New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 39 - Section 2

September 3, 2006

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Santa Clara
County Fair ...



Arvind Kumar's


What's this in
Overfelt Park?


Alum Rock


Another one
for rent in ARV

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James Lick – A History

Who was he?

By Patricia Loomis

NNV Note: Lick Avenue runs between Willow Street and W. Alma Avenue just east of Hwy 87. And Lick Mill Boulevard and Lick Mill Road are in north San Jose (west of 1st Street between Montague Expressway and Tasman Drive). We have James Lick High School right here in Alum Rock and Lick Observatory is on Mt. Hamilton Road. But who was James Lick and why were all these things named after him?

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.

Probably there has been more written and less known about James Lick than any other of California's great benefactors.

Nobody paid much attention to, or really knew the man when he was alive, and when he was gone, leaving his great fortune to benefit the people of his beloved state, it was too late.

Because they neither understood nor cared, his contemporaries passed along the stories of his eccentricities, many of which have come to give a better picture of the man.

Most everybody knows he gave the money ($700,000) to build the observatory atop Mt. Hamilton, and that he had a flour mill and 27-room mansion on the Guadalupe River north of what is now Montague expressway.

Few are aware he gave $25,000 for an orphanage that was known for decades as the Home of Benevolence and is now called Eastfield.

Probably not many San Joseans realize he owned some 100 acres on the south edge of the city where he was building a park to include a conservatory patterned after the one in England's Kew Gardens. Death intervened, and the conservatory went to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Down between Willow street and Alma avenue, Lick [avenue] "Signposts" mark the western edge of the "homestead" where this early horticulturist planted trees and shrubs he imported from all over the world.

San Joseans in the summers of 1869 and '70 got used to seeing wagons with 20- and 30-foot trees moving slowly through town bound for "Lick's gardens," but they apparently didn't get much view of the gardens themselves because of a high board fence.

After Lick's death on Oct. 1, 1876, the trees and shrubs were dug up and the land was subdivided. Four of the streets in the tract are named for trustees of Lick's estate: Richard S. Floyd, William Sherman, Charles M. Plum, and Edwin B. Mastick. Somehow the "k" has been left off Mastic street signs.

James Lick was a loner, a hard worker, a man of vision, anti-social, frugal and cold, according to historians. Some acquaintances said he was miserly, but others noted he never turned away a hungry man who wandered onto the mill property.

One thing Lick was for sure was his own man. He may not have given many favors, but neither did he ask for any. He was a nonconformist and he didn't give a hang that he failed to live up to the public's rich man image and preferred to eat his meals with the hired help. If a man couldn't obey orders, Lick didn't want him, and one way to find out was to ask the man to plant the fruit trees upside down.

Two rooms were enough for him in the mansion beside the mill pond, so why furnish the whole place?

As long as the wagon held together and served his purpose, why spend the money on a new one?

Bone meal was good for trees and plants, and was free to anyone smart enough to pick up and grind old bones.

Looking back, what his contemporaries viewed as eccentric behavior comes out looking like common sense today.

He cared not a whit for what folks said about him. He built what was long considered San Francisco's finest hotel and spent a fortune on the mansion and the mahogany-lined flour mill in Santa Clara County, but he lived in a hovel and his clothes would have been turned down by even the least discriminating tramp.

He died in a dingy little back room at the Lick house a few walls away from where the elite of San Francisco dined to the strains of orchestra music in the mirrored and windowed dining room, the most elegant in California in the 1870s.

James Lick was born poor and had little education. He worked hard all his life and never married, although he acknowledged an illegitimate son who received half a million dollars on his father's death.

Lick was a master with wood and made his first fortune in South America building and selling pianos. He arrived in San Francisco a few days before gold was discovered on the American River, but it was San Francisco sandhill real estate that made him a millionaire.

James Lick, who was one of this area's first great horticulturists, and who saw and believed in the future of San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley, decided three years before his death that it was time to settle up his affairs and to share his fortune with his fellow men.

For the betterment of the California he loved, he bequeathed his $3 million estate to provide trade schools, public baths, two orphanages, homes for the poor and the aged, and the great observatory whose telescope became the headstone on the grave of this pioneer California philanthropist.

Click here to read more about James Lick. "Though in life he had never ascended Mount Hamilton, which was visible from his estate near Santa Clara, his final resting place is atop the mountain. In January 1887, his remains were placed at the base of the telescope that his generosity provided, marked by a bronze tablet bearing the inscription: 'Here lies the body of James Lick.'"

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Legal Eyes: Living Trusts

Don’t hold your breath in 2009

By Stephen F. Von Till, Attorney

Q: What is a “Living Trust”?

A: A “Living Trust” is usually a Will substitute. The Trust avoids the delay and expense of probating a Will. Your estate remains confidential, rather than being a public Probate Court record. Tax saving provisions are often included.

A “Living Trust” is like having your own corporation. You put all of your assets – family home, bank accounts, etc. – into the Trust (the “corporation”). You name yourself as “Trustee” (the “President”).

Being Trustee of your Living Trust is like being the president and sole shareholder – and more. You have complete control to use the assets for personal benefit.

You buy, sell, and use your assets virtually without restriction. You may even revoke the Trust.

The Trust is created on paper in the privacy of your lawyer’s office. No formal filing with any agency is required.

With your lawyer’s help, you create a trust document – usually 10-25 pages long. This “Trust Declaration” is the governing document for your Trust. It specifies how the Trust will be managed while you are alive and after your death.

After naming yourself as Trustee, the document names your “Successor Trustee.” Often, this is your spouse, a brother, sister, or an adult child.

The new Trustee takes over after your death. Since technically you did not own your assets (the Trust did), no Probate Court proceedings are required.

The Successor Trustee, by written authority of the Trust, has access to the bank accounts, stocks, and real estate. This new Trustee takes immediate control and has signing power for transfers and other management issues. This is similar to a corporation acquiring a new president.

But the new Trustee’s power is limited by you in the Trust Declaration. Typically, you give the new Trustee only the power to get the assets and distribute them to the persons specified in the Trust (e.g., your children). Then the Trust terminates.

If you have minor children, the Trust will name your choice for guardian. This is an important part of creating a Trust.

You may also create terms that prohibit your children from having complete access to the assets at age 18. Many provide that their children receive periodic payments from the Trustee until they have reached a certain age of maturity.

For example, the Trust may authorize support during college years and then partial lump sums at ages 22, 27, and finally at age 30. This allows for young adults to learn from financial mistakes without losing everything.

The Probate Court is not involved if one’s assets are entirely in the Trust. Probate of the estate is avoided. Delays, attorneys’ fees, and executor fees associated with Probate vanish.

To give an idea of fees avoided by the Living Trust, a probate estate of $1,000,000 will have an attorney’s fee of $42,300 and an executor’s fee of $42,300 – that’s $84,600!

Living Trusts are not all the same. Each Trust must be carefully tailored to meet your family’s needs.

Skillful drafting is essential. One should not make a Living Trust only to have it the subject of litigation among heirs after one’s demise.

Fees for drafting Trusts vary based on the complexity of the provisions needed and the experience of the attorney. Nevertheless, the savings over Probate fees are considerable.

The Living Trust does not avoid all Federal Estate Taxes, but it gives an opportunity for tax planning. Some tax saving devices may be built in.

There is no Federal Estate Tax for an estate at $2,000,000 or less. Above that amount, the tax starts at 37% and quickly reaches 49%.

The size of the estate free of Federal Estate Tax rises in stages from the current level of $2,000,000 to $3,500,000 in the year 2009. However, this is scheduled for repeal in year 2010.

Consequently, there is a financial advantage (to your heirs) if you plan on dying in 2009. My guess is – there will be changes in the tax laws between now and then. So don’t hold your breath in 2009.

The Lesson: Don’t put off until 2010 what you should do today. You may not live to regret it.

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

Pandemic Influenza... Are You Prepared? Click here to

read more or 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

bulletWho's Running for School Board Trustee Positions in ARUESD?
bulletDid You Mark Your Calendar for October 28th? Mark that Saturday with a big red circle
bulletMystery Cleared Up – Five New Stores for McKee/Vista (near Toyon) Corner
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue - La Bodega = El Bodegón?
bulletEast Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update - You’re invited to participate
bulletSticky Situation Confronts Library Pigeons - Result: Clean sidewalk for library patrons
bulletUndergrounding of Utility Wires at C-ARL Will Happen
bulletRegional Medical Center Employee Honored For Volunteerism from Victoria Emmons
bulletRenaissance Academy Moves to Clyde Fischer Middle School
bulletVintage Rose Flea Market Enhances Farmers’ Market
bullet“Things We Wish We Had Said” Department - The real school test by Fred Tombor
bullet“Mindless Driver” Sighted, Cited - Neighbors expose speed demon nuisance
bulletYou’re invited to YSI's 21st Annual Wildlife Festival! Sunday, October 1st
bulletGroup Home for Developmentally Disabled in Hillcrest? Neighbors cite numerous concerns

Who's Running for School Board Trustee Positions in ARUESD?

Two new names will vie with incumbents

In addition to three incumbents, Gustavo Gonzalez (local real estate entrepreneur) and Patricia Potter (retired teacher) have filed as candidates for a four year term as Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Board Trustees in the November election.

Gustavo Gonzales, owner of Valley View Properties, and his wife Grace live in our neighborhood and care deeply about public education for Eastside kids. They have two little ones themselves, and their first child will start school this year as a kindergartner at Adelante Elementary (the ARUESD dual immersion (English/Spanish) "small school").

Patricia Potter retired from teaching elementary school for nearly 30 years in Alum Rock this past June (Horace Cureton Elementary). She's known for her profound love of children and her fearlessness in fighting for their best interests.

Incumbent candidate, Board President, Kim Mesa, was strongly urged by many parents and community members to run again for her seat. She's completing her fourth year as a trustee. Ms. Mesa attended ARUESD schools herself as have her three children. The youngest is entering Renaissance Academy this fall. Her "day job" is at the San Juan Bautista Child Care Center where she primarily does fund development.

Incumbent Joe Frausto is currently completing his second year on the board. He teaches young adults at the San Jose Conservation Corps & Charter School. His wife, Dolores Marquez, works in ARUESD.

Incumbent Frank Chavez is just completing his first year as Trustee after being appointed to fill the vacancy made available when Trustee Esau Herrera unexpectedly resigned last year after 15 years of service. He is a jewelry designer, small business owner with his wife, Linda, and community activist. He is retired from the military, is active in the GI Forum and the Story Road Business Association. All of his children attended ARUESD schools.

The other two Board members, Lalo Morales and Tanya Freudenberger, each have two years remaining in office.

ARUESD needs policies which encourage high expectations, openness and comprehensive professional development. To quote a July 11, 2004 Mercury News editorial on school board elections, "Good schools demand good leaders, and good leadership starts at the top, with the people who hire the superintendent, pass a school district's budget and set policies and goals. It starts with elected trustees." The writer outlines some very specific traits effective school board members should have: be good listeners and questioners; have in mind the interest of all children; be patient; respect other viewpoints; be team players; be responsive to parents’ concerns without judging; be willing to work hard beyond the monthly meetings; foster innovation; set high expectations; resist micromanaging; make wise spending choices; lobby for adequate funding; and demand continuous improvement.

NNV hopes that the candidates who win the three seats this coming November will join hands with Mr. Morales and Ms. Freudenberger to ensure that Alum Rock becomes a high performing district by helping each other become effective leaders.

ARUESD now has two openings for Parent Education Supervisors. If you know someone who might be interested, please have them check the Alum Rock website and apply right away. Alum Rock District needs two people in these positions who really care about our children and their families ... people who are willing and able to connect the parents to the schools in a meaningful way. The requirement to create an effective parent involvement policy is mandated under NCLB, and implementation will be closely monitored by the State.

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Did You Mark Your Calendar for October 28th?

Mark that Saturday with a big red circle for a “Don’t Miss” event

James Lick High School’s sparkling new football stadium will be dedicated in front of a colossal crowd of “Comet Forever” alumni, students, faculty and community members, it is hoped. The occasion will also herald the 2006 Homecoming football game which, win-lose-or-draw, will be festive and fun in a way that only high school athletic events can be.

NNV will publish more details regarding special plans and advance ticket sales on our Community Bulletin Board and in the October edition of the newsletter. Meanwhile, while wielding that big red marker, you can add 1:30 PM as game time.

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Mystery Cleared Up – Five New Stores for McKee/Vista (near Toyon) Corner

Produce store demolition planned – neighbors copasetic with proposal

Neighbor Tommy Travers e-mailed us the following information about the new retail businesses proposed for the site of the old Country Produce store which was in the gas-station-like building on the corner of McKee and Vista west of Toyon. The old building will be demolished after sitting empty for several years. Here’s what Tommy wrote:

A planner for the city was kind enough to mail us the plans for the corner of McKee and Vista (the former Country Produce). Here's a summary.

- The site proposal includes one restaurant and four retail shops in a 4,863 sq. ft. one-story building. It will face McKee and be close to the streets with parking in back and along the downhill side.

- There will be 32 parking spaces (29.6 are required by the city).

- Two of the existing trees along the sidewalks will remain and the third will be relocated. Nine new trees will be added to the property and the small palms will be removed.

- There will be a driveway on McKee at the downhill [west] end of the property, and a second smaller one on Vista which the planner told us would be for emergency purposes only.

- The owner mentioned over the phone about a month ago that tenants would likely be national chains: Starbucks, Quizno’s, etc. (I don't know if either of these is considered a "restaurant".)

Tommy, who is interested in City Planning, went on to write: Personally, I am glad to see progress finally being made. I think that they planned it the best they could to minimize traffic problems; they eliminated the driveway on Vista and now have just one on McKee, and it is actually a little farther downhill than the existing two on McKee. Hopefully that will help cars stay away from the lines of cars waiting to turn left onto Toyon. I like how the stores will front the streets rather than be behind parking, and how there will be six new trees along Vista to sort of separate the stores from our residential area. I think that if there ends up being a parking problem, the owner could work out an agreement for the store's employees to park across the street in the empty spaces in Country Club Villa.

I’m definitely not looking forward to Starbucks, Quizno's, Jamba Juice [or] whatever other giant chain they'll get. I'd like to see the owner make a big effort to find local independent businesses to open up there.


On August 10th at Foothill Presbyterian Church a community meeting was arranged by the City for the people living in the neighborhood. About 20 neighbors attended along with the owner of the property, Brian Ho, two people from the City Planner’s office and the architect. Neighbors’ concerns about safety, congestion and parking were all addressed. Brian Ho assured the attendees that there would not be a liquor store among the businesses in the building, but other than that, he isn’t sure what businesses will be included – except for the promised restaurant.

One neighbor/reader who attended the meeting tells us that he might be interested in opening an ice cream parlour there. He also reported that the plans show a “nice looking, one-story complex” and “it looks nice enough to uplift the corner.” He also says that Brian is shooting for opening in summer of 2007, “but his architect seems to think it will take a bit longer.” No date was mentioned for demolition or groundbreaking.

Click here for a photo of the corner now.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

La Bodega = El Bodegón?

We hate to waste more ink on Alum Rock Village’s cruddy looking pink eyesore, the most-likely-never-to-be-realized La Bodega deli and produce store which corrodes The Village’s nascent charming ambiance. However, the shattered front windows and wretched, falling down paper window coverings make a statement which just cannot be ignored. The City’s Redevelopment Agency tiptoes gently around trying not to ruffle the feathers of the owners, but it’s time to cite the place for blight and fine them until they own up to the fact that they owe the community a modicum of respect. Note to La Bodega’s ownership consortium: Reasonable people care very much about our small historic retail center even if you don’t. Your thumbing-the-nose attitude is extremely unattractive and abrasive. The community’s dream bodega (wine cellar; pantry) has turned to a nightmare bodegón (low dive). Surely that’s not what you had in mind?

Click here for a photo.

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East Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update

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

The field surveys have been completed and work has started on developing the wildfire models for the East Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan. You may remember an article in the February NNV which said that the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council had been selected for a federal grant to develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans for Communities at Risk from wildfires in Santa Clara County. Click here to review the article.

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

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

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

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

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Sticky Situation Confronts Library Pigeons

Result: Clean sidewalk for library patrons

NNV did some follow-up to find out just exactly what magic had been wrought at the Cruz-Alum Rock Library to exorcise the pigeons from the utility wires. Librarian Nora Conte had said that “sound sensors” had been placed on the adjacent roof and they had dispatched the poop-birds. However, according to Darryl Duffy, a council assistant Councilmember Nora Campos’ office, it’s not bad vibes which are discouraging these flying rats, but a chemical treatment on the wires themselves which makes their tiny toosies tingle. Here’s his message:

Pigeon abatement is achieved through various forms, including bird repellent gel and sound sensors.

In discussions with City Staff, the most effective method San José has used to drive pigeons from the Dr. Roberto Cruz-Alum Rock Library has been employing bird repellent gel as one of its tools for deterring pigeons from nesting or roosting.

The gel is a non-toxic, sticky chemical that makes any surface tacky and uncomfortable for birds. Even though it's non-toxic and non-lethal, the feel of it is extremely irritating for roosting birds, making it hard for them to become comfortable. It would be similar to us avoiding something like wet tar.

The reasons this works is because it's an all-weather, indoor/outdoor system that can protect for up to one year through application by either a power sprayer or caulking gun. This is the easiest way to bird-proof open areas, as well as recessed or tucked-away corners.

Further discussion has found that the sound sensors previously mentioned by staff are not presently in effect at the Dr. Roberto Cruz-Alum Rock Library.

How that system works is a solid-state circuit, housed in low profile, durable steel, with speakers placed at 90-degree intervals from each other. This creates "fans" of ultrasonic sound waves in overlapping patterns of 360-degree coverage. They usually have a constant noise modulating between 20 and 30 kHz to create an alternating 'warble' in 12 second outputs, making it difficult for birds to become accustomed to.

These harsh, but harmless, UHF sound waves are produced at frequencies above human hearing range, so most people are not even aware that they are being emitted.

NNV Note: Okay, but . . . . . shouldn’t those things be called “sound emitters?” Click here for a photo of the lone pigeon dumb enough to sit on the perilous perch.

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Undergrounding of Utility Wires at C-ARL Will Happen

But perhaps not before the goop wears off (See article above)

And, we also elicited a follow-up answer on the undergrounding of the same pigeon perches from Communications Director Francis Zamora in Councilmember Campos’ office. Here’s what he said:

To answer NNV's question about undergrounding of utilitiy wires adjacent to the Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Library:

The Alum Rock/White Undergrounding project is included in the City's 5-year master plan for undergrounding utilities. This project is scheduled to be legislated in 2007 and constructed in 2008-09. Legislated means that a public hearing will be held regarding a list of projects proposed for undergrounding and upon approval, the City will create an ordinance designating those City areas as undergrounding utility districts. Utility companies will then have a certain time frame for complying with the City ordinance.

In summary, undergrounding of utility wires adjacent to the library remains on schedule for 2008-09.

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Regional Medical Center Employee Honored For Volunteerism

Health Care Veteran Went “Above and Beyond”

From Victoria A. Emmons, VP Public Affairs & Marketing

Cathy Parker, a 30-year health care veteran who until recently served as Director of Cardiovascular Services at Regional Medical Center of San Jose, has been recognized for her service to the community by the Bank of America’s Neighborhood Champions Program, which celebrates “the teachers, police officers, firefighters and health care workers who demonstrate higher standards and make a difference every day in the community.” Parker was nominated for the award by the San Jose Giants.

Parker, a registered nurse who has tirelessly championed cardiovascular health education, was cited for volunteering hundreds of hours at local community fairs to better educate the public about the devastating effects of stroke and heart disease. While performing blood pressure screenings, she counseled participants on the importance of heart health.

Additionally, Parker has been serving on the board of the non-profit Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, a service organization that strives to improve the quality of life for the working poor. She served on the Behavioral Health committee to create and implement programs dealing with addiction, mental illness and homelessness.

“Cathy understands that we must all pitch in and do our part to improve communities,” said Bill Gilbert, CEO at Regional. “Her commitment to using her knowledge and expertise extended well past the walls of our hospital and touches many in our local communities. She has served as a shining example to her team members and coworkers here at Regional.”

Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a full-service, 204-bed hospital and an affiliate of HCA, the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, composed of approximately 190 hospitals and 91 outpatient surgery centers in 23 states, England and Switzerland.

For more information, visit

Click here for a photo of Cathy.

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Renaissance Academy Moves to Clyde Fischer Middle School

Previously housed on Jos. George Middle School campus

Our neighborhood’s loss is the Overfelt High School neighborhood’s gain. Since its inception several years ago, super successful “small school” Renaissance Academy has shared space on the campus of Joseph George Middle School near Fleming Avenue. Many parents in our neighborhood coveted spots at Renaissance for their kids entering sixth grade. The school work was rigorous and the results were spectacular.

Since last month, Renaissance is being housed at Clyde Fischer Middle School which is a “feeder school” on Hopkins Drive for W.C. Overfelt High School not far from Reid-Hillview Airport. In an interesting turn of events, Renaissance’s former lead educator and co-founder, Nancy Gutierrez, has been named principal at Fischer. So, effectively, Ms. Gutierrez earned a well-deserved promotion and she is able to maintain an important connection with the academy.

According to ARUESD trustee, Tanya Freudenberger, compared to the Joseph George campus, “there is much more room at Fischer for Renaissance growth. Nancy Gutierrez deserves an opportunity to express her talents, energy, ideals and creativity at a larger school. She will be on the campus to mentor and support Jason Sorich [Renaissance’s new administrator] so there will be continuity for Renaissance.”

Renaissance Academy’s students are chosen by lottery and come from many neighborhoods. That the school will no longer be located in our neighborhood does not mean that our middle schoolers won’t be able to apply to attend school there. For the first year in the new location, ARUESD is providing a bus for eighth graders who hail from outside the Fischer attendance area.

We asked Nancy to comment on her new challenges and Renaissance’s new leader. She said:

"I am excited about the opportunity to return to my roots and serve this historically underserved community in which I was raised. In this quest, I am fortunate to have the support of a dynamic group of dedicated educators and an amazing vice principal, Imee Almazan, with whom I will co-lead Fischer Middle School. It is both encouraging and gratifying to meet families eager to maximize their children’s potential and prepare them for higher education. By leveraging these elements within a progressive community, I am confident that Fischer Middle School will continue its path to excellence.

Jason Sorich is the new Renaissance Academy administrator. Previously he worked as a classroom teacher, resource teacher and program improvement administrator. He is an extremely well respected and progressive educator. I could not have asked for a better replacement and am confident that he will take Renaissance Academy to the next level."

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Vintage Rose Flea Market Enhances Farmers’ Market

Last Sunday of each month AR Village shop adds new dimensions for fun shopping

Vintage Rose Consignment Shop (which is behind Mario’s Barber Shop in the Village) hosts a flea market once per month – on the last Sunday of the month. It coincides with the big Farmers’ Market in the Lick High School lot making possible a two-pronged shopping adventure within the space of one block.

On flea market days, the consignment shop with its abundance of wonderful one-of-a-kind goods is open for business - plus there are a bunch of neighborhood vendors in the shop’s small parking lot selling almost everything imaginable. One Sunday when NNV dropped by the half dozen or so tables, there was an antique sewing machine, a wicker bassinet, lots of jewelry and bric-a-brac for sale as well as a selection of new pottery.

Shop owner, Tina Pricolo, demonstrated the tiny shop’s versatility when NNV asked if she ever has any Lazy Susans for sale. “I’ve got two,” she answered “and I can bring them in on Wednesday!”

Sure enough, she had just what Dr. Judy ordered – and at a bargain price. As a matter of fact, the consensus among Vintage Rose shoppers is that Tina’s merchandise is remarkable and remarkably low-priced.

If you haven’t visited yet, you need to set aside a time to step inside this jewel box of a shop! Tina’s collection of beaded and bangled handbags alone is worth seeing. And, even though many of the little bags are very vintage, they are refreshingly affordable.

The shop’s hours of operation are posted on one of its windows. Just don’t go on Mondays or Tuesdays – you won’t find anyone minding the store on those days.

Click here for photos.

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“Things We Wish We Had Said” Department

An Educator/Counselor spells out the school test you should pay attention to!

By Fred Tombor

NNV Note: In the August NNV we suggested that parents shouldn’t necessarily choose their students’ schools based on test scores. We pointed out that many students flourish in the less-competitive atmosphere found in smaller, less-popular, schools. Among the Mercury News letters-to-the-editor on August 15th was a wonderful letter by Fred Tombor. He spells out “the real test” for parents to self-administer. His strong message can serve as a primer for all parents.


School performance is not really measured by tests with funny names. Teachers, parents and students would agree that successful school performance is determined by the REAL TEST. It doesn't stand for anything, except the truth. The Test is self-administered by parents and items include:

• Does your child look ahead to going to school?

• Do you communicate regularly with your child's teacher?

• Do you volunteer at your child's school?

• Does your child eat a healthy breakfast before going to school?

• Has your child had proper rest before going to school?

• Do you value and model learning?

• Do you express your appreciation to the teacher and staff for the work they are doing?

The REAL TEST is self-administered by the parents on a daily basis. Good parents create good schools. Really.

Fred Tombor is a retired Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who lives in Campbell. He also was an educator in the Berryessa School District. He writes periodically for the Mercury News editorial page and for other local publications.

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“Mindless Driver” Sighted, Cited

Neighbors expose speed demon nuisance

Folks living near the intersection of Highland Drive and Brundage Way must have gotten sick and tired of the squealing of tires and screeching of brakes which some common-sense-impaired race-car-driver-wannabe imposed on the neighborhood. Perhaps he (?) was drunk or otherwise impaired as he barreled around corners, endangering others’ lives and limbs while disturbing the peace? What to do? Well, someone (truly NNV does not know who) painted a large colorful sign citing the White 1990 Mustang whose driver warrants caution on the parts of other drivers and pedestrians.

Interestingly, NNV noticed the sign on Saturday morning, August 19th. By the next morning, there was no sign of the sign. It is probably too much to hope that the driver of the Mustang recognized the error of his ways and took the sign home to remind himself to contemplate his sorry rear, right? Oh, probably. (Maybe he removed the sign before an eagle-eyed neighbor could add the Mustang’s license plate number to it. That additional information would be the delicious icing on the cake, wouldn’t it?) We will stay hopefully tuned for the next installment. Meanwhile, you should heed the sign – this might have been the idiot who took out the Comcast equipment box when he lost control at the same corner a couple of years ago. You and yours could be next!

Click here for a photo of the sign. Click here to read and see what happened to the Comcast box.

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You’re invited to YSI's 21st Annual Wildlife Festival!

Sunday, October 1, 2006 • 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

What is the Wildlife Festival?
Youth Science Institute’s Wildlife Festival is an educational, family-oriented event traditionally held in Alum Rock Park. The event will feature a wide array of science and nature activities, displays, and presentations appropriate for all ages. Visitors participate in nature crafts and science activities, enjoy live animal presentations, live reptile and amphibian exhibits, and exhibits from local environmental and community organizations. The day also includes food and wildlife art exhibits.

More About YSI!
For 53 years, YSI has been a leader in nature-based science education. Our programs are hands-on and experiential, and focus on teaching science concepts and understanding that develop a child’s critical thinking skills. Each year we engage more than 30,000 children in the wonders of science.

YSI conducts programs at its three Science and Nature Centers, including in Alum Rock Park, which feature live mammals, birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles in some combination, as well as off-site at schools and other facilities. Programs include School and Group Programs, After-School Classes, Summer Science Camps, and Family Science Safaris. In addition, YSI maintains a Nature Trail at YSI Vasona, a Pioneer Garden at YSI Sanborn, and a Native Plant Garden at YSI Alum Rock.

YSI’s Alum Rock Science and Nature Center specializes in wildlife diversity. The center houses over 30 live animals, as well as taxidermy specimens, hands-on interpretive exhibits, and other materials that aid in learning about our native wildlife and science. Additionally,

  1. YSI programs and curriculum meet California State Science Standards

  2. YSI serves as excellent training for instructors in how to teach science effectively, as at least 40% of our teachers and aides go on to teach in public and private schools

  3. YSI collaborates with other organizations to further its educational efforts and impact

Please join us for the Annual Wildlife Festival! Click here for photos from last year's festival. Use the Back button on your Web Browser to return to this edition.

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Group Home for Developmentally Disabled in Hillcrest?

Neighbors cite numerous concerns

A single family home in the Hillcrest neighborhood is in escrow. It is being purchased by Bay Area Housing Corp. to use as a home for five severely Developmentally Disabled, non-ambulatory, adults who have been living at Agnews Developmental Center.

Although it was ascertained that the facility's initial residents would pose no threat to children in the area, the people of Hillcrest have many concerns about various aspects of neighborhood safety and integrity:

- the sharp increase in staff and emergency vehicle traffic (24/7) and visitors, already in a neighborhood without sidewalks but with many pedestrians and cyclists.

- potential and unannounced changes in the facility's clientele to ambulatory - and possibly violent or dangerous - patients.

- the overall poor condition of many board-and-care facilities.

- the uncertainty of all government-based funding to maintain the facility or program at a safe level.

- the quality of care that can suffer from traditionally high staff turnover and geographic dispersal of dependent patients.

- the expectation that medical emergencies will be dealt with by the fire department rather than staff.

- lighting and noise (medical equipment, alarms and signals, power generators) from a facility with 24/7 operations.

- the lack of guarantees that the facility could not eventually be used for drug or alcohol rehab or as a halfway house.

- the lack of consultation with immediate neighbors - most with young children - to answer their concerns and questions prior to the sale.

- the lack of any authority to whom this pending sale and development can be appealed or modified.

- the lack of an identified government authority who will be responsible for overseeing this facility, answering questions, correcting problems, and receiving challenges if necessary.

A meeting of about 60 Hillcresters took place at the Caskey Country Club Properties office on McKee Road on Wednesday evening, August 23rd. There they listened to three earnest folks who want passionately to put this home in a “nice” neighborhood as a pilot project to create good homes for more of the remaining patients at Agnews who must be moved.

In response, the Hillcrest neighbors decided to look into buying back the property to assure that it does not become anything other than a single family dwelling. This may not be possible, so they decided also to look into adding covenants to the deed of the property which would assure that the home stays just as presented – a place where only five, fragile, non-ambulatory people would live with their caretakers.

It remains to be seen whether “homes” such as this one can be developed in a neighborhood which doesn’t welcome them. To say that this meeting was “heated” would be a vast understatement. Stay tuned.

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You Want a Bigger Fair? Whatsamattayou?

County Fair – 3 Days of Wholesome Fair Fare

Relaxed, Small-scale, “Down-Home” af-fair

San Jose just seems to generate wholesomeness without even trying. Downtown’s winter holiday display with its endearing, clunky, not-very-animated figures is a good example of the area’s non-state-of-the-art approach to courting children. The Kelley Park Zoo with its wobbly, hand-made-by-loving-hands-at-home 1960’s era rides and displays somehow manages to draw families with little kids year after year – sometimes even after the kids have had a taste of big-time theme park razzle dazzle. The Santa Clara County Fair has that same sweet, hokey flavor that will never be called sophisticated or cutting edge – no way!

The 2006 version of the fair was no different – except that it was possibly smaller and sweeter than ever. Critics whine that our fair is whittled down year after year – and that it doesn’t make money. So what? The three August fair days were perhaps, like Baby Bear’s porridge “just right” for San Joseans.

Kids and livestock, the things that make fairs good, were just sufficiently abundant. Fair-goers could take in the whole enchilada without getting shin-splints. There were a goodly number of goats and sheep. After one has stared into a certain number of sheepish faces, they all seem to begin to look alike. Actually, they do all look alike. It is really better to view sixty goats than six hundred goats.

There was a building not-very-full of pigs. No swinish brutes here. Beautiful pink Porkys and Petunias lying serenely enjoying attention as projects of Future Farmers of America kids. FFA’s earnest motto, “Learning to Do; Doing to Learn; Earning to Live; Living to Serve” exemplifying the worthwhile life was prominently and proudly displayed.

There were cows. Just a few really, but among them were one or two of each color and gender. Plenty for little city kids who don’t really need to see barnsful of bovines.

There were bunnies and chickens and homely turkeys. Not a lot, but enough to get the idea.

Our fair has a “midway” with big and small rides, carny people with gappy teeth hawking games of skill and chance and plenty of pink stuff to get the hands good and sticky. What more could anyone want? You want more people and long lines? Whatsamattayou?

A county fair wouldn’t be a county fair without competitions for best baked goods, most complete collections, cleverest table décor, and most accomplished art work. Of course our fair has all of the above - plus music, spinning and weaving demonstrations and a gilt-tongued salesman selling a gizmo which will slice, dice and chop ice all at a very low price.

Folks who like greasy, salty wonderful fair food are not disappointed at our fair. There are all sorts of corndogs and sausagey things to eat. The aromas of curly fries and Belgian waffles, all by themselves, can raise the cholesterol level by ten to fifteen points – might as well eat them! Eat a candy apple! After all, it’s fruit, right? Ditto for strawberry shortcake. Our fair does not disappoint in the heartburn department.

The very best part, at least to some people’s taste, was the table wo-manned by the ladies of the local begonia club. Every sort of speckled and spotted begonia, many of them lavishly blooming, were for sale – some for as little as $2.00. And the ladies themselves are so sincere, earnest and San Jose.

There is always buzz that every year’s fair is the last one – that the county won’t continue offering this money-losing venture any longer. However, if value can be measured in degree of wholesomeness, opportunities for teaching and learning, and simple clean-cut family fun then our fair is worth what it costs us tax-payers. It is our fair! It would be deplorable to deprive our community’s youngsters of the benefits of 4-H (Head, Heart, Hands, Health).

Yes, our fair is simple. It’s not edgy – except for the slicing/dicing/ricing gizmo, of course. It’s a little goofy in a pleasant, small town way. Isn’t it just right?

Click here for photos.

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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.

September 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

Apricot Tree Pruning: September is the last month to prune your apricot trees if Eutypa dieback is present. This gives the cuts enough time to form a callus before the spores become active with the first rains. Now is also the time to plan for winter treatments on other fruit trees. Details on planning ahead can be found on our fruit tree care calendar at

Cool Season Vegetables: Most areas of Santa Clara County are warm enough in the winter to allow year round vegetable growing. The fall is the time to plant food crops such as lettuces, broccoli, greens such as chard and bok choy, cabbages, artichokes, peas and more. A complete list of varieties and their best planting month for both seed and plant starts can be found at Some of these plants will be available for sale by the Master Gardeners at the Harvest Festival at Prusch Farm Park on October 7.

Fruit Tree Overload: If you have a fruit tree that is ready to pick and you just don't have the time or energy to pick the fruit before it falls and rots, please contact Village Harvest. This terrific organization has volunteers who will come to your garden and remove the fruit. The fruit is then donated to food bank organizations such as Second Harvest. You can reach them at Because of the demand for their services, they are focusing on senior or disabled homeowners and on orchards or gardens with several trees. Their website gives hints on how to manage your fruit production reasonably and has many links to fruit tree information. Their telephone number is (888) FRUIT-411 or (888) 378-4841.

Fall Planting: Thinking about adding some ornamental shrubs or perennials to your garden? Because we get our natural rainfall in the winter, the best time to start off ornamental plants and trees in your garden is in the fall so the new plants can take advantage of the rainfall to establish a good root structure. In fact, if you use plants from the Mediterranean climates (cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers) around the world, you can actually stop summer watering after the first or second year for many of the plants since they are acclimated to having no summer water. A recently published book from East Bay Municipal Utility District ( called Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates covers the techniques and the plants with superb photographs. The book is available in bookstores and through the website.

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Seasonal Color With California Bulbs

Used in Europe for over a century, these bulbs deserve a place of pride in California gardens

By Arvind Kumar

When European botanists and horticulturists started visiting California in the 17th century, they were awestruck by the beauty of the local flora. They collected seeds and sent them back to Europe, where they were propagated and commanded instant attention. Horticultural treasures of California were eagerly sought by European gardeners, and cultivated in gardens throughout Europe.

Among those treasures were bulbs, which once occurred throughout California. California native bulbs are in cultivation and in the trade in Europe to this day. Indeed, the largest growers of California bulbs are located in Holland. The good news is that these European-grown California native bulbs are easily available by mail order, at prices that will make you smile. But more on that later.

Before we continue, a note on terminology. What we commonly call “bulbs” are botanically speaking true bulbs (fleshy leaves) or corms (fleshy stems). They both reside underground. Once a year, leaves emerge and the plant blooms. After flowering, the plant “disappears,” going dormant, to return again next season. This is the lifecycle of all bulbs.

Cold climate bulbs like tulips go dormant during freezing winters. Warm climate bulbs like our California bulbs go dormant during summer and fall.

Why California Bulbs? First, to introduce seasonal variety and color to your garden in spring. No matter how showy, a garden that looks the same month after month can become boring. A garden that changes with the seasons is a garden that is in tune with the cycle of nature, always changing, always renewing itself. These California bulbs not only give the garden a sense of place (“This is California!”) but also a sense of time: in the garden, they are the unique markers of spring glory.

Second, bulbs are the ultimate in low maintenance gardening. They need minimal effort at planting time (no need to dig big holes) and no effort thereafter, ever! They come up with the winter rains, and flower in spring and early summer. They disappear during summer and fall – you won’t even know they are there – to return in winter, year after year. Not all bulbs flower at the same time, and with judicious selection, and it is possible to have color from late February through June.

Bulb Culture: Success with California bulbs is assured if you follow these simple rules:

Locate them in full sun or part sun. Since they are invisible 6 months of the year, place them around existing shrubs, perennials, and bunchgrasses.

Do not amend the soil. Do not locate them in extensively cultivated beds or vegetable patches. Mine grow in the characteristic clay soil of the Santa Clara Valley floor. Some bulbs like gravelly, well-draining soil, but the ones listed in this article do fine in clay.

Plant in late fall, right after the first rain. Plant each bulb 3-6” deep. Shallow plantings often don’t survive. Make sure the root end is pointing down.

Do not water the beds through summer and fall. This is really important. Native bulbs need a period of rest, and will rot with summer water. The ideal spot is far away from the garden hose, sprinklers, and emitters.

Guard against snails and slugs. Except for alliums, most California bulbs are extremely attractive to these garden pests. Use Sluggo or pick by hand at night.

In early summer, remove the dried stalks for neatness. Be sure to collect the seeds for propagation or for trading with fellow gardeners.

If you are new to native bulbs, I recommend the following. They proved to be easy to find, affordable, and really easy to grow in my San Jose garden.

One-leaf Onion (Allium unifolium) is an early bloomer, with blossoms ranging from pink to near-white. At 18” tall, it is a significant presence, and looks best when planted 2’ or more away from the edge of beds. With time, it will colonize and form mounds. Blooms in April.

Prettyface (Triteleia ixioides) adds cheer to the spring garden with its cream-colored flowers held on long-stalked umbels. At 8”, it is not very tall, and can be placed near paths and in front of shrubs. Combine it with a low-growing, blue-flowering ceanothus like Yankee Point for contrast, or pair it with California poppies for warm color. This long bloomer lasts from mid-April through mid-May.

California Brodiaea (Brodiaea californica) blooms in late spring – mine flowered through late May! The lavender-white-cream flowers are particularly large and showy, and stand 1’ tall. Mass them for emphasis. Great for rock gardens.

Ithuriel’s Spear (Tritelia laxa) is a common sight in the foothills in late spring, its blue funnel-shaped flowers swaying among the golden grasses. It is also one of the easiest and least fussy to grow. Some in my garden are 5 years old, returning reliably every spring. A late bloomer, it flowers in May, when its grass-like leaves have dried up. The flowers last several weeks. ‘Queen Fabiola’ is a common cultivar. This bulb has been in cultivation in Europe since 1832, and is still widely grown!

Of course, California has many more native bulbs. This short list is a good starting point because these bulbs are brown-thumb-proof, and easily available in the trade. If you are successful with these, you may be inspired to try more California native bulbs.

Last year, I ordered these bulbs from Van Engelen (, an East Coast supplier which gets its stock from Dutch growers. Rates vary from 5¢ to 50¢ per bulb, quite affordable for the average home gardener. Note that this supplier carries bulbs from all over the world, and the California native bulbs are not identified as such, so you need to know what to look for through articles such as this one.

Remember that fall is the time to plant bulbs. Be aware that popular varieties do sell out, so you may want to get your orders in early if you don’t want to risk having to wait another season.

Click here for photos of Arvind's bulbs.

NNV Note: Arvind Kumar is growing 11 varieties of California bulbs in his Evergreen garden. He can be reached at

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and camera bugs. More “Voices” = a richer NNV. E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.


Confucius – A Dull Boy?

Not anymore! Overfelt Gardens’ luminous symbol shines like new.

What do you think happens to a big bronze statue when it sits out in the East San Jose elements for 33 years with no protective coating and little maintenance? Well, it’s not anything good, as you might imagine. Corrosion eats away at the bronze, the surface gets less and less shiny and, over the years, it starts to look a dull, powdery blue. Overfelt Garden’s Confucius was in just such a pickle until this summer when to his rescue came Mikhail Ovchinnikov, a San Jose art conservator, who has filled in his corroded areas and power washed and sealed his metal skin.

How Mikhail happened to come to East San Jose to minister to Confucius is a fascinating tale.

The bronzes in the Chinese Cultural Garden at Overfelt Park had all become darker and duller over the years since they were installed. There was no program to maintain or preserve them – although once, out of desperation, Ranger Roger Abe gave Confucius a scrub to remove the residue of a bird’s nest from his head. Otherwise, the figures languished under a coat of grit and grime.

Pauline and Sylvia Lowe, Overfelt Park’s champions, knew the park’s figures needed attention, so one day several years ago when they were visiting at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum, they boldly went up to some people who were sealing a scrape on a Henry Moore sculpture. “I asked them what they were doing,” said spunky Sylvia. They said they were art conservators who do preservation and restoration. “So, I introduced myself, and asked them if they would look at our bronzes.”

“It’s taken a long time, but I’m happy to report the work has started. Little by little, the art pieces, monuments and structures will get their turn,” Sylvia says with satisfaction.

Trained in Russia, Mikhail lives here in San Jose. However, he works in San Francisco at the Art Conservation Lab which takes care of all the museums and art pieces throughout that city. “They take care of everything that concerns the care of works of art,” says Sylvia. “They worked hand in hand with the DeYoung Museum staff to reinstall all the art works for the new grand opening.”

Sylvia e-mails more background: I actually found Mikhail's boss Elisabeth Cornu – an SF conservator - bent over that Henry Moore. She was overseeing a volunteer's work. Neat that they have such programs. I mean - that sculpture was worth a million dollars or more. Here at home, Cindy Rehban & her boss Julie Mark [of San Jose’s Parks Recreation and Neighborhood Services Dept.] knew work needed to be done on the Chinese Cultural Garden objects & structures. So while they were trying to figure out how to get a budget in - in times of no budget - I thought, hmmm, that'll give me time to find something or someone. So that set me to keeping an eye open. I thought at first I might be able to find a Chinese artist or crafts person. But instead, I bumped into wonderful Elisabeth who took such an interest. The added thing is that I have always wished that San Jose would hire from home. Mikhail lives in San Jose - so we also get to put some of our tax dollars back into San Jose.

After the bronzes are finished - it's possible we'll turn to the Friendship Gate. This will be a little more extensive. Elisabeth recently returned from Brazil to conserve a 400 year old gate. She saw ours & said it was one of the more exquisite gates she's seen outside of Asia.

Anyway, all this is really interesting. I love the greater creative process. Culture is fantastic genius beyond IQ - humankind's expression of beauty. It's not just my culture, but everyone's culture in their own unique guise.

My mom & I went to check on Mikhail today. For the first time in many years, I noticed the detailing of Confucius’ dress & the up-turn of his shoe, the knots on his belt, the buttons & the bronze have a shine after all.

Click here for photos of a cleaner Confucius.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletIs it true that NNV will stop publishing in November?
bulletIs it true that Alum Rock Stables is on the market? Could it be subdivided for homes?
bulletHas anyone ever heard what became of Christine Silva Burnett?
bulletWill people living in county pockets annexed into San Jose pay much higher taxes?
bulletCould the County’s proposed preservation law affect homes around Alum Rock Park?
bulletI’m looking for space to lease in the Village – do you know about the pink building?

Q. Is it true that NNV will stop publishing in November?

A. Yes, indeed, we are retiring from publishing just as soon as the November newsletter comes out on November 5th. We hope someone else will want to start a new publication. Click here to read our plan. Meanwhile, one of our reader/contributors, Andrea Flores Shelton, proposes that our readers might like to communicate via an “Alum Rock E-List Serve.” Please see her article at the beginning of this edition and let her know if this is something in which you would participate.

Q. Is it true that Alum Rock Stables is on the market? Is Bay Area Barns and Trails Trust buying it to conserve the old barn and keep the property equestrian? Could the property be subdivided for homes?

A. Yes, it’s true that the owner of the property, Don Hamilton, put the property up for sale for about $1.2 million. The agent marketing the property is NNV Sponsor Mark DeTar of Intero Real Estate Services. A potential buyer came along almost immediately. That buyer was not BABTT which hoped to buy the property at a “conservation” price they might be able to afford.

The property probably isn’t suitable for subdivision so, if the neighborhood is lucky, it will remain rural with one house on it rather than several McMansions. BABTT is out of the picture unless the property comes up for sale again in the future and the seller is conservation minded.

Q. Has anyone ever heard what became of Christine Silva Burnett, Councilmember Nora Campos’ Chief of Staff who was accused of absconding with the lost briefcase of a political activist who was visiting City Hall?

A. Yes, in a small item in the August 17th edition of the Mercury News (p. 3B) it was revealed that Ms. Burnett had pleaded no contest to a charge of “a single misdemeanor count of appropriating lost property, which carries a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in county jail.”

Ms. Burnett’s sentence? Forty hours of volunteer work. Say what? Unless there’s a typo in the Merc, (which is possible, of course) she will have to prove she did one-work-week’s worth of community service and she will be on probation for two years after that.

The crime at the time was ballyhooed as a serious breech of “City Hall ethics” which immediately landed Ms. Burnett out on her ear. What a surprise that it earned such a wimpy slap on the wrist. Was it a big deal – or not? Perhaps we’ll never understand how the city works, hey? By the way, Christine Silva Burnett, was an excellent staffer in Nora Campos’ office and was a pleasure to work with.

Q. Is it true that people living in county pockets which are annexed by the City of San Jose will pay as much as 40% more taxes?

A. Well, according to a woman who came up to the Farmers’ Market ARVA booth when NNV was manning it one Sunday, that’s exactly what will happen. She seemed rather upset that NNV wasn’t more anti-annexation. We asked her to get in touch and share her information with NNV readers. Unfortunately she just disappeared into the crowd and we’ve never heard from her again.

We did ask pro-annexation reader Andrea Flores Shelton to respond. Andrea, who has worked for County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado as a Senior Policy Aide, writes:

The smaller pockets that will be annexed over the next few years should only feel the voter-approved bonds (i.e. Library, Parks, etc.) which the County already has people paying for – it would be an exchange not an addition, is my understanding. Property taxes will NOT go up. Sidewalks and streetlights are not paid for once annexation is approved but through gradual means that may not be on the backs of the residents. I am working on getting the Annexation Answer Book (from Councilmember Nora Campos or Blanca Alvarado’s office) because these rumors are way off. But, without an official message, the rumors will continue. But, if you look at the City’s phasing plan, annexation of the large portion of Alum Rock isn’t even discussed. It won’t happen in at least 5-10 years, if that.

Andrea says her opinions may not reflect those of the Supervisor and are shaped by her experience as a resident and past work experience.  Click here to read Andrea's pro-annexation article.

Francis Zamora, San Jose Councilmember Nora Campos' Communications Director, sent us the following as soon as he saw this FAQ:

"There will be no reassessment of property as part of annexation to the City of San Jose and therefore no increase in Property taxes. There will be slight changes to the Special Assessments which are collected with property taxes. Special assessments are a charge levied by a public authority to pay the cost of public improvements such as streetlights, water and sewer infrastructure, and libraries. Typically there is a minimal increase in the amount paid for these purposes in the City compared with the County. The changes vary according to the particular area but in no case is there a 40% increase in the amount paid for property taxes (where there is no change) and special assessments (where there is a minimal difference).

With regards to the Answer Book, Councilmember Nora Campos has made getting the Annexation Answer Book out to the community a priority. We've been informed by the City Manager that the Answer Book will be available well before the end of September. This book will be available on the City's Website, distributed at community meetings and mailed to residents."

Click here for Councilmember Campos' memo to the City Manager regarding the Answer Book, which is intended to answer all these questions related to annexation. Click here to read our article on annexation in the May edition of NNV (this article includes maps of the "county pockets" planned for annexation in this area).

Q. Could the County’s proposed preservation law affect any homeowners in the unincorporated areas around Alum Rock Park? Is someone representing our Eastside interests at the meetings where the preservation ordinance is being written?

A. Absolutely yes to the former question. Unfortunately no to the latter question. According to an article in the August 14th Mercury News (P. 1B) “the proposed law … would prohibit demolition of all historically significant – and even ‘potentially significant’ – buildings” in such areas. “A register of landmarks and potential landmarks would be compiled. Once a building was on the list, it couldn’t be altered or destroyed without county approval.” The ordinance “would allow properties to be protected over the owners’ objections.”

“Any building over 50 years old linked to historic events or important people might qualify. If a house were built by a prominent architect” or belonged to a notable figure “it could be on the list.” A woman interviewed for the article said, “Just because [some houses] are old or someone famous once lived in them, doesn’t make them all landmarks.”

Although NNV has regularly published articles on the drafting of the ordinance and printed reminders of Historical Heritage Commission meetings over the last several years, only concerned county residents from the Stanford area “have stepped up to oppose the new ordinance.”

Can you still have your say? Only at the Board of Supervisors’ meetings below where probably nothing will change now.

On Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation (HLUET) Committee of the Board of Supervisors discussed the Final May 18, 2006 HHC Draft Historic Preservation Ordinance, and received public comment on the draft ordinance. The HLUET Committee was to forward a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for consideration this month.

The following is a schedule of the remaining actions on the ordinance:

September 26, 2006: Board of Supervisors Introduction and Preliminary Adoption of Ordinance

October 17, 2006: Board of Supervisors Final Adoption of Ordinance

November 2, 2006: Planning Commission – Follow-up Revisions to Zoning Ordinance Related to the Adopted Historic Preservation Ordinance.

You can see the final May 18, 2006 HHC Draft Historic Preservation Ordinance at (Quicklinks, “Historic Preservation Ordinance”) or you can call Dana Peak, Dept. of Planning and Development Program Manager, at (408) 299-5798 and ask her to mail you a copy.

Q. I’m looking for space to lease in Alum Rock Village – do you know anything about the pink building at 3157 Alum Rock which is where the old produce shop was?

A. This is supposedly the future home of the “La Bodega” deli and produce shop which has sat decaying for several years. The owners seem to have lost interest in it and only occasionally do some tiny maintenance such as the recent reinforcement of the badly cracked glass in the front windows. The whole community is scratching its collective head at how anyone can be so callous about blighting the neighborhood. We wouldn’t count on the building being “lease-able” anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the old Foothill Printers location at the front of the Alum Rock Feed and Fuel corner is for lease on an interim basis – until construction begins on the new retail project slated for the property. It can be leased on a month-to-month basis – or possibly for a six month term. KAL Investments which is developing the property says there are 1,875 square feet in the shop and they are asking $1.75 per square foot rent. This works out to about $3280 (!) per month if you were wondering. The phone number on the “for lease” sign is (408) 691-2463.

Click here for a photo.

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

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--------------------------- 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 
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Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 10/15/06.

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