Archive for the ‘Northside’ Category

The chalk will fly this Saturday

Julio Jimenez at the 2010 festival

The Luna Park (North 13th Street) Business Association’s annual Chalk Art Festival is coming up this Saturday, and rumor has it the event will be much expanded compared to past years. In addition to art on pavement, the event will feature food and art vendors. Aztec dance troupe Movimiento Cosmico will give their rhythmic and spiritual performance. Live music will be provided by Cuatro con Tres, a band that was very impressive at the Northside’s National Night Out event this year.

The chalk art itself will feature some returning chalk specialists like Wayne & Carol Renshaw and Julio Jimenez; as well as local art scene leader Lacey Bryant, recently featured in Content magazine. Well-known local muralists Paul J. Gonzalez and Katrina Loera are also expected to show their stuff.

I’ve seen my neighbor Katrina Loera and her husband Steve, along with other volunteers, putting in endless effort in the past year to bring this event together. From what I’ve heard from some of the volunteers it looks like it will pay off with a really strong roster of artists and an exciting array of other entertainment at this fun local event.

  • What: Luna Park Chalk Art Festival
  • When: Saturday, Sept 24, 2011. 10-4pm.
  • Where: Backesto Park, 13th and Jackson Streets, San Jose
  • How much: Free

Keep safe, San Jose

Paul Ray Castillo, suspect in the killing of Cindy Nguyen. (SJPD photo)

A little more than a week ago, a neighbor of mine a few blocks away reported in our local email list

Today the unthinkable happened. A guy in a car next to mine (11th & Taylor) pulled a gun and pointed it right in my face. …

It started in my driveway. I was backing out, very slowly, as usual, and I guess he thought I was going to hit him, so he went into road rage; total unprovoked, erratic behavior. He screeched, u-turned at the corner, passed me, then backed up speeding back across the intersection. He caught up with me at Taylor and 11th. That’s when I looked to the side and he pulled the gun. Luckily, I ducked, pulled into the intersection a little and the cross traffic stopped. He took off one way, I took off the other.

Yesterday the body of the presumed carjacking victim Cindy Nguyen was found in a garage near by on 12th Street. The manhunt for suspect Paul Ray Castillo, considered armed and dangerous, is still ongoing in this case.

At another location a few blocks to the east, another neighbor has been reporting drug activity and violence on his block for years, and the police have never felt they had sufficient evidence to act on those reports.

On the other hand, a week ago and 6 blocks west of 12th Street, a suspect was arrested and his stockpile of weapons and explosives was seized and destroyed by the police after he made threats to a neighbor.

I hope I never hear another story like either of the recent ones in my neighborhood, but I’d sure rather hear another 6th Street story than another 12th Street story. If you see someone acting dangerously or threateningly, do report it to the police. Even if there are times when it seems their hands are tied and they can’t act, there are other cases where they can take action that could avert a tragedy.

Watson Park officially re-opened

After being closed for 7 years to clean up and contain contamination due to the site’s former use as a trash dump, Watson Park in San Jose’s Northside neighborhood was officially re-opened today. The Northside Neighborhood Association put on a fantastic opening ceremony to commemorate the event.

City Manager Debra Figone talked about her history growing up in the Northside, and her first job with the city, supervising kids in Parks & Rec programs at Watson Park. Other speakers included Councilman Sam Liccardo, City Public Works Manager Dave Sykes, and San Jose Parks Foundation Executive Director James Reber.

District 3 City Councilman Sam Liccardo presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Finally, the San Jose High Mariachi and Folklorico provided some tuneful and colorful entertainment.

And, even before the ceremony was over, the local kids were there to make sure the facilities were up to spec.

With new facilities including a pelletized-rubber artificial turf soccer field, dog park, basketball courts, and kids play areas, Watson is now one of the city’s premier parks. Future plans include bringing back garden plots to the park, and a link to the Coyote Creek bicycle trail.

I’m glad to see this neighborhood resource finally available again after a long effort to clean it up.

Successful National Night Out in the Northside

The Northside hosted a fun night out on Tuesday, with a free screening of Toy Story 3 and a bunch of other entertainment, too. Face painting, with subjects ranging from butterflies to Jolly Rogers, was a big hit with the younger kids. A flotilla of gourmet food trucks, including Mogo BBQ, House of Siam on Wheels, and Treatbot, added spice for the grown-ups.

Musical group Cuatro con Tres put on a fine show, mixing latin canciones with American rock favorites. I was impressed with their cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown-eyed Girl”, which they gave just enough of their own flavor that you didn’t miss Morrison’s characteristic voice.

The event was put on by the North 13th Street NAC (neighborhood advisory committee or neighborhood action committee, depending who you ask), the Northside Neighborhood Association, and the Luna Park Business Association, with help from neighbors in the Julian/Saint James and Hensley neighborhoods. In past years, the NAC has had substantial help from city staff in staging this event. This year the staffer who had assisted in the past had been re-assigned to new duties, and was only able to assist with event permits and put in some of her own volunteer time flyering; otherwise the group was largely on its own. Despite the new reliance on volunteers, they managed to get the word out with fliers, book the band, and bring in the trucks to provide food. As in years past, Riverview Systems donated the equipment to present the movie on the big screen.

Foodtruck fad reaches Northside

Visits from gourmet food trucks aren’t a regular thing in the Northside, but tonight we got a taste of the ongoing al fresco dining fad when Treatbot and The WOW Silog truck stopped at Bernal Park for a few hours.

I just barely made it to their parking spot after a long train blocked nearby roads for several minutes, but I did manage to arrive before 9 and get a chance to try the goods. Someday I’ll try a Silog, but tonight was not the night. I did get a couple of great original ice cream flavors at Treatbot: Eastside horchata and Bollywood pistachio. Both were great flavor combinations that you won’t find in the Safeway ice cream aisle.

I hope we’ll see these guys in the Northside again some time soon.

Library vandalized

Library vandalised

You see, San Jose?!? This is why you can’t have nice things.

Luna Park Chalk Art Festival

I’m just back from this free festival, still ongoing at Backesto Park (on N. 13th Street at Jackson). Aside from watching the artists at work, the entertainment highlight was a presentation by an Aztec dance troupe.

White Eagle dance

The chalk artworks should still be available to see for the remainder of the weekend.

Julian Street opens to two-way traffic

Julian Street near downtown San Jose has been converted to two-way traffic after decades as a high-speed one-way thoroughfare. Neighbors who’ve been working to make this change happen hope that calmer traffic on the street will contribute to a safer and more pleasant experience for people living on the street, and even encourage homeowners to live in their Julian Street houses rather than rent them out.

Neighborhood activists had been trying to make this happen for a long time, but what catalyzed it was the San Jose Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI), begun 8 or 10 years ago to revitalize the city’s most neglected neighborhoods. When the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) for the 13th Street SNI area first met, they established a top-10 list of improvements that would bootstrap the neighborhood out of its cycle of neglect. Number one was to convert high-speed one-way streets to pedestrian-friendly two-way streets. Portions of Third and Fourth Streets have already been converted, and today’s opening marks more or less the half-way point in converting the Julian / Saint James “couplet” to neighborhood-friendly streets. After Saint James, only Tenth and Eleventh Streets remain to be converted.

The SNI and the 13th Street NAC are currently implementing deep cuts due to the financial crisis at City Hall. I’m hopeful that despite that, we will see a few more successes like this conversion on Julian Street over the next couple of years.

Anyone you know?

My neighbor caught these night strollers on video when they stopped to leave a calling card on an electric pole in front of his house. There’s a couple walking their small, light-colored dog. She’s in shorts and carrying a large purse. He’s wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up, dark pants, and white sneakers. The location is near 17th and Saint John Streets. The full video is on Flickr.

I won’t post the actual tag here, but you can see it in my neighbor’s Flickr stream.

What can we do about graffiti? As far as I know, the city is still operating its anti-graffiti program. They’ll provide clean-up materials and official city-beige paint to cover over graffiti. Their webpage also advertises a graffiti reporting hotline at 408-277-2758. Graffiti reported to that hotline should be cleaned up quickly if its on city property (though that “quickly” may be more of a goal than an actuality, given the city’s financial condition) or result in a notification to the property owner for graffiti on private property.

The SJPD also has a graffiti reporting webpage. Reports there won’t lead to a clean up, but they do help pile up evidence against individual taggers so that if they’re caught they can held responsible for more of the damage they’ve done.

I’ve noticed in general there has been less graffiti around the neighborhood than in past summers. I have a theory that with the mild weather kids have been staying indoors playing video games instead of looking for something to do outside. Hopefully these couple days of hot weather won’t reverse the trend.

More Meatballs

In case you missed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs a couple of weeks ago at Muni Stadium, there’s another chance to see it free under the stars tomorrow night. The 13th Street Neighborhood Advisory Committee will show the film Tuesday, August 3rd, at Backesto Park, near the corner of 15th and Jackson Streets in San Jose. The event starts at 6 p.m., with free hot dogs, chips, and soda for the first 500 people. Film time will be around 8:30.

The show is part of National Night Out, an annual event meant to bring out communities to meet their local police departments and participate in public safety. Other neighborhoods around town will be having a variety of National Night Out events, so keep your eyes open, and consider dropping by.

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