New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 38 - Section 2

August 6, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Signs on Alum
Rock Avenue


SJFD Shark
Engine at JLHS


Dave Leone,


Steve Von Till,




Overfelt House


CM Campos
cut the ribbon

House interior

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NNV Crashes Mt. Hamilton Dwellers’ Annual Picnic – Well Sort Of…

Ranchers discuss their concerns, eat tri-tip, chew fat, party gently

Ill-conceived Land Conservation Initiative resistance planned

There’s an organization called the Mt. Hamilton Range Improvement Association which most flatlanders never hear of – let alone get an invite to their annual June picnic. However, that’s just what happened to us a few weeks ago. We accepted the invitation readily – so we could get a handle on our most far-flung neighbors - the ranchers, landowners and plain folks who live in the vicinity of Lick Observatory in the rarefied air of the Mount Hamilton summit.

Remember the scene in “Bonnie and Clyde” where B. and C. take a break from holding up banks so they can attend a Parker family picnic where Bonnie sees her dear little old wrinkled granny for the last time? Well, the MHRIA picnic grounds had a similar atmosphere - or so it seemed to me. The place is off a beaten path which we could never find again in a hundred years. When we arrived, we could discern little knots of people speaking softly in a small surreal clearing among crusty old oaks. Granny Parker could easily have been one of the ladies conversing among themselves. The men (many with cowboy hats and chunky silver belt buckles) did their gentle old-boy networking thing with shoulder pats and hearty handshakes.

It’s a good thing the Parkers didn’t attend, because there was a distinct law enforcement presence at this picnic. If flatlanders think that the folks who seem so hidden-away up in the mountains live there because they like to grow and smoke funny weeds, au contraire. One of the big concerns up there is about criminals who squat on others’ land to plant and tend marijuana. It’s an ongoing problem in an area so large, remote and unsecurable (see the related NNV Brief below from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office).

The June picnic is the occasion for the annual business meeting – or vice versa really. All the neighbors’ concerns are aired. Besides marijuana intruders, bicyclists present a major headache. Apparently the skinny, benign-looking weekend athletes who ply Mount Hamilton Road are often arrogant and pushy and make driving hazardous for the area’s inhabitants. No remedy is in sight, however.

The Land Conservation Initiative which seems so reasonable and logical to flatlanders who want to preserve their views of pristine hills, is anathema to the members of MHRIA. They think, correctly, that they and their welfare are not being considered by the environmentalists who would impose draconian and ill-conceived parameters on their properties (see the related Anti-Measure A Initiative, story just below).

What else do these quiet folks worry about in their little piece of Eden? Fire. Just like us folks who live below Mt. Hamilton, the MHRIA members worry about wildfires on their slopes. A CDF captain spoke at length to the group about the same-old same-old (but absolutely essential) creating “defensible space” so fire responders can save people and property.

And, just like the rest of us, the hill-dwellers are concerned about their schools. They’re very concerned because they don’t have any! The tiny school on Mount Hamilton adjacent to the Observatory closed last year. It has been an on-again-off-again part of the Alum Rock school district for years and, it is now “off-again.” It’s not hard to understand why ARUESD balks at funding a school for a tiny handful of kids. It’s also not hard to understand why Mt. Hamilton parents don’t relish a one-hour-plus drive to and from Linda Vista Elementary every day. It’s another concern with no foreseeable remedy.

We tried to get a few comments about Pombo’s Road, the six-lane highway which U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo (R.-Tracy) says he would like to see built across Mt. Hamilton from Tracy to Alum Rock Avenue. Those MHRIA-ers we spoke with are pretty much ho-hum about it. Apparently such a road has been discussed for so many years that they’ve grown weary – and contemptuous – of the talk. We hope they’re right, of course.

By the way, adding to the surreal quality of this picnic was the absence of yellowjackets. Not a one. Picture a team of barbequeists tending and cooking a boatload of tri-tips, eventually slicing and serving the juicy meat – and no yellowjackets appear. Helps us to understand why the die-hard residents up there are willing to navigate those gazillion stomach-churning hairpin turns to get home, hey?

Click here for photos.

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Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Concerns Ignored by Conservation Initiative

Poorly drawn Viewshed Measure would hurt agriculture

From Jenny Derry, Executive Director, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Measure A – the land use initiative that will come before voters in November 2006. We know community members are learning about Measure A and we wanted to share some thoughts from the farmer and rancher perspective.

Our industry is going strong in Santa Clara County. We have about 550 active farming operations that produced $252 million in agricultural crops in 2005. Santa Clara Valley farms, by and large, are family farming operations with several generations working together to grow fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, grains and hay, and raise cattle, timber and nursery crops – all on rural, unincorporated land governed by the Santa Clara County General Plan.

The Land Use Initiative, if passed, would cause hundreds of changes to the General Plan. These changes would have an immense impact on rural landowners. In our case, our concern lies with the 550 ranchers and farmers of Santa Clara Valley, who make their livelihood outside of city borders. We are opposed to Measure A because:

  1. The measure was authored behind closed doors. In Santa Clara County, and especially in the past decade, there have been many examples of successful collaborations between homeowners, farmers, ranchers and environmentalists. For instance, the new Williamson Act laws, the Grazing Solutions Plan, the Animal Ordinance and the Water Resources Protection Ordinance were all written through cooperative stakeholder groups. Measure A purports to save farming and ranching, but the Farm Bureau, the Santa Clara County Cattlemen, farmers and ranchers were never consulted.

  2. If passed, the measure would immediately devalue farmers’ and ranchers’ biggest asset – their land. Just as in any business, the largest assets allow businesses to remain flexible, to attain loans when needed and also help farmers and ranchers keep their families involved in businesses that can often be located in remote locations. By increasing minimum lot sizes, Measure A would make it harder for farmers and ranchers to pass on property to their children or to allow them to build homes close to the farming operation. The larger minimum lot sizes demanded by Measure A would make it nearly impossible for farmers to start a new operation or expand an existing farm or ranch.

  3. The measure will make it harder for farmers and ranchers to continue farming in the Santa Clara Valley. The Initiative contains so many restrictions, it would be impossible to list them all here. The view shed portions would severely restrict where homes, barns or other necessary facilities could be located. One restriction would force ranchers to build all necessary facilities within a 3-acre envelope – including barns, tack rooms, corrals, veterinary facilities and their own personal home. These restrictions do not take into account the realities of farming and ranching – no wonder since the authors never asked for our opinions.

The goals of Measure A coincide with many of our goals: We want to continue farming in the Santa Clara Valley far into the future, on land fit for farming, with adequate and protected natural resources.

Because of this goal, the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau has for the past three years run its own Ag Water Quality Program, which educates farmers and ranchers on efficient and environmentally sensitive use of water. Through the program, 58 percent of the agricultural land in Santa Clara County is now covered under voluntarily written Farm Water Quality Plans. We will continue to increase that number in the coming years.

Our Ag Water Quality Program is so highly regarded that it recently received the State of California’s highest environmental honor – the Governor’s Economic and Environmental Leadership Award – in the category of Ecosystem and Watershed Stewardship.

In addition, we have and will continue to work on committees that further the goals of protected view sheds, no building on ridgelines, and clean water. We believe in urban development in the cities, not in the county. We believe in an open and public process to decide land use issues in Santa Clara County. It is the only way to ensure that all parties understand each other’s needs and desires.

An open and public process was not used to author Measure A. Unfortunately, due to the laws that govern the Initiative process, there is no way to fix it now.

We would be happy to speak with any member of the community to clarify our issues or to answer questions. Just e-mail We hope Santa Clara County residents will stand with our fellow farmers and ranchers and vote No on Measure A in November. There are too many unanswered questions and too many real, adverse affects for landowners who want to continue farming and ranching in Santa Clara County now and into the future.


Bill Gil, President, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau and owner of family farm, The Grass Farm
Mike Miller, President, Santa Clara County Cattlemen’s Assoc. and longtime rancher
Pete Aiello, part-owner of family farm, Uesugi Farms
Tim Chiala, part-owner of family farm, George Chiala Farms
Jenny Derry, executive director, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau

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Alum Rock Village Farmers’ Market Wholeheartedly Embraced!

Fragrant Fruits and Veggies, Flowers and Baked Goods, Fresh Fish, Live Music and Fun!

Our much-anticipated weekly Certified Farmers’ Market opened with fanfare on Sunday, June 4th and has been building ever since. As promised by Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association Director John Silveira, there were more than thirty participating vendors on opening day. Each Sunday sees yet more vendors participating.

Our neighborhood came out in good numbers to see the ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring City Councilmember Nora Campos and Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, YSI Thrift’s Daniel Margulies representing the Alum Rock Village Business Association, Principal Bill Rice of James Lick High School (which hosts the event) and, dressed in magnificent beta-carotene orange, Mr. Carrot himself.

The produce was beautiful and delicious. The prices were reasonable – very reasonable. The variety of exotic and mundane was pleasant. The fresh fish was fresh; the halibut we purchased was impeccable. Should we have known how to prepare them, we could have bought fresh anchovies! Adding an international ambiance to the atmosphere was a stand where Philippine stuffed milkfish was sold.

The divine Bing cherries were spectacular. There were some fruit varieties which were a little baffling – for instance, what’s the difference between a “pluot” and an “aprium”? Both are crosses between plums and apricots. We can tell you only that the apriums look like apricots and the pluots look like plums. But both hybrids are better than their parents.

On subsequent Sundays the numbers of vendors and shoppers have grown markedly. The roomy Lick High School lot has become more and more cramped as market attendance has swelled. Overflow parkers needed to find other parking sites on Sunday, July 16th, but it’s a decided advantage to shop with one’s car parked nearby. Frequent skedaddles back to one’s vehicle to unload heavy purchases make leisurely shopping possible. This is in contrast with the Friday morning San Pedro Square downtown Farmers’ Market where one has to park in a large parking structure – sometimes on an upper floor!

Alum Rockers (as well as folks from Berryessa, Milpitas and Evergreen) are enthusiastically supporting this colorful and wholesome addition to the neighborhood. Market manager, Kurtis Moyer, said there is even a large contingent of early arrivees who show up at 6:30 AM for the market which has an official time-line of 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM!

Most Sundays the festive atmosphere is enhanced by musicians serenading the shoppers – mostly with oldies-but-goodies. One Sunday, pony-tailed “Big Dog and The Bite” had every toe tapping. On July 16th, “Coyote Slim” (aka Ian Herrick) did the musical honors. Market musicians play basically for tips – PCFMA pays just a token $25. Adding music to the mix really adds to the allure. It’s easy to toss your leftover change (and you end up with a significant amount of it weighing down your pockets) into the musicians’ open guitar cases as you finish up shopping.

The market is sponsored by the Alum Rock Village Business Association (ARVA) which primarily is made up of the small businesses in The Village. Each week one of those businesses has an opportunity to staff a special table at the market to share coupons and information with market shoppers. This is an opportunity for the community to meet The Village’s loyal business people, many of them decades-long occupants of our tiny business district.

If June and July’s market Sundays are any indication of things to come, the Alum Rock Village Farmers’ Market will be a tremendous, classy permanent attraction to our neighborhood. Bravo!

Click here for photos.

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

Pandemic Influenza... Are You Prepared?

Call Regional HealthSource 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

bulletMary Bumb DeTar, 1952-2006 - Requiescat in pace from Mark DeTar
bulletBig Bang-Up Alumni-and-Community Gathering to Celebrate Lick’s New Stadium!
bulletNew ARA Fire Station Two Planned - Public art being selected to enhance new facility
bulletSwallow-Tailed Aviators Train and Dine in Alum Rock Park by Richard Brown
bulletRecollections of McKee and White Roads Intersection “Back in the Day” from Linda Karadunis
bulletMcKee Green Plaza Breaks Ground on White Road near McKee
bulletUnlawful Marijuana Cultivation from Lt. Kristen Tarabetz, SCC Sheriff’s Office
bulletWant to Find Out Who’s Stealing Your Mail? One neighbor’s solution by Tony Logan
bulletAlum Rock Youth Shines in Top Dad Contest - David tells why his dad should be “Top Dad”
bulletHillcrest Neighbors Honor Founding Fathers on July 4th by Veronica Wildanger
bulletCelebrate at the Plaza from Darlene Tenes
bulletARUESD’s new Superintendent Norma Martinez Welcomed
bulletAlum Rock District Celebrates and Honors Its Employees from Al Gonzales
bulletFleming Neighbors’ Anti-New-Housing Campaign Pays Off
bulletYSI Tries New Fundraising Tack – Science Matters! Why not think big?
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue: Growing number of “Available” signs in the Village
bulletLick Science Students Learn Wildland Fire Safety and Poll Others for Fire Safe Council
bulletWouldn’t It be Positively Utopian to Have a Reliable Handyman?

Mary Bumb DeTar, 1952-2006

Requiescat in pace

From Mark DeTar

Mrs. Mary De Tar passed away last month surrounded by all of her loved ones, after having received the last rites. Breast cancer finally caught up to her after eight years of a hard fought fight with complete reliance on God; such a wonderful example to all of us. Her last breath came just after the completion of the Rosary by all present. In your charity, please remember her in your prayers. The Rosary was held at Darling and Fischer Funeral Home in San Jose and the Requiem Mass at St. Athanasius. Burial followed at Calvary Cemetery on Capitol Avenue.

Thus passes a beautiful soul to the throne of God for judgment.

If you have the time, please repeat the following prayer as often as possible:

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her, may she rest in peace. May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Requiescat in pace

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Save the Date! Save the Date! Save the Date!

Big Bang-Up Alumni-and-Community Gathering to Celebrate Lick’s New Stadium!

This year’s James Lick High School Homecoming will be a spectacular event featuring the official dedication of the glorious new football stadium/track complex which was recently completed. This will be an opportunity to feast our eyes on an appropriately deluxe appurtenance to our grand little high school which has begun to soar once more.

Mark Saturday, October 28th for this event-of-events. Watch NNV for details and contact information. Remember, “Once a Comet, Always a Comet!” And, even if you were never fortunate enough to be a Comet, it’s not too late to get on the band wagon and become a supporter of our ambitious local high school. This is what community is all about!

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New ARA Fire Station Two Planned

Public art being selected to enhance new facility

The old patched together SJFD Station Two on Alum Rock Avenue just west of the James Lick High School athletic fields will be razed soon and a new station will be built approximately in its footprint. The new station will have all the up-to-date amenities including accommodations for both genders of firefighters – something the old station didn’t have.

Something else the old station didn’t have was public art. The “New Two” will include a $90,000 art installation which will be designed and executed by L.A. artist, Roberto Delgado. Mr. Delgado was chosen by a committee of interested neighbors (which includes Battalion Chief Jose Luna who works at the station and lives in the neighborhood) who met in June at our new library to view representative work by ten professional artists suggested by the City’s Public Art Program.

Mr. Delgado has designed many public art projects for civic applications such as fire and police stations, airports and for private corporations such as Kodak. His work includes many types of ceramic tiles and pavers as well as murals done in varying media and techniques.

The community committee met with Mr. Delgado for the first time on July 24 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. He had met with the firefighters of Station 2 that morning to learn their tastes and interests for the project. After showing slides of some of his previous work, he listened to the community members make their suggestions as to what Eastside historic or cultural icons should be commemorated in the design – and what sort of statement the piece should make to the community at large.

It sounded as though Mr. Delgado will propose a project which will incorporate richly embellished pavers sporadically arranged on the floor/patio of the inside and outside of the entryway as well as a large work which will be visible to drivers passing by on Alum Rock. The latter may be made up of smaller, puzzle-like pieces which will incorporate overlapping layers of detail such as photos and icons relevant to the Alum Rock area. Mr. Delgado especially likes to overlap images sufficiently to create an abstraction which viewers “have to figure out,” he says. Art becomes tiring when it doesn’t challenge the viewer to interact with it, he suggests. He employs air-brush and silkscreen techniques to transfer the images to the ceramic tiles.

Another meeting will be held this month. All interested neighbors are invited to attend. Watch the NNV bulletin board for dates and times.

Click here for photos from the meetings.

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Swallow-Tailed Aviators Train and Dine in Alum Rock Park

Bumper bug crop on menu for swallow family gathering

By Richard Brown

The almost non-stop rain took us straight through spring and into summer. It brought green hills with a bumper crop of vegetation, or for those of you who prefer to use its summer nomenclature, fuel. This was being billed as the very worst allergy season and although I don't know why, I've had the least amount of trouble this year on that score.

Those venturing into the park late spring would have noticed another effect of nature's bounty, a bumper crop of bugs. You couldn't travel a trail or pathway without encountering swarms of them with each one seeming bent on suicide by ingestion into nose, mouth or eye. This should not be an uncommon occurrence for a Minnesota lad but we are spoiled now and thankfully, this time, it would last little more than a week before salvation was upon us.

And so we were much heartened to see the phoebes doing their air dance and the swallows swooping about. We've been seeing many more phoebes lately and have been observing a bumper crop of new swallows. I took this as a heartily good sign as I am well aware of their capacious appetites (While in Provence, our villa was inundated by swallows early morning and evening and we stayed out till all hours in that perfect clime entirely bug free).

At first we sighted a few young swallows during our morning run through the park, a couple of broods in a bare tree with the parents flying about and bringing food to the gaping mouths of their young ones. If I stayed for awhile, they eventually became accustomed to my presence and I could stay pretty close while the parents returned to their duties. This was during Sue's early morning run so low light meant no stop action; any movement of the subject is recorded. This went on throughout the week until finally, towards the end of the week, I visited the tree for a short while during midday and found it filled with several broods of young swallows and their parents.

The young ones would make short flights and spend the rest of their time keeping an eye out, opening their mouths and raising a cacophony every time a parent flew near. It was the last day I would see them. It appears that this tree was their location for flight school, coming out of their nests in the morning I'm supposing and returning at night. We'll miss watching this fascinating display but are most happy to welcome these new arrivals into the ranks of fly catchers.

Click here for photos. Here’s a website for further information on swallows:

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Recollections of McKee and White Roads Intersection “Back in the Day”

Valley of Heart’s Delight era property cleared for new retail construction

 From Linda Karadunis

Upon seeing another historic property bite the dust, neighbors Linda and Ed Karadunis sent us their recollections of the people and properties which once-upon-a-time (or really not so long ago) ringed the intersection of White and McKee Roads.

Wrote Linda: We have seen lots of changes on White Road. Recently another historic spot went down.

Near the corner of White Road and McKee, the old Ponzini house and apricot orchard have gone down to make way for another mall. The property was marked by a rustic little flower shop which originally was part of a dehydrator the Ponzinis used to dry their prunes and apricots.

The Ponzinis’ house originally stood on the corner where Kentucky Fried Chicken is now. The property’s boundaries went from Gay Avenue to McKee and from White Road to the other side of Capitol Avenue. Besides the main house and orchard, there was a drying shed for apricots. The Ponzinis grew both prunes and apricots in their orchard and also trucked prunes in from the valley to add to their own. There was a one room school on Gay Avenue tucked in the orchard.

The Ponzini family engaged in several other endeavors as well as agriculture. Frank and his sister Julia had the main orchard and the big house. Andy had a garage for auto repair. Freddy had a gas station. Louie had the orchards across White Road to the east.

There was once an original adobe house where the McKee Road northbound 680 entrance is. It was owned by the Gianotta family who had a large orchard of prunes where the big shopping center and mobile home park are now. The Gianottas also had a cherry orchard which was where the Target store and Painter and Sheppard schools stand now.

Where El Baron Rojo is today, there once was a blacksmith shop. The man who ran it repaired all kinds of things including old tractors. It was fascinating to Ed as a child to visit and see the firebox and bellows and the way the man fixed things.

Linda adds: If anyone has more information or photos would they please send them to NNV?

Click here for photos from Gina Jackman.

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McKee Green Plaza Breaks Ground on White Road near McKee

Exit: The old Ponzini place. Enter: A new retail and professional complex.

Next in line – Alum Rock Village Feed & Fuel corner

NNV Note: Neighbors Ed and Linda Karadunis recently e-mailed us the nostalgic little article above about their remembrances of the Ponzini’s historic old orchard which has been razed for new construction. At almost exactly the same time, Gina Jackman, Manager of Operations for KAL Design Group, called to tell us about the new McKee Green Plaza which will be built on the property. This was a great convergence of people interested in the same property and of a tattered old relic reluctantly making way for an exuberant newcomer.

The tiny old-fashioned flower shop which it seems forever inhabited a ramshackle, slap-dash shed just south of KFC at the corner of White and McKee will be commemorated as part of a super new complex which has begun construction at the site. A flower kiosk will stand front and center in the middle of the complex complementing a handsome clock tower.

The new two-story building will house 22,780 square feet of retail and professional space, KAL’s Gina Jackman told us. Most probably the professional spaces will be home to medical offices.

The “Green” in McKee Green Plaza's name refers to environmentally friendly design which makes the most of orientation and energy efficient features. Although the special amenities will add approximately $200,000 to the cost of building, it is projected that they will pay for themselves in energy costs within five years.

Tenants should enjoy potential 30-40% savings on their energy bills because of special SEER heating and air-conditioning equipment, solar control awnings, interior light shelves, tubular skylights, low-E windows with “daylighting” photosensors and “cool roof” installation. The building’s owners, RUMI Group LLC, hope the project will achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a coalition of building industry leaders who work to promote environmentally healthy places to live and work. Achieving LEED status would be a first for any retail development in San Jose!

The project is slated for completion early in 2007. Next in line for KAL is something NNV readers have been impatiently waiting for – a new project for the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner in The Village. The details are still nebulous, but from what Ms. Jackman tells us, KAL treats its projects with sensitivity and care. The flower kiosk at McKee Green Plaza conveys a sweet touch which links old and new. We can hope that the ARF&F project receives such TLC in its design details.

Click here for photos if you didn't look at them for the story above.

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Unlawful Marijuana Cultivation

Risks, recognition and reporting

From Lt. Kristen Tarabetz, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office

Marijuana Cultivation

Marijuana is illegal and the most frequently used illicit drug in America. The majority of domestically grown Marijuana occurs in California. The vast majority of Marijuana is grown on public lands, State Parks and County Parks. The sale of Marijuana is a very lucrative business and many growers will protect their investment.

Safety Concerns

Often one or more armed subjects will live in a Marijuana garden to tend to the cash crop and guard against theft. Booby traps have been associated with grow sites. Marijuana related violence is mostly in association with cultivation.

Environmental Concerns

Unauthorized use of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers, as well as illegal trash dumping, also occurs with Marijuana cultivation. This endangers wildlife, degrades water quality, and harms the ecosystem.

Recognition - Signs of Cultivation

• Litter – food packaging, empty beverage containers, beer cans, empty containers of fertilizers or insecticide

• Well-worn human trails.

• Water pipes – usually black flexible tubing commonly used in landscaping or garden hoses used to transport water from streams and springs to the marijuana gardens.

• Check dams – to act as a reservoir for water. They are lined with plastic and camouflaged to deter observation.

• Cultivation Supplies – Potting soil, coils of flexible tubing, digging tools, tarps, pesticide or fertilizer.

• Personal Supplies – camouflaged tents or shelters, personal hygiene products, clothing, fresh produce, perishable goods, canned food and propane stoves.

Marijuana Plants

Marijuana gardens may contain plants in various stages of growth, depending on the time of the year. In the germination or seedling phase, the garden will usually consist of Marijuana plants growing in plastic cups or small plastic bags. As the plants mature, they are transplanted into the ground. Sometimes the plants are protected by chicken wire. A mature plant could grow to twelve feet tall and several feet in diameter depending on the strain of Marijuana. The plants produce a pungent odor, often described as similar to a skunk, when harvest time approaches.


If you discover signs of Marijuana cultivation…STOP, take careful note and leave the area. Do NOT confront possible suspects. The best way for you to assist law enforcement is to report:

• Location (marked on a map)

• Description of observations

• Description of people/vehicles

• Vehicle license plates

• When (date and time)

Notify Law Enforcement or Park Rangers as soon as possible.

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Special Operations Division – (408) 808-4770
Marijuana Detection and Eradications Team – (408) 808-4420
Outside Santa Clara County, notify local law enforcement

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Want to Find Out Who’s Stealing Your Mail?

One neighbor’s solution

By Tony Logan

Recently I purchased a "trail-camera" from

Such a device, when mounted correctly, can be aimed at your mailbox and capture images of whoever stops at the mail box. Some, like my trail camera, have two types of flash for night time capture of images. One of the flashes is the standard incandescent type we are all familiar with. The other is an infrared flash that does not give off the characteristic flash of light, but if the camera is within 15 feet of the mailbox, should work OK.

Mine runs on four D sized batteries and will run for a month on one set. You can use, for instance, 1 GB of SD type memory - more than enough for most applications. There is even a movie mode where 15-second film clips can be captured. The cycle time is variable anywhere from 30 seconds up to 2 minutes between shots.

Site selection is perhaps the most important part of the whole deal. The camera can be aimed using a built-in laser pointer and can be secured to a post or tree as needed.

Click here for photos.

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Alum Rock Youth Shines in Top Dad Contest

David tells why his dad should be “Top Dad”

NNV Note: Nine-year-old David Perea, a fourth grader this Fall at Saint John Vianney School, was honored at the second annual Silicon Valley Top Dads Luncheon held in June at the San Jose Hyatt Hotel. Three hundred children wrote essays about their dads – David’s was among the most outstanding fifty entered. David lives with his mom and dad (Cindy and David, Sr.), sister Denise and brother Daniel near Alum Rock Avenue not far from Calvary Cemetery.

From the program of the occasion: “The Top Dad Luncheon is part of a program to help raise community awareness about the importance of fathering and honors fathers who rarely receive recognition outside of their immediate family.” It is a project of Building Peaceful Families and is designed to improve writing skills and stimulate children’s thinking about their fathers or father figures.

Top Dad

My Dad should be Top Dad because he has always been by our side through ear aches, hurt knees, when we are sick and most of all baseball practices/games. He worked for the City of San Jose for 30 years. He has gotten up at 5:00am every morning and at times he has worked 2 jobs to help earn more money so we could have a good education.

My Dad decided to have bariatric surgery because his health was bad and he could not even run or play with us. He now can run and walk without getting tired. He said that he wanted the surgery so he could live longer for us kids.

My dad has always put us kids first when it came to things that we needed.

My Dad takes us to fun places. We go fishing, camping and our favorite place is Disneyland. He will even go on rides over and over again just because we like them.

I would like to teach my kids how to be proud of who they are and to do their best. I would also take my kids to new places and just spend time together.

Thank You
David Perea 9 years old.

Click here for photos.

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Hillcrest Neighbors Honor Founding Fathers on July 4th

By Veronica Wildanger, organizer of the celebration

On Tuesday July 4th, nearly 100 neighbors of the Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch gathered for a half-day of outdoor activities to celebrate our nation's 230th birthday. The celebration kicked off with a 1-mile neighborhood health and fun run, which some neighbors repeated several times. Save Mart supermarket generously donated several cases of bottled water to quench everyone's thirst.

So that no one forgot the history surrounding the date, six neighbors had the honor of reading the complete transcript of the Declaration of Independence, our nation's official certificate of birth. As the names of the 56 signers were read, neighbors cheered a hearty "Huzzah" in gratitude for freedom and liberty. The reading was made more special when one of Hillcrest's newest residents did a terrific job singing the Star-Spangled Banner (a very difficult song to master!).

Then came an all-American parade with flags, music, kids riding bicycles they'd decorated and others wearing costumes. The day concluded with a potluck of excellent food. Save Mart donated $5 gift cards which were awarded to the best dishes in each of the potluck categories. Peter's Bakery donated a "Happy Birthday America" cake. This was a celebration with water balloons and crafts for the kids, and plenty of blueberry desserts and festive dishes.

What makes this day special at Hillcrest is the people. We are celebrating the greatness of our country and its rich historical past together. Neighbors who are very busy and don't see each other a lot can take the time to sit and eat together. This was a great day to see and be seen in our red, white, and blue.

Click here for photos.

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Celebrate at the Plaza

From Darlene Tenes, Marketing Maniacs

On June 29, the Mexican Heritage Plaza welcomed the community to come take a wonderful tour of its unique location and indulge in the musical sounds and savory delights of Spain, Mexico and the Caribbean. It was a relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city to enter this inviting oasis while listening to the embracing sounds of a Spanish trio.

The food by Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme was wonderful! Especially impressive was the kicky Sangria and incredibly large pan of Paella that one can order to feed up to 300 people! After visiting the State-of–the-Art Theatre, Smithsonian affiliate Gallery, Glass Pavilion and Aztec Gardens, guests were able to browse the wonderful display of Latin products by CasaQ. CasaQ also showed unique ways to dress up your tables and fun decorating ideas. To subscribe to a monthly newsletter filled with Latin holiday customs and traditions, entertaining tips and recipes and be invited to future events go to

This event was hosted by the Mexican Heritage Gardens (, Parsley, Sage Rosemary & Thyme (, Marketing Maniacs (, CasaQ ( and the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau (

Click here for a photo.

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ARUESD’s new Superintendent Norma Martinez Welcomed

Music, hors d’oeuvres, homilies, greet Ms. Martinez

In June, just before being officially installed as the new superintendent of Alum Rock District schools, Norma Martinez was the lady of the hour at a very special party thrown in her honor at the Mexican Heritage Plaza by the school district.

Wearing a corsage of yellow rosebuds as a reminder of her Texas roots, Ms. Martinez greeted the admiring guests and chatted with friends and acquaintances before hearing the encouraging words of several trustees of the Alum Rock board. Taking her turn at the podium she expressed her readiness to put all her efforts toward “staying the course” to keep up the district’s recent positive momentum. The crowd of well-wishers (including her charming children and look-alike sister visiting from Texas) greeted her words with warm enthusiasm.

Music was provided by young mariachi musicians from the district as well as the Alum Rock Jazz Band. The occasion provided a very positive welcome for Norma Martinez after a challenging appointment process.

Click here for photos.

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Alum Rock District Celebrates and Honors Its Employees

Golden Apple Awards Recognize Efforts of Teachers and Outgoing Superintendent

From Al Gonzales, Communication Support, ARUESD

The Alum Rock Union Elementary School District celebrated its own at the district’s Golden Apple Awards. Described as a “long-overdue appreciation,” the Golden Apple Awards honored district teachers and administrators who have 15+ years of service and retirees for 2006. Local financial and home-related businesses helped sponsor the 1st annual Golden Apple Awards. The district held its award evening with over 600 employees, family members and friends. The highlight of the evening was recognizing the contributions of the district’s retirees and its outgoing superintendent, Anthony P. Russo, Ed.D.

The evening’s agenda recognized district employees who served Alum Rock for fifteen to forty years. At the call of the emcee, groups of employees stood up at the tables, arranged by school, and received their awards. With each group, the cheers and applause grew louder as employees were recognized for longer terms of service. A standing ovation was offered to the two employees who served Alum Rock for forty years. Both men were retiring this year.

Each retiree was presented to the audience by his or her supervisor. While on stage, each person was thanked by the superintendent and each member of the Board of Trustees. Each retiree walked off stage with a special gift and warm applause.

Dr. Russo was recognized publicly for his third term at Alum Rock as its superintendent. Three members of the leadership team offered him a bell representing each of his terms. Dr. Russo then took the podium to thank his family, his district colleagues, and the district community. He shared part of his professional story and ended with extending good wishes to all who continue their quality service and deep commitment to the Alum Rock community.

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Fleming Neighbors’ Anti-New-Housing Campaign Hits Brick Wall ... but ...

Fearless resistance pays off in road improvements, new park, fewer houses

After months of resisting a new multi-home housing tract in their neighborhood, an intrepid group of Fleming Avenue neighbors finally had to yield to the San Jose Planning Department. Around midnight, at a five-hour long evening meeting on June 13th, the City Council approved a plan to convert the Lord’s Baptist Church property for construction of fourteen homes and a ˝ acre park.

The neighbors, led by Len and Julie Ramirez, bravely fended off the persuasive entreaties from city planners and the Braddock & Logan developers. To the very end, the little group said NO, our roads cannot tolerate anymore cars. No!

“Progress” will happen, however. Perhaps the infill development was inevitable. The forceful little group did win major concessions which perhaps make the bad-tasting medicine go down more easily. For one thing, their solidarity and resolve caused Braddock & Logan to scale down the tract from 21 homes to 14. Also B&L set aside a piece of the land for a small park which will sit at the edge of Fleming where it can be enjoyed by all. Of course there are some neighbors who regard parks as nuisances and refuse to be mollified, but the consensus is that parks are good things - especially in an area which has essentially none.

Councilmember Nora Campos who lives nearby, worked with the neighbors and the city to assure that improvements will be made to narrow, crowded Fleming which is a major thoroughfare despite its shortcomings. There should be new speed limit signs by this month and school crosswalks were to be upgraded in July. Traffic studies will be conducted and a traffic radar trailer will be employed at several locations. Improvements to the traffic signals at the corner of Fleming and Alum Rock will be pushed.

Widening of the street will probably not happen due to the short set-backs of many homes. In any case, the neighbor group did not pursue widening for fear that such improvements would bring even more transient drivers tooling through their congested intersections. The quarter mile backups at peak traffic times are as much as they can contend with, thank you very much! The 28 (at least!) new cars coming into the neighborhood with the 14 new homes will be a burden to bear. Perhaps non-Fleming dwellers can help the situation by making a point not to use their neighborhood as a thoroughfare – especially not at peak traffic times. We need to bite the bullet and use White Road for our north-south treks – as unappealing as that seems.

Click here for their very effective blog.

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YSI Tries New Fundraising Tack – Science Matters!

Why not think big?

Early in June, the Youth Science Institute invited for lunch the folks they thought were most likely to support the organization by becoming founding members of a newly minted “Science Visionaries Society.”

About eighty science education enthusiasts came to the Wyndham Hotel for a delicious salad luncheon “on” YSI. So, how does shelling out for eighty elegant lunches in a nifty hotel equate with fundraising? YSI was just positive that if they could have the undivided attention of their most likely supporters for one solid hour, they could “inform and inspire” those folks to make significant monetary commitments.

How was that hour spent? The organization pulled out every stop and tweaked every emotion in explaining just how essential, indispensable and noble science education is. The hour was packed with every sort of stimulus one can think of. There was “flash animation”; there was a riveting science experiment adroitly demonstrated by a darling and precocious four-year-old YSI student; there was a video presentation created by a teenage YSI volunteer; there were testimonials and challenges; there were even choked-up tears from several speakers! There was something to hook every attendee. If the little kid didn’t charm his way into your heart, his mother, who spoke later, did.

So, if little Max Kaplan and mom Esther didn’t inspire you, then there were conscience-tugging talks from YSI Board President Nancy Valby, Executive Director Susanne Mulcahy, and Mark Lohbeck, an intense “YSI alum, parent and Board VP.” Michael Kawamoto’s video presentation was polished and persuasive. If its images didn’t melt your resistance, you were not watching closely!

YSI plans to carefully nurture its new “science visionaries.” There will be no redundant campaigns for donations from them. The society members will be wined and dined routinely and cared for solicitously. YSI will show them just how much they’re appreciated so they’ll want to “be inspired” all the more. Want to get inspired yourself? Just go to YSI will be hosting more such successful events!

Click here for photos.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

Growing number of “Available” signs in the Village

A sense of dread permeates Alum Rock Village as more “Available” signs are hung on windows and walls of familiar businesses. More such signs will mar the Village’s charm if (as is likely) more business owners are forced out due to extreme rent increases. Already there’s a “Moving Out Sale” sign at the Lucky Dollar store – can the next “Available” sign be far behind? See a related article elsewhere in this edition.

Click here for a photo.

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Lick Science Students Learn Wildland Fire Safety and Poll Others for Fire Safe Council

Shark Engine visits quad at lunch time

Science students at Lick High School are working with the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council to ascertain the level of wildfire awareness here in the Alum Rock area. The Lick students were chosen to take part in an SCFSC survey because many Lick attendees live in the East foothills, a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area where wildfire is a threat most of the year.

The students staffed a table during lunch hour in the Lick quad one noon before school was out for the summer. Posters and other graphics illustrated the ravages of wildfires and suggestions for creating defensible space around homes in this WUI area. Encouraged by free chances to win gift certificates to Barnes & Noble, the kids visiting the table were more than happy to fill out questionnaires which help the Fire Safe Council understand the level of wildfire danger awareness in our community.

The San Jose Fire Department’s “Shark Engine” pulled up right on the quad near the Fire Safe table. It was manned by Fire Captain Jose Guerrero, the department’s wildland officer, who broadcast teen-oriented tunes on the truck’s speakers and allowed students to have a super up-close look at the menacingly painted SJFD symbol.

The science students from Ms. Roberta Cabigas’ class earned money toward next spring’s annual Death Valley trip by helping SCFSC.

Click here for photos.

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Wouldn’t It be Positively Utopian to Have a Reliable Handyman?

Have we got a suggestion for you!

One of the most frustrating problems here in East San Jose (and maybe everywhere) is the dearth of reliable handypersons. Well, the tide has turned – in the person of neighbor Dave Leone who owns Utopia Home Services.

Dave has learned to do most every sort of repair and installation through years of building two homes for sale and owning and maintaining rental properties. His can-do list includes 63 items alphabetically arranged from A to Y. (He apparently does not repair zippers or zappers or zookeepers’ equipment.)

To give an idea of his range, A is for “Appliance installs & repairs” as well as “Assembling products”, E is for “Electrical installs and repairs and new light fixture and fan installations, Letter S is rich with “Screen installs & repairs,” “Shed building,” “Shelving,” “Shutters,” “Sliding door repairs,” “Sinks & faucets,” “Smoke detectors,” and even “Sweeping and cleaning.” He can do pressure washing, drywall repairs and fences & gates, he says. He’s a versatile floor man unafraid of tackling hardwood, vinyl or tile.

Need some broken glass replaced? Dave’s your man! He’ll even do yard work and repair leaks. Or he knows a friend who’s good at stuff and will bring him over.

NNV Sponsor Dave and his wife, Sandee, live here in the hood on Utopia Place (where else?) Give him a call at (408) 272-2111 or (408) 506-2297 (cell) and he will do his Letter Y entry “Your Entire To-Do List” for you.

Click here for a photo of Dave.

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Legal Eyes: Partnership Agreements

Get terms of agreement in writing – from the get-go

By Stephen F. Von Till, Attorney

Q: What’s the most important consideration in forming a business partnership?

A: How to get out of it.

New business partners are on a “honeymoon.” A handshake seems fine. Disagreements are not contemplated. There is so much enthusiasm and energy to get going with the business that its end is never considered.

What if the honeymoon ends in 90 days? Or a year? Then what? Who gets what? How is the business to be handled by two partners who cannot get along – who disagree on how the business is run?

In Page v. Page, brothers George and H.B. were partners in a linen supply business. Their agreement was oral. There was nothing in writing.

Over an eight year period, the partnership was unprofitable to the tune of a $62,000 loss. Meanwhile, George had loaned the partnership $47,000, which remained unpaid.

H. B. wanted to end the business. George wanted it to continue until the $47,000 debt was paid. A lawsuit was filed by H.B. to dissolve the partnership.

The trial court was faced with the question: “Did the oral partnership agreement imply that the business would continue until the debt was paid?”

The trial court held that it did. The partnership must continue until the debt was paid. An “implied” agreement to continue was the basis of the court’s ruling.

But the Supreme Court reversed, finding insufficient evidence to prove an implied agreement to continue. There was no evidence that the partners had ever discussed what to do in the event of losses. The partnership was “at will” and could be dissolved immediately. The business could wind up its operations, although the debt to George was not paid.

Other similar cases were decided differently. But the Supreme Court in the Page case wrote: “In each of these cases the court properly [found evidence] that the partners impliedly promised to continue the partnership for a term reasonably required to allow the partnership to earn sufficient money to accomplish the understood objective.”

In the Page case, on the other hand, the Court said there “was no more than a common hope” by the brothers that the business would pay its expenses from earnings. Such a hope did not establish an agreement that the partnership would continue for any particular period of time.

The lesson: Decide at the beginning what to do if disagreements occur down the road. Regardless of how rosy things look, get your agreement in writing. Cover difficult questions while everyone is friendly. The issues can be discussed and resolved in a calm and reasonable manner.

An expensive lawsuit tore apart brothers George and H.B. Their case went to trial, then to the Court of Appeal, and then to the Supreme Court. Professional assistance in drafting an agreement is well worth the modest investment. If you cannot afford a professionally drafted agreement, perhaps you should put off opening shop until you can.

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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You Dig It?

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

August 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

Watering: As the heat drags on, irrigation is critical to the survival of plants that depend on summer water. Fruit trees need regular (biweekly) soaking to the drip line. Trees in lawns need a monthly deep soak as well. Lawn watering usually dampens only a thin layer of soil at the surface. Use an inexpensive moisture meter to confirm that the water penetrates at least six inches down. Plants that are native to our Mediterranean climate need much less water than those from central and eastern US where regular summer rains fall. If you are interested in learning more about these plants (and reduce your gardening watering bill), East Bay Municipal Utility District has published an excellent book, Plants and Landscapes for Summer Dry Climates, that is available in bookstores or online at The book contains lists that target special growing environments such as dry shade, plants that provide year round color, small trees, hedges, rock or water gardens and more.

Ants: To keep ants out of the house, locate where they are entering and seal the opening with a caulking material. Place bait stations outside the home where ants are entering. Use a bait that contains boric acid as this will be taken back to the nest and will eliminate that nest. Argentine ants are especially difficult to control as they don't form little colonies but instead have a very large one. Keep the baits away from children and pets. Keep food preparation surfaces clean to avoid attracting the ants.

Controlling Gophers: This section is intended to address a serious garden problem and is not intended to endorse a particular business or offend the kind hearts of animal lovers. Pocket gophers can be a real problem for home gardeners. Our Master Gardener research gardens have been plagued by gophers for the past four years. This year, we asked Thomas Whitman from Santa Cruz ( to give us a lesson on this topic. And it worked. We are catching the little eating machines as soon as we spot them. He uses and recommends a cinch trap that is sized for a mole. California pocket gophers are smaller than non-California gophers so don't purchase a gopher cinch trap. The cinch traps require strong and careful hands to set them but they are more effective than the Macabee traps in our experience. The traps are available on Thomas' website and other places as well.

As soon as you notice a very fresh (the soil is still damp and dark) mound, look for a round plug in the mound and clear it. Use a stick (or hori hori knife - below) to test for an open tunnel. Set and insert the trap leaving the hole open to the light. Two traps can be set if the tunnel goes both ways. Look for the mounds first thing in the morning when the gopher may not have even closed it up yet. The genetic imperative for the gopher is to stop the light so it will push dirt into the opening and be caught in the trap. We bury the gopher back into the tunnel to dissuade any other gopher from moving into the tunnels. Gophers are solitary with rather large territories so what looks like a whole lot of gophers may only be one or two in a large yard.

In addition to the traps, get a hori hori knife, a Japanese gardening tool, that cleans out openings for easy trap setting and as many plastic landscape flags as you have traps. The knife is also used to penetrate the soil, feeling for tunnels. The knife will 'drop' into the tunnel with little resistance. One or two traps are probably enough for a home property. Upon setting the trap, plant the flag next to it and wait no more than one day for results. Thomas waits no more than four hours. If nothing happens, remove the trap and fill up the hole. Wait for another brand new mound and try again.

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


Poppy Secrets Unveiled

Keep California poppies blooming through summer and fall

By Arvind Kumar

Have you noticed the poppy billboards that have popped up all over the valley lately? These posters from the Santa Clara Valley Water District feature a California poppy in bloom, with the caption “From Poppies to People, our lives depend on it,” and ending with the tag line “Save it while you can.” I was pleased that they chose the California poppy because it is an appropriate symbol for California gardens and for water conservation.

Known to botanists as Eschscholzia californica, the California poppy is the state flower, and rightly so: its striking orange blooms and lacy green leaves are an eye-catching element in any garden. It is perfectly adapted to our climate and soils, and does well even in lean, nutrient-poor soils. Snails and slugs don’t bother it. Its cheerful flowers are a magnet for native bees which go nuts over its pollen. It reseeds profusely and returns year after year. It is one of the easiest plants to grow.

Why then is it not more widely grown in gardens? If you have tried it, you may know the one “vice” among its many virtues: its withered look at the end of its lifespan. In late May and June, when the moisture in the soil has disappeared, the leaves and stalks of the poppy turn a pasty gray before drying out completely. The dead stalks persist, and gardeners who place a premium on year-round good looks are discouraged by the sight of these aging plants.

Well, poppies have secrets, and those in the know keep poppies looking fresh and attractive the year round. Experienced native gardeners use simple but effective techniques to keep poppies blooming from June through November. These methods involve neither fertilizers nor huge amounts of water nor excessive labor. Here they are, in order of importance:

Secret #1: When the plant starts looking ratty, prune all growth to ˝” above the ground. Take care not to disturb the roots. The plant will grow new stalks and leaves, and will flower again. The new growth will be smaller than the previous growth – even the flowers will be smaller – but you can repeat this procedure multiple times in a season to prolong the plant’s life and bloom period.

Secret #2: Mulch the area around each plant with woodchips. Take care not to cover the pruned poppy plants. Mulch conserves soil moisture, and usually suppresses herbaceous annuals and forbs. California poppies are hardy survivors, and are not discouraged by moderate amounts of mulch. A mulched poppy bed will bloom much longer than one with just bare soil.

Secret #3: Water lightly once a month. Even a little water goes a long way with California poppies. They store moisture in their taproots for use during dry periods. Occasional watering through the dry season will turn your poppies into perennials than can live for years.

Of course, every flower you allow to mature produces copious amounts of seed. They are scattered when the seed capsule dehisces – snapping open when sufficiently dry, flinging the black seeds as much as ten feet away. These seeds will germinate with the onset of rains.

* * *

Some of you will be wondering why this technique works. Why do pruned poppies stay alive longer than poppies left alone?

The answer lies in the poppy’s succulent taproot that stores a significant amount of water. The wetter the winter, the fatter the taproot. In late spring, when the soil dries out, the plant begins to draw on this reserve of moisture to accomplish its life’s mission: to produce flowers and seeds. Once the stored moisture runs out, the plant dies.

Why then does pruning the plant make a difference? Well, on a living plant, the leaves act as a capillary “pump”, drawing water up from the soil into the root and the leaves, and later from the taproot itself, eventually exhausting the plant and leading to its demise. This is the normal lifecycle of the California poppy.

By pruning the plant, you remove this “pump” and the demand for its stored moisture. Pruned plants then regrow leaves, stalks, and flowers, and the smaller growth reflects the reduced availability of water. Over time, the roots are depleted, and in the absence of supplemental water, the plants eventually die. Supplemental water, however, prolongs their life; if they make it until November, the rains rejuvenate them and turn them into perennials.

So now you know the secrets of the California poppy. This easy-to-grow wildflower is also easy to maintain. Apply this knowledge to liven up your garden during the dry summer and early fall. With a little bit of help, these remarkable plants will add color and cheer to your garden for nine months of the year.

Click here for photos.

NNV Note: Arvind Kumar has been growing poppies in his Evergreen garden for six years. He can be reached at

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Interested in Becoming a Master Gardener?

By Bracey Tiede, UCCE Master Gardener

Looking for an interesting and fun way to volunteer? The University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners are trained volunteers that help disseminate well researched information on gardening to the public through our hotlines, classes, events, projects and demonstration gardens. The next training class starts in January, 2007, and applications are currently being accepted for interviews.

If you are interested, please call our hotline at (408) 282-3105 between 9:30am and 12:30pm on Monday through Friday or visit our website at and click on 'Application Process' on the left. We are looking for gardeners who want to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the public.

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Sly Individual Breaks In and Enters Editor’s Bedrooms

Editor: “He acted like an animal!”

On Memorial Day when the NNV “staff” was out shopping at OSH, an intruder entered NNV headquarters and hid in the NNV office (also known as the guest room) and then crossed the hall into the master bedroom.

No one knows how long the furtive gray-haired housebreaker had been on the premises when he was surprised by the NNV I.T. staff, Allan, who, home from shopping, went into the office.

“Judy!” he yelled as he came running out of the room, “there’s an intruder* in the house!” Allan stood at the open bedroom door gaping in shock at what he saw.

Hoping to stay well out of the way of any ensuing confrontations, I ducked into the hall bathroom and closed the door.

Well, I can only tell you secondhand that Allan says he saw this lowlife character charging around our bedroom. But I can tell you firsthand that, after the event was over, I saw distinct evidence of mayhem including a knocked over lamp and torn wallpaper. The shampoo bottles usually arranged on the edge of the master bathtub were lying askew on the bottom of the tub. Heaven only knows what this weasely rascal was doing in the bathroom.

Not knowing just where was the safest place to be, I came out of the bathroom and joined Allan in the bedroom hallway. Before we had our thoughts sufficiently gathered to call for help, a gray blur charged out of the bedroom and ran hell-for-leather to the other end of the house.

Allan and I looked at each other helplessly as we waited for we-knew-not-what. Within three seconds, the blur was charging directly toward us as we stood at the top of the basement stairs in the hallway.

The intruder’s intentions weren’t clear, but the expression in his gleaming predatory eyes was not reassuring.

Then, just as he reached us, he saw the basement stairs and bolted down them and out of the house via our open garage door.

Allan and I literally did a reality check. “Did we really just see what we think we saw?” we asked each other wide-eyed.

“Did we have a fox in our house?”

Well ye-es. But we don’t reckon he’ll be back. He was one terrified invader! He couldn’t find the kitty-cat door through which he came. He was foxy for sure! But disoriented.

*Allan may actually not have used the word “intruder.” In all the excitement, it was hard to tell if he was saying “animal” or “cat” or something, but it sure sounded like intruder at the moment. (Or at least it makes a much better story that way, doesn’t it?)

No photos from this event. It would have just been a blur even if I had a camera.

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


Historic Overfelt House Opens Grandly for Saturday Fete

Tours of the charming house; cello quartet performance; cake for all

Volunteer opportunities for adults!

On grand opening day, Saturday, June 10th, a sparkling new paint job – inside and out – gave the newly renovated Overfelt House a fresh feel that the 1870’s house might have exuded when it was built. A crowd of about seventy folks filled the folding chairs arranged in the shade of the front yard trees awaiting the official opening of the transomed front door. When The People On The Porch (speakers and ribbon-cutters) weren’t “making remarks” or wielding outsize scissors, a quartet of young cellists serenaded from beneath a white sunshade.

The folks on the porch included the event’s emcee, Helen Chapman, the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission chair; Councilmember Nora Campos who had the honor of scissoring the ribbon; Stan Anderson, the former Overfelt Gardens Master Plan Task Force chair; and beloved Sylvia Lowe, the selfless “over-time volunteer” who serves as a Jill-of-all-trades for the Chinese Cultural Garden Foundation which grew out of her parents’ (Frank and Pauline Lowe) efforts to bring magnificent Chinese structures and monuments to Overfelt Park.

The audience learned that following the tradition of her philanthropist father, William Overfelt, Mildred Overfelt bequeathed her house and land to the city “to create a place of beauty with trees, lawns, shrubbery and other facilities designed to provide a place of rest, relaxation, aesthetics and enjoyment for the people of San Jose.” The house was moved from its original location at the east side of the property to its current location near the park’s main entrance at Education Park Drive. Its upstairs rooms now house offices for park staff. The downstairs rooms include a staff kitchen, restrooms and a small visitor center with current and historic information on the house and the Overfelt family. In order to have the house open for visits, San Jose Parks Facility Supervisor Gina Aning, is looking for interested adult volunteers to spend a few hours per week at the house to meet visitors and answer their queries. This could be a gratifying activity in the Overfelt House’s pleasant air-conditioned ambiance. To volunteer, please call Gina at (408) 926-5555.

If NNV readers haven’t yet experienced Overfelt Park and Cultural Gardens which is located on McKee Road just west of Jackson Avenue, a bona fide treat awaits. Now, with the completion of the $1,400,000* renovation of the Overfelt family’s home, there is yet another reason to drop by.

* These are your tax dollars at work! $600,000 came from City of San Jose Construction and Conveyance Taxes and $800,000 came from the State of California Resources Agency, Department of Recreation, Urban Open Space & Recreation Program, Block Grant – Proposition 40 Funds.

Click here for photos from the opening.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletWhat happened after the arson fire which burnt-up the Little League equipment shed?
bulletWhen will the Eastridge Post Office move back inside the mall?
bulletIs it still true that a new Home Depot will move into the Mervyn’s-on-Story location?
bulletWhat happened to the pigeons on the utility wires of the Cruz Alum Rock Library?
bulletIs there still talk about undergrounding the wires at the library eventually?

Q. What happened after the arson fire which burnt-up the Alum Rock Little League equipment shed in June? Were the vandals caught?

A. Here's an update on the gasoline-fueled equipment fire from league president, Rich Taylor:

We had many generous donations that helped us recover what was lost in the fire. Comcast allowed us to use up to $5000 on their corporate credit card to replace equipment that was lost. We were able to obtain new bases from Fontanetti's Sporting Goods which enabled us to resume baseball games for the kids the same day as the fire. We purchased a new lawn tractor, mower, hoses, and rakes from Lowe's Home Improvement the day after the fire.

The San Francisco Giants donated a pitching machine, 18 sets of catchers’ gear, and several tools for field preparation. The Oakland A's, Taylor Woodrow Homes, and the Esther B. Collishaw Foundation gave very generous cash donations immediately upon learning of the fire. We also received donations from many people in the community including former San Jose Mayor, Janet Gray Hayes.

We still have to replace the storage shed that was burned down. Now that the Little League season is over, we can focus on getting this done.

As a side note, Alum Rock Little League had a great 2006 season. Our Junior Division Giants won the District Tournament of Champions, our 10-year old All Star team won the District All Star Championship, and our 11-year old All Star team came in second place. The 10-year olds then moved on to the sectional tournament where they played against other district champions from all over Santa Clara and Monterey counties.

We have not heard any news as to whether the individuals responsible for starting the fire were ever caught.

Q. When will the Eastridge Post Office move back inside the mall?

A. End of October according to the clerk in mid-July.

Q. Is it still true that it will be a new Home Depot that moves into the Mervyn’s-on-Story location? There are rumors that it will be a Lowe’s instead.

A. Anne Stedler, Redevelopment Agency Retail guru says, “I have every expectation that Home Depot will take the Mervyn’s space exactly as they have planned to do. I have not even heard a rumor that Lowe’s will be there. I expect that Mervyn’s will close in October or November, 2006, and that Home Depot will start their construction shortly thereafter.

Q. There seem to be no more pigeons on the utility wires of the Cruz Alum Rock Library. Were they poisoned – or what?

A. According to head librarian Nora Conte, the city used some sort of “sound sensors [which] have been placed on the roof. This discourages the pigeons from coming to the area,” she writes. NNV is checking with the City to understand more about how this works.

Q. Is there still talk about undergrounding the wires at the library eventually?

A. Nora Conte says that Darryl Duffy in Nora Campos’ office will be updating us soon. We are patiently (not really) awaiting his call.

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You can send comments or letters to the editor (Click Here to see the Letters)

E-mail us at or fax to (408) 272-4040. Please limit letters to a few hundred words (shorter items are more likely to be used in the newsletter and read) and include your name and phone number in case we have questions.  Contributions may be edited for content and space requirements.  Want to take photos, write articles or essays?  Please let us know!  And don't miss our new Letters page on Deer, Fire and/or Drought Resistant Plants if you'd like to share information with our readers.

Community Bulletin Board (Click Here)

E-mail to let us know about your events of interest to our readers.

--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome. 
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Privacy Policy: Your contact information will not be sold, distributed or visible to others. 
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 8/4/06.

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