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by Yolanda Reynolds • September 29, 2008

After years of being asked to write an account of how and why the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association came into being; Jeff Rogers, past President of the Association, convinced me it was time to tell the story.

Several decades have passed since the birth of the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association and this account of those days may leave out some important notes of interest. But, even so, I will make every effort to include as much as I do recall. It is somewhat of a long story and is an account of an exciting, rewarding, neighborhood wide desire to preserve this very lovely neighborhood.

It was while recovering from a life altering illness and no longer working that I became aware that a number of the essentials of a neighborhood were being threatened.

How the neighborhood looked and felt was especially obvious to me since, with a cane, I could only slowly walk from my home to the then Safeway grocery store and other businesses in the shopping center at the intersection of Shasta and San Carlos. Most of us who have a job must face almost every day getting home from work for the evening meal, some family time, rest and an early start the next day with little time to really look about or notice much other than the time of day and the amount of traffic on the roadways.

At that time, my husband, Ray, our two sons, Mark and Daniel, and I had already lived in our first and only home on Shasta Ave. for almost 20 years. In this time I had completed my Masters degree at San Jose State and held various positions in education, first with the San Jose Unified and later with the San Jose Community College District.

It was because of my experience in education that I had become concerned about city policy decisions and the consequent impacts of those decisions on neighborhoods and schools. While serving on a committee for the San Jose Unified School District, I was able to bring two City Council persons Nancy Ianni and Susan Hammer to meetings at Lincoln High School. It was at one of these meetings that I mentioned to District 6 Councilperson Nancy Ianni that I saw a number of serious problems in the neighborhood. I mentioned to her the speeding cars on the neighborhood streets, the lack of street sweeping, lax code enforcement, the then very unpleasant situation along the rear of the Safeway store, negative impacts of some of shopping center businesses on streets adjoining the center and the little attention City Hall gave to the care of the majestic Sycamores lining our streets.

Nancy suggested that I call a meeting at my home and promised that she would attend and also bring her Chief of Staff, Linda Crabill and a member of the City’s Department of Transportation, Larry Moore, now retired.

Since I had been working and had had little time to socialize with my neighbors, I mentioned my dilemma to a dear neighbor, Lois Columbus, now deceased. She was semi retired from nursing when she and husband, Dr. Lee Columbus had moved onto Shasta shortly before we arrived on the street and had made many friends among our neighbors. Nancy had assured me that even if only four people showed up, she and her staff would be there. That relieved my anxiety about numbers and I printed around 10 flyers that Lois offered to distribute.

Next article: CHAPTER 2 – Who came? What happened?