New ARUESD openness?
State of the City
Police cars in
with a few of
Spring on the
|Community Input Alters ARUESD Board’s Superintendent Search Process|
|A Farmers’ Market for James Lick Parking Lot? WOW!|
|State of the City Address - Alum Rock Village Business Association honored!|
|Surplus Property Sale by ARUESD - Hold your horses, folks!|
|Clean Money Bill Passes Assembly! by Craig Dunkerley|
|Committee Helps Design Building Criteria for Hillsides by Rick Hartman, AIA|
|Environmentalists Launch Land Conservation Initiative by Peter Drekmeier|
|New Support Groups Launched at Regional Medical Center by Victoria Emmons|
|Mt. Hamilton Road – A History by Patricia Loomis|
|County “Ethics Task Force” on the Horizon by County Supervisor Pete McHugh|
|Police Chase Eases to a Halt at NNV Headquarters - Interrupts napping editor|
|East Side Bullfighter? “Torero” Rodolfo (Rudy) Tenes - Really, this is no bull!|
|You Dig It?|
|Playful Art, Rippling Water, Fresh Air, Easy Path - Guadalupe River Park and Gardens|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)|
Despite the wishes of a majority of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Board of Trustees that the district’s search for its next Superintendent of Schools not involve community input, several forums will indeed be held seeking the input of all the district’s stakeholders.
At a specially called meeting last Monday evening, the first item of “Board Business” involved making a decision in the Superintendent Selection Process: Should the board choose the new superintendent on their own – or should they include the community?
Board Clerk Lalo Morales moved that the board should go ahead and do the process “in house” without other participants. Vice President Joe Frausto seconded his motion. Mr. Morales added that the board "could make a selection process" - possibly using a facilitator.
Outraged and disappointed, Trustee Tanya Freudenberger vowed that she would “vote NO on the process and NO on the selection of any candidate that is selected out of this process.” “We need to have an open process for the search in order to find the highest caliber candidates,” she said.
Although cold rain was blowing in gusty blasts that evening, perhaps twenty members of the community turned out to watch and listen in fascination as the board painfully and publicly aired its lack of solidarity. About a dozen community members stood to make public comment.
“You need to know the pulse of the community … let’s not be shady,” said one. “The community is concerned – give us a chance to give our input,” a district employee said. “I’m ashamed that you want to exclude us. Don’t close the door,” said a local community leader. From a young parent, “Use community input – let’s work as a team.” (Excluding the community) “is a contradiction to the values of the district,” opined another district employee.
“How can you have vision if you don’t govern openly and clearly with public input?” asked a businessman. And from a district mother: “Maybe you have good intentions in your heart, but I don’t see it!”
Just one speaker voiced her faith that “This board can do it. I know this board can do it” (by themselves).
The final speaker summed up saying, “The board needs to involve all the stakeholders in the community. The board is capable of making a decision using a totally open and evaluative process.”
The community’s passion and clarity could not be ignored, but it took several passes for Mr. Frausto and Board President Kim Mesa to help Mr. Morales reshape his initial motion to include involvement of the community in the Superintendent search. The motion again was seconded by Mr. Frausto. It passed unanimously.
Now a committee of the board is arranging public forums at several locations in the district in the next couple of weeks. This will provide opportunities for parents and other members of the community to share their thoughtful perspectives. And this will give the ARUESD board an opportunity to display their understanding of best school board practices – and their responsibility to the community.
The schedule for the community meetings for community stakeholders to provide input on the qualities, characteristics and attributes that the community desires in the next superintendent is below – from the official notice on the ARUESD Web site, www.arusd.org, under Announcements.
Community Meeting Schedule
March 13 (6:30 to 8:00 PM) Community/Parent input at George Middle School
March 14 (6:30 to 8:00 PM) Community/Parent input at Fischer Middle School
March 15 (4:00 to 8:00 PM) Community Based Organizations/Groups input at Alum Rock Youth Center, please contact the Superintendent’s office at (408) 928-6820 to schedule your group
March 20 (6:30 to 8:00 PM) Community/Parent input at Sheppard Middle School
March 21 (6:30 to 8:00 PM) Community/Parent input at Mathson Middle School
Click here for a photo related to the meeting. Click here for the ARUESD Web Site.
The northwest corner of White Road and Alum Rock Avenue just might sprout a most desirable and classy new addition if plans for a Farmers’ Market in the Lick High School parking lot come to fruition. John Silveira, the Director of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association met with Lick Principal Bill Rice on a recent Friday morning to scope out the possibilities in the handsomely fenced, centrally located lot just behind the high school’s snazzy electronic marquee.
John’s company is the same one which organizes the major, major outdoor farmers’ markets at Santana Row and downtown’s San Pedro Square – among many others. He feels that our neighborhood would be a perfect place for thirty (or more) vendors to set up shop most probably on Sunday mornings. And this could start as early as this coming May!
Mid-May is the glorious beginning of the local cherry season and other “stone fruits” (think: peaches and nectarines) follow right on the heels of the cherries. We could expect an array of various California-grown fruits and vegetables similar to the offerings at PCFMA’s other markets. Some produce is “organic”, some not, and all hails from the rich farm areas which surround the Santa Clara Valley. And, of course there will be breads and rolls from the likes of Beckmann’s Bakery and no doubt interesting (and tasty) products such as nuts and honey.
John says PCFMA will work closely with the local businesses in the area especially the members of the Alum Rock Village Business Association. He’d like to see a “Merchants at the Market” feature which would allow a local business to be spotlighted each week.
Principal Bill Rice is an enthusiastic Farmers’ Market shopper and happens to live right here in the neighborhood so he’s totally supportive of such a fine resource here. A market on his campus would not only be a nifty plus for the school, it would also be the place Bill and his wife would shop on Sunday mornings!
Are there any hurdles to leap? Well, of course, nothing of this scale ever happens without a bit of bureaucratic stickiness. The East Side Union High School District will have to okay the arrangement and there will be details (think: toilet facilities, for instance) to work out. PCFMA has a long history of organizing very successful farmers markets and they know how to make sure all the logistics are ironed out.
And, says John, the market will not cost the school or the school district anything. And, better yet, it may even provide funds for some sort of annual scholarship for a Lick student. PCFMA is a non-profit which establishes and maintains successful Certified Farmers Markets around the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. Their mission “is to establish and operate community-supported certified farmers’ markets that provide: viable economic outlets for California farmers and food producers, local access to farm fresh products, support for local businesses and education concerning food and sustainable agriculture.” They are the largest such association in California and the second largest in the nation!
So, keep your fingers crossed and plan to speak up for our very own Farmers’ Market if nay-sayers should materialize. This will be such a wonderful asset to our little portion of East San Jose – let’s make sure this Farmers’ Market plan “bears fruit.”
Click here for photos and here for more about PCFMA.
The now-not-so-new rotunda of the now-not-so-new San Jose City Hall hosted a large spill-over crowd at the Mayor’s State of the City address on February 8th. A big garden-party tent was attached to the west side of the dome providing seating for those who couldn’t fit into the stiff little white chairs (read: “uncomfortable”) in the rotunda proper. The tentsitters, along with some folks in the council chambers, watched the proceedings on large-screen monitors.
NNV is very happy to say that the acoustics are much improved since the opening ceremonies last summer which left attendees with acute cases of reverberating tinnitus for days. The bugs had seriously not been worked out for those first events, but at the State of the City address three weeks ago, every single word was audible - if not to say laudable. The tension between chastened Mayor Ron Gonzales and his City Council cohorts was palpable. Hiz Ronner’s forced, tentative smiles as seen in he-ooge close-ups on the enormous screens, did little to arouse the enthusiasms of the citizens in attendance. Only if one were panting for BART and major league baseball in San Jose, would one have shared the mayor’s dreams. Audience members who had hopscotched around the city’s potholes to get to East Santa Clara Street that evening were not impressed.
But wait! There were some highlights of the evening which made sacrificing one’s tailbone to those unyielding chairs almost worthwhile. A wonderful video showing the construction of the city hall tower and rotunda as it progressed, bit by bit, element by element, window by window was fascinating. Other city scenes were interspersed as Neil Diamond’s “A Beautiful Noise” boomed through the loud speakers. A super vocal ensemble from Lincoln High School, “Esthetica,” sang the national anthem. A Sikh preacher shared a sweet invocation in both English and Punjabi. And, the piece de resistance, the Good Neighbor Recognition and Pride of San Jose Awards made all the volunteers in attendance beam. Probably most of the audience fell into that illustrious category in one way or another! Our own Alum Rock Village Business Association was honored for “improving parking and traffic safety for customers and employees, and erecting signs and banners” in The Village. Lookin’ good, ARVBA, congratulations!
Click here for photos from the State of the City address.
Many NNV readers have been following our updates on the proposed sale or lease of some or all of the ARUESD’s unused or underused property to various agencies which would put the “surplus” parcels to good use for all manners of worthy causes (i.e., low cost teacher housing, recreational fields, etc.). The ARUESD board listened to representatives of these agencies speak passionately of their missions at several meetings. And, they listened to folks from the community - the majority of whom exhorted the district, “Do not sell!”
NNV understood that the decisions would be made early this year, but January and February have passed with nothing like a decision in sight. It seems there is another layer to be peeled off this onion before anyone can sell (or lease) anything!
A team of land use consultants now needs to do a “facilities study” to determine future needs in the district. There are wildcards such as charter schools which the district must, by law, accommodate. Plus, of course, the trends toward decline or growth must be tracked and forecast.
Does it seem to anyone else that the new study should have come before the district invited interested folks to come in with their PowerPoint presentations and plans for the parcels? Won’t all the time and effort which went into those presentations be for naught if there isn’t really any surplus space? (And won’t all the teeth-gnashing and angst generated by the interested citizens have been provoked needlessly?)
There is, however, something to be said for an agonizingly slow and inefficient process - if it keeps hasty decisions from being made. Once school district land is sold, it’s gone forever. An ill-considered sale would haunt the district forever.
Click here for the last NNV article on the proposals for the "surplus space."
January was a very exciting month for everyone who loves representative government. The Clean Money Fair Elections Act, AB 583, passed the California State Assembly on a vote of 47 to 31.
Just to review, the Clean Money Act will set up a voluntary system of full public financing for state level political campaigns. That way more people of modest means can consider running for office, and those who get elected will owe their allegiance to the voters rather than the big money donors.
The system is patterned after successful systems already in use in Arizona and Maine where they enjoy enthusiastic bi-partisan support from both candidates and voters. In recent months Connecticut's Democrat-dominated legislature teamed up with Republican Governor Jodi Rell to join the ranks of states which are severing the connection between private money and public government. Interestingly, Governor Rell's voter approval rating shot up right after she signed the bill; she's now the highest rated governor in the U.S.
Several cities are also joining the move to neutral, unbiased or "clean" public financing of their election campaigns. Portland, Oregon has it; Albuquerque, New Mexico just passed it with a 69% yes vote; and, at this writing, Los Angeles is about 3 weeks away from completing its 90-day study finalizing its plans to implement full public financing.
Clean Money is thus simple, fair, non-partisan and proven...but perhaps best of all, it's also amazingly cheap. The total cost per voting age Californian is less than $6.00 a year! That's about the cost of a latte and a muffin at your local Starbucks.
But we're not home free yet. The bill goes next to the Senate, then to the governor's desk, and finally onto the ballot for approval by all the voters. If you'd like to help, there are three easy things you can do:
Call Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata's office and urge support for AB 583 (916-445-6577)
Go to www.CAclean.org and sign the online petition
Then become a member of the California Clean Money Campaign and strike a blow for democracy (same website, or call 1 800-566-3780).
And while you're at it, it never hurts to cross your fingers, and pray a little too.
NNV Note: Craig Dunkerley is the Southbay Area Coordinator for California Clean Money Campaign. You can reach him at 408-453-3865 if you have questions.
Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400
E.M.S. LLC, Environmental
Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
Windermere Silicon Valley
Properties, (408) 251-5860
Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org
Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering
Contractor, (408) 244-4791
Regional Medical Center of San
As some Eastside residents know, the County is reviewing its policies regarding construction on the hillsides, including east, west and southern hills. The protection of the hillsides as viewed from the valley floor is considered essential to the quality of life in our valley and protection of open hillsides has become a priority for the Board of Supervisors.
The Planning Staff has been researching various elements of this in order to create a proposal to offer to the Board of Supervisors for adoption. In this review process, the County has identified which properties would be in a viewshed or on a ridgeline and will try to create guidelines to be used when a property owner decides to build a home on his/her property.
Jim Reilly, the Deputy Zoning Administrator, whom I've known professionally for many years, invited me to be a part of this committee. I have been the principal architect at HOMETEC Architecture for 18 years, specializing in custom homes.
It was Mr. Reilly's intent to have a professional architect as a part of this committee in order to help generate guidelines for good design. As the end-users of these future guidelines, it’s in everyone's best interest to have them written in a way that encourages good design without being overly restrictive.
We've had three weekly meetings to date. I would like to share here some of the ideas being discussed since I know this is an important topic for everyone residing in the East Hills.
Applications for projects identified as being situated on designated viewshed properties will be required to have a design review. The level of design review (how much scrutiny a project will receive) will be based on the project’s location in the viewshed and its size.
We are discussing:
• A smaller, 500 square foot (SF), addition or garage will probably be exempt from the design review application process.
• A new home up to about 3000 SF would be considered for discretionary review. This is for staff to determine if the visual impact is significant enough to require them to require a Tier 1 review or a minor staff level review.
• Tier 1 review would be for new homes in the viewshed that are midsize homes. This would involve a full architectural review including visibility of the building from the valley floor, the massing of the structure, retaining walls, grading, etc.
• Tier 2 review would be the highest level of review for large homes or properties on the designated ridgelines. This level will receive the most scrutiny from staff, neighbor input, and possibly Planning Commission review.
Other details being discussed relate to grading, landscape, retaining walls, light reflectivity of paint, definitions of height and massing.
These are just ideas being floated by the committee for establishing design review criteria. When a landowner comes to the counter and says, “I want to build a home on my property,” we would like to have the process not be overly burdensome for the smaller projects but still have very serious review for the larger, more visible projects. To facilitate this, it has been discussed that a preliminary review application be created to help the landowner ascertain what level of review should be expected.
There is going to be a neighborhood meeting for each of the three hillside areas, East, West and South Valley, where all the interested parties are invited to come give comment on items of concern as these design guidelines and review processes are being written. Information on meeting times and location will be provided to the Editor of NNV.
The Planning Staff has gone to tremendous effort to research all aspects of this project, such as computer modeling to identify viewshed and ridgeline properties, what other communities are doing for their hillside protection, workshops, neighborhood input, and committees like this one in order to gather as much information as possible before establishing design guidelines and application review processes.
The current plan for the "neighborhood" meetings is:
March 23, 7:00 pm, Santa Clara County Building, Board of Supervisors Chambers,
70 W. Hedding, San Jose
(this is the meeting for East San Jose residents)
March 28, 7:00 pm, Morgan Hill Community Center, Hiram Morgan Hill Room, 17000 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill, CA
March 30, 7:00 pm, Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling, Cupertino, CA
NNV Note: We will publish additional meeting information on our Community Bulletin Board as it is received.
A coalition of environmental organizations, coordinated by People for Land and Nature (PLAN), has launched a citizen initiative aimed at protecting ranchlands, hillsides and agriculture in Santa Clara County. The group needs to collect 36,000 signatures to qualify the Initiative for the November ballot.
The Initiative will amend the County General Plan to protect open space by reducing the number of developable parcels and prohibiting inappropriate industrial and commercial development in rural areas. It places additional safeguards on scenic views, streamside corridors and sensitive wildlife habitat. The Initiative covers unincorporated County lands, and does not apply to cities.
The Initiative is necessary because current land use regulations do not provide adequate protection for watersheds, scenic views and sensitive ecosystems. Furthermore, controls can be weakened at any time by a simple majority vote of the Board of Supervisors. In key contrast, the environmental safeguards of an initiative can be repealed only by the voters.
A strong and effective campaign is vital to the passage of the Initiative. It will produce intense opposition from developers, land speculators and others who want development in rural areas. They will spend large amounts (in Alameda County, more than $3 million was spent against that successful initiative). This heightens our need to educate voters about the contents of the Initiative and its necessity. Communication is costly in Santa Clara County, which has 750,000 registered voters. To mail a single piece of literature to each household with a voter will cost about $100,000.
Please consider making a generous contribution to People for Land and Nature (PLAN). Checks can be made payable to “PLAN” and sent to: PLAN, 3921 E. Bayshore Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303.
To help collect signatures, please call (408) 947-7526 or email Info@OpenSpace2006.org.
For more information, visit the campaign website at www.OpenSpace2006.org.
It only takes a few seconds. Stroke can change someone’s life forever.
To help stroke victims cope with their illness and rehabilitate faster, Regional Medical Center will begin offering a monthly Stroke Support Group beginning March 6. The group will meet from 11 am to 12 noon in the Peppertree C room located on the ground floor of the main hospital building at 225 N. Jackson Avenue.
“The new support group is designed for patients and their families, caregivers or both,” says Carol Woodward, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Regional Medical Center. “The group is open to patients who have suffered a stroke, as well as those interested in learning more about stroke. The group’s activities will address an overview of stroke, speech and swallowing, mobility, walking, self care, caregiver training, fall prevention and family support, among others. We welcome anyone interested in this illness to attend.”
The support group will be conducted in English and there is no charge to attend. A post-stroke exercise group will also be available for one of the sessions and there is a $10 fee per session. For more information, call 1 (888) RMC-8881 (English or Spanish) or 1 (888) RMC-8811 (Vietnamese).
Regional Medical Center was designated this January as a Primary Stroke Center by the Santa Clara County Emergency Services Agency. Regional is now an approved facility for accepting stroke patients by ambulance through the county’s emergency medical services. The standards required to become a Primary Stroke Center were established by the Brain Attack Coalition of the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). Final accreditation through JCAHO is underway, according to Regional’s Director of Cardiovascular Services Cathy Parker, RN. Regional’s Stroke Team, headed by Xihua Sun, MD, is dedicated to reducing stroke-related disabilities and death in Santa Clara County.
Cancer Support Groups in Three Languages
Discussing the intimate details of living with cancer can be difficult enough, but trying to do so in a foreign language is even more challenging. Cancer patients at Regional Medical Center can now express themselves in a familiar language.
Through a partnership with the American Cancer Society, multi-lingual support groups for cancer patients are now being offered at Regional’s main hospital campus at 225 N. Jackson Avenue in San Jose and Regional’s Cancer Care Institute campus at 725 E. Santa Clara Street, Suite 103.
The following cancer support groups are offered:
• Cancer Support Group in English – Group meets at the Cancer Care Institute from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month. For more information, contact Regional HealthSource at 1 (888) RMC-8881.
• Cancer Support Group in Vietnamese - Group is designed for the Vietnamese-speaking community. Meets once a month on Sunday at Regional Medical Center. Contact Regional HealthSource at 1 (888) RMC-8811 for details and upcoming dates.
• Cancer Support Group in Spanish – Group is designed for the Spanish-speaking community. Meetings are held every 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month from 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm at Regional Medical Center. For more information, contact Regional HealthSource at 1 (888) RMC-8811.
In addition to the support groups, Regional also provides referrals for a number of services including:
• Nutritional Services
• Transportation (through Regional or the American Cancer Society)
• CyraCom multi-lingual phone translation services
• Hospice Care (after consultation with patient and/or family)
Click here for the Regional Medical Center Web site.
NNV Note: Neighbor Patricia Loomis wrote many superb articles for a series called “Signposts” about the stories behind the names of San Jose’s streets. The first increment of the series ran in the San Jose News between 1971 and 1977 and was compiled and republished by the San Jose Historical Museum Association in a hardbound book of the same name in 1982. NNV is reprinting some of the Signpost pieces which were written about our venerable Eastside streets and roads. These stories are used with permission. Special thanks to Patricia Loomis for letting us use her stories - and to Carol Schultz for lending us the Signposts books.
"Three hundred white men and two McCall scrappers are on the job ... a wagonload of over 200 shovels went up the road yesterday ..."
These are items from old San Jose newspapers of 1876 and refer to the Mt. Hamilton road construction project. Millionaire James Lick (September, 1875) had promised to finance a huge observatory on Mt. Hamilton if the county would build the road.
Watching the seemingly slow progress of freeway building around the valley today, it is difficult to imagine how hand labor could construct the tortuous mountain road in less than one year.
The county supervisors accepted A. T. Herrmann's survey of the route the latter part of January, 1876 ..." the last stake being driven in one foot of snow" . . . and opened bids for road construction Feb. 8.
Despite a four-month shut-down, the road was completed and formally accepted on Jan. 12, 1877.
Work was suspended early in June, 1876, because the contractor failed to live up to the agreement, did not pay his subcontractors, and was starving his Chinese road workers.
Work resumed under another firm early in October.
Throughout the year, the newspapers in San Jose kept an almost daily diary of the project, noting claims for damages filed by landowners in the path of the road, a demand that only "white" labor be used (the district attorney ruled against this petition), and impressions of persons who rode up to look over progress of the work.
B. F. Graham completed the bridge across Smith Creek June 6, 1876 ..." one of the most substantial in the county and a monument of lasting credit to the builder."
On a clear September evening, San Jose Mayor "Barney" Murphy led a party up the slopes to the site of the future observatory and lighted a bonfire "which for more than an hour shone (sic) like a star on our eastern horizon."
"Upon every hand, (San Jose) citizens were gazing and commenting on the light that in all human probability will gleam for ages to come from the towers of the great Lick Observatory."
The road, little changed today, cost $76,516.45 — a sum which would build only a few feet of modern freeway.
Although it was formally named "Lick Avenue" by the supervisors on April 6, 1876, and some years later became State Route 130, travelers over the years have known it as "Mt. Hamilton," named for the mountain which was named for the Rev. Laurentine Hamilton, a Presbyterian minister in San Jose who was along on the first recorded ascent of the mountain in 1861.
Click here to read more about Mt. Hamilton Road.
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information
Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: JudyET@NNVESJ.org Fax: (408) 272-4040
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome.
To Subscribe: E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org with "Subscribe" in the Subject line.
To Unsubscribe: E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org with "Unsubscribe" in the Subject line.
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.
Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 3/5/06.