Welcome to NeighborwebSJ

NeighborWebSJ is a local online news site that grew out of a need for San Jose’s residents to connect with each other and City Hall in order to promote civic engagement. NWSJ covers local and community news with a focus on the diversity of its residents and their efforts to make their neighborhoods cleaner, safer and engaged.

Residents Weigh In on Housing Needs for San Jose; More Meetings Planned

View the presentation given by San Jose’s Housing and Planning departments

San Jose residents have a chance to help shape future plans for housing — from sheltering the homeless to creating urban villages – at a series of meetings offered by the city’s housing and planning departments.

The city needs to address needs for the next eight years because of an anticipated population growth, shifts in age groups and a workforce unevenly divided by income. The first step in updating the state-required Housing Element is getting public input to determine what kinds of housing residents think is important in their neighborhoods.

San Jose needs to plan 35,000 housing units in the next eight years, according to a Regional Housing Need Allocation set by the Association of Bay Area Governments’ projections of where Bay Area grown will be. But there is a wide variety of housing possibilities. Should San Jose build more senior housing or high rises downtown? Should the units be apartments and condos? Should they be rental or for sale?

The first meeting on January 22, at Roosevelt Community Center drew a small but vocal group concerned that more attention should be focused on the lack of housing for the growing homeless population as well as those classified as very low and extremely low income.

With the economy picking up, the housing market is hot again, with projects that were stalled by the recession moving forward. But builders are not proposing affordable housing projects.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” said Carol Valentine, a Spartan-Keyes area resident who lives near a homeless encampment called The Jungle. Continue reading

Budget Games Focuses on Spending Money From Possible Sales Tax Revenue

Register to Play Budget Games Online on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
What do you do when the City of San Jose asks you to spend money you don’t have and may not have in the future? If you’re sitting at Table 4 in the City Hall Rotunda, you spend it quickly but wisely.

Budget Games.

Depending on what table you were sitting at the mayor’s annual budget priority-setting exercise on Saturday, January 18, you were limited to spending $68 million, the amount that would be generated from a ½ -cent sales tax or $34 million from a ¼-cent tax.

In other years, residents were asked to balance the entire operating budget with revenue options and cost-cutting measures. This Budget Games version was focused on setting priorities from a list of services and employee costs using estimated revenue from sales taxes, which could be headed to a public vote this year.

“We’re playing with things we don’t have yet,” said Kymberli Brady, a Downtown San Jose resident, describing the frustration among her team members. She added “This doesn’t necessarily mean we support the tax increase.”

Others wanted more input into the list of spending choices given to players.

“There are priorities in our community that were not reflected on our list of choices,” said Harvey Darnell, North Willow Glen resident. “There needs to be a sub process before this, where community leaders bring together our priorities.”

But Tara Pichumani, a Youth Commission member from San Jose, said she learned a lot about roads and the cost of maintaining them, something she hadn’t thought about because he doesn’t drive. Of Budget Games, she said, “It’s a great opportunity that we all come together.” Continue reading

Santa Paws House Is Sheriff Smith’s Pet Project

Although Santa Claus is likely to always be the star of Christmas in the Park, he has competition this year.

Young cats on display at Santa Paws House.

Behind the windows of a trailer-turned-Victorian-parlor, cats, kittens, dogs and puppies — and an occasional rabbit – are on display and up for adoption.  The newest display in Christmas in the Park is drawing crowds of visitors and would-be pet owners.

Santa Paws House is the creation of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith who was inspired by the San Francisco Macy’s window displays of pets who need homes sponsored by the SPCA. She wanted to support animal adoptions in Santa Clara County with a new display at Christmas in the Park, Downtown San Jose’s winter wonderland in Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park. The annual holiday tradition will be open through January 1.

Santa Paws House, which is on the Market Street side of the park, offers a charming setting for the adoptees. Cats and kittens occupy the outside rooms, with dogs in the center.

Santa Paws House is the creation of Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Each room is decorated with wallpaper, wainscoting and other features chosen by Smith to provide a home-like environment.

The felines are usually seen napping on the upholstered chairs and a beds constructed by Elmwood Jail inmates who are learning such skills as upholstery, carpentry and welding. The inmates, dubbed Santa’s elves on a photo on an outside wall of the exhibit, also rebuilt the trailer.

Petco Express provided toys and supplies for the animals in the exhibit and gave a donation to Christmas in the Park.