by Yolanda Reynolds • August 13, 2008
Ten neighbors were left a flyer and where personal contact could be made; were told to invite others who may be interested in attending a gathering regarding the neighborhood. Since Shasta and Hanchett Avenues served as “Neighborhood Collectors” for traffic, it was residents living on these two streets that were notified. We, the late Lois Columbus and I, decided that it would be best to have the meeting on a Saturday morning at 1650 Shasta. It was held in the month of October.
There were no refreshments. Our then San Jose City Councilperson, Nancy Ianni, her Aide, Linda Crabill and City Transportation Engineer, Larry Moore arrived promptly that Saturday morning as promised. Councilwoman Ianni had assured that me that even if only four people showed up she and her staff would be at the meeting! I started the meeting and, not knowing many who did come, asked each person to identify who they were, their street and house number, how many years they had lived in their home and what they liked about the neighborhood and what they did not like or was of concern to them.
To my surprise and relief our living room filled. We were all squeezed together with the sofa, every chair, benches and wall space taken! I began the meeting by introducing myself and our guests from City Hall. As we went around the room certain themes became apparent. In a city that seemed to have new residents every day, our neighborhood was very stable. Most had lived here decades and some had even been in the neighborhood since the ‘30’s, before Shasta Ave. was extended onto San Carlos.
Of the characteristics that people most appreciated about the neighborhood were the majestic Sycamore Trees. The constant leaf dropping caused a major concern that perhaps Sycamores were dying. Linda Crabill informed us that the trees were suffering from anthracnose, for which spraying though costly might help and that the trees with proper watering would not die. Because of this disease, the City now plants the Oregon Sycamore which is more resistant to anthracnose.
I recall that one homeowner did NOT like the trees because of the huge piles of leaves we all raked from our lawns seemingly for the entire fall and winter months. I could not restrain myself and suggested that in that case, if it was the style of house that he liked, there were many houses like ours along Alum Rock which, at that time, cost approximately $50,000-$75,000 less and had treeless streets. It was also pointed out that leaf raking seemed to add to the longevity of the neighbors!
Others pointed to the generally well kept homes and the quality home construction, accessibility to shopping and transportation and the infrequent turnover bonus casino en ligne of homeowners.
It was when we came to the negatives that the meeting became very intense. First on the list was the volume of traffic and speeding along both streets – on Shasta Ave. up to Park Ave. and on Hanchett Ave. from Park Ave. to the Alameda!
There were many other problems. A most vexing issue was the unkempt condition of the shopping center at the intersection of Shasta Ave. and San Carlos which had a Safeway grocery store. Other concerns included a lack of a police presence, inconsistent street cleaning, sporadic code enforcement (among numerous code violations there was an excess of group homes, inadequate street lighting, and prostitution, especially along the Alameda. As in most neighborhoods there was also the grave concern of how to prevent home burglaries and the vandalism to property including that to vehicles.
With so many present and each person asked to speak, time flew by rapidly. Councilwoman Ianni indicated that she and her staff would look into our concerns, some of which could be easily remedied. As we were concluding the meeting, Ron Ruiz asked to speak and turned to Councilwoman Ianni and said that being involved in finance, he understood the importance of accountability and suggested that another meeting be scheduled to inform us of the status of the many concerns that were raised. We all affirmed his recommendation! A next meeting was scheduled to take place within 6 months.
Among those who attended that first meeting a number of our neighbors became pillars in the advance and ultimate formation of the Association. Among them, Ron Ruiz and the late Rocky Rotondo, a respected structural engineer.
Next time: Who came to that second meeting and what happened?