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. NWSJ is edited and published by Janice Rombeck, a former San Jose Mercury News editor and reporter, and supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation.

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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, 2014.

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.

The animals are provided by six shelters that give out information about the animals in the exhibit and how to adopt a pet for only $12 during the month of December. Visit www.sheltersfirst.org. for more information.

Residents Weigh In on Neighborhood Gang Violence at Series of Forums

New Town Hall meeting scheduled in Alviso on Wednesday, November 20

The projected on the screen at the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force community meeting on October 28, 2013, told a story of significant progress in reducing gang-related crime in San Jose from 2012 to 2013.

Homicides had dropped from 14 to 8, or 42.9. But weeks later when media later challenged the numbers, Police Chief Larry Esquivel acknowledged and apologized for the misrepresentation of gang homicides. The comparison was faulty because of a redefining of what is a gang-related homicide. Other crimes did show a decrease, which officials say is a result of stepped up enforcement during the summer.

Yerba Buena high school junior Jasmine Mata-Michi was less concerned about how the city was keeping score and more about her feeling unsafe at her school and neighborhood. And she wanted the grownups in the room at Bascom Community Center to know it.

“We need to let the city know about the horrible things that are going on in our city, she said. “ You just want the horrible things to change. The gangs need to be gone. The kids need to be motivated.” Continue reading

Neighborhoods Commission Off To A New Start As Permanent Advisory Group

Click Here for More on the Neighborhoods Commission

A leaner and more focused San Jose Neighborhoods Commission met for the first time since the City Council made it a permanent advisory group, with a mission to plot the future election of new members and zero in on the “quality of life” issues members are intended to tackle.

The special meeting on October 23, 2013, also allowed a representative from the City Clerk’s office to swear in the 17 commissioners who served for two years on the commission as a pilot project. The next regular meeting will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13, in rooms 118-119 of the City Hall wing.

The council action to give the commission permanent status also trimmed the membership from 30 to 20, with two members elected through a caucus process from each of the 10 council districts. The Neighborhoods Commission is the only one of San Jose’s 38 advisory boards and commission to elect members from neighborhoods. City council members appoint all other commissions. Continue reading