Friday, January 18, 2019

Remembering Clyde Arbuckle Who Saved the History of San Jose'

Clyde Arbuckle
Clyde Arbuckle, a Willow Glen resident, was the first City Historian for the City of San Jose'.

Born in 1903, Arbuckle experienced the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake with his half brothers and sisters, one of whom was silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arcbuckle.

His family were pioneers in the Valley, having settled here in 1846. Arbuckle was raised with family history stories about early valley life in the Valley. He became an ardent collector of records and lore about early Santa Clara Valley life.

Arbuckle worked for the American Railway Express after leaving school at the age of 15. He was a professional Banjo player and along with his brother, an award-winning bike racer with the Garden City Wheelmen.

He married his wife Helen in 1932. They had a son in 1935 and a daughter in 1936. Arbuckle built a new family home on Franquette Avenue (near Curtner), which had no electricity on July 4,1939, the day the family moved into their new Willow Glen home.

As an avid and humorous public speaker and storyteller with a photographic memory, Arbuckle was popular with many local historic groups, where he was known for his iconic khaki shirts and pants, worn daily with what he called his "Denver" Stetson.

In 1945 the Historic Landmarks Commission was formed and nominated Arbuckle to become the first City Historian for the City of San Jose'. In 1950 Arbuckle was named the first director and curator for History San Jose', a new organization dedicated to preserving the Valley's history and artifacts. Arbuckle and Theron Fox are credited with saving San Jose's history.

From the History San Jose' Web site:
"In 1970, under the urging of friend and fellow preservationist Theron Fox, Clyde was commissioned to write the definitive history of San Jose. The history was published in 1985, printed by friend and history buff Leonard McKay (Smith & McKay Printing), who has been said to have contributed greatly to the book’s completion.  
Clyde also wrote Historic Names of Persons and Places in Santa Clara County (with Roscoe D. Wyatt in 1948), and Santa Clara County Ranchos in 1968. 
He was an active member of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E. Clampus Vitas, the California Pioneers of Santa Clara Valley, and the Argonauts Historical Society, as well as being a Mason. In 1998, Clyde passed away at the age of 94. 
Further reading from the San Jose Public Library, California RoomClyde Arbuckle's history of San Jose, by Clyde Arbuckle; Santa Clara County Ranchos, by Clyde Arbuckle; King Library, Special Collection's Digital Collections; California Room's Clipping Files
---Submitted by Ralph Pearce on Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:01 PM."

First Street San Jose
(Note: Some links to Clyde Arbuckle books on WorldCat and local organizations mentioned in the Ralph Pearce article above, were added by me.) 

A number of Clyde Arbuckle's articles and books exist in educational institutions, archives and library collections. They are listed here in the Online Archive of California and OCLC's WorldCat database.


Arbuckle amassed a large collection of photographs of Santa Clara Valley. The Clyde Arbuckle California History Research Collection is housed in the California Room at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of San Jose Public Library.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Silicon Valley's Hot Jazz Roots

Hot Jazz began in New Orleans at the start of the 20th Century. The name came from The Original Dixieland Jass Band. "Jass" was changed to "Jazz" around 1917. (Three songs by the Original Dixieland Jass Band can be heard in the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, including, Livery Stable Blues.)


Trad Jazz had a revival after the Swing and Beebop era of the 1940's, although it is said to span the 1930's through the 1950's in the U.S. and Europe.

The New Orleans style of Trad Jazz had its resurgence with tuba providing a strong base note and a marching band style. A trumpet played the melody while other instruments improvised together and in solos.


The Chicago resurgence replaced the tuba with a string bass plus other stringed instruments like banjo and guitar, in a strong, fast-paced, two-beat rhythm with improvisational solos.

Chicago-style musicians were Jimmy McPartland, Eddie Condon, Mugsy Spanier, Bud Freeman, PeeWee Russell and Bobby Hackett.

Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin also played elements of Trad Jazz in Chicago-style, sometimes called "Nicksieland" after Nick's Greenwich Village Nightclub where the music was popular.

English Jazz pianist Margaret Marian Turner McPartland was a noted figure in the U.K., Chicago and New York Jazz scene, eventually hosting the popular Piano Jazz program on NPR where she played and interviewed notables from Jazz history and contemporary Jazz. (Jimmy McPartland was her husband, whom she met in 1946 while performing for the troupes in Belgium.) You can hear some of her music on Youtube.


The West Coast revival began in the 1930's with Lu Watters and his Yerba Buena Jazz Band, who played at the Dawn Club in San Francisco. (Turk Murphy was an early member of the YBJB before starting his own band.) Lu opened a restaurant called Hambone Kelly's in 1947 on San Pablo Avenue, which was called "Music Row" due to the number of dance halls and music clubs on that street between Oakland and El Cerrito. Watters' band performed at his restaurant until they dispersed in 1950.

West Coast bands typically used both banjo and tuba, plus brass horns and a washboard, with improvisation and solos blasting two-to-the-bar tempos.

Trombonist Turk Murphy broke Trad Jazz barriers, veering away from the Nicksieland Swing style of Chicago Trad Jazz and reviving the sounds of Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and W.C. Handy, who is celebrated in this documentary.. Turk Murphy also recorded some sessions for PBS Sesame Street segments. (See video list below.)


Around the same time, a Trad Jazz revival took place in the Low Countries (coastal areas) of The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, notably with the Dutch Swing College Band, who focused on Ragtime and New Orleans-Style Trad Jazz. These bands are larger than most Trad Jazz bands with as many as fifteen musicians, among the largest bands playing Trad Jazz today.

Noted Trad Jazz Festivals:
Bix Beiderbecke and his Band

Traditional Jazz publications:
The term "Dixieland" is not used by many contemporary Trad Jazz musicians due to its association with racist Jim Crow laws in the South. "Trad Jazz" is the preferred term.

Enjoy some music from YouTube by clicking on names in this partial list of Trad Jazz greats.

"Kings" of Trad Jazz:

"Queens" of Trad Jazz:


Contemporary Ragtime Performers: Local

(This post was written by me, although a portion of it was displayed on another Web site, without my permission nor attribution for my work. I have asked the other site to remove my writing from their site. --C. D. Alexander)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Musical Roots of Silicon Valley: Disney, Jazz and Irene Dalis

It has been well-documented that train-lover, Walt Disney was a frequent visitor to Billy Jones' Prune Ranch in Wright's Station (now Monte Sereno), since Jones was a longtime Southern Pacific railroad engineer who was responsible for reassembling the Gov. Stanford Engine Locomotive No.1 for the California State Railroad Museum. Disney also loved Jazz and was good friends with Louis Armstrong, who recorded an album of music from Disney classics, entitled, Disney Songs the Satchmo Way, in 1968. 

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRCeFCyNqCQ&index=10&list=PLcWgIcTFbpgADoTnI0CtfHTgNmCm9ecBC

Unfortunately, the album, which Disney encouraged Armstrong to produce, was not completed until after Disney's death.

There is an excellent book which chronicles Disney music, musicians and the marketing of Disneyland Records under Jimmy Johnson, who was the head of the Walt Disney Music Company for many years: MouseTracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records. Published in 2006

A number of compilations of Disney classics have been produced honoring Disney's love of jazz, including 2011's Everybody Wants to Be A Cat, Vol. 1 (featuring Roy Anthony Hargrove, Esperanza Spading, Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves, Bad Plus, Alfredo Rodriguez, Nicole "Nikki" Yanofsky, Glad Hekselman and Mark Knaff).


That recording was preceded by the 2006 release, Jazz Loves Disney, Vol.1:
 https://www.discogs.com/Various-Jazz-Loves-Disney/release/9452363

Volume 2 of Jazz Loves Disney was released in 2017:

The 1927 Al Jolson movie, The Jazz Singer, inspired Walt Disney to create the first synchronous sound cartoon,Steamboat Willie, in 1928, which also marked the debut of Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney performed all of the voices in the cartoon.

The Jazz Singer was the first full-length motion picture to feature a synchronized music score with actors singing and speaking dialogue coordinated with their lip movements. The film's release marked the end of the silent film era. (I will not add the film trailer or any YouTube segments of the film here, since some may rightly find Al Jolson in blackface as a jazz singer, offensive.)


Music for Steamboat Willie was written and arranged by Bert Lewis and Wilfred Jackson. (Jackson was also notable for his work on succeeding Silly Symphony cartoons, plus segments of Night on Bald Mountain, Fantasia, Lady and the Tramp and other Disney films, followed by scores for the Walt Disney TV series.) 

Turn up your speakers then click on the YouTube arrow in the Mickey Mouse image below, to hear The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, or, use the link below to hear the full soundtrack to Walt Disney's Fantasia. 

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj06pRMO9hM&list=PLWAb6uoo1Jl9k7McxMEf2xBlUmNTR81ZX


Unfortunately for Disney, the song Turkey in the Straw featured in Steamboat Willie, was later associated with many negative racial connotations and lyric variations by 1939.

Previously, Turkey in the Straw was often recorded by banjo players and seemed to have its roots in two British and Irish folk songs, both entitled The Rose Tree:

Turkey in the Straw was later adopted as the basis for several instrumental jazz compositions, moving beyond any previous American bigoted variations by mid-century. This is one performance of jazz variations of the song, surprisingly, by Liberace:


Although many of Disney's legacy productions display unfortunate and hurtful stereotypes of racial groups, the newer Disney productions seem to seek to correct those earlier missteps by highlighting the importance and traditions of many indigenous peoples and heritages.

For many of us growing up during the early Walt Disney heyday years, Disney cartoons and films became our first introduction to dixieland music, jazz, classical compositions, swing, big band and roots music, serving as the beginning for a lifelong appreciation of not only the music itself, but the musicians who give the music life, though musicians were and still are, often relegated to the very end of most film and video closing credits. 

Musicians are artists and often do more to set the tone and atmosphere in films and TV shows than visuals and dialog. (How many of us have sat through obscure closing credits for film set caterers, animal handlers and studio accountants and lawyers, just so we could read the music credits at the very end? That hierarchy is so very wrong, on all counts, and needs to change.)

While the role of Disney and jazz might not be closely related to Silicon Valley history, our region's list of notable musicians from all genres, continues to amaze. 


Turk Murphy Lane, SF Wikipedia Commons
From the early days when future Metropolitan Opera star Irene Dalis and her parents lived in a Victorian at 124 Delmas Avenue in San Jose (now a registered city landmark), to the Dixieland heyday of Melvin Edward Alton Murphy, aka: Turk Murphy in San Francisco (he also appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, produced songs for Sesame Street with Pixar Studios animator Bud Luckey and appeared with his band members and singer Pat Yankee at clubs along the Peninsula all the way down to Palo Alto), our regional music legacy is storied and far-reaching. 

To learn more about Turk Murphy and the Traditional Jazz Revival of New Orleans-style Dixieland music in San Francisco and down the Peninsula, watch the video below from the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley:


Friday, September 28, 2018

Housekeeping Note: Transition to HTTPS in Blogger and lost links

Teamwork
Apologies to readers who may find broken links in this blog. I recently used Google Blogger's option to convert this Web site from HTTP to HTTPS, creating a secure site.

Unfortunately that transition seems to have deleted some photo caption attribution links, links to source materials, as well as links scattered throughout text on some of my Pages and Posts. I am working to restore lost links and attributions, which were previously coded to open in a new browser tab, another function lost during the conversion to HTTPS in Blogger.

If you notice any dead links, please feel free to email me using my email address located on the right sidebar. Your patience during this transition process is appreciated.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Silicon Valley After Dark & Tribute to Harry's Hofbrau - Best places to Shop and Dine

Tired of traffic, jammed freeways and crowded parking lots during commute hours?

Let me share some tips on where to shop, dine and enjoy Silicon Valley after dark, long after the commute traffic has subsided.

Silicon Valley at Night - Photo by Kidder Mathews
(If you are interested on taking off weight due to indulging in the many ubiquitous yet delicious ethnic, pizza, hamburger and BBQ spots in the Valley for lunch, after sitting at a desk all afternoon, shopping after dark gets you off the sofa and on your feet, burning calories while walking and enjoying the relative quiet of night time in the Valley.)

I've chosen these spots not only for their value and late hours, but because they can be reached by multiple side roads from many Silicon Valley cities.They are accessible for bike and public transportation riders, as well as drivers.

Okay, since I mentioned food, let's start there.

If you are like me and have already lost the 40 lbs. needed to get your BMI back in the safe zone (since becoming taller was not an option), here are some ideas on where to find some of the best late night hearty (or healthy) meals and drinks, at a reasonable cost and in family and singles-friendly venues:

Just lost - The best destination for hearty late night food:

Harry's Hofbrau on Saratoga Avenue in San Jose:

Harry's lost their lease on January 8, 2019. We have lost a community gathering spot in Silicon Valley which hosted meetings for many employee and nonprofit groups at no cost, provided attendees purchased a meal. You just don't see that type of generosity and community spirit at other venues here in the Valley.

When the sudden news was posted about Harry's lease and the sudden closing, lines formed around the building to have one last meal at this wonderful establishment soon to be lost to developers and more bland multistory housing cubicles.

The article below has been edited to become a tribute to Harry's Hofbrau, with thanks to the owners and staff for their generosity to many of us over the years.

At Harry's, which was essentially a huge British Pub with a long bar, well drinks, wines and multiple beers on tap serving guests seated in large sectioned dining areas, we enjoyed everything from a "real" home-style hot turkey dinner overflowing with meat, gravy, mashed potatoes, cooked veggies and stuffing for about $12, a turkey enchilada dinner (with what seemed like 8 oz. of shredded turkey thigh meat) plus beans and rice, also around $12, plus a host of other hot entrees with the same modest prices. (I don't know how they did it. Seriously.)

Harry's Hofbrau - Bar area - Closed in San Jose
https://www.harryshofbrau.com/location/san-jose/
The portions were huge, the staff was friendly and the food was consistently excellent. (The portions were so massive, staff were waiting at the cashier desk to help you carry your laden tray and large-sized drink, which was the only drink size they sold, to your table.)

Truckers loved Harry's so many semi's were parked along the curb while their drivers refueled inside this cherished and iconic, now lost San Jose establishment. Likewise, some owners of Silicon Valley fine dining establishments could be found eating a huge hot turkey dinner at Harry's. (No, I will not name names. They know who they are.) This place was just that good. If you grew up in the U.S. or landed here at some point and missed large family meals with kith and kin, this was the place to go. Harry's was open on many holidays and children were always welcomed, making it a mecca for both singles and families, plus those who wanted to eat a great meal while watching sports in the huge bar area.

For vegetarians, there was a heaped dinner plate called a Super Salad for around $10 with tax, which included five choices from the many mixed vegetable salads, fruits and greens offered at Harry's salad bar.

Harry's Salad Bar - Just a few of the many, many choices
https://www.harryshofbrau.com/about/

If you loved roast turkey legs or turkey wings, prime rib, corned beef, bratwurst, old-style spaghetti and meatballs, spareribs, lasagna, various entree specials and a host of other hearty American and ethnic foods, plus huge slices of cakes, pies, puddings and ice creams in a friendly neighborhood pub atmosphere, this would have been your personal oasis. And it seemed safe and family-friendly. (On a tired night a few months ago I left my mobile device at my table as I went to find a to-go container. When I got back to my table after a lengthy chat with a few folks in the dining area, my device was still there, near my half-eaten entree.)
The Peninsula Banjo Band
http://peninsulabanjoband.com/
For the true Harry's experience, folks would arrive every Wednesday after 7 p.m. (yet before 8:30 p.m.), then get in line for their meal. They heard the happy, traditional standards and dixieland sounds of the Peninsula Banjo Band during their free, weekly 90-minute practice session in the rear of Harry's large bar area. This large group of about 20 musicians began as the Cupertino Banjo Band in 1963 and still perform at SF Bay Area venues and private parties to raise money for charitable causes. They provided a large tip jar on a music stand at Harry's, for contributions to those charitable causes, where they also placed booklets of song lyrics so attendees could sing along. Did I say the PBB are great people? You can bet your train whistle they are, and they deliver a great time for all ages.

There are two remaining Harry's Hofbrau locations operating near Silicon Valley:
Harry's Hofbrau: 1909 El Camino Real, Redwood City
Harry's Hofbrau: 14900 East 14th Street, San Leandro

For a high-quality, affordable, plentiful meal and a warm, classic, family pub atmosphere, hat's off to the owner's and staff of Harry's Hofbrau, in all of their locations.

Best late night food shopping and contemporary lounge for coffees, deserts, beer and wine on tap, plus farm to table food--oh, and you can do your grocery shopping there daily until 10 p.m.:

Whole Foods (and the Whole Foods Hot Bar and Tap Room) Santa Clara:
The dessert and hot bar buffet at this classy Whole Foods location is legendary, with ethnic, vegetarian and meat entrees, plus salmon, soups, many salads and hot side dishes, seemingly a cut above other Valley Whole Foods locations. The store and parking area is large and easily accessible off Scott Blvd. from Central Expressway, Hwy 101, Bowers and San Thomas Expressway, on Augustine Drive. Here are some photos from Yelp! reviewers:

Santa Clara Whole Foods Tap Room photo by Tiffany S.on Yelp!
Santa Clara Whole Foods Tap Room menu bites and flights, photo by J.B. on Yelp!

Need to buy some practical items during your Silicon Valley, night-hawk adventures?

Best late night general shopping with coffee or tea breaks: My vote is the Target store in Sunnyvale on West McKinley Avenue. During my year of robust weight loss efforts I could be found here at night pushing a cart filled with heavy products (think gallons of water) around the outer perimeter of the store's interior, after dinner. (Hey, it's cheaper than a gym membership and I did actually buy a few things on each visit, just not chocolate. Rich, creamy, Guittard Organic 72% Semisweet Baking Chocolate is sold at Target. Don't get me started.)

The Starbucks in this Target location has been recently remodeled on the large, 2nd floor mezzanine, providing a range of coffees, teas and blended fare, with nuts, protein bars, cakes, cookies and a few sandwiches, in a generous and comfortable lounge-like atmosphere with large ceiling to floor windows. You may automatically exhale and unwind, just by entering this lovely spot. Chamomile tea optional.

Yelp! Photo by RJ.S. of the new Starbucks lounge area at Target in Sunnyvale

You can shop at this Target location until 11:59 p.m., every day of the week, however, the Starbucks closes at 9 p.m. Be warned, this Starbucks does not make decaf coffee in the afternoons or evenings, however they may offer to make you a decaf Americano, if you really need your beauty sleep.

Best late night place to go when something breaks and you want expert advice, like, "What's a sodium vapor light?" or "What's a flapper valve?"

Lowe's Home Improvement on East Arques Avenue in Sunnyvale
Best place to enjoy the smell of fresh cut lumber, to pretend you are in the redwoods and to enjoy all things home and garden-related, while walking around this huge store being schooled in home and yard maintenance topics. Their garden area is also open until closing at 10 p.m., which is a real treat.

While visiting this particular Lowe's, you can also view the new, circular, glass-walled Apple Central and Wolfe Campus across the street on Arques, which is beautiful when lit up at night.

Apple's new Central and Wolfe Campus in Sunnyvale
http://www.centralandwolfe.com/#1
Happy moonlit trails,
The Silicon Valley Librarian


Friday, November 3, 2017

Bricks and Mortar Silicon Valley-Style: Housing, Heritage and Controversy

Several Bay Area news entities have aired segments recently about housing shortages in Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Jose, as Facebook, Google, NVIDIA, Samsung and Apple (among other notable high-tech firms), design and execute extraordinary new structures to expand into large sties within those Silicon Valley cities.

An image from Google's 2015 West Bayshore Proposal

The Association of Bay Area Goverments or ABAG, assists local cities here in meeting state requirements to develop a Housing Element (HE) within their General Plans (GP) and General Plan Amendments (GPA). The Housing Element must demonstrate how each Bay Area city will plan and permit construction to provide new housing at all price points, particularly in proportion to the expanding business properties within their borders.

The Housing Element portion of each GP or GPA is driven by the most recent RHNA, or Regional Housing Need Allocation, which sets goals for future housing needs in our Bay Area region. Each city in our region is required to meet their assigned target for a portion of the RHNA by permitting affordable housing within their city. This is accomplished by revising the Housing Element within their General Plan or by creating a General Plan Amendment. Typically RHNA goals are set for a period of eight years. All city Housing Elements are due to the state by January 15th, before the next RHNA cycle begins.

Here is what ABAG states about RHNA on their Web site:
State law recognizes the vital role local governments play in the supply and affordability of housing. Each local government in California is required to adopt a Housing Element as part of its General Plan that shows how the community plans to meet the existing and projected housing needs of people at all income levels. 
The Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) is the state-mandated process to identify the total number of housing units (by affordability level) that each jurisdiction must accommodate in its Housing Element. As part of this process, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) identifies the total housing need for the San Francisco Bay Area for an eight-year period (in this cycle, from 2014 to 2022). ABAG and MTC must then develop a methodology to distribute this need to local governments in a manner that is consistent with the development pattern included in the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). Once a local government has received its final RHNA, it must revise its Housing Element to show how it plans to accommodate its portion of the region's housing need.  
https://abag.ca.gov/planning/housingneeds/ ABAG, accessed November 2, 2017)
 
The Santa Clara NVIDIA site (design and images by Hao_Ko@Gensler.com)

The projected expansion of existing businesses or the addition of new businesses, requires each city to amend their existing General Plan Housing Element to redefine parameters and requirements for new growth, plus modify their Housing Element in proportion to business growth.

A General Plan Amendment (GPA) usually includes newly-restated planning goals for a specified time frame. Goals include limits on building heights, amended requirements for defined setbacks (the space between the roadway and the structure, including any landscaping requirements), the allowed density (units per acre), the percentage of low-income housing and senior housing in new developments, plans for expanded transportation, pedestrian areas and bike lanes, the modification of freeway access points, plus other details requested by City planners, City Council members and residents, who typically are involved for a year or more in a General Plan Amendment and Housing Element conceptual process.

The State of California Governor's Office of Planning and Research provides General Plan Amendment Guidelines with suggestions for resident engagement and other topics, at:
http://www.opr.ca.gov/planning/general-plan/guidelines.html

In past years the GPA and RHNA process seemed perplexing to residents, since ABAG set a RHNA for each city to achieve state-projected housing requirements at all price levels, yet affordable housing did not seem to materialize according to the local RHNA plan, in some cases. Planned senior housing became market-rate condos, planned affordable-rate condos became luxury apartments, etc. That conundrum was eliminated on September 29, 2017, when Governor Brown signed SB-35 Planning and zoning: affordable housing: streamlined approval process.

SB-35 requires that cities (and counties) make written reports to the State Office of Planning and Research, and the Department of Housing and Community Development, by April first of each year. In the reports, cities must demonstrate their progress in meeting their RHNA and GP/GPA Housing Element goals, or they will be cited:

(b) If a court finds, upon a motion to that effect, that a city, county, or city and county failed to submit, within 60 days of the deadline established in this section, the housing element portion of the report required pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) that substantially complies with the requirements of this section, the court shall issue an order or judgment compelling compliance with this section within 60 days. If the city, county, or city and county fails to comply with the court’s order within 60 days, the plaintiff or petitioner may move for sanctions, and the court may, upon that motion, grant appropriate sanctions. The court shall retain jurisdiction to ensure that its order or judgment is carried out. If the court determines that its order or judgment is not carried out within 60 days, the court may issue further orders as provided by law to ensure that the purposes and policies of this section are fulfilled. This subdivision applies to proceedings initiated on or after the first day of October following the adoption of forms and definitions by the Department of Housing and Community Development pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), but no sooner than six months following that adoption.

SEC. 1.5.

 Section 65400 of the Government Code is amended to read:
65400.
(1) Investigate and make recommendations to the legislative body regarding reasonable and practical means for implementing the general plan or element of the general plan, so that it will serve as an effective guide for orderly growth and development, preservation and conservation of open-space land and natural resources, and the efficient expenditure of public funds relating to the subjects addressed in the general plan.
(2) Provide by April 1 of each year an annual report to the legislative body, the Office of Planning and Research, and the Department of Housing and Community Development that includes all of the following:
(A) The status of the plan and progress in its implementation.
(B) The progress in meeting its share of regional housing needs determined pursuant to Section 65584 and local efforts to remove governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of housing pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 65583.
The housing element portion of the annual report, as required by this paragraph, shall be prepared through the use of standards, forms, and definitions adopted by the Department of Housing and Community Development. The department may review, adopt, amend, and repeal the standards, forms, or definitions, to implement this article. Any standards, forms, or definitions adopted to implement this article shall not be subject to Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2. Before and after adoption of the forms, the housing element portion of the annual report shall include a section that describes the actions taken by the local government towards completion of the programs and status of the local government’s compliance with the deadlines in its housing element. That report shall be considered at an annual public meeting before the legislative body where members of the public shall be allowed to provide oral testimony and written comments.
The report may include the number of units that have been substantially rehabilitated, converted from non-affordable to affordable by acquisition, and preserved consistent with the standards set forth in paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 65583.1. The report shall document how the units meet the standards set forth in that subdivision.
(Cited from: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB35 )
Facebook Willow Campus Expansion Plan, Menlo Park
OMA New York (Design and Image) posted by John Gendall, Architectural Digest July 7, 2017:

New construction is a hot button topic in Silicon Valley, often pitting neighbors against neighbors and sometimes leading to long, intense public hearings, as residents fight to protect heritage neighborhoods from high density, mixed-use sites near their homes and schools. (Mixed use = retail, office and housing in one development.)  Residents have watched as once-adequate parking lots have been eliminated and replaced by new structures, causing customers to park in front of residential homes nearby. Some residents now shop and dine in other cities where parking is still adequate, providing easier access for families and seniors. Local businesses seem to be hurt by over-development of sites, which leaves few parking spaces for customers.

Many new, mixed-use developments employ what Silicon Valley residents refer to as, "the Santana Row model," where shared-wall, two to three-story, Victorian-style retail and restaurant buildings, open to a central, landscaped lane with sidewalks, mini-parks, sidewalk cafes and bars. In this model, the retail facades hide adjacent high-density condos and apartments, which are part of the development.

The Santana Row model is meant to replicate the popular charm of downtown Los Gatos, a City which preserved its heritage buildings and parks, becoming a popular evening and weekend destination for diners, strollers and shoppers.

Santana Row feels like an old-fashioned town square in Europe, where people wear their best clothes to stroll the central, tree-shaded lane between high-end merchants like Tesla, Gucci and Kate Spade after a meal, a glass of wine or while window shopping. A burger may cost $20 due to the high cost to merchants in maintaining this contrived ambiance, yet residents seem to love the experience, despite the increasing lack of nearby parking and very dark paths to existing parking areas, some across a six-lane street just a few blocks from a major freeway entrance.

The Santana Row Project in San Jose by Streetworks-Studio
(The two left parking lots were lost to new commercial structures.)

The social platform, NextDoor, which is used by many Silicon Valley cities and local agencies for targeted dissemination of community information, has long been a mine field of local development controversy, easily rivaling the political divisiveness seen elsewhere in the nation both in tone and in harsh responses to neighbors with differing points of view on development issues. Several anti-development groups are very active in Santa Clara, Cupertino and Palo Alto Nextdoor neighborhoods, with some members serving as Nextdoor Leads, steering comments to oppose or promote local growth. Nextdoor recognizes that its platform may be a player in the 2018 election cycle due to SV's dynamic and engaged population, particularly in San Jose.

2015 Scale Model - Apple Park in Cupertino

Probably the most interesting and inclusive perspective on the state of Silicon Valley housing is provided by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a group which seeks to set "a neutral forum for collaborative regional thinking and leadership from both the public and private sectors." 

Joint Venture Silicon Valley holds a State of the Valley Conference each February highlighting the status of local industry, innovation, entrepreneurship, housing and transportation, plus speakers and panels on concepts designed to improve Valley life and innovation. As of this writing, the 2017 Silicon Valley Index report may be found online at: http://siliconvalleyindicators.org/

Joint Venture Silicon Valley and its member organizations developed a Housing Toolkit for their Grand Boulevard Initiative, which they hope will improve the length of El Camino Real from San Jose to San Mateo. They and their partners have shown incredible insight when approaching the Valley's housing needs combined with the needs of the organized preservation and historical community and those who need transportation variety. The Housing Toolkit site names goals and funding which support the need for preserving heritage homes and structures, while providing grants and assistance for new, low-cost housing and transportation. A summary of the Grand Boulevard Initiative may be found at: https://jointventure.org/initiatives/grand-boulevard

Samsung America Headquarters in San Jose


Agreement on housing needs in Silicon Valley requires patient, thoughtful collaboration and the welcome residents have always shown to newcomers and new, innovative ideas. Our valley has been immeasurably enriched by past and current residents, by those who have arrived here to work with specialized education and knowledge, and by those who strive here based on their love of family and a desire to provide a better life for their children. Our combined vision is needed to solve the ongoing housing shortage in our region.

The older buildings and homes some work to preserve today, were built by new residents during past eras. Those pioneers were the innovators of their day, just as we are today's innovators and planners, hoping to provide a means for our children (and their children) to live where they work, here in Silicon Valley.

Housing, overhead parks and retail near the new Apple Park ("Spaceship") in Cupertino
Copyright image: Architect Rafael Viñoly and OLIN Studio 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Silicon Valley Historical Societies, Aging Pioneers and Locked Doors

I thought it might be time to comment on some of the historical groups and associations in our region, many of whom are doing amazing work to preserve our local history and keep their doors open. Sadly, some seem to be failing in their mission to inform newer residents about our past, or to display what they own in online collections, keeping some local city histories locked up in file cabinets behind closed doors, due to an aging volunteer base, poor leadership and other chronic issues.

I make that latter comment with a compassionate caveat, since it is our choice as residents to support historical institutions and associations with our personal and corporate volunteer time, money, skills and resources, and to insure that our neighborhood's pasts and histories are preserved and displayed for future generations, online and in person. 

(Pinterest - Unknown Source)
Yet, it is also our role as residents to ask historical societies and museums for more accessibility to their records and the artifacts in their collections, when repositories seem more often closed than open to residents and visitors, especially on evenings and weekends, or when their events seem more tied to local fiction authors than presentations by historians. 

(Yes, I can hear museum executives and boards exclaiming over funding and the lack of volunteers, yet many historic associations are supported by area Rotary, Chamber and City Council members, who could more effectively seek regional support for the museums in their cities, so museum curators may focus on managing and growing their volunteers and collections, rather than constant fundraising efforts.) 

Why maintain strong museums, from a local business point of view? Strong museums draw new and continuing tourism and trade to our cities.

Historically, preserved historic regions draw greater foot traffic to local restaurants and businesses, as residents have observed on North Santa Cruz Avenue and the west end of University Avenue in downtown Los Gatos, on Big Basin Way in downtown Saratoga, on Castro Street in Mountain View, on Old Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale, in the quaint neighborhoods around the Rose Garden and the University of Santa Clara, everywhere in historic downtown Los Altos and on the west end of Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen. Typically, historic associations and museums crop up in these historic districts, often in historic buildings.

Since strong museums in historically preserved areas are profitable for cities and the local businesses which surround them, they deserve more dynamic support from local corporations, Chambers of Commerce and City Council members.

CDC: Zombie Preparedness
Don't let me scare you off, this is not going to be a plea for your money or time, since many in SV are already overwhelmed with work, kids' schedules and lack of downtime, while battling some of the worst urban traffic north of LA. 

If you can stay with me for just a bit longer, I promise this won't be painful and you might learn something interesting about your region. Will you hang in there a bit longer? Great, thanks so much.

Why preserve our history? Because it is fascinating, unexpected and varied:

1. Did you know that our area was a home for East Coast and European sea captains who retired from hauling men and goods to the 1875 Gold Rush in San Francisco, then brought their vineyard and wine making knowledge to what is now Silicon Valley? Captain Elijah Stephens ("Stevens Creek Boulevard" has his name, although misspelled) was one such English captain known for his brandies in West Side (now Cupertino.) His vineyards became part of what is now Blackberry Farm.

2. We have the oldest commercial winery in Northern California (pre-dating the loudest claimant, Buena Vista Winery. )  Old Almaden Winery still sits in a small park in San Jose. Sadly, corporate donors have not yet been found to retrofit the old brick winery structure to make it and its underground wine cave safe as a future wine history museum.
Ollivia de Havilland Wikipedia Commons

3. Did you know that Saratoga was once the childhood home of Gone with the Wind actor Olivia de Havilland, her sister, Joan Fontaine (Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Suspicion), and their mother, Lost Weekend actor, Lillian Fontaine? Both daughters won Academy Awards for their roles in the above movies and were active in local Saratoga school productions.

4) Did you know that Monte Sereno's Fred Hitt ran a fireworks factory there? (His pharmacist brother, Thomas Hitt, made fireworks in Washington State.) Both brothers were noted for producing the battle scenes, explosions and fires for All Quiet on the Western Front, the burning of Atlanta scenes in Gone with the Wind, and a re-enactment of the eruption of Mt. Lassen including lava pours, explosions and smoke, when that National Park was opened to the public in the 1930's.

Disneyand Railroad Wikipedia Commons
5) Did you know that Los Gatos was home to an orchardist and former railroad roustabout, Billy Jones, who built a railroad line around the perimeter of his Los Gatos ranch, then gave neighbors rides on that steam locomotive every Sunday, attracting Walt Disney when he heard about Jones' generosity to local children? When Disneyland opened in Anaheim on July 17, 1955, Jones was asked to be the first engineer on Disneyland Railroad, taking the first visitors on the Grand Circle Tour around the new theme park.

6) Did you know that Sunnyvale's Fremont High School, formerly known as West Side Union High School, and the old Cupertino Union Grammar School, reportedly produced many notables and millionaires from their former study body members? Notable names have included members of the Paul Mariani family and Apple's Greg Porter.

7) Guess how many of these stories I discovered at local museums and their online sites? (Answer: Only story #3, at the Saratoga Historical Foundation Museum, run by Foundation President, Annette Stransky.)

Kudos to the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County for placing many early recovered Santa Clara Valley home and commercial videos online in converted digital editions, and to Jim Reed, Curator Emeritus, and Cate Mills, Curator of Library and Archives at History San José, for making many images and documents in the extensive HSJ collection searchable online.

Kudos also to the continuing work of Mary Hanel of the Santa Clara Central Park Library Heritage Pavilion and SCCHGS, who continues to work with local historical groups in retirement. Applause to the California History Room: Local History Collection at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of the San Jose Public Library System, for their resources which may be accessed seven days a week.

Likewise, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the astonishingly comprehensive work of John Hollar and the team at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, who offer visitors an imaginative visual and hands-on experience with our digital history.

Yet, there are still so many historical groups in this region doing their best to preserve one small corner of early Valley life with dwindling resources and volunteers, let alone digital collection, preservation and presentation skills.

Some historic groups still resist using email to distribute their membership newsletters and event updates, and many do not respond to email requests nor update aging Web sites, despite prodding by newer board members (who sometimes quit in frustration, when their advice to modernize meets chronic resistance, month after month.)

Elijah Stephens (CHSM)
I urge residents (and struggling historic groups) to share their early videos, images and documents with the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County, with History San José, with SCCHGS, with SJPL and with the Online Archive of California, so our early histories do not remain locked in file cabinets behind closed doors, year after year.

If you have a moment, stop by your local museum or history association one weekend to see what they have to offer. If their doors are frequently closed, write to your local Chamber of Commerce, your local Rotary Club and your City Council members, to ask their support in making the rooms and resources of your local museum or history association more available to working residents, so families may explore regional holdings together.

If the doors of your local museum or history association are open frequently, both on weekends and perhaps even one weeknight, please drop a $1 (or as much as you can afford) in their donation box, then find out what their future plans are for expansion, both online or on site.

The collected information about our regional roots will amaze you, once you finally gain access to museums and history associations responsible for our collective pasts.