BUENA VISTA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION Minutes of the Meeting Tuesday, October 25, 2011 At the Home of Karen O’Mara at 379 Menker Avenue
Meeting called to order at 7:07 PM
PRESENT: [11 people present] Members: Brian Habekoss (President) John Leyba (Vice President and NAC Rep) Loui Tucker (Secretary)
Sabine Zappe (Treasurer) Robert Solis (Director and NAC Representative) Brian Ward (Director)
Jens Hansen Karen O’Mara Dolores Rodriguez Linda Solis
Frances Reyes representing Pierluigi Oliverio’s office
The minutes of the September 27 meeting were discussed and action items were reviewed. The minutes were approved.
The current balance is $962.27 of which $534 is CAP Grant. We are in the process of moving the bank account from Bank of the West to First Tech Federal Credit Union.
POST OFFICE RELOCATION MEETING
A total of four people attended this meeting. Those who attended said there needed to be more community outreach and more meetings to discuss the Post Office relocation. According to the spokesperson for the Post Office they are not being evicted. Instead their lease is not being renewed. The property owner reportedly wants to pursue other opportunities with the space. The P.O.'s lease ends December 31, but the P.O. won't be moving until early 2012 because of the holiday season.
The idea of a “virtual post-office box” was discussed whereby mail to a P.O. box would be directed to another location. The Postmaster had not heard of it. Brian will give John the contact information so we can send the Postmaster the information so he can investigate the possibility. In any event, when the post office is moved our P.O. box number will not change.
Another topic was whether they could they change the zoning from commercial to commercial/residential and put in housing? This is not likely because it is the City’s current policy that re-zoning must not create a net change. In other words, if zoning changes in one location, it must change somewhere else in the other direction to compensate. The City is trying to hold onto commercial property.
What about the possibility of creating an opening to Chiechi? The landowner will have to agree to provide a right of way. The City does not like to create one by eminent domain. This was discussed in the past and some residents want it opened, some don’t want it opened.
Decision: John will forward information about virtual mailboxes to the postmaster and we will continue to monitor the situation.
There have been some reports of an increase in crime. Gunshots have been heard, and there have been some recent auto and home break-ins. As a response to the problem, there was a discussion about the possibility of holding a community meeting and asking the Neighborhood Watch organization to come and talk about what residents can do such as increase lighting and installing alarms.
The Neighborhood Watch program would be scheduled as a two-hour meeting beginning at 7:00 PM, Monday through Thursday. We would get “Neighborhood Watch” signs for our windows. A minimum of 10 households need to commit to attend the meeting, and this threshold might present a problem. A positive side-effect is we might get people to attend who don’t regularly come to BVNA meetings.
Minutes of BVNA General Meeting 10/25/2011 Page 2
Some long-time residents cautioned that this type of meeting was tried in the past and the response was poor. Nobody wanted to come to the meeting but said “Can’t we just get the stickers for our windows?”
On the other hand, we do have an increase in homeownership in the neighborhood, which may work in our favor. Homeowners are generally more involved than renters. If we made it a potluck and held it at a centrally located home, that would also attract more people.
Decision: It’s a good idea and we should give it a try. It may require extensive outreach to neighbors to get them to come. We will plan a Neighborhood Watch meeting for after the first of January. Brian will check with Neighborhood Watch staff and get on their calendar.
The Park Training took place on Saturday, October 22, with Mollie Tobias from the City of San Jose Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services Dept. She coordinates the Adopt-a- Park efforts, and though they eliminated other positions they have increased her hours. The City is trying to leverage volunteer resources because it cannot afford to maintain parks.. A second park training is scheduled for 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 19.
We are already in “Adopt-A-Park” mode, but we are only responsible for picking up trash, and checking for problems. We are still building the check list. Mowing the lawn is not our responsibility yet.
When we start taking care of the trash, we will need to have a place to put the trash cans. John suggested that rather than creating a BIGGER red zone, that we create a one-hour loading zone. The loading zone could then be used for the trash cans waiting to be picked up, and will also allow volunteers to park a car and off-load a mower, etc. The parking along Scott would remain as it is. One-hour loading would just keep people from parking overnight.
We will need to get more graffiti kits and/or report graffiti we cannot clean off. The City will continue to mow until some sort of storage is created.
Jose was able to get a quote on a full-color banner for $70, a great price. His design was passed around and the wording discussed. We want the text short and simple and positive. It needs to appeal both to parents with children who will use the park, and older residents without children who want the park maintained. It was noted that it needed to have the San Jose Park Foundation logo added.
It was suggested that the banner be installed on the Mayellen-Scott corner and, in order to avoid making it a magnet for graffiti, that it be put inside the fence.
Decision: John will work with Jose on final wording in Spanish and English.
HERBS MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY
Frances is still looking into it the status of this out-of-compliance business. We stressed that this business is NOT part of the City’s new ordinance on medical marijuana dispensaries and we should NOT be waiting for a decision on that issue by the City Council. Under existing code, such a business cannot be within 500 feet of a residential area and it clearly is. We want to know how it got a business license to open there in the first place, and what the City is doing to close it.
Earlier in the month, Loui observed several lights along Scott Street were out. John got the numbers for the non-functioning light to City personnel and DOT has been given a memo to get them fixed. It was noted again, that our City is not pro-active, but re-active. It functions on a “demand” system. If you have a problem, you tell them, and somebody is sent to fix it or you are told why it cannot or will not be fixed. Lara and Melrose have been particularly prompt and helpful in this regard.
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There was a discussion about the very tall older yellow lights versus the new shorter white lights, why the older tall lights were not removed when the new shorter lights were installed (too expensive to remove), and a discussion about allowing the taller lights to go dark and not replace the bulbs when they wear out? Would this present a safety issue?
Robert got started on the newsletter and his computer died. He will begin working on it again. We’ll aim for producing it around the first of the year. Loui said she will write an article about the monthly litter pickups and yard sale signs. She will also write a “Who are we and what do we do” article. Robert is planning articles about the library and the park update. We will include an article about how to reach a BVNA officer, how to join the BVNA, and the important numbers you can call for City services. We always include a map showing the neighborhood’s boundaries, although anyone can join the BVNA. You do not need to live in the neighborhood’s boundaries.
The biggest barrier preventing the opening of the Bascom Library/Community Center is that City has no money. In fact, there appears to be $78 million hole in the budget going into the next cycle. There is some speculation that, in order to maintain police and fire staffing, all city libraries except the Martin Luther King Main Library downtown will have to be closed.
They are still looking at trying to rent out space at the Bascom facility, perhaps to a non- profit organization that will manage the community service portion - classrooms, community rooms, gym, coffee shop, and all the children-teens-senior-oriented programs that libraries traditionally provide.
CAR LOTS AND THE CITYSOURCED FLIER
Most developments on this front have been provided via email. Lara’s research and emails have concluded that the used car lot managers are allowed to park their overflow inventory on our streets because state laws trumps city ordinances. It is in their interest to have as much inventory available to show a customer. If their lot is full, the cars have to go somewhere, and they go on our streets.
However, they must obey all the other laws about not parking in the same spot for more than 72 hours, not blocking driveways, and the cars have to be registered. We can still report them for these violations. Keep taking photos of un-registered cars or cars blocking driveways, etc. using Citysourced. They are responding and the cars will be towed. It is also building a data bank when we want to take a next step.
Jose did a draft of the CitySourced flier, which was passed around. It was pointed out that we cannot put the City’s logo on it, but we can put BVNA logo on it. We will need to get that flier finalized so it can be printed and passed around the neighborhood.
Speeding cars is another problem, but there is little we can do about it because an officer has to see it. There was a discussion about having traffic calming devices installed. This would be far too expensive for the City provide at this time of budget crises.
There was a discussion about having a MUCH lower posted speed limit - something like 15 mph. This might discourage the prospective buyers from using neighborhood streets to speed test the used cars, but there are limits in the Vehicle Code that prevent this... there's a pilot at school sites.
Another suggestion was to use the “Clean Sweep” program. Under this program, signs are posted reminding residents to get parked cars off the street on a certain date for street sweeping or they will be towed. Have the tow trucks lined up and ready to go and they will net several dozen of the cars from the used car lots. What currently happens when the street
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sweepers are scheduled? They just drive down the middle of the street because they cannot get to the curbs because of the parked cars.
We discussed permit parking again. Some feel permit parking would help this problem. A majority has to agree, but it will keep cars without parking permits off the streets. There was a concern that the problem will just be pushed onto other local streets. If they cannot park on Menker and Richmond and Mayellen, will they just move down to Buena Vista, Page and Willard?
Someone asked when their business permit renews. We need to find out because if it is soon, perhaps in January, we need to put pressure on the City officials in charge to NOT renew their business license.
There was a suggestion that we make copies of Better Business Bureau rating and yelp listings and handing them out on the sidewalk. An alternative suggestion was to put the listings under the windshields of the cars they park on our neighborhood streets. A third suggestion was to put them on our own cars, displayed so prospective car purchasers will see them when a salesperson takes them to see a car parked on the street.
The car lot managers have been approached by residents and representatives of the BVNA. Threats of action do not seem to have any effect on their behavior. Perhaps it is time to stop threatening and just do something.
We discussed a protest-style action involving a reporter from the local papers. Would negative press bother these folks when Better Business Bureau and other internet ratings don’t appear to bother them?
There is strength in numbers. If there are five us complaining, it will have no impact. If there are 20-25 - maybe. Can a large group be assembled to drop by for a short visit on a Saturday? We could have printouts of the BBB and internet ratings on bright colored paper ready to hand to prospective customers. We could make a video and put it on youtube. We should be sure to tell them, “We have had used car lots for decades on West San Carlos and this has only recently become a problem.”
It was suggested that we use the yahoo group to ask people who will be willing to participate in a “show of force.” Since November appears to be already full, this was planned for Saturday, December 3 at 9:00 AM. It should be something short, perhaps 30 minutes, just to show what we are capable of doing, and suggesting that escalation is possible.
Decision: John will find out the status of their business license. Dolores will attempt to round-up support on Menker (the street bearing the brunt of the problem) for the December 3 action.
The Halloween house will be at Linda and Robert Solis house at 359 Mayellen. Robert has the loan of a camera and film, and Loui and Sabine have purchased a camera and film which they will lend to the BVNA. 250 glow bracelets were purchased. Loui will print out simple business cards to pass out to the adults.
Loui will put out a message on the yahoo group requesting donations of candy and asking residents to volunteer to spend an hour or so helping out - passing out glow bracelets, passing out candy, crowd control.
The Halloween House will open for business at 6:30, and finish about 8:30. We typically need 2-3 shifts.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. The next BVNA meeting will be on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at the home of Loui
and Sabine at 153 Race Street. The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 PM.