Thursday, June 09, 2016

CHSRA Meeting Recap

In case you weren't able to make it to the High-Speed Rail meeting on Monday, here are some observations. CHSRA had several information stations around the perimeter of the meeting room. These areas covered station planning, right of way issues, environmental review process, Caltrain electrification, and alignments.

The station design area featured two boards, each with an overhead view depicting Diridon Station and including track alignment in and out. One board showed the at-grade alignment and the other showed the aerial alignment. Bruce Fukuji of CHSRA discussed some of the issues regarding the two options. For one, the at-grade option required the ability for UPRR freight trains to be able to cut across all of the tracks from the spur that runs southeast of the station. The coordination of which could halt freight trains, local trains, high-speed trains, or all of the above. Secondly at-grade requires a number of compromises to the scheduling of the trains in order to prevent them from stacking up one behind the other. The aerial route alleviates each of these concerns. HSR would have dedicated tracks at the station and for a period on each end of the station. One item not depicted particularly well was the aerial route north of the station. It was easy to tell that those tracks were off to the east of the existing tracks and over a corner of the SAP Center's north parking lot. The ramifications on the area beyond that could not be determined as that area was not presented - this meeting was for the San José to Merced section.

The right of way (ROW) table dealt with the process of private property acquisition. The staff working this table did not know what properties would need to be acquired under either alignment option. They could however, tell attendees about the process should they decide they need land you may own. The first step of which is to appraise the value of the property. The entity that would purchase the land is the same entity that would determine its value. If the value was disputed by the property owner, the property owner could then receive up to $5,000 from the state to have the value of her land assessed by a licensed appraiser. CHSRA would not necessarily honor the new appraisal. If this process still does not result in the agreement of both parties a condemnation trial begins. If the property owner wins the case, her appraisal fees and attorney costs would be paid by CHSRA. The property owner will be given a minimum of 90 days notice, is eligible for advisory assistance in relocation, and may qualify for moving related expenses. If the property owner feels she has lost business she must submit a claim to prove it.

The environmental review process overview was given verbally so it was a bit more difficult to understand. The Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/S) itself is requires a number of steps and a significant amount of paperwork often in great detail leading to the final design of the project. The CHSRA strategy appears to be re-using the initial EIR/S from several years ago, though that pre-dates the blended system design that is currently being considered.

The Caltrain Planner Jill Gibson explained that regardless of the option (at-grade or aerial) Caltrain would be electrifying two tracks for their trains. In the event an aerial alignment is chosen by CHSRA, both existing tracks would be electrified and a third, non-electrified track to accommodate freight trains would not be required between Tamien and Diridon stations.

The alignments table was staffed by Gary Kennerley of Parsons Brinckerhoff. It featured very long strips of satellite imagery of the proposed alignments along with section views showing two options of at-grade rail beds through North Willow Glen. One option, similar to the current cross section features sloping sides of dirt and rock that build up the rail bed. This would require the acquisition of yet to be determined parcels that would all but certainly include most of Fuller Park, Word of Faith Church, and other properties located south of the existing tracks. The other at-grade section would not require property takes. CHSRA would avoid this by removing the mature pine trees that separate the rail bed from the Fuller Park and constructing walls possibly 12 to 18 feet tall at the edge of the current ROW. Presentation renderings of this were grim, showing an imposing gray wall with some vegetation planted along the side. The remains of the park were a strip of grass and the existing fencing.

The aerial alignment option uses much of the existing ROW of I-280 and CA87, crossing over both of them and approaching the station above the existing tracks. To achieve this, some pillar supports would need to be placed north of I-280 near or over Orchard Supply to Diridon Station.

CHSRA staff presented the plan for the San José to Merced section. One of the more surprising pieces of information was from CHSRA Regional Director and former San José Transportation Systems Manager Ben Tripousis who said there would be no cost to San Jose for high-speed rail. Speaker comments and a Q & A period followed.

Commenters repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with CHSRA outreach. Fliers were distributed only to houses on the north side of Fuller Avenue and the south side of Jerome Avenue 24 hours before the meeting started. The meeting itself would not have happened had it not been for residents asking the offices of Raul Peralez and Pierluigi Oliverio to ensure it happened. Other neighbors noted the repeated division of the Greater Gardner neighborhood, first by UPRR, then I-280, and again by CA87. Adding walls and taking more properties would continue to isolate the area whereas the aerial route would benefit HSR efficiency without further impacting this part of Willow Glen. Others added that the burden of transportation was once again being born disproportionally by poor and Hispanic families, bringing up social justice issues with the at-grade option. It was for many of these same reasons that CHSRA decided in favor of the aerial option and against the at-grade alignment themselves, only to return years later trying to return to the at-grade alignment. Residents noted the complete lack of materials showing any underground option. In response, Mr. Tripousis added that the underground options would be contained in the EIR/S and it was not off the table. Ironically, tunnel drawings were not on any table in the room. Attendees pointed out that both north- and south-of-Diridon Station issues are resolved by going under ground. Budgetary questions were asked repeatedly. It was pointed out that the Prop 1A budget for the project was $40M yet the current projection is $64M. Mr. Tripousis insisted the project was not over budget because the budget is $68M and that CHSRA builds as the money becomes available. The final major thread of questions came with regard to the legality of the project overall. Commenters noted that Prop 1A specified that California would have a dedicated high-speed rail system and that a blended system could not be built without the consent of the people through a new measure.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

June 6 High Speed Rail Community Meeting

This may be the best - and possibly last - opportunity we have to learn about the plans California High Speed Rail has for passing through Willow Glen and specifically Gardner and North Willow Glen.

The current program alignment calls for additional tracks passing through a widened rail corridor with a number of eminent domain property acquisitions including Fuller Park, a house of worship, and other parcels. The aerial route over 87 and 280 is currently listed as an alternative. If you have a preference among these options or any others you may want to attend and voice your preference and concerns.

Time: 5-8pm, presentation starts at 6pm
Date: Monday, June 6
Location: Gardner Community Center, 520 W Virginia St, San Jose, CA 95125

Monday, May 30, 2016

Help needed: Community Action & Pride Grant Lead

For the past few years, the North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association has been fortunate to receive funds from the Community Action and Pride Grant (called a CAP Grant), offered by the City of San Jose via the United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County (UNSCC). Over the last several years we have submitted a relatively consistent grant application and we were awarded $1,500 per year. These funds have been used for our annual Party In The Park and year-end party, events that bring neighbors together to meet each other and learn more about our great neighborhood.

Currently, we need a volunteer to write the annual CAP grant application, submit it, and manage it throughout the year, including submitting the final report. This important role comes with a mentor for the first year, so you would be able to ask questions and receive guidance from an experienced person.

Maintenance of the CAP grant requires understanding the goals of our Neighborhood Association, recording expenditures related to the grant, communicating with Neighborhood Association Board members, and meeting deadlines.

Important dates for the CAP grant include:
June 2016 - Submit application for UNSCC membership
July 2016 - Submit application for the new CAP grant
If awarded, the CAP grant covers expenditures from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017
September 2017 - Close out the CAP grant by submitting receipts and recording expenditures and commitments

More information is available online

Please send a note to with any questions!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Save the Date: June 6th High Speed Rail Community Meeting

This may be the best opportunity we have to learn about the plans California High Speed Rail has for passing through Willow Glen and specifically Gardner and North Willow Glen. At the request of several residents, councilmember Peralez's office has set up a CHSRA community meeting near our neighborhood.

The current program alignment calls for additional tracks passing through a widened rail corridor with a number of eminent domain property acquisitions including Fuller Park, a house of worship, and other parcels. The aerial route over 87 and 280 is currently listed as an alternative. If you have a preference among these options or any others you may want to attend and voice your preference and concerns.

Time: TBD
Date: Monday, June 6
Location: Gardner Community Center, 520 W Virginia St, San Jose, CA 95125

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Take a book, return a book

Terry Woo and Laura Herse were inspired to participate in the Lending Library movement when they encountered a Free Little Library in Japantown. After investigating, they loved the idea of encouraging literacy through neighborhood connections. 

Rebecca Adams wanted our neighborhood to have a second Little Free Library to serve the many kids in the neighborhood. The excitement her kids have to stock and maintain the little library is an extra bonus. 

There are many great books to choose from at 585 Coe and 477 Snyder. With the philosophy "take a book, return a book," all books are free to enjoy and exchange. 

A special thank you to our neighbors expanding our community through literacy.

Monday, May 09, 2016

High-Speed Rail Open House Meeting

California High-Speed Rail Authority is in the process of planning the route that would carry trains along the corridor south of Diridon Station. The preference of CHSRA is to lay an additional track along the existing corridor currently used by Caltrain and UPRR. This alignment would necessitate the eminent domain acquisition of several parcels of land including those currently used by Fuller Park and the San José Word of Faith Church among others. Alternate alignments considered include an aerial route over CA87 and I-280 as well as an underground approach. If you would like to learn more or possibly voice your concerns, CHSRA is holding a community open house meeting.

Berryessa Community Center
5:00 to 8:00pm
3050 Berryessa Rd.
San José, CA 95132

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Willow Glen neighborhood garage sale June 11

From Willow Glen Charm:
Every year hundreds of houses participate in the phenomenon that our neighborhood yard sale has become, and “garage sailors” from all around the south bay swing through Willow Glen to score sweet deals on secondhand stuff.
You just hold your yard sale on Saturday, June 11, and register so we can add you to the map.
We will feature your sale as part of an interactive map on the web and promote the overall event via email and Facebook.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

WG Farmer's Market perhaps opening in June

From the Mercury News:
'Last year, former Willow Glen Farmers' Market directors Mel Defe and SuEllen Sterling announced their departure after more than 18 years. The news generated considerable speculation about the market's future and who would operate it. 
A new director has not yet been announced, and Willow Glen Business Association executive director Valerie Merklin told The Resident that the market will start a bit later than usual this year 
"We are still ironing out details on the farmers' market," Merklin wrote in an email. "Because of the transition, the only news is that it will not be able to start the first weekend in May as it has in the past, it will likely be June."'

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hands-on Native Plant Gardening & Tour

Native & Drought Tolerant Plants - Instructor: Sherri Osaka

Learn how and why drought tolerant plants need less water, and how to plant and care for them. Discover the role of soil organisms and organic matter in maintaining plant health and improving your garden’s water-efficiency. Dress for the elements! Wear garden boots, a hat, gloves, and bring water and your hand pruners, along with any other garden tools you like. Tools will be available for those who don’t have them.

Register online for this free class

Additional Directions: Free parking on Seymour St. To find the demonstration gardens, walk north of the grassy knoll towards the cross streets of Taylor and Walnut. 

When: Saturday, April 16, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (PDT)
Where: Nature's Inspiration Gardens & Guadalupe Gardens Court Yard - 411-421 Seymour Street, San Jose, CA 95110

VTA wants your input for our next transit network

From Valley Transportation Authority:

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is embarking on the important task of re-designing its current transit system to accommodate the growing needs of Santa Clara County in the coming years. Next Network is a component of VTA’s Transit Ridership Improvement Program. The Transit Ridership Improvement Program is an agency-wide effort to make public transit faster, more frequent and more useful for Santa Clara County travelers. Through Next Network Project, VTA is planning to redesign its transit network in order to accomplish three goals:

1. Better connections to future BART stations in Milpitas and Berryessa
2. Improve overall system ridership
3. Improve VTA's farebox recovery rate.

This effort will potentially be one of the largest transit network revamps in VTA’s history, involving a much larger and robust outreach campaign throughout Santa Clara County. Through summer 2016, VTA will seek community input on network design concepts through a series of public meetings and online tools. Community input will be analyzed in Fall 2016 and a draft network design concept that incorporates community input will be shared in early 2017 for more review. VTA’s Board of Directors is expected to adopt the Next Network service plan in April 2017.

Visit today, to view conceptual network designs and other information that will guide VTA's conversation with the community throughout the summer.


Monday, April 25, 2016
Milpitas Public Library
160 North Main Street
Milpitas, CA
(6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Berryessa Community Center
3050 Berryessa Road
San Jose, CA 95132
(6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.)

Feedback from the community is important at this step in the process. VTA encourages you to join the conversation. Visit to find out more ways you can participate! For more information contact VTA's Community Outreach Staff at (408) 321-7575 or

How would you invest $6 billion in transportation?

From Valley Transportation Authority:

If you had $6 billion for mobility projects in Santa Clara County, how would you invest it?

That’s the central question behind VTA’s updated and improved Transportation Challenge at Please check it out, submit a budget, and share it widely!

Envision Silicon Valley is a process in which VTA is engaging the community in discussions to identify current and future mobility needs, solutions and funding priorities to make sure we maintain livability and a vibrant economy. These efforts will help us prepare for a possible sales tax measure on the 2016 ballot. Learn more at

If you've submitted a budget through the site before, you can submit another now and have the option to allocate your leftover funds to your favorite program area. Your previous budget and input was recorded and shared with our Board's Committee on Envision Silicon Valley.

Learn about SJ's Boards, Commissions - Tomorrow

From Vice Mayor Rose Herrera:
Vice Mayor Herrera invites you to learn more about San José’s Boards and Commissions! Learn about how you can provide input on important community issues affecting your city, receive a 30 minute workshop on board members’ and commissioners’ roles, and get the chance to increase your civic engagement by learning more about how your local government functions!
The event will be held on Wednesday, April 13th at 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at San Jose City Hall, located at 200 E. Santa Clara St.

Neighborhood Commission spot available

There are two vacancies on the Neighborhoods Commission for District 6. If you have an interest in quality of life issues in your neighborhood, consider applying today. The commission meets 10 times a year in the evening.

More information is available on the city's web site. You can apply online.

How North Willow Glen uses our parks

In preparation for a working session with the City Council yesterday, NWGNA prepared a summary of how our residents use our parks, Hummingbird Park and Fuller Park. Take a look and see the excellent work that your neighbors do to bring all of us together, have fun, and keep our parks beautiful.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

This week: TWO meetings about high-speed rail

There will be two High-Speed Rail meetings next week.
  • The Working Group Meeting: Tuesday. April 12. Membership is by invitation. The public may observe and give testimony. Please note: they will be discussing alignment alternatives and station locations. The meeting will be held at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library (921 South First Street San Jose, CA 95110) from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

    During the Tuesday meeting, Authority staff will provide foundational information about the program, while obtaining feedback from participants about alignment alternatives and station locations that are currently under consideration.
  • Community Information Meeting: Wed April 13. At the request of the office of Councilmember Peralez, Ben Tripousis of High-Speed Rail will talk about the business plan and answer questions. 6 to 8pm. Martin Luther King Library Room 255.