August, 1998 editor: Larry Ames
Letter from the President
Our newsletter is choke full of all that has happened since I last wrote to you. We have had good times and bad. Our Spring General Meeting and Mayoral Forum was a great success and new officers and a board were chosen in May. We marked our 25th Anniversary with a lovely celebration where new and old friends mingled amongst art and music. From the high of success, we plunged into the tragic reality of the violent death of Oscar Perez, a youth in our community. Within a week, residents of Willow Glen came together to offer support and express their opposition to such violence.
Also contained in this issue are a number of projects developing for the fall. Founders’ Day will be held on September 20th and, once again, the Board looks forward to hosting the Historical Walk and to visiting with our members as they drop by our tent at Lincoln and Minnesota. As the days shorten and a more temperate climate kicks in, there will be a number of opportunities for your involvement in WGNA. We hope for another great turn out for our Fall General Meeting to be scheduled for mid October. Your participation will be necessary to make our planting project at Meridian and 280 a success and, if Music in the Park becomes a reality, sponsors and helpers will be needed. In addition, the stop sign at Willow and Camino Ramon, late night hours for The Glen, and a proposed amphitheater, all remained unresolved. Attendance at hearings for any neighborhood issue is crucial. We need your support.
WGNA Board meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at the Willow Glen United Methodist Church on the corner of Newport and Minnesota. Our agenda is posted on our web site about a week in advance. If you would like to drop by, you are always welcomed. Please call me ahead of time at 294-WGNA with possible agenda items.
We sincerely hope that this newsletter will aid you in keeping informed and active in our Willow Glen community!
Members Come Out For Mayoral Forum
We were pleased with the turn out for WGNA’s Spring General Meeting where approximately 160 neighbors, the majority WGNA members, spent the evening listening to the four mayoral candidates explain their positions and answer questions collected from the audience. Moderator Linda Herschbach kept the program on target with the help of time keeper Nell Aiello. Following the forum, members and guests were treated to delicious foods prepared by Lupe O’Malley and Sandra Beckerdite. Many stayed to chat with new and old friends, and many found time to share their thoughts with the candidates. We are fortunate to live in a community where people take the time to become, and actually enjoy being, informed and knowledgeable citizens. We hope to see all of you back, with a friend in tow, for our October General Meeting!
Warmth is Evident at 25th Anniversary
The warmth of the day was apparent. Extra ice was ordered, and chilled wine and sparkling water were the preferred drinks of the day. Shady corners were coveted and groups of friends sat visiting while an accomplished flutist played light and airy tunes from a sheltered portico. Some folks strolled along the grass appreciating the selected works of six local artists; others enjoyed the light buffet prepared by Willow Glen caterers, Talk of the Town.
About 90 people came together on June 14th to celebrate WGNA’s 25 years of neighborhood involvement. The event was held in the garden of Becky and Dan Worsham, Becky being a founding mother of the Association. Assemblymember Jim Cunneen’s chief of staff presented WGNA with a Certificate of Recognition for "25 years of dedication to the residents and community of Willow Glen". Community representatives, as well as new and long standing members, took the time to join in the celebration and graciously expressed their appreciation for the Association.
The warmth of the day was apparent – old friends told stories, new friends were made, everyone shared in the knowledge that Willow Glen was a good place to live. Thank you to Becky and Dan Worsham for opening their home to us. A special word of appreciation to all those who attended. Your presence and support are vital – you are the Association that we celebrate!
Community Comes Together
To Express Their
On a late Saturday afternoon, in downtown Willow Glen, Oscar Perez (a day short of 15 years) was stabbed to death by persons who believed Oscar was a member of an opposing gang. Most of us would not hear of the incident until Monday and all of us would be upset that such a thing should happen to one so young and one so close to home. Oscar lived in our neighborhood, and it is important for us as a community to realize that, while we are privileged to live in Willow Glen, no neighborhood nestled within a large city is a sanctuary from violence. Members of the Willow Glen Community expressed their sorrow and concern over the telephone, at the grocery store, and as they went about their daily neighborhood activities. WGNA member Andrea Villasenor Perry, who is the Violence Prevention Coordinator for Santa Clara County, shared with me her feelings regarding Oscar’s death. Her sentiments were similar to those that others had expressed to me and, in the course of conversation, Andrea and I felt that the community would support an opportunity to express their sorrow and concern over this tragedy.
On Friday, June 19th, one week after Oscar’s death, approximately 100 people came together at Willow and Settle to demonstrate their sadness and their opposition to such violence. Flyers informing the immediate neighborhood of the community gathering brought together local residents, business owners from Lincoln Avenue, and Oscar’s family members. With the help of Andrea, we were able to contact Jim McIntee, Director of the Santa Clara Office of Human Relations and Rev. Von Beckman, Director of the Council of Churches, who both agreed to speak. Demetri Rizzo of the Willow Glen Business and Professional Association expressed condolences to the family and Gil Villagran, well known for his work in gang prevention, spoke poignantly of the need to stop violence and promote honor in the action of our youth. Peggy Schrader, a local counselor and musician, was joined by Linda Pasion in leading the group in song. Representatives from other neighborhood associations – Gardner, Gregory Plaza, and Washington/Guadalupe – joined us.
The evening came to a close with a moment of silence. Those present knew that coming together was a healing step and our hearts were touched by the Perez family’s words as they expressed their appreciation of the Willow Glen community’s support and concern.
Proposal for Fairgrounds Amphitheater
is Opposed by Board
County Supervisors will discuss Fairgrounds on August 18th
Location: 70 West Hedding St.
Time: to be determined (call 299-2323 after Aug. 13th)
In a Mercury News article dated June 2nd, San Jose residents learned that a proposal for the Santa Clara County fairgrounds was being considered by the County Board of Supervisors which included an open air performing arts facility. On June 9, the Supervisors approved, in concept, a Revitalization Plan. Subsequently, on June 24, the County Board approved an agreement with A&M Group, a consulting firm, to obtain specific development proposals that conform to the Plan, one of which will be a proposal for an amphitheater. In a letter dated July 1, the WGNA Board took a strong stand against an open air theater.
Usually the WGNA Board waits to view proposals before deciding upon a position. In this case, we moved ahead quickly for the following reasons:
1. Phone calls and our own personal experiences told us that that given the right atmospheric conditions, the noise from the fairgrounds (i.e. car races and fair announcements) is heard clearly in many parts of Willow Glen. With a 20,000 seat amphitheater on the drawing board and a projected 40 concerts a year, the possibilities are unnerving. It could be Michael Crawford one night and Marilyn Mason the next.
2. The problems that Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View have caused with noise and traffic are well documented. Shoreline has claimed that they have done everything possible to diminish the noise from concerts, but the unique atmospheric conditions which exist in the bay area present a problem. Shoreline receives 10,000 complaints a year from a six mile radius. One suggestion to local residents here was that the sound from a Fairgrounds amphitheater would be directed towards Telegraph Hill – which means in the direction of Willow Glen.
3. Taxpayers dollars are being spent to commission consultants to prepare proposals for the fairgrounds. We feel it is appropriate for us to let our representatives know up front that we have some serious problems with the idea of an amphitheater in the middle of a populated area. Perhaps, by doing so, hundreds of thousands of dollars will not be wasted but spent productively researching ideas which meet with widespread community support.
Supervisor Blanca Alvarado is in contact with WGNA and has informed us that August 18 will be the next meeting where the Supervisors will discuss the Fairgrounds. At that time, staff will provide a status report on the Plan and a schedule of public hearings will be presented. Call us at 294-WGNA for further information or comment. The Board of Supervisors number is: 408/299-2323.
Traffic Appeals Commission Denies Stop Sign at Willow Street and Camino Ramon
In a decision that surprised many, the Traffic Appeals Commission denied residents request for a stop sign at Willow and Camino Ramon. Using a point system which can be maneuvered by many factors such as accident experience, visibility, approach speeds, etc. the Streets and Traffic Department argued against the four way stop. Residents were told that Willow, because of its traffic volume, is not considered a residential street but a minor arterial. A residential street needs 20 points to qualify for a stop sign and Willow was given a score of 23. A minor arterial, however, must have 28 points. Approximately 20 people attended the hearing: several residents argued against the sign, but the majority of homeowners present supported the request. The evening was unusual because, unlike most city commissions which conduct themselves in a professional and orderly manner, this commission was very informal, discussions sometimes strayed from the issue at hand, and the commission failed to follow the basic tenets of the Brown Act when they left the room for discussion and returned with a decision. (The Brown Act requires that all governmental councils, commissions and committees conduct their discussions in public unless the subject pertains to matters such as litigation or employee relations.)
Does this mean that the stop sign is out of the question? Absolutely not. Residents showed up at a WGNA Board meeting upset over the loss of a life there and the unsafe conditions the intersection presented: that is why the Board voted to support your efforts. If you would like to pursue this issue further, please contact us at 294-WGNA. Others will be gathering soon to discuss where to go from here. Without your help, present conditions will continue.
Keeping You Up To Date
Safeway: In a letter dated June 29th, WGNA was informed that Safeway is "aggressively working to obtain the necessary permits to begin construction." Originally, an October opening was sought but a recent Safeway communication explained, "There have been technical hitches we are currently working through which, hopefully, will allow us to proceed in the near term." In the mean time, the access road owned by Safeway was closed due to littering and safety hazards. As explained in our last newsletter, this roadway was to disappear with the building of the new Safeway and the subsequent development of the housing project to the south.
Radio Avenue at Lincoln Court: Last year the developer of these properties went back to the drawing board after WGNA and the Planning Department felt that the eight homes planned for the one acre were too high of a density for the surrounding neighborhood. Working with Planning, the builder returned in June with blueprints for six homes on the site. Neighbors attending a scheduled meeting were mainly concerned with the arrangement of the homes and privacy factors such as window placement. Having heard the concerns of nearby residents, planning staff will now work with the builder before presentation of the project goes before the Planning Commission.
Airport Noise: As the reality of an expanding San Jose Airport hangs in the air, WGNA continues to monitor the quarterly meetings of the Airport Noise Advisory Committee. A special meeting was called recently and it is clear that there are residents in the south county who would like to see the "fairgrounds visual approach" guidelines changed. Some of you may recall that this is the plan worked out by Councilmember Fiscalini and airport noise managers with the FAA which reduces short cuts and noise over populated areas, Willow Glen included. The plan was allowed because it benefits the greatest number of people by sending planes over a less populated area and encouraging a more gradual, less noisy approach. We reminded the commission of this fact and were assured that a change would not be made. Nonetheless, we will continue to track such bleeps on our radar screens.
Meredith Avenue Concerns: In our April newsletter, we reported a meeting between Meredith Avenue neighbors and Councilmember Fiscalini which centered around their concern over late night hours. Even though Billiards and Brew (now "The Glen") was given a six months trial period for Thursday, Friday and Saturday 2:00 a.m. closing, they have been held up by Alcohol Beverage Control and will have to reapply in September. Also discussed was the fact that certain stipulations written into local permits had not been implemented. For example, when the Garden Theater was remodeled, neighbors’ concerns over traffic exiting onto Meredith were calmed by the written condition requiring a tire grate that would prevent traffic from flowing out of the large Garden Theater parking lot into the smaller Round Table Pizza lot and eventually out onto Meredith. The tire grate was to be located between the two parking lots. This and other conditions were never implemented. On checking with the Planning staff, it is clear that Councilmember Fiscalini has taken this information back to the department and the owners have been notified. A hearing is expected in September.
Los Gatos Creek Trail: Grading has begun on the Blackford School to Meridian section of the trail, with an estimated completion at around year’s end. The Water District also has some bank stabilization work to complete in the region… The trail is to remain sidewalks and on-street bike paths between Meridian and Lincoln Avenues, and the Parks Planning department has begun preliminary design work on the Lincoln to Park Ave. stretch.
Founders’ Day Is Quickly Approaching
Sunday, September 20th, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
HISTORICAL WALKS START AT 10:00 AM
The Willow Glen Business and Professional Association is busy organizing this year’s Annual Founders’ Day. The event sounds like fun for all. The Arts and Crafts Fair is back as is the parade, car show, and music by My Ol’ Man’s Band. If you would like to volunteer for a beverage booth, call the WGBPA office at 298-2100.
WGNA will again be hosting the Historical Walks and plans are underway for an informative and fascinating route just southeast of Minnesota and Lincoln. Evelyn Ucovich will be leading our docents this year and speaks enthusiastically of the tour that will wind its way from Settle Avenue to Hill over Willow Glen Way and back to Lincoln. Interesting facts concerning local architecture and the neighborhood will be discussed. Walks will leave from the WGNA green and white tent at Minnesota and Lincoln starting at 10:00 a.m. sharp and will continue to leave for approximately every half hour until the parade starts at noon. A note to those who may live along this year’s route: If you know an historical or interesting tidbit about your home or the neighborhood, we would love to hear from you. Call us at 294-WGNA. To all our associates we urge you to stop by and visit us at the WGNA tent. Renew your membership, sign up to help, or just chat for a minute or two. We always enjoy meeting and visiting with our members!
Music In The Park Tentatively Planned
On their morning walks through Willow Glen, Business Association boardmembers Kathy McDonald and Jeannie Perron have often noted the grassy amphitheater tucked away on the west corner of Bramhall Park. It did not take long before they envisioned happy families. . . resting on happy blankets. . . enjoying happy music! After getting particulars from the Parks Department, these WGBPA representatives approached WGNA with their idea and asked if we would like to work with WGBPA on the project. Before either group signs on, we need to make sure that the neighborhood and community is involved from the ground floor up. The first step would be to contact the neighbors in the immediate area by flyer in order to explain the concept and gather their input. If the plans are satisfactory, then we can begin to organize. The Parks Department has said that they will require neighborhood support, a shuttle, porta potties, security and clean up. Advertising would be within Willow Glen only. Some fun music has been proposed – an a Capella group and an orchestra band. Choices appropriate for a Sunday afternoon in the park.
The WGNA Board will be discussing the preliminary proposal this week. Call us at 294-WGNA or WGBPA at 298-2100 to check on the status. Should the idea receive community support, we will need sponsors for the costs and helping hands to make the work light. Stay tuned for further developments and give us a call!
Meridian Avenue Planting Scheduled for October
J. Michael Gonzales
You may have noticed that some progress has been made on Association’s landscaping improvement project at Meridian Avenue and Interstate-280. The first step in that direction was the removal of the dead and dying shrubs, which was accomplished with the valuable help of CalTrans. The Association retained a bobcat service to pull up the shrubs, and CalTrans removed the debris to a dump.
Our plan calls for a center row of fruitless plum trees, with a parallel row of pink flower rapheoleptis shrubs on each side. The existing landscaping along the shoulder of the road is composed of several varieties of evergreen trees: the proposed design of plum tree canopies and pink flower shrubs is intended to contrast with them and brighten the median at the same time.
The planting is now scheduled for the fall. The "La Nina" (opposite of El Nino) effect has caused record breaking hot weather this summer, and has made it necessary that we delay the median planting. We will target the middle of October for the planting, in the hopes of taking advantage of the cooler weather and the start of the seasonal rains to help the trees and shrubs take root. Interested Association members who like to help with the planting, please leave call us at 408/294-WGNA and leave us your name and number.
WGNA Members Make a Difference
We enjoyed the Resident article on member Gina Ambrose, owner of Water Babies. Several generations of bay area little ones have been made water safe because of the expert techniques used and developed by Gina and her mom. We’re proud to have Gina as a member.
Congratulations to member Nancy Biagini and her daughters for taking a bad thing and turning it to good. After fire did extensive smoke damage to their popular Lincoln avenue store, Casa, Casa, they got busy planning an even better shop and opened in record time to the relief of their loyal customers.
Association member Rosemary Lazetera has been busy watching out for our community by participating in the San Jose Prepared program. Classes emphasize different aspects of emergency preparedness and we agree that the more neighborhood members prepared the better! San Jose Prepared will begin its fall training schedule on September 26th. We hope others in WGNA will take advantage of this opportunity. Call 277-4598 for more information.
Helen Solinsky worked on alleviating blight from her Willow Glen neighborhood by contacting the Salvation Army about the litter problem - used mattresses, clothing, etc.- that surrounded the donations trailer at Lincoln and Pascoe. Her perseverance paid off and the Salvation Army has agreed to remove the trailer from their parking lot.
Linda Herschbach and Nell Aiello who kept our Mayoral Forum running fairly and efficiently.
Betty Daniels who graciously agreed to count the ballots and present the results of our spring election.
Every WGNA member who took the time to vote in person or by mail.
Helen Brady, June Cooley, and Paulette Ornellas who stepped up to the plate for the massive 25th Anniversary mailing.
The 25th Anniversary committee: Larry Ames, Margaret Hardy, Tiralisa Kaplow, Paulette Ornellas, Esther Rechenmacher, and Becky Worsham.
The Willow Glen artists who shared their work with us at WGNA’s 25th Anniversary, making our celebration all the more special. Our appreciation goes out to John Burnett, Elaine Frenett, Ed Hardy, Lucy Liew, and Suzanne Welch.
Andrea Villasenor Perry, County Violence Prevention Coordinator, for helping us coordinate the community gathering for Oscar Perez, and Edith Ramirez, Councilmember Fiscalini’s aid, who, on last minute notice, supplied us with a much needed platform and microphone for the memorial.
A quorum of ~80 members cast ballots in the May election. The results are
President: Kris Cunningham
1st Vice President: J. Michael Gonzales
2nd Vice President: Ralph Serpe
Secretary: Lynn Repetsky
Treasurer: Margaret Hardy
Elected Board Members: Lawrence Ames, John Gibbs, Tiralisa Kaplow, and Patsy Neher.
Nominating Committee: Esther Rechenmacher--Chair, Joan Doss, Margaret Hardy, Kitty Mahon, Ralph Serpe, Linda Herschbach--Alternate
Additionally, the president is to appoint between two and four Board Members: she has appointed Peggy Rossignol, and is evaluating several other candidates.
We appreciate that we had a choice of candidates for position of Elected Board: June Cooley did not garner sufficient votes to win, but we thank her for running.
Option "D" (WG townscape) came in a close second, option "A" (old original) came in next, and the initials came in far behind. Karen Naegelli of Able Printers has kindly offered her professional help in designing a logo. The Board will be presented with Karen’s ideas at this month’s Board meeting.
WGNA Web Site
WGNA maintains a web site (http://members.aol .com/wgnasj) that provides the latest community information. It features:
information about the Association (current and coming events, a roster of Board members, the by-laws, and the current Board meeting agenda),
an archive of past newsletters, articles, and position papers, and
links to related sites (bus routes, train schedules, zip codes, maps of hiking and bike trails, aerial photographs of Willow Glen, along with neighboring associations and links to local representatives).
We are in the process of obtaining a "domain name" and an ISP in the near future: if you know what we’re talking about and would like to help select, define, and maintain the web site, please contact us. (Use the link from the web page!)
History of Willow Glen
To celebrate WGNA’s 25th anniversary, we present a brief history of Willow Glen, with a listing of the past WGNA presidents.
In the beginning, Willow Glen was a marshy region around the Los Gatos Creek and Guadalupe River, with numerous willow trees growing along the banks. The land was drained and converted to orchards, then houses and roads were built on the former marsh (which explains the interesting dips on the freeways). Farmers and then city dwellers moved in.
In the 1920’s, "they" wanted to build a railroad right through the middle of the community. To prevent this from happening, the residents got together and in 1927 incorporated as the town of Willow Glen. With the cohesive political pressure, the railroad was kept away, with the tracks routed around the outskirts of town. Then, in the 1930’s, Willow Glen was faced with the need to build a sewage treatment plant or else join San Jose and use their sanitation system: in 1936, Willow Glen was disbanded and we joined San Jose.
San Jose grew up around us, and traffic started to become a problem. By the 1960’s, "they" wanted to build expressways right through the middle of the community (Cherry and Bird Avenues as a major through routes from I-280, plus extending Willow to the west and Pine to the east). To prevent this from happening, the residents got together and in 1973 founded the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association. With much perseverance and lobbying, the expressway plans were finally dropped, and traffic was routed around town (on freeways 87 and 85).
The WGNA founders realized that problems never entirely go away, that they have a habit of resurfacing every so often in a different form. They decided to formalize the Association to create a permanent structure for presenting the community’s concerns, be it environment, city services, or the ever-present traffic problems.
Hannah Kennedy was the first WGNA president, ’73-’74, followed by Becky Worsham (’74-’75) and Jack Stallard (’75-’77). Hannah has moved out of town, but the others describe a heady, informal, almost chaotic organization in the beginning. They traded around the position of presidency because, even though it was a small organization, they wanted to present the image of a much larger (and powerful) organization. Margie Shumb was also part of the "neighborhood radicals", working behind the scenes. At first the Association met in people’s homes, and the newsletters were delivered door-to-door. The residents were galvanized into action by the city’s plans to cut Cherry Avenue through, although they soon become concerned about other streets, traffic, speed limits, and the like. It was quickly realized that the Association shouldn’t disband once the current crisis was over, so by-laws were soon established (based on those of the League of Women Voters). Willow Glen had considerable political power back then: the city councilmembers were all elected city-wide, and the historically high voter-turnout in Willow Glen could affect a number of council races. It was a time of grass-roots organizing, with lots of spirit.
Dave Fitting (’77-’78) was also involved from the beginning, and recalls the blue and white "Rally Round Willow Glen" tee shirts and the debate over whether we should be a "home-owners" association or a "neighborhood" association (the latter including renters as well). By this time, the interests of WGNA had expanded beyond just Willow Glen, and Dave represented Willow Glen in one of the first city-wide committees (convened to promote a bond for parks, traffic, and utilities), where he met other new community activists such as Frank Fiscalini and Susan Hammer.
Nancy Ianni was president in ’78-’79. The survival of Willow Glen was still the major issue, as the Cherry, Pine, Willow, and Bird Avenue issues resurfaced. The association didn’t fight it by saying "not in my back yard–put it over there instead", rather, we worked with other neighborhoods to promote solutions for the common good. A big topic was "Ainsley property", then just an open field between Bascom and Leigh, Hamilton and the Los Gatos Creek: there were plans to build a large shopping center which would have required the extension and widening of Willow. The plans were approved by council on a 4-3 vote, but were not immediately implemented. About that time, San Jose introduced districting, with each councilmember representing just a portion of the city. The councilmember representing Willow Glen had voted in favor of the shopping center and street widenings, and thus lost when challenged by grass-roots activist Nancy. (The developer of the Ainsley property later opted to build condos instead of the shopping center.) Nadine Casserino was president in ’79-’80(?), when Nancy was running for council, then later joined her staff.
Val Miller was president ’80(?)-’82(?), and around this time WGNA become involved in more regional issues. The US Postal Service wanted to expand the Meridian Ave. station into a 24-hr/day "factory" for processing mail for a four-county region. WGNA didn’t just "fight city hall", we took on the whole US government and won! For the first time, the post office backed down and relocated the processing center elsewhere (in an industrial section of town, where the noise and traffic won’t disturb neighbors). Other issues included plans to relocate equipment in the fire stations, and city plans for development outside the urban growth boundaries.
Toby Kramer served from 1982(?) to ’84, when San Jose spent part of a block grant on a revitalization study of Lincoln Avenue. WGNA participated with street merchants on a task force, the results of which were the Willow Glen Business and Professional Association (WGBPA) for the merchants, along with the first "Founders’ Day" Festival. The Lincoln Ave. task force also promoted the first coordination of businesses on the street (with the goal of having fewer second-hand shops and more restaurants and upscale businesses), and led to the planting of the sycamores along the avenue. Also, WGNA was already sending representatives to the Los Gatos Creek Streamside Park Cmte. by this time.
In ’84-’85, Suzy Phillips was president, and she also served on the Horizon-2000 task force which dealt with issues such as urban growth limits and the development of the Coyote Valley, the stretching thin of city services, and transportation issues. The question of Cherry Ave. came back. Other issues were transportation "level of service", which required developers to improve roadways if their projects too severely impacted traffic; the first "Midtown" study; and the designation of "Neighborhood Business Districts". The WGNA Board would meet in the basement at St. Francis Church.
Joan Doss was president from ’85 to ’87. In-fill began to be an issue: developers would divide a property with a deep lot in two, creating a parcel shaped like a flag on a pole, and then build a second house behind the first. WGNA worked with the city to implement a "flag-lot policy" that established guidelines on the placement and orientation of such developments in existing areas. Graffiti also became an issue around this time, with WGNA starting a paint-out program.
Bob Carlson was president in ’87-’88, when the big issue was the Arena: its location and its traffic impacts. There was also discussion about who pays for sidewalk repairs, plus the ever-present concerns about streets and traffic. Generally it was relatively peaceful for WGNA, although we still were involved with the flag-lot policy, and a proposed infill development on Radio Ave. (still unresolved!)
Joe Guerra (now councilmember Frank Fiscalini’s chief-of-staff) was WGNA president in ’88-’89. The Arena debate was continuing: should it be downtown or on highway 237? Another issue was whether WGNA should join the Neighborhood Alliance Network, sponsored by the city, or work to form some type of independent "United Neighborhoods".
Lisa Flynn was president ’89-’90, in a relatively quiet time for the Association. Around this time, the city began experimenting with traffic diverters along Dry Creek, to the approval of some neighbors and the annoyance of others. Suzy Phillips returned as president in ’90-’92, and then became involved with the second Midtown study. Around this time, rotating homeless shelters became an issue: the Association had no problem with the concept itself, but was worried about the traffic and parking impacts of one particular site, much to the displeasure of some shelter advocates.
In 1992, Tiralisa Kaplow began her two-year stint as president amidst turbulent times for the Association. Besides the homeless shelter issue, there were changes afoot in the city’s ordinances regarding group homes, halfway houses, court-ordered detention homes, etc. Also, a fast-food restaurant wanted to open up a 24-hour drive-thru establishment in a residential area; the Cherry Avenue issue resurfaced (again!); and traffic, parking, and infill continued to be major issues. We also proposed, applied for, and won, a state grant for an "Urban Stream Restoration Project" along the Los Gatos Creek. The association meetings moved to the United Methodist church.
Nell Aiello served from ’94-’95. Big issues at the time included a proposed wood chipper recycling facility at I-280 and the creek, which would have added to the noise and dust generated by the freeway; city and airport enforcement of flight paths and the airport curfew; and plans for the Tamien station area, along with group homes and the rotating homeless shelter program. The creek project was going through the planning and permit phases. On a lighter side, the public sculpture in Willow Glen was begun, and we developed a booklet to accompany the historic tours given during the Founders’ Day Festival.
Larry Ames served as president from 1995 to ’97. The creek restoration project was completed during this time, eventually involving 200 volunteers and the planting of a thousand native trees and shrubs. We got involved in a number of regional issues: the airport expansion, the Greenline initiative (urban growth limits), and even the splitting of the 408 area code. We reviewed and slightly revised our bylaws, clarifying the openness of the board meetings and introducing mail-in balloting. We worked to make the Association more accessible with frequent newspaper interviews and the introduction of the WGNA web site. We cultivated a good working relationship with the city planning department, which allows us to influence developments in the formative stages rather than needing to descend on city hall en mass. We welcomed appropriate enhancements to the business district, be it a new brew house or an improved gas station.
Kris Cunningham is the current president, now well into her second term. A number of infill and development issues have occupied us: the proposed rebuilding of the Safeway on Hamilton, Radio Ave. (!), the Challenger School, and parking and hours-of-operation issues related to Billiards and Brew. We helped a community in Willow Glen apply for a grant for spraying infested Tulip trees, and we are extending our environmental interests and enhancing our community by landscaping the median strip at the gateway to Willow Glen.
Who knows who the presidents will be over the coming years, or the issues that they will face. We continue to involve more new members, young and old, renter or home-owner, new-comer or third-generation, in active roles. All that is required is an interest and willingness to contribute, and a caring for this community called Willow Glen.
Part of what makes Willow Glen such a special place is that it is a community: you do get to know your neighbors. One way this is done is through "block parties", which in some areas have been going on annually for literally decades.
Block parties can take on a wide range of forms. Basically, the residents on a street decide to throw themselves a party, they settle on a date, they get a permit from the city to close the street, and then they go out and have fun.
The city permit costs $30, is obtained from the Police Department at 201 W. Mission (office hours are 8-4, Tues., Wed. and Thur.), and has to be obtained at least 10 days in advance. You need to circulate a petition to be signed by the residents on the street, agreeing to the street closure for the day: call 277-4452 for details.
The party itself can be simple or fancy: some blocks have a simple potluck; others hire caterers and professional entertainers. Some parties are just an afternoon meal, others start out with a pancake breakfast and an even-house-number vs. odd softball game, and/or end with street dancing well past dark.
Finances: have a couple "pre-party planning parties" of interested volunteers at someone’s home, and work out a budget for what is desired. A potluck requires only a few bucks for the permit; more extravagant parties can have a budget of over a thousand dollars. Money can be collected by entrance fees, auction of donated goods and white elephants, raffle prizes (talk to your favorite local merchants!), bingo, cake walks, various contests, etc. Extra money can be held over for next year’s party (someone sets up a special bank account), and/or money can be used to subsidize street Christmas trees and an eggnog party.
Decorations can be simple or complex: our block often has themes (western, Hawaiian, etc.), with events keyed to the theme (hay rides, contest to determine the best mai-tai maker on the block, etc.). Christmas lights strung between trees provide festive lighting for the evening dance. One can roll out some old stereo equipment, or hire a band, DJ, or square-dance caller (depending on theme) – just be considerate with the volume and the direction the speakers are aimed.
Events can include volleyball, tug-of-war, water-balloon toss, a parade of decorated kid’s bikes, singing, dancing, whatever. Invite the crew from Fire Station #6: they enjoy meeting the community in a non-emergency situation, and the kids love to be squirted with the fire hose from their shiny red fire truck. Whatever: the idea is to have fun!
Flower Arranging Tips, and Extending the Life of Flowers From the Garden or Florist
The most important thing when creating a flower arrangement is that it is pleasing to your eye. Once you know what to look for, you’ll be surprised how many things are readily available if you take a look around. There is usually much more available than meets the eye.
Flowers are often only part of the arrangement. Greenery, filler and the container are also very important. Garage sales are great places to find cheap baskets, vases and other useful containers. Vases should be cleaned with hot soapy water to eliminate bacteria and fungi and then rinsed thoroughly.
Greenery is any green leafy material that is used to frame an arrangement, cover the container and/or add a unifying texture and color. Some plant materials I frequently use and find quite effective are:
ArumPittosporum tobira ‘variagata’
Asparagus fern Pittosporum nigrans Bronze flax
Salal Leather leaf fern Swordfern
Calla lilly leaves Nandina Cast iron plant
Crinkly kale - yes, the vegetable, and
Eucalyptus Silver Dollar (also called Baby Blue).
Fillers may include any frilly, light airy plant material that is neutral – doesn’t clash with the rest of the arrangement and tends to unify it. These typically would include: Baby’s Breath, Queen Anne’s Lace, Cilantro in flower, Feverfew, yarrow, heather, and African Blue basil to name a few.
My current favorite flowers (because they are easy to grow, require no pesticides to look good and have a long vase life) are: Peruvian lily – Alstroemeria (the tall types), Roses, Sweet William, Jasmine – Jasminum polyanthum (serves as greenery and filler), dahlias, chrysanthemums, and feverfew (lasts longer than everything else in the arrangement). Accent materials might include: corkscrew willow, pussy willow, Firecracker pepper (branches with little yellow, orange, red and purple peppers).
A few useful tools and supplies: scissors, clippers, buckets, oasis (those green foam blocks), lemon lime soda (not sugar free), florist tape (to keep oasis from floating). Romaggi Wholesale Florist and Supply, at 82 South Montgomery Street near the San Jose Arena, is a great local source for reasonably priced flowers, greenery, fillers and oasis. You don’t have to have a resale license to buy there, but call for their store hours before you go.
Many flowers are best cut in the late afternoon (after the sun is off the garden) and placed in a full bucket of lukewarm water immediately. Have the bucket next to you while you are cutting. Bring them inside immediately when finished and place in cool location. Ideally, recut stems and plunge into lukewarm solution of one part lemon-lime soda to 3 parts water and keep overnight in a "spare" refrigerator.
Flowers in most arrangements collapse early because they are unable to obtain enough water to keep them fresh. There are a number of ways to ensure that your flowers get enough water:
(1) Recut thestems at an angle, removing 1 to 2 inches, while under water to ensure that no air gets into the stems. You can do this in a basin full of water, or even by holding the stem and the blades of the shears (or kitchen scissors) under running tap water. Don’t crush or burn flower stems. Gently remove lower leaves from the stem so there will be none in the vase water.
(2) Since we live in a hard water area, use demineralized water, sold in supermarkets for filling steam irons, to make your vase solutions.
(3) Use a vase solution which is hot but not uncomfortable (100oF).
The vase solution needs to contain acid to improve water flow into the flower stems, sugar to help buds open and last longer, and a preservative to reduce growth of bacteria and fungi. Any of the following will work well:
(1) Mix one part of any of the common lemon-lime sodas with three parts of water. Do not use diet drinks or colas: the diet drinks have no sugar and the colas contain too much acid for flowers. Adding 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach per quart will keep the solution clear.
(2) Put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or bottled "Real Lemon," 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of bleach in a quart of warm water. Add another 1/4 teaspoon of bleach to the vase every 4 days.
(3) Use a commercial flower preservative. These are sold in florist shops and supermarkets but may not be as effective as the above recipes for improving flower vase life. However, they are inexpensive and very convenient to use.
Don’t use aspirin or vinegar in vase solutions – they are rarely effective in increasing vase life of flowers.
If you are using florist foam as an arranging aid, let it soak in the vase solution until it sinks. Do not push it down into the container, or air bubbles will remain inside and cause early flower death. Insert stems carefully.
Don’t place arrangements in a sunny location, near a heater or fireplace, or on top of the television set. Do put arrangements in a cool place overnight if you possibly can. Most important, grow new flowers every year so as to expand your repertoire and increase your garden’s versatility.
Nancy is the Urban Horticulture and Master Gardener Program Coordinator
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