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November 2010 BVNA Meeting Minutes

BUENA VISTA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION Minutes of the Meeting Tuesday, November 30, 2010 At the Home of Shelby Palms and Larry Kress at 395 Menker Avenue

Meeting called to order at 7:10 PM PRESENT: [26 people present]

Members: Robert Solis (President) Brian Ward (Vice President) Loui Tucker (Secretary) Sabine Zappe (Treasurer) Terri Balandra Joe Carpenter Jordan Dancer Tull Dancer Jean Dresden Dulce Flores Marco Flores

Jose Gonzalez Brian Habekoss Ken Henning Sally Henning John Leyba Marisol Leyba Shelby Palms Carlos Ramirez Damon Romero Bruce Stevens Lori Stevens

Ruth White Julia White Michael White Ed Yu

Guests: Lara Tran, representing City Councilmember Pierreluigi Oliverio's office Melissa Morris, representing the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley

as posted.

MINUTES - Approved of prior meeting presented and approved TREASURER’S REPORT BVNA currently has $529.00


  1. Walgreen’s wants a liquor license. Lara Tran announced that the Planning Commission will be holding meetings to address the request by the Walgreen’s at Meridian and Hamilton for a liquor license. There is opposition from other neighborhood groups closer to the store on the grounds there are already enough liquor stores. It was reported that all of the Walgreen’s that don’t already have liquor licenses are applying for them and they plan to appeal the decision if they are denied the permit. The NAC (Neighborhood Action Council) has already agreed to stand by the opposition to the permit. The BVNA was unwilling to take a position on this issue.

  2. The Ohlone Project - What we have Learned. Terri Balandra reported on the Ohlone Project. She has attended all 22 meetings the various agencies have held with respect to this project. All of the meetings were videotaped and are available on line. Terri provided a packet of materials including a document with all the links and where to click to hear the section concerning the Ohlone Project. The packet also includes email addresses, copies of newspaper articles, and various reports. Some of the points Terri made:

  • „ The first rendition of the project called for three 18-story towers and was described as “an urban prison,” and “something appropriate for East Germany.” Although few are pleased with the current plan, it is an improvement over the original design.

  • „ The developers all want tall buildings. Terri talked about the “OEI” (One Engine Inoperative) which sets the maximum height of buildings near the air traffic lanes around San Jose Airport. As an example, the plans for the proposed ballpark had to be changed to stay under the maximum building height limits. Building heights must stay under the limit but they can put more buildings per acre.

  • „ The developer has to pay for the community-outreach meetings, and City staff has to be present. Their presence does not guarantee they will listen or absorb input. Development staff is paid by development fees; if developments are not brought in, the Development staff shrinks accordingly, or gets paid less.

  • „ While the local neighborhoods want retail, the developments want less retail.

Minutes of BVNA General Meeting 11/30/2010

  • „ Times change, staff changes, promises are made but are not kept.

  • „ Each development is different; the City wants development at any cost.

  • „ There is little or no follow-through to see if the City and neighborhood actually get

what was intended – did the development come out anything like the pretty pictures?

  • „ The developers work with guidelines, not rules and regulations. There is a lot of

shoulder shrugging (“Oh well, what can we do?”) when developers ignore the


  • „ The City looks at projects in isolation instead of looking at the Big Picture, and the

impact several projects will have on an area.

  • „ Michael VanAvery “played us.” First he called us names, then asked for our help.

  • „ The City is coming toward us, which means increasing density. We are no longer a

suburb. Once a project is done, then there will be copycats: “We want our project to

look like theirs.” It is important to get this one right, because it will not be the last.

  • „ The City is buying up old buildings and tearing them down, making parking lots for

now. Something will be put there - light rail, BART, Cal-Train, the new stadium.

There are lots of large lots waiting for large buildings.

  • „ We need to push for open space because very little is being planned.

  • „ KB Homes was built with the understanding there would be light rail station, but it

has not been built as promised - and won’t be. The VTA is $1.5 million short (needs $3.5 million and has $2 million) of funds to build the station. According the Jean Dresden, the VTA has no plans to build a light rail station near KB Homes. There isn’t even a mention of such a station on any list. But the VTA will maintain a building that someone else builds it! The question always comes: “Which comes first, the density or the station?” VTA would like a station to be built as part of a project, perhaps included in one of the proposed towers, and located at Auzerais and Sunol.

3. Avoid PayDay Loans. Melissa Morris of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, is a senior attorney with the Foundation working on the Fair Housing Law Project. She spoke about the Payday Loan storefronts in our area and passed out a brochure. These stores are legal, but highly problematic. They are clustered in low-income neighborhoods (eight times more likely to be in an African-American or Latino neighborhood than a white one) offering small cash loans with usurious interest rates (45$ on a $300 loan = 460% interest) to people who are desperate. They often need money for rent, utilities, food and don’t realize the payday loan business is a bad habit to get into. People who get one loan typically wind up having to get an average of 10 per year and still cannot keep up with the payments. These stores are also magnets for litter and graffiti. Because getting these businesses abolished in California will be extremely difficult (although it has been done in other states), the Law Foundation is working to get limits on where these stores can be opened, and how densely they can be placed. Payday lenders tend to locate in unincorporated areas outside the City’s jurisdiction. An alternative to this type of lending is something like “Bank on San Jose.”

In other states, caps were put on interest rates which made the people running these stores realize they could not make enough money at it and they closed them. California used to have an 18% interest cap, but that was lifted in the 90s.


1. New Hair Salon, Owner is BVNA Resident. Dulce Flores announced the opening of Rave Salon on the corner of Menker and West San Carlos. She lives across the street. She had a salon in another location in East San Jose and recently moved to this location. She had $5-off coupons and invited everyone to come get a hair cut.

Minutes of BVNA General Meeting 11/30/2010

  1. Hennings Honored. The BVNA honored Sally and Ken Henning who have sold their home on Menker Avenue after living in the neighborhood for 18 years. They are considered by many to be the backbone of the BVNA in light of the fact that they attended all the meetings, hosted many BVNA meetings in their home, worked on all of the BVNA Home Tours, represented the BVNA at City-wide organizations, voluntarily shouldered responsibility for keeping Buena Vista Park free of graffiti and litter, etc. While Ken will continue to live in San Jose and not far from the Buena Vista Neighborhood, Sally is moving to Colorado. Both intend to come back for visits. The Hennings were honored with a plaques proclaiming them “The Heart of the Buena Vista Neighborhood” and a cake was presented and eaten in their honor.

  2. High Speed Rail. Dec. 7 is the next meeting regarding the High Speed Rail project. The proposed line will not go through or even near the Buena Vista Neighborhood, but it will certainly impact it, depending on the construction and parking issues and potential blight when people leave the homes near the rail line.

Overhead tracks would be 150' high, the equivalent of a 8-9 story building. An underground tunnel for the line would be ultimately less destructive to the area, more expensive and time-consuming to build, and could potentially damage the aquifier. The first section of the system is proposed to be built in the Central Valley (“to get the kinks worked out.”)

  1. Buena Vista Park Extension. The Parks Policy revisions are mostly good news for the Buena Vista Neighborhood and the extension of our local park is moving forward. A design meeting is being scheduled to review our last proposal to remove grass in the old section and put in slow-grow, low-mow grass on the new section. The building of the park is funded; it is the maintenance question that still has to be resolved. Adopting the park is still an option, so volunteers can keep it clean. The current hope is that in the spring they can remove the old house foundation, level the ground, roto-till it, either sow grass or lay grass.

We should push the City to take the time to move the sign on the old section to increase the play area. This was mentioned to then City Councilmember Ken Yeager when the park opened but nothing ever happened.

We should also push to have in-lieu fees from developers be used for maintenance instead of just for building the parks.


There will be a “Environmental Public Hearing” on December 8 to talk about the 280-17-880- Stevens Creek interchange re-design. Details: 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Cafeteria of Castlemont Elementary School at 3040 East Payne Avenue, in Campell.

The next BVNA meeting will be at potluck on December 28 at the home of Ruth and Jerry White at 431 Menker Avenue.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:56 PM.


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