Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NWGNA Friends and Neighbors Meeting: The Recap

Thanks to all who attended last night's meeting. We had a great turn out, but there are still plenty of 'seating opportunities' so if you missed this one, be sure to attend the next one. We'll keep you posted as it approaches.

We started off with a briefing from SJPD Watch Commander Jeff Marozick, who did a great job of letting us know what's happening with the police force and answered all of our many questions. When asked about neighborhood traffic enforcement, he said that the assignment of officers has changed recently to have fewer officers in communities and more in the areas where most serious accidents occur. Due to staff reductions, petty crimes will not receive officer visits, again because they've been reassigned to higher crime zone areas. He did stress that should you have a concern, the best method to alert them is via their website, Notify them to your concerns and they will pay more attention. His general recommendations were to follow common sense procedures, to make sure your valuables are locked, your area is well lit, and that you do not warm up your car while you're away from it - and that if you do, have a second key so you can lock it while it's idling. Also, he encouraged people to get to know their neighbors and to report any suspicious activities as soon as you see them so we can better prevent criminal acts.

Homicides are up as we've probably read about. We're now at about 20 for the year and 16 of them have been gang or gang-related killings. SJPD has launched Facebook and Twitter accounts as a way to reach out to the community, however at this time they appear to be mainly press release type messages. However, if you do not read the paper - fewer and fewer of us do - you can keep up with them on those sites. Navi, our local beat officer spoke about the need for him to get to know more of the youth of our community to establish a personal relationship. So if you see him out and about, please introduce yourself. We also invited him to the NWGNA Produce Share, Sundays 1-3pm, so that may be another opportunity for us to meet him. Cross promotion, y'all! I know my kids will give him a big hug, but he'd be wise to come prepared with those silver deputy stickers.

On the topic of High Speed Rail (HSR), we have some good news. As you may know, the City of San Jose has been soliciting suggestions for two HSR options; one aerial and one underground to be included in the Environmental Impact Report. For the underground option, there was once again a movement afoot to allocate the UPRR train tracks through our neighborhood for HSR bypass use, but NWGNA officers expressed their dissatisfaction and San Jose's Department of Transportation listened. That option is no longer under consideration. The letter from DOT to the California High Speed Rail Administration included possible mid-depth tunnel options of two or three smaller bores with no at-grade bypasses.

Last weekend, several NWGNA board members took part in a recent HSR Aerial Visual Design Guidelines meeting to express our concerns about the look of aerial structures in our city. These comments were heard and incorporated into presentations by HSR staff at their meeting on Monday. The concerns mainly centered around graffiti abatement, ensuring the structures have a minimal disruption to sight lines, and that they are attractive from the pedestrian's point of view.

Continuing on with trains, Pat Gormley expressed her concerns about the increase of Caltrain engines idling along Fuller, between Delmas and Prevost for ten minutes at a time, pumping excessive amounts of diesel fumes into our neighborhood as a result. It was agreed the board would send a letter objecting to this practice by Caltrain.

The topic of local graffiti abatement was discussed. Additional volunteers stepped forward to "Fight the Blight". We've now got a team of about twelve or so and more are definitely welcome to join, so let us know if you want in. We'll soon schedule a meeting that works for the team to address how best to organize and to provide necessary materials for the cause.

There was some interest in setting up a Neighborhood Watch program. Fortunately, there will be a meeting at the Willow Glen Branch library on Minnesota tomorrow at 6:30-8:30 for all of Willow Glen. Please RSVP with Holly Barr at to attend.

Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio attended the second half of our meeting. He fielded questions about libraries, park maintenance, and fire departments. What we learned is that libraries will be cutting their hours and will soon be open only three days per week. They are however coordinating their schedules. Adjacent libraries will be paired to cover as many days as possible for each area.

The city has reached an agreement with the parks department to outsource the maintenance of all parks under two acres. That means all the parks within North Willow Glen. Please keep an eye on the upkeep of our local parks and let his office know what kind of job they're doing.

Mr. Oliverio was asked about the roles of ambulance response and fire response to health emergencies. In a nut shell, ambulance contracts by law are handled by the counties so the city has little influence on that service. Some fire stations will be closing, partially as a result of the council's decision to maintain staffing of four fire fighters per engine rather than three as is the case in many surrounding cities.

If you think this was a lot of information, you're right. We've been committed to keeping our meetings entertaining and informative with a minimum of board business in hopes of bringing together more of our neighborhood. What's more, they're participatory - everyone has a chance to speak out or ask questions of board members or speakers. But the real goal of NWGNA is to build a greater sense of community. So whether or not you attend the various Friends and Neighbors Meetings, Produce Shares, Garage Sales or other upcoming events be sure get out there and introduce yourself to a passing neighbor. It will boost your safety, your network of friends, and who knows, maybe even your vegetable intake!

Chris Davis

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