Thursday, September 27, 2007


Most community members at the meeting liked Concept Plan1 the best, with the exception of the gazebo. Neighbors voted for the gazebo to be replaced with a longer trellis type structure as seen in Concept Plan 3 (below).

Despite community outreach from the city, only a small group of neighbors from the Fleming/Alum Rock area turned out for a final neighborhood meeting to plan a new city park for the area. The meeting on September 17th, was also attended by two city employees from the parks department, Evelyn Velez-Rosario and Jason Condit, as well as City Councilmember Nora Campos and her staff member Ryan Ford. Condit, who is a park designer, unveiled three plans for the half-acre site between Alum Rock Avenue and Fleming Court (former site of the Korean Baptist Church).

All three of the plans incorporated elements previously requested by neighbors at a meeting last spring such as a small childrens play area, par course, covered seating and grassy open space. The designs also include existing assets such as the mature pine, oak and fruit trees on the property.

Click on the photos above to get a closer look at the plans.

After some discussion, neighbors voted to accept the Concept Plan 1 design, which will be modified to include a longer trellis type structure instead of a gazebo, as well as a low decorative fence around the park's Fleming and Waterstone Court perimeters.

Not all neighbors in attendance approved of the plans. One gentleman who stated his family has lived on Fleming for 70 years said he "couldn't believe" the city was putting a park on Fleming Avenue. He called it the worst thing he's ever heard of. The neighbor had not been involved in the process before.

The park plan was developed as a compromise effort to reduce density, ease traffic and create open space in conjunction with a Braddock and Logan housing development next to the park. In late 2005, developers announced plans to build 21 homes on the former church site. Shortly thereafter, neighbors banded together and spoke out at a series of planning and council meetings throughout 2006 to get number of homes reduced. Eventually, the city council approved a plan to build 14 homes on the site, with some of the remaining land to be used for a small public park.

Unfortunately, city officials stated that the park will not be completed until sometime in 2009, although construction on the homes is well underway.

Friday, September 21, 2007


San Jose Police have launched a very useful new service on the website which allows residents with personal computers to monitor the numbers, types and locations of all calls for service.
The free service works with Google maps and shows graphically the general location of where reported crimes are taking place. Individual calls show up as small icons denoting the type of crime, when it was reported and the incident number in case you want to follow up later. Individual addresses are not shown to protect people's privacy. The service also allows residents to get email alerts in near real time when the crimes have been reported. This is potentially a great tool for neighborhood groups trying to monitor crime in their area. They can look for trends, such as a rash of burglaries or car break-ins. Unfortunately for many of us, crimes reported to the Sheriff's Office are not part of the new online service

You can find the SJPD'S Crime Reports site here:


No, I wasn't using my cameraphone while driving. I was completely stopped on 680, waiting for the light on the Alum Rock offramp. I decided to take a picture, because this was the first time I can ever remember traffic being backed up this far out onto the freeway. In fact, traffic was backed up so far that cars were side by side with those backed up from the Capitol Avenue exit. This was taken at 6pm on Wednesday. Is the East Side area getting crowded or what?

Monday, September 17, 2007


The California Highway Patrol reported that late this morning that an unidentified 3 year old boy was struck while riding his bike by an SUV on Lyndale Avenue at Highwood. The boy was taken by ambulance to Valley Medical Center with minor injuries according to CHP Officer Todd Thibodeau. "He wasn't wearing a helmet", Thibodeau said, adding that the boy was lucky to escape with only "cuts and scrapes."

The boy's bike shows what could have happened. It was lodged beneath the wheels of the GMC Suburban. The driver, Maria Velasquez, told the CHP she was motoring northbound at about 20 miles per hour on Lyndale, when the boy veered into the street. Thibodeau said she tried to avoid hitting him, but could not stop in time. Velasquez is not a licensed driver, Thibodeau said, so she was cited and the vehicle was impounded.

Neighbors Nancy and Allen Olson said they had noticed the boy and his younger sister riding bikes and scooters earlier in the morning, apparently unattended. "We saw no parents," Nancy Olson said.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Dear Community Friends:

On Saturday, September 15, from 8:00 a.m. to noon, the Alum Rock Youth Center Advisory Team is hosting a flea market in the parking lot of the Youth Center at 137 North White Road. Please share the information with others, consider rent a space to sell, visit us Saturday to buy items, or donate items to sell. We appreciate your continued interest and support. You are welcome at any of our Advisory meetings which are held the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Center.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Fleming Dr. is stamped into the concrete on Fleming Ave's new wider curb and gutter at Braddock and Logan's new housing development.

Construction workers finished the new wider curbs and gutters leading into Braddock and Logan's new development on Fleming Ave. Unfortunately, it appears someone forgot to look at neighboring street signs or a map before the street name was stamped into concrete as Fleming Dr.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


From the San Jose Mercury News
By Leslie Griffy

Sunnyvale public safety officers are searching for a San Jose parolee who escaped a dragnet Monday night, Lt. David Pitts said today.
Alegandro Alcala, 21, eluded officers after a chase that led investigators from a Sunnyvale mobile home park to East San Jose. The pursuit included an alleged assault and a stolen car and led 100 officers from four police agencies to search a San Jose neighborhood well after midnight.
The incident started at about 9:30 p.m., when a Sunnyvale public safety officer came into contact with Alcala in a parking lot. Alcala, who is wanted for a parole violation, ran.
Alcala ran into a mobile home park on Borregas Avenue.
At the park, Pitts said, Alcala broke into a mobile home where he allegedly assaulted a 76-year-old woman, who confronted him. Alcala ran out of the home after the woman's son went after him, Pitts said.
Next, Alcala allegedly broke into a second home in the park and stole a set of car keys. Officers next spotted him driving out of the park, Pitts said.
From there, they chased Alcala to an East San Jose neighborhood near Lake Cunningham, where Alcala crashed the car and ran away from law enforcement.
He was able to escape the 100-officer dragnet set up for him in the area after the crash. Residents reported seeing police helicopters for hours after midnight this morning. Pitts said officers cleared the area around 6 a.m. this morning.
Alcala is wanted on suspicion of kidnapping, assault, burglary, car theft and reckless evading of police officers. He is described as being 5-foot-11 inches tall, weighing 160 with short brown hair and brown eyes. He is Hispanic.

Friday, June 22, 2007


The following opinions were submitted on ARNNE (Alum Rock Neighborhood Network Email list) by David Sanchez, Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition President, and Andrea Flores-Shelton, Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition Treasurer:

Dear Neighbors,
Another projected housing development (PDC07-041) is slated for 380 N. White Road, near the corner of McKee & White. From what I can tell, "The City" is trying to turn our community into the high density housing hub of San Jose, yet we continue to be one of the most neglected areas of the City.

Have any of you driven by the corner of McKee and White lately? The traffic light there is very old and always going out, there are no sidewalks on the north side of McKee, the two strip malls (7-11, Dairy Bell) are some of the worst blighted areas, and you would think White Road is one big crosswalk the way people are walking in the middle of the street to go from Seafood City back to their homes. Not to mention that there are already signs erected that another large high density housing development is being built at the same corner!, North Point I believe.

Add to this the recent closure of several large grocery stores in our area, the resistance of the City to rebuild Fire Station 2, already the busiest in San Jose mind you, and The City's inability to upgrade, or sometimes even maintain, our roads and services and you have a once proud community that is quickly becoming overcrowded, ugly, dangerous and very, very undesirable to live. From speaking with many of you at recent community meetings we as a community do not need, want or support The City's plans to turn Alum Rock into San Jose's Hub of High Density Housing.

I am a proud and long time resident of Alum Rock, 45 years, and my family has called this area of The City home for longer than that. We've been born, baptized, educated, raised and buried in this community. This is our home, you are our family, this is OUR community ........ speak up Alum Rock, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Let The City know what we want our community to look like, what our community needs are and how their decisions are affecting the community that we live in.

David Sanchez

David and others -
Thanks for the heads-up about this development but I have a different perspective on this. I wouldn’t consider 7 houses on an acre high density. When you look at the lot size (1 acre) and the shape of it, and the fact that it is currently vacant and next to a large development already, adding 7 detached homes seems cramped (probably tiny yards), but the new standard. It doesn’t sound like high density to me – not townhouses, condos, apartments. Best of all, converting this vacant lot with weeds, chain link fence around it catching garbage with no one caring about it into homes (hopefully in the realm of affordable) is a win from my perspective. I drove past it today – what an eyesore!

High-density will be Northpoint! High-density will be coming the day the American Legion decides to sell, but not even Northpoint can talk them into it.

I do think the community must use every development opportunity to extract community benefits – sidewalks, street lights, etc especially when long neglected, unincorporated parcels like this one are being annexed into the city due to the development. Fleming Avenue is a wonderful example with the pocket park being a part of the conditions of approval. My hope with the Northpoint development is that this community gets very involved because this is going to be huge and McKee and White MUST get the sidewalks and street lights, and traffic calming it desperately needs.

I am a tree hugger by most people’s standards, so development in Coyote or outside the urban service areas, and those mega homes that ruin our hillsides in Evergreen/San Jose/Milpitas hills make me cringe. But, 7 homes along White Road seems reasonable at this rate.

My two cents.
- Andrea Flores Shelton

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Hello Community Members!

Thank you all for making your voices heard! We have been overwhelmed with support in the fight for public safety and funding for our community priorities.

I have included important information about our next steps. Let’s keep working together!

Bring signs, friends, family and neighbors to a brief info session before we head into the Council Chambers to show the Mayor and Councilmembers that we need to keep resources and improve public safety in the area with the highest need. It is critical that we maintain funding for the rebuild of Fire Station #2.

Date: Tuesday, June 5

Time: 6:00 p.m. Group Pre-Meeting/Information Session
7:00 p.m. Council Session and Public Forum

Location: Bamboo Garden
San Jose City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara Street

Parking: 6th Street and Santa Clara Street
Underground garage
Parking validation will be available

*Don’t forget to bring 10 community members with you!

Key messages:
Fire Station #2: Oldest! Busiest! Neediest!
Our firefighters deserve better!
Protect the East Side ! Protect the City! Rebuild Fire Station #2!
Fiscal Responsibility! No Band-aid solutions!
Keep the promise! Don’t Cut Funding for Fire Station #2!

Thursday, May 31, 2007


After the Suncrest Avenue Fire near Alum Rock Park, September 24, 2006. Defensible Space helped save the homes near the top of this hill. (Photo by Richard Brown)

By Allan Thompson

The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (SCFSC), a local non-profit group dedicated to preventing wildfires in Santa Clara County, has launched Defensible Space Chipping Programs to reduce hazardous fuels in selected areas of the county. These programs are funded by $90,442 in federal grants from the USDI Bureau of Land Management.
With the start of the 2007 Wildfire Season upon us, SCFSC is launching its pilot Chipping Programs in several areas including east and south San Jose and the East Foothills near Alum Rock Park, where last year’s “Suncrest Avenue Fire” burned a swath of grassland near some hillside homes.
These federal grants, and local matching funding from area individuals, companies and organizations like Pacific Gas and Electric Company and San Jose Water Company, enable SCFSC to provide these services free-of-charge. SCFSC is also offering more extensive assistance to qualified seniors and disabled residents through its Special Needs Assistance Program or SNAP.
To learn more about these free Chipping Programs, visit the SCFSC Website at and click on “Defensible Space Chipping Programs.” If you have questions, e-mail or call (408) 975-9591.
SCFSC also has a 20-page, guide for homeowners and residents available on-line or by mail. The guide, Living With Fire in Santa Clara County, is at and is appropriate for the Wildland Urban Interface areas. It illustrates how to create Defensible Space and use fire resistant plants and roofing materials.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Fire Station 2, on Alum Rock Avenue, is the oldest and busiest fire station in San Jose.

By Monica Limas
Office of Councilmember Nora Campos

This is a critical time and we need your support to restore full funding for the rebuild of Fire Station 2. We need to work together to ensure that the concerns of our community members are heard. Help give the Mayor and City Council the message that we are willing to fight for the much-needed resources in our community.

As requested by many of you, we have attached a sample letter. As well, we have included the city’s response to our request for full funding of the rebuild. Below are important dates and contact information.

Please confirm your participation so that I may be available to assist.

Important Dates:
* June 1st – Mayor’s Budget Message (Budget & Update)
* June 5th – Afternoon council session and public forum at 1:30 pm. Evening session at 7:00 pm.
* June 11th – Public hearing on Proposed Operating and Capital Budgets at 7:00 pm.
* June 12th – City Council vote to approve 2007 – 08 budget.

Contact Information:
* Mayor and City Council
200 E. Santa Clara St. 18th Floor
San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: 408.535.4800

D5 Staff will be available with more information at the Mayfair Community Groundbreaking at 2039 Kammerer Ave. on Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 6:00 pm. See you there!

In Unity,

Monica Limas
Community Relations Coordinator
Office of Councilmember Nora Campos, District 5
408.535.4948 Direct
408.292.6262 FAX

City of San Jose
200 E. Santa Clara Street, 18th Floor
San Jose, CA 95113

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Tree cutters arrive to chop down this 40 foot oak on Fleming Avenue at Fleming Ct. But due to last minute protests over a lack of neighborhood notification, the tree was saved, but maybe not for long. Removal was approved by the San Jose City Council as part of a street widening project in conjunction with the new housing development by Braddock and Logan.

Letter to City Council from Doris Livezey of Our City Forest regarding the tree:

Apparently neighbors were successful in putting a temporary stop to the removal of a native oak next door to 145 Fleming. Neighbors were told by the contractor there was a permit for its removal but they had never seen it posted. Neighbors have stepped forward saying they want the tree saved. When I called the San Jose City Arborist's office I was told that a permit was never issued because the removal had been approved by the City Council members for street widening and future construction. I'm assuming I was given the correct information. What is wrong with this picture? City Council can order a tree removed but the average property owner has to go through the removal process? The City of Mountain View has roads going around trees as does Los Altos. I just returned from a town in Southern California where the street curves out to accommodate an ancient tree. We've all seen it. Is the City of San Jose that interested in future construction that it has to destroy an old oak tree? I would assume time is of the essence. I'm appealing to all of you who received this email to save the tree!

Doris Livezey
San Jose taxpayer and member of Our City Forest

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Please plan to attend and speak out at the final public hearing on Proposed Operating and Capital Budgets June 11 at 7:00 pm - City Council Chambers!

Message sent on behalf of Councilmember Nora Campos:

Dear Friends,

As your representative and an active community member who recognizes the importance of public safety, I am advocating for the complete rebuild of Fire Station 2 in our community. The City's 2007-2008 proposed budget reduced funding and downgraded this project to a remodeling despite that it was fully funded last year as a comprehensive rebuild. A remodeling would not sufficiently address the deficiencies of the existing station, which is one of the oldest in the city. We have worked together to advocate for quality facilities and services in our community, and I ask that you continue to work with me to achieve these objectives by joining me in advocating for this project.

Located at Alum Rock Avenue between Capitol and White, Fire Station 2 was built in 1947 and has the highest volume of service calls at any single fire station in San José and the entire County. In Fiscal Year 2004-2005, Fire Station 2 saw 4,007 calls for service. A remodel is not a long-term solution for the improvements needed to allow firefighters to respond adequately to the amount of activity day in and day out at Fire Station 2. As the facility continues to age, it is important that we achieve the necessary quality of a new state-of-the-art fire station that can meet the great need in our community.

With new facilities such as the Dr. Roberto Cruz-Alum Rock Library and the Alum Rock Youth Center, storied buildings in the Alum Rock Village, and the vulnerability of the East Foothills, a fully rebuilt station that will result in improved services, increased public safety, and continued community revitalization in District 5 is critical. Please make your voice heard throughout the budget process and support with me the full funding and complete rebuild for Fire Station 2.


Nora Campos

Important Dates:
June 11 at 7:00 pm - Final Public Hearing on Proposed Operating and Capital Budgets, City Council Chambers

Office of the Mayor
San José City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel. (408) 535-4800
Fax (408) 292-6422

Saturday, May 12, 2007


By David Sanchez
ARNC President

That's right, it's that time again ..... The ARNC Monthly Meeting will be held on May 17, 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph George Community/Recreation Center at 277 Mahoney Drive.

Some great information and ideas came out of last month's meeting:

Andrea Flores-Shelton has been researching the abandoned shopping cart issue on ARNNE (Alum Rock Neighborhood Network Email), thanks Andrea!. She supplied us with contact numbers on who to call to pick them up.

Steve Pollock has been working on having a guest speaker from Our City Forest share with us how OCF can help with Alum Rock beautification. Thanks for setting this up Steve!

Elizabeth Driedger is getting us information on San Jose's new Anti Graffiti Program and how Alum Rock can tap into this new resource. We can't wait to hear what you've found out about this Elizabeth!
San Jose Job Corps was contacted about litter issues that affect their Dale Drive neighbors, they are more than willing to work with the community at being a good neighbor but we need to hear back from our Dale Drive representatives.

Darcie Green and Elizabeth are working on setting up an ARNC Cleanup Day for the Alum Rock Village.
Darcie's been in contact with the folks responsible for running the James Lick Flea Market and is keeping us up to date as she finds out more information. Thanks Darcie, I know our neighbors are looking forward to this Flea Market starting up again.

With all of the talk about the Berryessa Art & Wine Festival, from yours truly, an idea came up as to whether something like this could work in our Alum Rock community to support our schools music program. There was some discussion but we'll have updates and more discussion this month.

With James Lick getting a new principal next year, Mr. Glenn Vanderzee, ARNC thought it would be a good idea to welcome him into the neighborhood with a small get together. Details are being worked out and Darcie is getting this on his calendar. We'll update you at the meeting on the date, time and location.

Last, but not least, your ARNC board members attended a meeting last month of the Neighborhoods Commission Work Group on the discussion of a proposed caucus election process. There was some very important information presented on the process that San Jose will be using to ensure relationships between the City of San Jose and the Community. Darcie and Elizabeth are working on getting the word out to all Neighborhood Group leadership in our area. We can update everyone at the meeting on our findings and answer any questions you may have.

I'll be sending out an agenda early next week. Oh ...... did I forget to mention the fantabulous door prizes again? lol

Monday, May 07, 2007


Neighbors looked at several photos of existing parks in San Jose to help them decide which elements to include in the Fleming Avenue park.

By Len Ramirez

Horseshoe pits and barbecue pits are out. Open space, a play area, fitness equipment and a covered sitting area are in.

Those are some of the ideas generated by neighbors when they sat down with San Jose parks officials Monday night to plan a half-acre park on Fleming Ave.
The neighborhood could be enjoying its very own park in about a year, according to officials. About 15 people, including 9 neighbors, sacrificed watching both the Sharks and the Warriors in televised playoff games to attend the park's first planning meeting at the Berryessa Community Center.

Also attending were City Councilwoman Nora Campos and Jim Sullivan of Braddock and Logan, the developer. Park planners showed neighbors a series of photos of other half acre parks in San Jose, so they could get a feel for what can be done in that amount of space. Amenities will include landscaping, fencing, gates, a water fountain, lighting, in-ground irrigation and seating. Campos stated that the park's maintenance is secured through District 5 funds for the first two years.
The park is being built in conjunction with a 14 home development near Fleming Court. Construction has already begun with the homes due to be completed by the end of summer, 2007. Construction of the park will take longer, but should be completed by spring, 2008.
Another park planning meeting is tentatively scheduled for sometime in July, when neighbors will get to see three park design plans that incorporate the elements discussed tonight.

Neighbor attached dots next to their preferences. Blue indicates what they want; red indicates what they don't want.


What does a small city park look like? This is O'Donnell's Garden Park on William Street in downtown San Jose.

Just a reminder to all concerned, there will be a meeting to plan the new half-acre Fleming Avenue neighborhood park tonight. Please plan to attend and bring your ideas!

WHEN: May 7th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm
WHERE: Berryessa Community Center, 3050 Berryessa Road

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Carlos Santana speaks to students at the National Hispanic University about the importance of education. Photos by Julie Ramirez

By Len Ramirez
Legendary Rock guitarist Carlos Santana paid a visit to the National Hispanic University to deliver a message of inspiration and hope to hundreds of high school and college students.
Santana's visit was another coup for the small, predominantly Latino university on Story Road at the base of the East Foothills.Santana decided to visit the students from the Latino College Preparatory Academy and the NHU (which share the 11 acre campus) after being invited by a small but persistent group of students who never gave up in their efforts to bring the Grammy Award-winning artist to their campus. Santana, like many of the students, was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a child. His family settled in San Francisco's Mission District. Santana said visiting and speaking at schools helps him pursue his interest in helping students realize their full potential.
Carlos and his wife, Deborah, have been active in making a positive contribution to the welfare of the underserved through their foundation- The Milagro Foundation. The Milagro Foundation was started in 1998 to benefit underrepresented and underprivileged children around the world. With funds generated by concert ticket donations and generous individual and corporate donors, the foundation makes grants to grassroots, community-based tax exempt organizations that work with children and youth in the San Francisco Bay Area, the United States and countries around the world touched by the music of Santana.
"We are honored to host Mr. Santana and that he has taken an interest in the great work we are doing here at NHU and LCPA", said NHU President Dr. David Lopez.
The National Hispanic University is a private, accredited, 4-year university celebrating its 25th year in higher education. Founded in 2001, the Latino College Preparatory Academy is a charter high school for English Language Learners and is the first part of the NHU 8-year academic ladder (Grades 9-baccaulaureate degree at NHU).

Monday, April 23, 2007


This is the notice sent out to neighbors asking for participation in the planning of the new Fleming Avenue park.

By Len Ramirez

The East Foothill's first new park in many decades is becoming a reality and the city of San Jose is inviting us to help plan it.
Many neighbors in the Fleming corridor recently received a notice in the mail asking them to attend a special meeting at 6:30 pm, Monday, May 7th at the Berryessa Community Center for the purpose of planning the new park, which will be built on Fleming Avenue near Fleming Ct. The meeting is sponsored by the office of City Councilmember Nora Campos and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
The 1/2 acre park will be built in conjunction with a new housing development of 14 homes on the former site of The Lord's Baptist Church, and is the result of a hard-fought battle between neighbors and the housing developer Braddock and Logan over that development. Neighbors successfully petitioned the city of San Jose to reduce the number of homes and add the park. The development originally planned for 21 homes to be built on the 2 1/2 acre parcel. The final result was a 1/3rd reduction in the number of homes and the addition of a small neighborhood park. In addition, at least two large mature trees were saved from the chainsaws and will become part of the park's design and keep that part of Fleming Avenue green and shaded.
This is a rare opportunity to make a real community impact and neighbors throughout the Alum Rock/East Foothills area should plan on attending the meeting on the 7th, to help ensure the new park is something neighbors will be proud of.

WHO:East Foothills Neighbors
WHAT:New Fleming Avenue park
WHEN: Monday, May 7th, 6:30 pm
WHERE:Berryessa Community Center
WHY:Help plan the park
HOW:Neighborhood participation

Thursday, April 19, 2007


By David Sanchez

Howdy Neighbors!

This is your reminder for the upcoming ARNC monthly meeting, April 19, 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph George Community/Recreation Center.

Last months meeting saw our attendance double, we had folks show up to the meeting after hearing about it only hours beforehand. AWESOME! What a great group of people it was, with lots of Alum Rock pride and enthusiasm to improve our community.

Come hear Bud LoMonaco, our Alum Rock Village business representative, give us the latest scoop on The Village, a new monthly feature of our meetings.

Oh, and don't forget about the fantabulous door prize! See you Thursday.

David Sanchez
ARNC President


By Talia Shapiro

Celebrate a healthy earth at the farmers' market on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22! There will be cooking demonstrations at 10am and 11:30am with our very own Market Chef Chris Hay, children's Earth Day arts and crafts, and an array of earth-friendly organizations to inform you.

We will have live music by local musicians and a special presentation on Sustainable Gardening given by local Master Gardeners.There will be a lot to see and do, but let's not forget our local farmers who bring you the freshest produce around. There will be fresh Asian greens from Yia Moua Farms and many kinds of fruit from Lujan Farms. Munch on kettle corn from Eat the Best and pick up a colorful bouquet of flowers from Osako Nursery to brighten up your day.

Here's a great recipe for a light spring meal using fresh Asian produce:
Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake MushroomsIngredients1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil2 large garlic cloves, minced6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps cut into 1-inch pieces1-1/2 pounds baby bok choy, leaves separated from the stems1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine3/4 cup Vietnamese stir-fry sauce.
Directions:In a large skillet or a wok, heat the oil until small puffs of smoke begin to appear. Add the garlic and stir-fry over high heat for 10 seconds. Add the shiitake and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the Vietnamese stir-fry sauce and cook until the bok choy is tender but still bright green and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes longer. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.

So if you're looking for a fun day with the added benefit of informing you about how to help keep the earth healthy and how to keep yourself healthy, then come on by and enjoy a beautiful spring day.We thank you for supporting your local farmers and producers by visiting the market. We're at 57 North White Road every Sunday, year-round, rain or shine, from 9am to 1pm.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


James Lick's new principal, Glenn Vander Zee,was featured in a very positive editorial by the Mercury News. The article highlights several areas that have previously been featured here in The Neighborhood View. If you missed it, or want to read it over again (as I did) here is the link: GO COMETS!

Monday, April 02, 2007


James Lick Senior Marissa Covarrubias gets one-on-one attention from her teacher in this video still taken from the DVD. Lick has one of the lowest teacher to student ratios in the East Side Union High School District.

Hundreds of middle school students are getting exposed to the many positive things going on at James Lick High School thanks to a slick new video that's making its way around San Jose schools. "It's very convicing," said one 8th grader after viewing the video at Fisher Middle School last week. The video was produced by Tom Castellano of Independent Productions. The Neighborhood View got a sneak preview of the 11 minute movie on DVD and reproduced a clip for our web audience. You can view the clip by clicking on the link below.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


By Len Ramirez
Photos by Julie Ramirez

You'll see the large brown sign pointing the direction to a little piece of Alum Rock history...the boyhood home of one of the most influential American civil rights leaders of the 1960's and 70's: Cesar E. Chavez.
Chavez's brother, Librado, joined San Jose City Councilmember Nora Campos and children from nearby Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Adelante Academy and McCollam Elementary to unveil the prominent sign directing visitors to the Chavez home. The new sign is located on the corner of Sharff Avenue and E. San Antonio Street.The festive occasion was highlighted by the students, who read their award-winning poems about Chavez and farmworkers. "It's very fitting that the children are here, because education is the key to success," said Campos. Librado added that although his brother never finished school, "education was always very important to Cesar."Cesar Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona and lived there until his family lost their home when he was ten. The family then moved to California and migrated around the state following the seasons and picking crops. The family finally moved to San Jose and settled into the small home on Sharff Avenue when Chavez was in the 8th grade. After serving in the US Navy, Chavez moved back to San Jose, married Helen, his teenage sweetheart and became active as a political organizer in the neighborhood off Alum Rock Avenue, then known as "Sal Si Puedes" (get out if you can) because the streets in that section of 1950's East San Jose were not paved. Chavez joined others committed to improving the area in the Community Services Organization, and later he branched off forming farm labor unions, including the United Farm Workers (UFW). His work led to numerous improvements in wages and working conditions for farmworkers. Chavez died on April 23, 1993. His birthday on March 31st, has become a holiday in four U.S. states including California, and many parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets have been named in his honor in several cities across the United States.
The Chavez family home has been designated as a San Jose Historical Landmark, one of few on the East Side.


Six of Alum Rock Union Elementary School District's schools showed "significant improvement" on their revised Academic Performance Index (API) test scores, according to school district officials.
Statewide results were published Tuesday by the California Department of Education.
Based on an in-depth analysis of the revised API scores, the data shows Linda Vista Elementary increased 16 points from 726 to 742; Rogers Elementary grew 7 points from 679 to 686; Shields increased 6 points from 645 to 651; Painter Elementary moved up 2 points from 761 to 763; and Cureton Elementary and Slonaker Academy both increased by 1 point from 702 to 703 and 666 to 667 respectively.
"These improvements are the result of a uniform focus on the state content standards, on research-based best practices of teaching and learning, and data-driven accountability," said Alum Rock Superintendent Norma Martinez in a district press release.
Alum Rock also met all of its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) indicators in 2006.
The API measures school and district growth based on a scale ranging from 200 to 1000 points.
Unfortunately, no Alum Rock schools met the state's target of 800 points.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


By Elaine Travers

"Winter , Spring, Summer or Fall, All you have to do is call, And I'll be there, You've got a Friend."
These are the words in a song by Carole King that exemplify what it means to be a Friend of the Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Library. Friends of the libraries are volunteers committed to support and supplement needed library resources. Friends advocate the importance of library services in our communities and raise funds through book sales to achieve library goals. Your donations of gently used and resalable books are accepted at the library year-round. Be a Friend and share your ideas and talents. Contribute books, cassettes, CDs, DVDs and videos. Also encourage others to use the library and make it an essential part of their lives.
Our next meeting is March 27th, 5:00 - 6:00 at the library. For more information call the library at 808-3090 or Elaine Travers at 258-4255.
"I get by with a little help from my Friends." --Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Monday, March 19, 2007


Words, photo, and video by Len Ramirez

Cpl. Ivan Hernandez needs an hour of physical therapy everyday to help rebuild his strength following injuries suffered during combat in Iraq. CBS 5 Cameraman Joe Rojas gets the shot on video.
Marine Corporal Ivan Hernandez survived two tours of duty in Iraq, three IED explosions and came home to Alum Rock on Friday with two Purple Hearts for injuries suffered in combat.
"I can't even put a sock on because I can't reach down there," Hernandez told me during an interview which aired on CBS 5 tonight, the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war.
Hernandez,22, was severely injured in a suicide bomb attack in Barwana, Iraq on February 7th. Two Marines, one Iraqi interpreter and two Iraqi policemen were killed in the attack, which happened at a security checkpoint when an insurgent with explosives under his clothing walked up to the crowded area and blew himself up. "I heard the explosion, and I fell to the ground," Hernandez explained in a quiet voice. "I tried to get up, but I couldn't."
The blast left Hernandez with shrapnel wounds on his left shoulder, hand, knee and ankle. Metal debris tore through nerves making it difficult and painful for him to walk, even with crutches. After treatment in Iraq and Germany, Hernandez was transported to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, where he has been undergoing physical therapy.
"It's hard to see myself, not being able to do things," Hernandez said during one of his workouts.
Hernandez has made progress during the past month, and was discharged from the VA last week. He also passed a special driving test given to injured Iraq veterans by the VA to clear them to get behind the wheel again. Hernandez left the hospital with his wife Desiree and their 3 year old daughter Destiny at his side. The couple met when they were both 16 and working part-time at Great America. He is a graduate of Yerba Buena High School, and Desiree graduated from James Lick. The young family lives near Capitol and Alum Rock. "You hear about soldiers who get injured everyday, but you never hear about all the recovery they have to go through. That was really overwhelming," Mrs. Hernandez said.
Many more months of rehab await Corporal Hernandez, who credited his wife and his mother, Maria. "I don't know what I would have done without them," he said. Maria Hernandez told me in Spanish that she prays for her son's recovery, and for peace.
See Len's TV news report on CBS 5:
Watch raw video behind-the-scenes on CBS 5 shoot:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Come on Alum Rock neighbors! Join us, your fellow concerned Alum Rock neighbors, this Thursday evening, March 15, 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph George Community/Recreation Center (277 Mahoney Drive). The building is located right between the band building on the corner and the back of the school cafeteria ... where the small parking lot is for the middle school. Not sure where that is ..... just get yourself near the building, Steve and I will be standing outside to greet you B-).

Participation at the ARNC meetings has been at a critical low lately, Steve's getting tired of hauling that same 'ol box of water in and out of his car and I'm getting tired of seeing the same 'ol faces! sorry guys and gals but I know you feel the same way ........ LOL

We want to brainstorm and discuss, with a larger group, potential neighborhood projects for the year, perhaps we can even come up with a fun neighborhood meet and greet activity. Bring all of your ideas! bring a neighbor! heck, bring your dinner if need be, just get yourself to THIS meeting. Did I mention the fabulous door prize yet? what? you didn't know we had a door prize? see what you're missing!

See you Thursday evening!

David Sanchez
ARNC President

Friday, March 09, 2007


By Allan Thompson

The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council has released the first Public Draft of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the East Foothills area east of San Jose for comments. Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) are the new standard for evaluating a community’s risk from wildfires. CWPPs not only set forth a detailed plan for ongoing wildfire prevention maintenance in a specific area, but also provide other important benefits to the community.
These Benefits to the Community include:
Higher priority for Federal grant dollars for fuel reduction projects
Quicker turnaround for environmental permits or navigating compliance issues
Communities can organize projects to reduce fire prone fuels without Federal funding
Identification of appropriate Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) boundaries with community input
The East Foothills CWPP was developed by SCFSC and Dudek, a wildfire prevention planning company, with assistance from the San Jose Fire Department, CDF (now CAL FIRE), and many other stakeholders and residents. It is the first CWPP completed in Santa Clara County. The San Jose Fire Department Wildland Officer, Fire Captain José Guerrero, has been involved in the planning process from the beginning. Captain Guerrero states, “We’re very excited about this project. It’s a great example of how the public and private sectors can take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires in the foothills of San Jose.”

Allan Thompson
Santa Clara County FireSafe Council
(408) 272-7008

How quickly can fire strike? Just watch this video shot by Julie Ramirez!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


As a cancer survivor, KRON-4 TV's Ysabel Duron knows the importance of early cancer detection. That's why her latest non-profit venture, Latinas Contra Cancer is launching a Cervical Health Initiative in February 2007. They plan 4 Mother/Daughter rallies in Santa Clara County high schools to educate Latinas about the HPV virus and cervical cancer. James Lick High School will host a rally on March 15th.
The mission of LCC is to save lives through education, access and early detection. 2 times as many Latinas get cervical cancer as the mainstream population.
The campaign is targeting 1000 low-income, Spanish-speaking mothers and their daughters who often lack awareness, and face income, cultural and social barriers to education and health care. LCC trained 16 teen peer educators to help lead their unique bi-lingual educational game, Cervical Health Bingo, at the rallies.
The bingo serves as an icebreaker, works to dispel myth and misinformation, and opens up taboo conversation about this deadly disease. The human papilloma virus is the source of cervical cancer and is a sexually transmitted disease. The teens and their mothers will learn this is not about sex but about health and a life saving vaccine. At the beginning of the campaign, one of the girls took the invitation home to her father; her mother is in Iraq. He listened and learned and took her to get the vaccine. That’s one less LCC has to worry about.
LCC has invited the public health department, and clinics to provide as many low cost screenings, pap smears and the HPV vaccine as possible.
If this unique educational event and the CHB tool works as effectively as expected, LCC plans to make the program available to other Latino health care providers to launch in their communities.
The first rally was held February 8th at Gilroy High School and 102 mothers and daughters attended. 14 girls or 30% of attendees signed up for the new HPV vaccine. The three other schools are Latino College Prep Academy at NHU, James Lick High School and Downtown College Prep.
The Cervical Health Initiative is the primary education campaign leading up to LCC’s
2007 Mother’s Day Walk Against Cancer, May 13th, in downtown San Jose, which will turn the spotlight on cervical and breast cancer.
For more information you can visit her website:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


CBS 5's Eye on the Bay visits Alum Rock. Correspondent Marla Tellez and crew did a fabulous job profiling our little corner of the world.
You can view the video online by clicking on the link below:


San Jose police are investigating the discovery of a man's body on Penitencia Creek Road near the entrance to Alum Rock Park Wednesday morning.
Passersby called authorities to report seeing a man down at Penitencia and Dorel Drive at about 6:40 a.m., police Sgt. Nick Muyo said.
"We're not quite sure what time it all went down," but the death
is being investigated as suspicious, he said.
Police believe there may have been a fight or some other disturbance in that area in the hours prior to the body's discovery. Anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious is asked to call the San Jose Police. This is believed to be San Jose's 5th murder of 2007.

CONTACT: San Jose police (408) 277-5339

Sunday, March 04, 2007


"You had to be there!"

Words and photo by Judy Thompson

It wasn’t hosannas rising in the sanctuary of Foothill Presbyterian Church last Friday afternoon, but the atmosphere rang with music and youthful exuberance as the student musicians of four local schools strutted their stuff for the community.

With the cooperation of the church and its music director, Jay Jordana, the music department of James Lick High School hosted the second annual Alum Rock Music Festival to showcase the accomplishments and musicality of our own youngsters. Last year’s event was held in the Rotunda of the new City Hall downtown. The rotunda was a novel performance venue for the young Eastsiders, but the reverberating acoustics (and lack of seating) left much to be desired. Foothill Presbyterian, on the other hand, seems a natural - considering its proximity, warm ambiance, comfortable seating and pleasant openness for musical “sharing.”

Lick’s vibrant young music director, Tomoko Nakajima, invited the advanced bands of Joseph George, Ocala and Pala Middle Schools to perform on a program which included the JLHS wind ensemble and choir. Pala Middle School presented a bonus performance from their fledgling vocal ensemble – an earnest group of a dozen or so young singers which meets with director Ted Henderson three days per week simply for the joy of singing – no credits earned. Mr. Henderson said that last year’s performance by the Lick choir inspired his students to raise their voices in song, as well.

It was not exactly a competition, but the students representing the four schools enthusiastically and loyally rallied at each mention of their school. Lick principal Bill Rice, District 5 Councilmember Nora Campos, and Lick alumna Darcie Green (who now works in the office of California Assembly member, Joe Coto) all addressed the assembled students and community members. There were two clear messages: the first one thanked parents and the community for supporting music programs and young musicians in our area and urged them to please continue the interest. The other message beamed passionately at the middle schoolers especially by Ms. Nakajima was to set their sights on James Lick High School to continue with their music education when they matriculate to high school. The Lick band and choir program could easily accommodate many more students in Ms. Nakajima’s capable and loving musical embrace.

The music performed ranged from classic arrangements for band to exotic imaginary trips to other cultures and earlier eras. At one point, Ms. Nakajima even had the whole room singing along about “Livin’ and Lovin’”!
The finale was a performance of the Lick High School Fight Song played and sung by the formally dressed JLHS band and choir with community members joining in.

When the performances and applause were just echoes in the sunny sanctuary, the students and community members regrouped in Foothill’s community room for refreshments. Cakes of many flavors and descriptions disappeared quickly as the teenagers (and not-so-teenagers) dug in. Newly minted ARUESD board trustee, Patricia Potter, could be seen deftly wielding a spatula serving up carrot cake squares.

Next year – surely there will be many more such annual celebrations – plan to join in this musical love feast. What more could our community desire than a great afternoon of free performances, plentiful cake and a huge dose of youthful energy? The latter rubs off on us older folks, you know.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Video by Gustavo Gonzalez

Watch and listen to a San Jose Planning department official explain to Valley View area neighbors how a proposal to build a 60 foot cell tower went from being disguised as a pine tree (which neighbors approved) to a barren "slimline" tower without any neighborhood notification.


You've passed the village a million times on the way home, but now there are two new reasons to stop! Reis Gifts & Home Decor and Vintage Rose Consignment Boutique bring a little bit of a shoppers' paradise to our neighborhood.
If you're looking for unique gifts, Owner Paula Reis hopes you'll stop in at her new gift shop, Reis Gifts & Home Decor, located at 3144 Alum Rock Avenue. "We have a variety of gifts from garden supplies to furniture, candles and scented oils." In addition, local vendors bring their own hand-made crafts to sell. The Grand Opening was on February 10th and Reis says her shop is open seven days a week. "It's been a little slow, but we're hoping to get the word out," she adds.
Just a few steps away, you'll find Andrea Hapin and the Vintage Rose Consignment Boutique. She's converted a dark and dated tatoo parlor into a bright and busy boutique. Once a month you can shop at an outdoor flea market with local vendors showcasing one of a kind jewels and artwork. Inside you'll find antique collectables, designer purses and clothing. "I'm doing all I can to support local artisans," she explains. A jewelry designer herself, she notes how difficult it was as an artist to sell her designs without getting up before 6am and trekking across the valley. Her goal, she says, is to provide a venue for local artisans to showcase their talents, and photographer Leah Rondeau is glad she's doing it. "These are photos from my travels," she says as she shows me prints from Paris to Chicago. "Andrea has an ecclectic mix...modern looks with a vintage flair," she adds.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Alum Rock Avenue was closed for two hours on Saturday night following a fatal head-on accident.
The crash happened at about five o'clock on Alum Rock near Mtn. View and involved a Volkswagen Beetle and a Chevrolet Blazer. Police say the driver of the Beetle was killed, apparently on impact. Officers cloaked the VW in a plastic tarp while waiting for the Coroner to arrive at the scene. Traffic was blocked off by the California Highway Patrol at Kirk and McKee while officers investigated the scene and interviewed witnesses. It appeared as though the Blazer was traveling east on Alum Rock and the Beetle was headed west when the two cars collided, but it is unclear which car crossed the center line. Both vehicles were badly mangled, and there was no word on other injuries.
Later in the evening, there was another serious accident less than a mile away. A big Chevy pickup ended up on its side on the campus of James Lick High School after crashing through the brick wall along N. White Road at Highland. From the looks of it, it appeared as though the pickup was traveling northbound at a high rate of speed due to the damage suffered by the rebar-enforced wall. The impact sent bricks flying into a row of parked cars in the new circular driveway at Lick. It is unclear if there were other cars involved. Traffic continued to flow on White Road during the investigation and cleanup. Unfortunately, the crash damaged the newly remodeled front section of the school and landscaping that was looking so nice.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Ever wonder what happens in downtown San Jose on Mardi Gras night? Take a look!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


photos by Len Ramirez

The Amgen Tour of California roared past me somewhere on Sierra Road. After struggling up half the mountain to find a good spot to photograph the riders, I was once again amazed at the speed these riders take on 10 to 15 percent grades. Thousands of people lined Piedmont and Sierra Roads to get a glimpse of the riders as they sped past. Kids off from school, bike nuts like me, tourists and Sierra Road residents waited for hours for the racers to take on the climb. After starting in Stockton, the riders came through the Central Valley, Livermore and Calaveras Road before heading into the steepest hills of the race. Today's stage finished in downtown San Jose at City Hall, and was won by Jens Voigt of team CSC. Santa Rosa's Levi Leipheimer took second and retained his overall lead, heading into the Big Sur stage tomorrow. The race will end Sunday in Long Beach.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Bobby Julich of Team CSC, finished 3rd in last year's Amgen Tour of California and will be back as one of the top American Favorites. To get ready for the race, Julich and his team have been training on Mt. Hamilton road. Julich is seen here at the 2004 Tour de France. Photo by Len Ramirez

We all know how beautiful and our East Foothills the rest of the world will get to see. The Amgen Tour of California cycling race is back and will be rolling into the East Foothills and downtown San Jose this Wednesday, February 21st. The most elite professional cyclists in the world will get to see what local cyclists already know: the hills and roads around here are world-class tough. Last year's toughest stage will be making a comeback: a 3-mile climb up Sierra Road. The first rider to the top will get the coveted "King of the Mountains" jersey. The stage will start in Stockton and go through farmlands, over Patterson Pass, and then through Livermore and onto Calaveras Road. Then it's onto Piedmont Road and up the torturous Sierra Road climb. Riders will loop around through Ed Levin Park, back onto Piedmont, White Road and Maybury into downtown for a finish at City Hall. Lots of local cyclists will be riding up Sierra in advance of the race to get a great viewing spot on the top of the hill. Last year's inaugural race drew a world-wide television audience and this year it should get even more coverage. Look for an up-coming feature on the race next week.
More on the race:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


By Gustavo Gonzalez

Hello Fellow Residents. We have a 60' cellular phone tower going up and it will be the tallest man made structure in the East Foothills. The cellular phone tower is going up on McKee in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church. The city/county informed us that they would camouflage the cell tower making it look like a tree, but for some reason this has changed and it will now look like a huge silver pole sticking out 6 stories high so everyone will be able to see this it where ever you are. Help us hold our elected officials accountable and make them follow through with the original plan of camouflaging this cellular phone tower. Neighbors on Valley View Avenue will be holding a meeting on Thursday Feb. 15th at 7 pm. The location is 326 Valley View Ave. Please come, join us and sign your name to the petition that will be sent to our elected leaders.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Get your Tivos and VCRs ready...and call your neighbors.
CBS-5's Eye on the Bay will air its feature on Alum Rock on Thursday, February 22 at 7:00pm on Channel 5. I spoke to Executive Producer James Reid and Producer/Show Host Marla Tellez about the project this week. They tell me the segment is edited and ready for air and that we got an extra minute of airtime for a total run-time of 6 minutes! I can't tell you how big that is in the TV biz, where we often claw and scratch to be given ten extra seconds. As mentioned in previous posts, we hit about ten locations the day we shot. Unfortunately, even with 6 minutes, not everything will make it in the segment. Apologies in advance for those who didn't "make the cut." The Alum Rock segment will be part of a larger program focusing on some of the Bay Area's most diverse neighborhoods.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


CBS-5's Marla Tellez and her cameraman interview Mario the Barber at his shop in Alum Rock Village for an upcoming segment on Eye on the Bay. Lucas Ramirez, 4, enjoys the trim.

The date was set, the calls were made and the camera crew from CBS 5's Eye on the Bay rolled into Alum Rock Village to focus on the characters and places that make our neighborhood unique.

As tour guide for this trip around the East Foothills, I wanted to expose Bay Area television viewers to as much as possible. So we started early, at James Lick High School. Principal Bill Rice showed us around the recently renovated campus including the new athletic fields. But the highlight of the trip to the home of the Comets was a sneak peek at the new Media Magnet facilities, which are absolutely top-notch. We saw the state-of-the-art television studio, control room and a non-linear edit suite. We also saw the plans for the media lab which will include approximately 30 more edit suites for film and vido production.

Next it was off to another Village landmark, Peters Bakery. Nancy Peters graciously showed us around the shop offering tastes of their classic items like burnt almond cake, plus their newest specialty, pineapple upsidedown cake (do try it). Then we hit Mario's Barber Shop for a chat with Mario while he cut my son Lucas's hair. As expected, Mario had great stories to tell about the neighborhood and the people who make it special. While in the Village, we also hit YSI Thrift and Gift, Treasure Chest Aquarium and Pets to see the 1,000 gallong shark tank (we were "treated" to a viewing of a shark feeding frenzy!), and the Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Library. Then it was off to Reynaud Drive for a sequence on what it was like growing up in the area. There, we interviewed my friend and neighbor Dan Gentile, Sr. who showed off his classic Ferarri and Alfa Romeo cars. Dan is also a living piece of Silicon Valley history. He holds 3 patents for chip design during his time at Fairchild Semiconductor, the company that "started it all" in Silicon Valley.

Our next stop was the National Hispanic University where we spoke to Roberto Cruz II about his family's educational contributions to the Alum Rock area. His father, Dr. Roberto Cruz started the NHU 25 years ago and his mother Lupe, teaches at Linda Vista Elementary. We also learned that San Jose and Santa Clara County have special citations in store for the school's award-winning debate team.

Then, it was off to the crown jewel of the neighborhood, Alum Rock park. Suffice it to say,this sequence will be one of the highlights of the show, so you'll just have to watch. Even I was surprised and amazed by what I saw.

With our earlier slices of cake starting to wear off, it was time for lunch at Mark's Hot Dogs. After a quick bite, we trekked off to see an another Alum Rock landmark: Cesar Chavez' home on Scharff Avenue.

We ended the day with a few more shots of neighborhoods and views from Miradero at the top of the East Highlands. Although a bit hazy, we could see Alum Rock and San Jose spread out beneath us, and glistening in the afternoon sunlight.

Overall, we shot over an hour's worth of footage for what will be a 5 minute segment. We don't have an air date yet, but keep watching this space for an update when a date has been set. I would like to thank Marla, her cameraman Scott and her Producer James Reid for coming to Alum Rock and giving our area some positive attention. And finally, thanks to all the readers of The Neighborhood View who wrote and emailed me suggestions on what to see and do. As you will see, we packed a lot of your suggestions in.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


photos courtesy Silicon Valley History Online

By Park Ranger Roger Abe, Alum Rock Park

From Downtown San Jose it came up Alum Rock Avenue, along Kirk, to Penitencia Creek Road. It carried families to picnics in "Little Yosemite". It ran through fragrant fruit orchards and olive groves, and to climb on, it only cost a quarter—what is it? If you ask local historians or train buffs, you might get a knowledgeable answer, but most people wouldn’t have a clue. This, of course, excludes those of you who have seen Judy Thompson’s Alum Rock Park History--still available online in the New Neighborhood Voice Archives. Don’t you think there should be something right here to tell the story?
There is no visible explanation for the old elevated roadbed abutments decorating the creek and the hillsides as you meander up Penitencia Creek Road into Alum Rock Park. Currently there is nothing on site to explain that railroads existed here from 1896 through the 1930’s and impacted local culture, politics and economics with all the related drama surrounding railroads. 25 cent fares, train crashes, saloons, dance halls, hotels, restaurants, bathhouses, zoos, the Natatorium, business scandals, a world-wide popular spa destination, crowded park use, bankruptcies--those abutments may no longer carry "The Big Red Cars" but they and their cohort, the Alum Rock Trestle, (all about 96 years old) represent an era during which railed mass transit served both the park and the neighborhoods on this side of town.

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

Friday, January 19, 2007

NHU takes on USC and wins!

East San Jose's National Hispanic University took on the best...and won!
NHU's Ethics/Debate team defeated the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business to become California Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Champions.
The NHU Debate team went undefeated in the 8-team competition hosted by Chico State on December 2nd, beating the host, CSU San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Southern California in route to the title.

Clockwise from left: Prof. Michael Jordan, Juan Ruiz, Ana Castro and Team Captain Xavier Flores.

This was truly a story of David versus Goliath as the team from the 25 year old, little known university serving 600+ nontraditional college-going undergraduates in the East Foothills defeated the team from a 126 year old, premier institution with 16,500 undergraduates for the title. The NHU Debate team was founded in 2003 by a group of 5 students that were interested in philosophy. The team has faced obstacles including inexperience, and a lack of confidence.

But the biggest challenge may have been the fact that more than half of the team had to debate in their second language- English.
""It was difficult at the beginning. I was the one with the heaviest accent and the least amount of confidence", said senior, team captain Xavier Flores.
The Ethics Bowl competition is inspired by TV’s College Bowl, but modified rules adapt the game to the subject of ethics. In Ethics Bowl a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may address ethical problems on classroom topics (e.g. cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g. dating or friendship), professional ethics (e.g. engineering, law, medicine), or social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, etc.). Each team receives a set of ethical issues in advance of the competition, and questions posed to the teams at competition are taken from that set. A panel of judges evaluates answers; rating criteria are clarity and intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant factors, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.
NHU's first place finish qualifies them for the 32-team national competition which will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio this February. The team is now preparing to take on schools such as Indiana University, University of Washington, Clemson University, Depaul University, Tuskegee University and the U.S. Military and Naval Academies in the nationals. We wish them well!

The National Hispanic University is a private, accredited, 4-year university authorized to grant degrees since 1981. For more information on NHU, please log

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


CBS-5's hit TV show Eye on the Bay will be focusing an upcoming segment on our dear old Alum Rock neighborhood. I got a call this morning from show host/producer Marla Tellez asking me if I could play tour guide for the show which will be taped on January 30th. Of course I exitedly accepted this great offer to show off our little corner of the world to the TV viewers of the Bay Area. But where to start? We plan to meet at the Dr. Roberto Cruz library and fan out from there, our stops will include Peters Bakery, James Lick High, Marks Hot Dogs, and of course Alum Rock Park. Here's where you, the readers of The Neighborhood View come in. We need a few more location suggestions...the often overlooked, the off-beat, the interesting and of course anything picturesque. Please put suggestions in the comments section below and we will see you on TV!
Eye on the Bay used to be known as Evening Magazine. It is a daily, half-hour TV program that airs at 7pm on CBS 5. The show is known for its high quality, often witty and always interesting profiles of people and places around the Bay Area. You can check out some recent segments here:
As a lifelong resident of the Alum Rock area and a CBS-5 TV News Reporter, I want to put our best foot forward on this important project.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The giant jaws of an excavator chomped down on the wood frame of The Lord's Baptist Church on Fleming Avenue this morning, reducing it to rubble in a matter of minutes. Work to clear the site will continue for the next few weeks as developer Braddock and Logan begins the long awaited and hard-fought construction project. A new 14 home neighborhood will be built on the site. But thanks to neighborhood involvement, a deal was struck with the developer and the city to also build a half-acre park on the land along the Fleming frontage. More on this to come...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION!... James Lick Shoots for New Image

Videographer Tom Castellano moves in for a shot during the production of a video that will be shown to San Jose high schools to attract more students to James Lick's new media magnet program.

James Lick High School is undergoing some exciting and dramatic changes that are designed to inspire its current student body and attract new students into a top-notch learning environment.
The newly renovated exterior of the school invites students and visitors to this "charming" school, according to Principal Bill Rice. "With a population of about 1,100 students, James Lick is easily the smallest and most comfortable school in the district," said Rice in a recent video documentary about the school that is being produced to promote its new media magnet program. "This is a school where the administration, counselors and teachers know the students well, so no students feel lost."
James Lick offers the comprehensive academic, athletic and extra-curricular programs found at all district schools, but because of its status as a magnet school, it also offers a unique cutting-edge program in "New Media."
The program features an academic and career program that introduces students to the latest digital media: television and radio broadcasting, graphic arts, digital photography, music, multi-media, and journalism. These are the building blocks of our new digital society as outlined recently in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue.
The school is installing a new state of the art television broadcast studio. Students will produce a weekly community show broadcast through Comcast Cable as well as live broadcasts to James Lick High School.
There are also new state of the art computer labs utilizing the latest software, including Adobe Creative Suite and Video Suite. The program is designed to be cross-curricular in that it integrates language arts, computer technology, visual arts, and media production (radio, television, web page, desktop publishing, music, video, print journalism, and digital photography).
Business Partnerships with Comcast and CBS-5 Eyewitness News and education partnerships with local colleges and universities will further enhance the student experience.
"As students prepare for college, they will be exposed to potential four-year majors in the areas of communication and modern media," according to Rice.
Students will develop skills in modern media that will allow them to enter the media professions such as broadcasting, multimedia, and graphic arts.
"When students graduate from the Modern Media Magnet, they will have produced a digital portfolio featuring quality works from each of the areas of modern media," Rice stated. The portfolios will be presented as part of their senior project, he said.
Access to this kind of technology will be available at Lick and be invaluable to students wishing to pursue exciting multi-media careers. But it will be just one of many reasons students and families should choose James Lick. Lick also offers several honors or advanced placement (AP) classes in english, english literature, spanish, spanish literature, US history, biology and calculus. These rigorous courses allow students the opportunity to get college credit in these courses, so they won't have to take them at the University level, saving time (and their parent's money!).

Monday, January 01, 2007


In case you missed it, the James Lick Comets football team was featured in the San Jose Mercury News recently. It's a nice article that focuses on the courage and determination of the student athletes and the school in general. As you know, James Lick is making a major turnaround. Like the football team, the school has a long way to go, but I believe it has turned the corner and is on the comeback! Look for great things in the future from the Mighty Comets!

You can check it out here: