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A community meeting was held Thursday, March 18th at the Santa Teresa High School Gymnasium to discuss the latest information regarding Plaza de Santa Teresa and Lucky's relocating to the Bernal Oaks shopping center. It was a follow-up to the January 25th meeting held at the south side community center. The acoustics were terrible and almost everything everyone said was difficult to hear and understand. I did videotape the meeting and after playing portions over and over sometimes 20 times, I was able to figure out what was said. A representative from Lucky's was unable to attend, but a letter was sent to Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group in care of Elizabeth Cord and was asked to be communicated to the rest of the attendees. The letter from Lucky's is now available for download.[SAS]
Elizabeth Cord of Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group (STCAG) opened the meeting and started out by thanking the audience (approximately 250) for coming out and showing the care they have for the neighborhood. She described herself and Sheri Langlois as two stay-at-home moms. She said that everyone has seen the decline at the Plaza de Santa Teresa shopping center over the last several years and our concerns should be taken seriously.
Elizabeth said that Lucky's doesn't want a grocery store competitor. We would like groceries in the center and are trying to work with a tenant that wouldn't be competitive with Lucky's. Aware that Trader Joe's keeps coming up and we want to know if Lucky's will allow us to let them come in. Getting Trader Joes to come is another story, but at least we can get the process started.
Elizabeth talked about the worries for the seniors who don't have a grocery store within walking distance. They are getting what ever they can from Rite-Aid and/or the 98 cent store. Also talked about the trips to take the seniors to the grocery store on Saturdays. She said they don't like to take the buses to get groceries.
Elizabeth then introduced Tom Wilson of Duckett-Wilson, Lt. Chris Moore of the San Jose Police Department, San Jose City Council member Charlotte Powers, and Sheri Anderson also of the police department in the crime prevention unit.
She also praised the homeless coordinator, Ms. Vivian Frelix-Hart for taking care of the homeless people. She said the homeless are gone.
Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group has been working on our behalf. They have had some meetings. They drove to San Leandro to meet with Lucky's management. They showed the photos out in the foyer to the Lucky's people. Lucky's cleaned up a lot. Said they patched paint, cleaned up alley way and mold. Also had the gutters cleaned.
Tom Wilson (Duckett-Wilson) then got up to speak and update the audience. He explained again that there are seven different owners of the shopping center and that he was personally representing three owners and working on becoming a fourth owner. He said that Duckett-Wilson is currently in escrow to purchase the Lucky building and hope to have a tenant to close escrow in the near future although he has no idea when. Also explained that they are the property manager of the shopping center. They are responsible for the cleaning the sidewalks, steam cleaning the spanish tiles on the roof, clearing the grass out of Lucky's gutter and any landscaping. Duckett-Wilson doesn't maintain the interior of the buildings unless they own it. So they don't maintain the interior for Rite-Aid, Lucky's, Bank of the West or Union 76.
Mr. Wilson doesn't know who the tenant is going to be. His company has sent out 400 to 500 packages. They have had a number of meetings with tenants and many are going on tonight. He explained that there is a big shopping center convention in Monterey. He said that is the reason Mary Davi couldn't make it tonight. He said she could have made it any other night. Her boss is a major speaker tonight and she had to be there for her.
Mr. Wilson doesn't know the type of tenant. In spite of what it said in flyer, Lucky will allow grocery uses within the shopping center (mild applause). A lady from the audience asked him to repeat what he just said. They won't allow just anyone. Safeway is not coming. He let us know that right now. They said "specialty use", which generally means health food, Trader Joe's. They approved Smart and Final. They would allow a smaller convenience type market. His company sent out 100 to 150 packages to businesses in San Jose who do smaller convenience, but are getting turned down quite a bit by those guys, because Rite-Aid has convenience market inside their store but Duckett-Wilson is not giving up on that idea as well. As soon as they have a tenant locked up, they will let us know right away.
Mr. Wilson explained that as soon as Lucky's closed, they got rid of recycling center. He told us the homeless are gone. He asked all vendors to kick up their maintenance a notch. He thinks it looks a lot better. There is still more to come. He is working on landscaping and canopy lights. He said at this point the center is clean, center is active and looks pretty healthy. However, what the future is, he would like to know as well.
A comment from audience: Center looks like it is dying.
Mr. Wilson responded: Sure Lucky's left so there are no cars in front of their building because Lucky's closed. He said it is still busy in front of Rite-Aid and McDonalds. He is looking for an active lively tenant.
What about police putting in a police station in center?
Mr. Wilson heard nothing like that but deferred that to Lt. Moore.
Josephine wanted to know about why we didn't have open hearings to protect our area when they rezoned the industrial area where new Lucky's is and say how that rezoning has affected our master plan for our shopping center and the Nob Hill shopping center.
Mr. Wilson said he had no involvement or say in that. They were hurt has much as us since their major tenant left.
The owner of Round Table responded to the question about center being dead. He said that this past February was his biggest month he ever had, in only a 28 day month. He had a lot of customers come in who used to only come once a week and now are coming multiple times per week. He said the rest of merchants did very, very well. We would like some sort of grocery store for all local citizens, but no major chains will go in there. We have to face up to what is happening. We have to work as business owners and people who live in the community and try to get something in there where everyone will be happy. For once, in one month since Lucky's closed, he hasn't had to repair any of his restrooms.
Mr. Wilson wanted to clarify issue about Trader Joe's. He didn't want to promise that Trader Joe's is coming. The answer is they did not turn us down. Trader Joe's told them all of their money is going to the east coast. He said Trader Joes is doing phenomenally well on east coast. They didn't flat out reject us. President of Duckett-Wilson is meeting with president of Trader Joe's at the convention in Monterey. He said, who knows what is going to happen from there. He said it doesn't look good for Trader Joe's but it isn't dead.
A question from the audience - How can a company that doesn't own property dictate what is going to go in there?
Mr. Wilson said a "Deed" restriction is the answer. He said anyone can do it for any legal use. Lucky's will not sell to Duckett-Wilson if they are going to put in certain leases. If Duckett-Wilson said they were going to put a supermarket in, Lucky's wouldn't sell it to them. Lucky's would then lease it to whoever Lucky's wants. He said this is not unique to Lucky's. All retailers do it. It is the nature of the business. It happens all the time.
Elizabeth interjected after this regarding the "food exclusive": Some things that are legal are not right. Woman couldn't vote at one time. We can't make Lucky's do anything, but, we are the consumers. Lucky's spent 9 million building Lucky's at Bernal. Ask yourself, should Lucky's do the right thing by our neighborhood? If they don't, should I shop at Bernal. Very simple. (Applause)
Mr. Wilson came right back with: Bear in mind, Lucky's can not sell property and lease it to whoever they want. Goodwill or Nordstrom. In order to get control, since Duckett-Wilson feels they are best company for the job since they own rest of center and want to get better quality store for shopping center since they care what is going on in center.
A lady from audience came down and asked: How many people have a Lucky's rewards card? How many have used it since Lucky's closed? Many people raised their hands. "Shame on you." Their computer keeps track of how much we purchased in the past and how much we are purchasing now. We should refuse to use it and send a letter to Lucky's. They will be able to enumerate exactly how much money they are losing from these customers in the audience. We have 4 kids and spend a fair amount there, but not anymore. Nob hill has our business now.
Josephine said this would not have happened if community had our say and city council lady and rest on board to not vote for this. We didn't have day in court so to speak. Accused Ms. Powers of knowing that this would happen. We didn't have to change the zoning where it was light industry. Why are we getting mad at Lucky's. She feels we are directing anger at wrong people.
Ms. Powers responded and said: Thank you all for coming tonight. Bernal was rezoned in 1992 before she was on council. There were plenty of public hearings of every type. She said there would have been a rezoning, especially a general plan rezoning, which that was, public meetings out in the district to hear about all various general plan changes being proposed, then planning commission hearing where proposal is discussed in an open community meeting, and then it goes to full city council. Probably had four or five community meetings in district regarding that issue. The community had an opportunity. The area was flyered. We had plenty of opportunity for community to be a part of this. Ms. Powers said everything on agenda list tonight, she already has community meetings scheduled for, task forces, already have had meeting on La Colina park and another one next week. Working in community so everyone knows what is happening.
Ms. Powers said she doesn't have capability to flyer every home. She doesn't have office budget large enough to mail everyone. She also can't because state law prohibits mailing more than 200 pieces at one time. She tries to get in newspapers. She has office hours in Santa Teresa Branch library on third Saturday of each month from 10 to 12. She has hours at South Side Community Center on the fourth Thursday from 3 to 5. She also has a community advisory group who meets on the fourth Tuesday who meets at South Side Community Center. We try to talk about these issues as much as we can. She tries to get out word as much as she can but it is difficult. Some of you have been helping her by setting up web sites. She said that has been really helpful and thanked them.
Elizabeth added: Maybe we need to be a little more active. Maybe we need to go to some of these meetings. Maybe we need to follow the minutes to see what is going on. This is an example of that. Asking ourselves, what happened and why weren't we told? We need to inform ourselves better. Maybe it is our job as citizens. Charlotte can do so much and we can do a lot too.
A gentleman from the audience asked what is the drilling going on at the Union 76 all about? What is in those barrels that are fizzing? What if children touch that and put their hands in their mouth?
Mr. Wilson said the drilling is because of the leaking gas station underground gas tanks at both Union 76 and Chevron. Chevron has been cleaning their leaks for the past four years and Union 76 has been cleaning up theirs for the past two years. He explained that the clean-up plan is at the Santa Clara Valley Water District office and we can ask for a copy of it. He said it is a one-hundred page document. He said we should contact Union 76 with our objections.
Ms. Powers added that the city council passed some resolution regarding MTBE two weeks ago.
Lt. Chris Moore, who up until last Saturday was the swing shift watch commander for the Santa Teresa district updated the community next. He introduced his replacement, Lt. Mike Ross, who begins this Sunday.
Lt. Moore talked about the community storefront precinct that was asked about earlier. Chief Lansdowne wants to have four geographical precincts, so we don't have to go to north San Jose to interact with the police department. He believes it will happen but doesn't know where or when.
Lt. Moore introduced Sharon Anderson who is a crime prevention specialist. She is also very involved in schools all over San Jose. He asked Lt. Ross if he wanted to say something, but he declined.
Mr. Wilson grabbed the microphone to bring up the topic of "tenant mix". The type of tenant that would go into the space is important. The police station is not appropriate. It is important that we get a strong retail tenant that brings customers and gets cross shopping with the other tenants. Sometimes a small precinct is a good idea, but it brings people in taking up parking who aren't shopping. A church is really serious about buying, but it is inappropriate use. It would kill the shopping center. It would be empty six days a week and then packed on Sunday with people who aren't shopping. We need somebody to promote shopping and keep it vibrant. He was about to address crime in center when Lt. Moore asked for the microphone to address it.
Lt. Moore said that he personally walked and drove through the shopping center at night to really get a handle on the situation. He said that it has improved substantially over past month with the recycling bins being removed and said quite frankly that a lot of their enforcement was moving folks on who didn't have business in the shopping center. He said the stats around the shopping center has improved also, although only a modest improvement. He encouraged all of us if we see a problem to call the police. If it is an emergency call 911, if you are not sure, call 911. If it isn't an emergency call 311. San Jose is one of only two cities in the country who have 311. 311 will put you in touch with San Jose police.
Someone from the audience asked: If grocery use is put back in center will recycling go back in?
Mr. Wilson responded that he wasn't sure, but Trader Joe's in Almaden doesn't have recycling. He thinks law is for supermarkets only.
Someone from audience asked Tom if we have a say who comes into the shopping center?
Mr. Wilson said: Yes, at meetings like this. As the owner of property we have final say since it has to make financial sense and be good for shopping center.
Someone from the audience responded that: We are the consumers. We have a stake.
Mr. Wilson said: Sure. That is why we are here, but my company and my partner have to spend our money on the shopping center. They have spent 20 years spending money keeping the place up. He doesn't want a tenant that is going to go out of business. He wants a tenant that will stay there a long time and improve the value of the shops around it. He said that is why we are buying it, otherwise we would just let Lucky's put anything they want there.
Someone asked if he will update the situation on the web?
Mr. Wilson responded: Sure. He would be happy to.
Someone asked: Is there any plan to clean up coin laundromat?
Mr. Wilson said; Yes. It is not a matter of Duckett-Wilson saying to clean it up. He can do what he wants but we have contacted the health department and code enforcement because we can't judge cleanliness. He is within scope of his lease, but he needs to clean that place up.
Someone asked: What about rumor of a fitness center moving in?
Mr. Wilson responded that his company has sent out packages to fitness centers but haven't had any offers period.
Marcy Kohler asked if Duckett-Wilson would keep up level of cleanliness in shopping center since Lucky's did clean up?
Mr. Wilson said that Lucky's cleaned inside of store, but Duckett-Wilson did the outside. His company did the graffiti paint-out, steam cleaning of tiles on front of building, replaced lights. Duckett-Wilson handles the landscaping and anything on exterior of common area. He agrees that the center is tired. With a tenant talking about leaving in the last 5 years, we couldn't do anything. Something WILL be done once we have a new tenant.
Elizabeth pushed to make sure that the level will continue?
Mr. Wilson said: Yes, I think it will. Rite-Aid is cleaning up its act. There is still same amount of trash pickup. What the shopping center needs is an overall face lift. It needs a major renovation. I am prepared to do that with a new tenant but not until then.
A question from the audience asked if renovation could be done for all of the tenants and not just the new one?
Mr. Wilson said: Yes.
Someone from audience asked: What is Smart and Final? It is referenced in Lucky's letter.
Mr. Wilson said it is a grocery warehouse. The audience said it was basically a scaled down Costco.
Someone from audience said that at last meeting, Lucky's said they were negotiating with a grocery tenant to get in there. It seems they lied to us.
Mr. Wilson said it was Smart and Final, Mary Davi was referring to. He said again that the deal is not dead, but it is darn close.
Someone from audience said Lucky's is not following through on the promises they made. Also, heard that the city of Dublin was trying to stop Lucky's from having a food exclusive.
Mr. Wilson responded on Lucky's behalf and said: They said they are allowing some type of grocery use and they are. They are allowing specialty type grocery. They do want to find some source for milk, eggs and things like that. Duckett-Wilson is going to shut that down because Rite-Aid is already selling milk, eggs and bread.
A lady brought up that she has shopped at Lucky's 3 times since they closed and said "Shame on me", but not anymore. She is now going to Nob Hill. Lucky's has no problem building a super store across from Safeway on Story and White roads and also on San Antonio in Mountain View. Why do they continue to deny our needs being met by letting us have a grocery in our neighborhood. I just won't go to Lucky's.
Elizabeth added that instead of coming Lucky's sent the letter from Mary Davi. The letter talks about a specialty type food tenant. She said that we think that means Trader Joe's but whether we can get them or not isn't the issue, but we knew Lucky's would leave. We wished for them to stay but that wasn't in their plan. Our question now is what will they allow? They now say they will allow Smart and Final, or Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Our situation is how are we going to get them? We couldn't get large grocery stores like Safeway even if Lucky's would allow it because it is a very small site. Those larger stores are going to larger sites like Lucky's on Bernal. Maybe we need to work on what we can get. Maybe we need to get together about Trader Joe's which I don't believe in January was on the level. I didn't hear anyone say Trader Joe's could be allowed. I think this is news for us. I think we got a concession. I think that is exciting for us.
Elizabeth passed out copies of a sample letter to contact Trader Joe's to show them that we would like Trader Joe's in our neighborhood. She asked us to sign it or copy it on our own letterhead. She didn't know if it would help, but wanted us to tell them we would like to shop at Trader Joe's and welcome them to our neighborhood and to look twice. As far as she knew, they will be up in two weeks to look at our site.
STCAG has been talking to Trader Joe's, which brings up another question about email. It's getting harder to get flyers out. Really the best way is the Internet. The public library has computers for those that don't have the Internet. She then invited me to talk about southsanjose.com. She also asked Sam Grove to speak about SantaTeresa.com.
I introduced myself and my wife Donna to thunderous applause. I told the audience that two thousand people have come to visit us since the last Lucky's meeting. (more applause) I asked how many in the audience had access to the Internet and just about everyone raised their hand. I told them that the library has four computers that are Internet ready. The computers are best used when the kids are in school since the kids are usually on the computers when out of school. I shared the results of the Lucky's survey conducted on the web where we asked what store we were willing to support at the Plaza de Santa Teresa shopping center. Shared that 43% of the respondents voted for Trader Joe's by name. 26% voted for Whole Foods and that between Safeway and any grocery store there was another 13%. Of all of the votes, 87% wanted a grocery store/market in the vacated space! I also invited everyone to get involved in preparing for the next meeting where we can further discuss Cisco, the power plant and IBM proposing to sell 900 acres of land in our hills for building million dollar homes.
Elizabeth mentioned that she faxed and talked to vice president of real estate operations for Trader Joes last Friday. She said they hadn't heard of Plaza de Santa Teresa. She figured there must have been some miscommunication. Trader Joe's is very interested in site and said to get the letters off to them.
Sam Grove of SantaTeresa.com spoke and said: Apparently someone else had same idea as he did. He said the web site is a way to bring virtual community of the Internet to the physical community. He said that it is also a different way to organize the Internet which is pretty chaotic. There are so many resources on the InteInternetm around the world, but our community wasn't available...until recently. He invited everyone to come to santateresa.com to visit his link of pictures of his new baby daughter who is 3 weeks old today.
Someone from the audience said that there is a Santa Clara County web site of neighborhood web sites. She wanted to know if we can get our web sites on there?
Someone from the audience wanted to know if we can link to agenda/minutes of city council and put them on the web sites.
Here is the web link to the San Jose City Council Minutes and Agenda.
Elizabeth said: Absolutely.
Elizabeth segued into the last issue for the meeting. She said that so much is happening in our neighborhood, i.e. the Cisco campus being discussed, the power plant being considered, water table issues, parks have issues coming up. How can we stay informed about our neighborhood that we want it to be? It is too much for one person to learn everything about every subject. We need to pool resources. Is there a community interest to continue to meet, setting up working committees, to look at Cisco, other issues, then report back to group, share our talents, pool our resources, do it all together so it isn't a huge task, that is right for everyone? Are you interested? (Decent amount of applause). She said that a next meeting has been set up for April 15 at 7:00 here at the high school. She said to locate us on the web sites. Suddenly everyone is looking at our neighborhood. We are the only place left. We are the only open space left in the city. Are we going to keep it? Well, who decides? All of us here are part of the process.
Josephine Livingstone asked if zoning changes will be needed for Cisco and Calpine?
Ms. Powers introduced Jim Roach in the audience who is from the planning department. She said that before zoning hearings, there will be community hearings. A task force has been formed especially on Calpine where business, environmentalist and community leaders will participate in open public meetings. She said to mark calendar for Saturday June 5th for an open educational fair type meeting at Martin-Murphy. The general plan change has to come to council this fall. The Cisco land was already zoned in mid-80's for industrial. There will be community hearings though and will get community input as well. Will have more meetings out here in the district.
Ms. Powers introduced Marty ? from the office of economic development. He has worked with Ms. Powers and Tom Wilson and Mary Davi. Ms. Powers has had several meetings as well in last couple of weeks in her office. She wanted to let us know that they have been working on this as well. She mentioned again that there will be a second La Colina park meeting March 24th and another meeting for Glider.
Ms. Powers explained the urban green line for San Jose goes out to Palm Avenue in Coyote. It is the edge of where growth can go out in the city on the southern edge. Industrial can only be from Bailey north to Tulare Hill.
Ken Kohler raised concerns about the power plant about what they will be burning and asked if they will have large storage facilities?
Ms. Powers responded that she doesn't know, but we all need to know. We have this council task force to find out answers.
Someone from audience suggested that we need more people involved who would like to take a leadership role. She said people should be invited to do this.
Marcy Kohler, a charter member of Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group got up and said: It is time for our neighborhood to stand up and say this is our neighborhood and this is our community and we can't wait for the city to decide and show us what we want. We need to do the research and put forth the effort to decide if we want to say something about the power plant from being in our backyard. It is 2.2 miles from her backyard. Although this is her opinion, she feels maybe we should go before Calpine and say we don't want it. Possibly we do want it. With Cisco coming in, there are seven miles between exit at Bernal and Cochrane. That means there will be 20,000 cars on Santa Teresa Blvd., Monterey Road and 101. We need to consider our infrastructure and we should ask Cisco to put some money toward that. These are issues we need to address now as a community and a group. We live down here. We care what is in our backyard. We can't wait for the city. We have to decide want needs to be done ahead of time and how we feel about it. If anybody wants to be involved in Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group, put your name on lists and we will contact you. We need help to prepare for the meeting on April 15th. Be ready, bring your knowledge. We need an intelligent way to move forward to control what is in our community (thunderous applause).
Elizabeth said we are the biggest resource we have. We need to move forward. If you have something to offer us, the steering committee, to come forward. Charlotte is willing to work with us. Write it down on sheets on your way out. Contact us via the web sites. Lets get some committees going before the next meeting. (applause)
Ms. Powers said that neighborhood associations are usually formed around an issue. It's what brings neighborhoods together. This is very good to keep yourself organized. She said that she has an email address too. She had 28 emails when she got into the office and is trying to answer as quickly as she can.
Mike Murphy asked Ms. Powers if we have to create an open space of our own to preserve the greenbelt in our local hills above the trench?
Ms. Powers said that the city of San Jose would like to purchase property in the hills and said it is the second priority. She said that the hills are in private ownership. Homes can be built with a 15% slope. The county property which has county permits from several years ago allows them to be built on.
Someone from audience asked Ms. Powers opinion if citizens have any chance of stopping Cisco or is it a slam dunk?
Ms. Powers said there are no slam dunks. She said, I guess if there was enough opposition things can be stopped.
Someone from audience asked if it is true that city of San Jose has to pay 50% of cost to put in exit at Bailey? It was on the news.
Ms. Powers said she had not heard that. She told us not to believe everything in news or on TV.
Someone from audience asked if the South Side Community Center would be closed while doing a two million beautification project?
Ms. Powers said that it will absolutely not happen that way. It will have to be phased in to keep center open.
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