. “I decided to serve my clients more deeply with my after market services, providing them with trust seminar opportunities and unique solutions to their individual real estate challenges,” she says.

Born and raised here in the east foothills of San Jose, Lisa says she learned a strong work ethic at an early age raising animals for 4H. Today, she lives with her husband of 16 years, Stephen, and her children. In her free time, she enjoys camping, trips in their RV, walks in nearby Alum Rock Park, art projects, reading and participating in church functions.

Lisa can be reached at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage San Jose Main, located at 1045 Willow Street or by phone at 408.377.5472. For more information about her services, visit her website at

About Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the largest residential real estate brokerage in Northern California, serves the markets of Sacramento/Tahoe, San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. The company has 68 office locations and more than 4,800 sales associates throughout Northern California. Through its internationally renowned Coldwell Banker Previews® program, the company is widely recognized for its expertise in the luxury housing market. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is a member of the NRT family of companies. NRT Incorporated, the nation's leading residential real estate brokerage company, is a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation (NYSE: Cendant), one of the world's foremost providers of travel and real estate services. For more information please visit or call 925.275.3085.

Click here for a photo of Lisa.

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Tears and Smiles Mark Kiwanis Club Turn Around Luncheon

Unimaginably sad life experiences overcome by ESUHSD youngsters

The Kiwanis Club of East San Jose held their 39th annual scholarship luncheon at the San Jose Country Club on May 9th. As they do every year at this time, the Kiwanians presented $1,000 scholarships to one graduating senior student from each of our high school district’s thirteen high schools plus one from Adult Education and two from the San Jose Job Corps culinary arts program. The students were chosen to recognize their achievement in turning around their low academic performances – and getting on track to graduate and attend college or vocational programs.

The stories many of these young people related were of unbelievably cruel and harrowing circumstances. Some of the scholarship winners were orphaned by their parents’ deaths – some were orphaned by their parents’ drug use and incarceration. Some had been so desperate that they were suicidal. One young woman said she suffered fifteen years of abuse “scared - not knowing if I would be alive or if I would have something to eat.”

Some of the students had been in Juvenile Hall, many had been runaways. The common thread which ran through all sixteen young lives was their poor academic start. It’s not hard to understand that kids who have learned not to value themselves, lose all motivation to succeed in school. The unrelenting chaos in their lives didn’t allow attention to school work. These children were in many cases so far behind in their high school credits, that they essentially did multiple years of work in their senior year. But, do it they did!

And this is what the East San Jose Kiwanians reward every year. They like to honor the hard, life-changing work these young people have accomplished. These are not the students who will be winning academic awards at honors night – their poor starts preclude that. East San Jose Kiwanis developed the concept of Turn Around Scholarships and has been awarding them since 1968.

Click here for photos.

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Maria Pando, or (408) 691-1593
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Penitencia Creek Road – A History

By Patricia Loomis

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

Gray-robed padres riding mule-back between Mission San Jose and Santa Clara often stopped at the little roadside adobe beside the creek to do penance.

From this practice, early settlers in the area called the creek Penitencia, although earlier explorers had named it Arroyo Aguaje (watering place for cattle).

The creek originally came tumbling from its beginning in the hills east of the big valley down through the steep canyon and across the flat toward Coyote Creek. Before it reached the larger stream, the little creek swung north to fan out in a swamp, re-gather, and meander along northward to its mouth in North Coyote Slough near the bay.

When settlers along the stretch coming out of the canyon needed a road, there was a brief effort to name it for one of the ranchers, but it came more naturally to call it after the creek.

Now hundreds of park visitors follow Penitencia Creek road "Signposts," which have been on valley maps since the days when Alum Rock Park was known as the "City Reservation."

First petition to make the road a county highway was filed with county supervisors in July, 1884, the petitioners noting the road had been in use for more than 30 years.

Among the signers of the petition were Isaiah Shaw, T. J. Maxey, Charles E. White and Austin F. Umbarger, ranchers along the road from its beginning at the Milpitas-Berryessa road (now Capitol avenue) to the mouth of Alum Rock canyon.

When the supervisors granted the petition in December of that year, they named it "Umbarger," perhaps because he, along with White, the largest landowner, granted a strip of land for a bridge.

White road was named for the latter's dad, pioneer of 1846, who served as alcalde and town councilman in San Jose prior to his death in the 1853 explosion of the steamship Jenny Lind. Umbarger road in South San Jose was named in 1899 for Austin's brother, David.

Penitencia, the creek, figured in a famous law suit involving title to land in the Berryessa area.

Nicolas Berryessa was the unsuccessful claimant for Rancho Milpitas and a tragic figure in this valley's history. He was illegally granted the rancho by a San Jose alcalde in 1834, and a year later the rancho was re-granted by Gov. Jose Maria Castro to Jose Maria Alviso, to whom the U. S. Land Commission confirmed the land in 1853.

First Berryessa, then a man named Carpentier, tried to gain title to the league of rich farm land, but lost out mainly because "original" documents they turned up were deemed to be phonies.

One of these, a map, showed Penitencia Creek dumping into the Coyote where it does today, just south of Berryessa road.

This rerouting from the original channel did not occur until a farmer in 1852 plowed a furrow and heavy rains cut it deeper, diverting the Penitencia forever from its long solo journey to the bay. The courts decided the map was made sometime after 1852 and some 20 years after Berryessa received his grant.

Because of the imported water program, Penitencia Creek now has more water in it summer times than it had when young Clay Maxey and the Shaw boys got their feet wet fishing in the creek and picking elderberries which still grow along its banks.

Click here to read about and see the Covered Bridge on Penitencia Creek Road and read about Rock Canyon Circle.

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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.

June 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

This month's Hot Topics article is a bit different. A friend who is writing about California gardening requested a list of plants that are 'hot' right now as well as favorites in our part of the state. I polled our Master Gardeners and am sharing that list with the readers of New Neighborhood Voice.

Don't be put off by the scientific names of the plants. You'll find most of them in the Sunset Western Garden Book or online through a Google Image search (search Google Images using your Google Toolbar or from the Google Home page). Many of these plants are considered to be drought tolerant which is great for our local climate. Perhaps this list will spark some changes to your garden.

Flowering Trees:
Western Redbud, Arbutus 'Marina', Crape Myrtle, Eriobotrya deflexa Bronze Loquat, Cornus capitata, Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem', Crabapple 'Prairiefire', Dogwood 'Eddie's White Wonder', Hymenosporum flavum Sweetshade, Chionanthus retusus Chinese Fringe Tree, Chitalpa tashkentensis, Azara dentata, Fagus sylvatica 'Tricolor' Beech.

Native Plants:
Carpenteria californica, Rhamnus, Rhus, Ceanothus, Heteromeles arbutifolia, Blue Eyed Grass, Wooly Blue Curls, Salvias-all of them, Sticky Monkeyflowers, Epilobiums, Garrya eliptica, Douglas Iris, Eriogonums - all of them, Arctostaphylos, Ribes, Vaccinium ovatum, Lewisias, Penstemons, Triteleia, Brodiaea congesta, Vitis californica, Yarrow.

Achillea 'Powis Castle', Heuchera - the new ones, Leonotis leonurus, Lavandula 'Goodwin Creek', Lavandula 'Grosso', Lavandula multifida 'Fernleaf', Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset', Shasta Daisy 'Crazy Daisy', Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet' [no flowers], Teucrium fruticans 'Azureum', Salvias - all of them, True Geraniums, Tuberose, Scabiosa, Agastache, Oenothera macrocarpa, Persicaria virginiana, Penstemons, Alstroemeria, Hydrangea, Echinacea, Marigold 'Lemon Gem'.

Geranium maderense, Zinnias - florist type, California natives such as Clarkias, Gillias and Blue Flax, Delphinium, Salpiglossus, poppies that self-seed, Arctotis grandis, Agrostemma, Cerinthe major.

Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal', Pennisetum rubrum 'dwarf fountain grass', Lagurus ovatus, Stipa gigantea, Carex - all of them, Tall dwarf fescue, Festuca 'Elijah's Blue', Muhlenbergias - all of them.

Abutilon varieties, Weigela, Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon', Deutzia gracilis, Myrtis communis, Camellias, Cistus, Cestrum nocturnum, Brugmansias, Grevilleas, Corokia cotoneaster, Rosa banksia - all three, Rosa 'Iceberg', Viburnums.

Passionfruit, Mandevilla laxa, Sweet pea, Clematis, Thunbergia, Morning Glory, Bougainvillea, Carolina Jessamine, Grapes, Kiwi, Wisteria.

Daffodils, Ranunculus, Narcissus, Species Tulips, Sparaxis, Ixia, Geissorhiza radians, Freesias, Japanese Iris, Louisiana Iris, Cannas, Watsonia, Babiana, Species Gladiolas, garlic and onions.

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Curtis Horticulture,, (408) 280-7339, CA Lic #826409

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


NNV Visits Two Eastside Gardens on Going Native Tour

“Arvind’s Garden” shines. Recyclers create handsome hardscape.

Lots and lots of folks “went native” for the annual Going Native Garden Tour on a perfect Sunday at the end of April. We Eastsiders were lucky to have four good choices of gardens to visit within easy driving distance. Each year there seem to be more and more folks in our area who are discovering the plants and trees which Mother Nature intended to grow here.

NNV visited two nearby gardens. Of course we went first to the garden of Arvind Kumar and Ashok Jethanandani. NNV readers will remember that Arvind writes prolifically (and expertly!) on growing California native plants for our newsletter’s “You Dig It” department. Over the past five years or so, he and Ashok have planted the front and back yards of their Evergreen tract home with California native plants. A full 95% of their garden is native.

It’s been fascinating to watch the evolution that has occurred in their small garden beds. Probably like most of us, Arvind at first was drawn to those natives which promised the most spectacular blooms for the longest period of time. The garden has matured long enough now that it’s apparent which natives approve of A. & A.’s microclimate and which were struggling to hold on. Arvind’s latest tactic is to locate native plants which are not just specific to California in general or to Northern California or to the Bay Area, but to our valley in particular. This means that the garden no longer looks like a collection of individual specimen plants, but rather like a meadow with naturally occurring masses of happy-go-lucky natives contentedly filling in the blanks beneath the trees and shrubs.

The other garden we visited was at a hillside home on Creekmore Way above Evergreen Valley High School. This garden was more recently planted than Arvind’s and its hardscape “bones” were still a bit raw. These gardeners have made extensive use of recycling. The retaining walls of their raised garden beds in the backyard were very successfully constructed of concrete rubble from an old patio which the owners no longer wanted. What appears to be a handsome flagstone path is actually made up of large pieces of concrete rubble!

In one large raised bed is the framework of a planned garden railroad. At this point, it’s just a large figure eight of white PVC pipe nearly inundated by a magnificent crop of orange and gold nasturtiums. “They just volunteered there!” explained the owner. Tender blossomed, peppery-fragranced nasturtiums are actually native to South America, but almost none of the native gardens are absolutely 100% “native” – and they don’t need to be to qualify for the tour. NNV hopes that this particular Evergreen garden is on the tour again next year so we can see the natives - Artemisia, Manzanita and Ceanothus after they’ve had a chance to settle in and the little railroad is up and running. And, if it were left to us, we’d encourage the sweet nasturtiums to continue in their volunteer work.

Click here for photos from the tour.

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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.


Healthy Living

Healthy Eating on the Run: A Month of Tips

By Nancy Bugwadia, MS, RD, CNSD, Clinical Manager of Nutrition Services, Regional Medical Center

Increasingly, consumers want fast, easy, and good tasting foods to fit a busy lifestyle. Whether it's fast food, take-out, or a sit-down restaurant, eating out has become part of the American lifestyle. Today, food is available almost everywhere we go – schools, businesses, drugstores, convenience stores, bookstores, supermarkets, vending machines, sports and cultural events and recreation centers. The following tips will help you make wise food choices for "Healthy Eating, Healthy You."

  1. Take time to look over the menu and make a careful selection.

  2. Choose fried foods only sometimes – go for grilled, broiled, or steamed foods more often.

  3. Order the regular or kid-size portion. Mega-sized servings are probably more then you need.

  4. Make milk or a low-fat shake your beverage for an extra calcium boost.

  5. Try a side salad instead of fries.

  6. Split your order. Share fries or an extra large sandwich with a friend.

  7. Boost the nutrients in all kinds of sandwiches by adding tomato, peppers and other vegetables.

  8. In place of fries or fried onion rings, order corn on the cob, green beans or baked beans, or rice.

  9. A baked potato offers more fiber and fewer calories than fries, just go easy on the sour cream and butter. Top your potato with broccoli, a small amount of cheese or salsa.

  10. At the deli or sub shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey, or chicken on whole grain bread.

  11. For a lighter meal, order an appetizer for your entrée.

  12. Go easy on condiments, special sauces and dressings on sandwiches and salads. Ask for mustard, catsup, salsa or low-fat spreads and dressings.

  13. Enjoy ethnic foods such as Chinese stir-fry, vegetable-stuffed pita or Mexican burrito. Go easy on the sour cream, cheese and guacamole.

  14. At the salad bar, pile on the dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers and other fresh vegetables. Lighten up on mayonnaise-based salads and high fat toppings.

  15. Restaurant portions too large? Take home half the main course for another meal.

  16. Order salad with dressing on the side so you can control how much is added.

  17. Eat your lower-calorie food first. Soup or salad is a good choice.

  18. Pass up all-you-can-eat specials, buffets and unlimited salad bars if you tend to eat too much.

  19. If you do choose the buffet, fill up on salad and vegetables first. Take no more than two trips and use the small plate which holds less food.

  20. Try a smoothie made with juice, fruit and yogurt for a light lunch or snack.

  21. For dessert, choose fresh fruit or a container of fruit chunks if available. Or, share dessert with a friend.

  22. Load up your pizza with vegetable toppings. If you add meat, make it lean ham, Canadian bacon, chicken or shrimp.

  23. Look for a sandwich wrap in a soft tortilla. Fillings such as rice mixed with seafood, chicken or grilled vegetables are usually low in fat.

  24. For the fastest breakfast of all, go with dry cereal and milk. Make the cereal whole-grain or bran and you'll get fiber along with B vitamins and complex carbohydrates.

  25. Build a better breakfast sandwich - replace the bacon or sausage with Canadian bacon or ham and order your sandwich on an English muffin, bagel or bun.

  26. Instead of a doughnut, order an English muffin, bagel or a plain soft baked pretzel. Lightly spread the cream cheese or margarine - or just use jam or jelly.

  27. Refrigerate take-out or leftovers if the food won't be eaten right away. Toss foods kept at room temperature for more than two hours.

  28. Be size wise about muffins, bagels, croissants and biscuits. A jumbo muffin has twice the fat grams and calories as the regular size.

  29. Look for yogurt and fruit for a quick on the run breakfast to start your day.

  30. Tuck portable, nonperishable foods in your purse, briefcase or backpack for on-the-go snacking. For example, crackers and peanut butter, small boxes of cereal, dried fruit, pretzels, or plain popcorn.

  31. Fresh fruit is already packaged to go. Try a variety of seasonal fruits.

Click here for a photo from RMC.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletThe threat of “Pombo’s Road” being built through our neighborhood is all over, isn’t it?
bulletDo you know how much they’re asking for the new homes where Bill’s Pony Ranch was?
bulletAny word on the La Bodega business in the Village? Will that eyesore be fixed soon?
bulletWhat’s the new construction going on in front of James Lick High School?
bulletWhy didn’t they send an engine from Station 2 to a nearby fire?
bulletWhy are there so few adult fiction books at the new Cruz/Alum Rock Library?

Q. The threat of “Pombo’s Road” being built through our neighborhood is all over, isn’t it?

A. Don’t we wish! U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo (R. Tracy) is still planning to build a six-lane highway over Mt. Hamilton from the back of the mountain to a terminus on Alum Rock Avenue at Mt. Hamilton Road. An $8 million feasibility study has been funded.

We recently asked Peter Drekmeier of PLAN (People for Land and Nature, the land conservation initiative) whether the initiative, if passed, would have an impact on Pombo’s Road. Here’s what he said, “The Initiative can't stop state or federal projects, so it wouldn't stop the Pombo freeway. However, it would take away the speculative value of such a project. In other words, developers would be less likely to push for the freeway as a means of opening up the Mt. Hamilton range to a lot more development.”

This is an extremely good reason for East San Joseans to advocate for passage of the initiative.

Click here to read more about the PLAN initiative.

Q. I think I might want to buy one of the new homes at “Sundance” where the old Bill’s Pony Ranch stood – on Alum Rock near Fleming. Do you know how much they’re asking for them?

A. Well, these houses have been selling like hotcakes, so you’re going to have to hurry to get one. This Braddock and Logan development had its grand opening on April 29th. Eight of the seventeen homes were sold on that first day! The second release of six homes is expected to sell out immediately this week. Then all that will be left will be the models on Alum Rock.

Eleven houses have been built so far and all seventeen will be completed by July or August according to sales rep Ginny Benetti. Prices range from $875,800 to $898,800. Square footage ranges from 2,172 to 2,382. The three floor plans have either five bedrooms or four bedrooms with loft.

If you want to score one of these homes, you can call (408) 254-8438 and check the hours they’re open.

Click here for a photo (under the mailbox).

Q. Any word on the La Bodega business in the Village? Will that eyesore be fixed soon?

A. There is some good news to report. The defunct, ratty looking building at the corner of Alum Rock Avenue and Manning may receive some TLC one of these days. On May 11th NNV happened to pass by the shop and there, miraculously, two men were crouched on the sidewalk studying plans! Of course your editor grilled them on the spot.

The two men were from Duplan Construction and they were there to scope out the place so their company could make bids on the work needing to be done both inside and out. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything will happen soon, but it does mean that owner Rogelio Ruiz and/or the San Jose Redevelopment Agency got the message that the community is fed up with looking at this crummy mess which blights the Village.

Click here for a photo (under the Sundance Home).

Q. What’s the new construction going on in front of James Lick High School?

A. To go along with its extensive interior facelift, the main entrance area of the administration building will have a new driveway and parking area for visitors.

Click here for photos.

Q. Engine 19 from Berryessa was the first fire engine to respond to a house fire at N. Cragmont and Hyland Avenues recently and it took at least 15 minutes for them to get there. Why didn’t they send an engine from Station 2 on Alum Rock Avenue, which is much closer to that corner?

A. San Jose Fire Department trucks and engines are dispatched from a central location downtown so the fire department can use their resources more effectively. Yes, they usually respond from the nearest station but, if the Station 2 vehicles were busy somewhere else, the first engine might come from Station 19, which is just up White Road north of Penitencia Creek Road. Or it might come up White Road from Station 21 on Mt. Pleasant Road.

Says SJFD Public Information Officer, Captain Alberto Olmos, “Our target time from dispatch to arrival is 8 minutes. From the information I have received, our first arriving Fire Company (at this particular fire) arrived before our 8 minute target time. We always dispatch the nearest available Engine or Truck Company to an emergency. Often during an emergency, what appears to be a certain amount of time is not accurate. Under extreme stress and anxiety, seven minutes may feel like fifteen.”

You can listen to the San Jose Fire Department on your scanner as they and other fire departments coordinate their operations in this area. The SJFD primary (dispatch) frequency is 155.0250 MHz. Click here to read more about Station 2.

Click here for the SJFD Web site and then click on “Station Locations” to see where the SJFD stations are. Click here for the SJFD News and Public Information BLOG. Click here for photos of the SJFD vehicles in Alum Rock Village.

There will be a meeting to discuss public art for the planned new Station 2 on Thursday, June 15, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM, at the Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Branch Library.  See our Community Bulletin Board for more details on this meeting.

NNV Note: Eight minutes is the SJFD general response target time. Obviously their response time will be longer to some distant unincorporated County areas.

Q. Why are there so few adult fiction books at the new Cruz/Alum Rock Library? I could find tons of stuff for kids and teenagers, but the collection for adults sure seems meager!

A. Head librarian, Nora Conte, says that more materials are continuing to come into the branch all the time. “A significant number of new titles will be trickling in during the next six months,” she promised. She says that many of them will be adult fiction.

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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 6/2/06.

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