Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.


Looking from across the avenue, from Curtner to Minnesota Avenue..

Looking from across the avenue, from Curtner to Minnesota Avenue..


Fairly recently, it was on 10 June 2014 that San Jose City Council Agenda included item 2.24 “Report on Bids and Award of Contract for the Fire Station No. 21 Project.”  Part two of that recommendation pertained to Willow Glen’s proposed fire station and asked City Councilmembers to:

“Adopt the following Appropriation Ordinance amendments in the Neighborhood Security Bond Fund:

  1. Increase the Fire Station 21 – Relocation (White Road) appropriation to the Fire Department by $350,000; and
  2. Decrease the Fire Station 37 (Willow Glen) Reserve by $350,000.”

In that consideration, a portion of funds for Willow Glen’s Station 37 are “appropriated” to (or taken for use by)  Station 21.

Since that time, the City Council has yet to post a synopsis of the 10 June 2014 Agenda, thereby officially concluding their decisions.  What is more, there has also been a “Special Closed Session Agenda” as of 27 June 2014, in which the city held (a) “conference with legal counsel — existing litigation pursuant to government code…” and (b) “conference with labor negotiator pursuant to government code..”

The city is now fighting legally at throes with its own fire and police force, aside from a number of other labor groups; which is in addition to its being undetermined about other essential city services and related facilities under its domain.  This is not a new ordeal, but something that just came to a head, before San Jose City Council went on vacation from session.

In terms of facilities and essential services, much of this originates from a decision back on 5 March 2002, in which 71.7% voters approved City of San Jose Measure O, “911, Fire, Police Paramedic, and Neighborhood Security Act.”  At that time, the measure gave power….

To improve San Jose’s fire, police, and paramedic response times by: adding and improving fire stations and police stations, training facilities, and creating state of the art 911 communications facilities…”  

The Neighborhood Security Act authorized the City of San Jose to issue general obligation bonds up to $159 million to fund public safety projects for the Police and Fire Department.
Nevertheless, a few years thereafter, stakeholders in the Willow Glen community felt that needs here were not being appropriately represented; so, they brought forth another action, in which the passing of Measure O was followed by an election as of 4 November 2008, wherein City of San Jose Measure L, “Fire Station Construction,” passed with 64.53% Yes votes.  That measure read:

To improve fire suppression, emergency medical services and increase essential emergency facilities available for disaster response within the Willow Glen area, shall the City be authorized to construct a single-company fire station on up to ¾ of an acre on a portion of the Lincoln Glen Park parking lot?

In other words, Willow Glen residents are supposed to get a new fire station on Lincoln Avenue.  This would be adjacent to the Willow Glen Community Center (at Lincoln) and to the side of Lincoln Glen Park (fronted at Curtner Avenue).   If this does not happen by this coming November 2014, then it will be the eighth year since the San Jose City Council has neglected that promise asked by city voters in 2008.  Considering that the anniversary of said election is only about three months away from the time of this writing, it doesn’t look like those plans will be breaking ground by that time… if any time soon.  At that, the city keeps postponing and borrowing on funds, all the while seeming to appease the residents of Willow Glen, but never quite making a real commitment.

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Eight years is a considerable amount of time for inaction; but, it’s not all that different from the predicaments from long ago.

Willow Glen Fire Department has not been situated on Lincoln Avenue, since the time of it’s more formative years.  Willow Glen’s original Fire Station was actually located in the same building as the current-day Vin Santo Ristorante (not too far from Minnesota Avenue).  Ironically, a significant part of the neighborhood’s earlier history relates back to fire station issues; whereas, years ago, a vote by residents to become part of San Jose was spurred by a realization that the community needed an expanded fire department, aside from other infrastructural improvements, like a suitable sewage system.  Generations ago, the population of Willow Glen was growing so exponentially, that it was thought to become the larger city in the area.  This was a community with “growing pains.” In that sense, it was assumed that a merger with San Jose would help combine resources, as well as help make other necessary improvements within the community.

Then and now, this story originating from circa 1936 is not too different in its orientation as the one that is being heard as of late.   Especially since the mid-2000s to current day 2014, fire station issues have been resurfacing; that’s in addition to police staffing issues; flood protection infrastructure; and, finally, a “Sanitary & Storm Sewer Improvement Project,” such as that on Bird Avenue over the last year.   Through all these years, central Willow Glen’s firefighting facility has always been numbered Station 6, which is currently located at 1386 Cherry and Minnesota Avenues in Willow Glen.  The station at this site recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of public service as of July 28, 2013.  It’s 51st Anniversary is this soon week, 2014, according to the account of fire historian and author, Richard L. Nailen.  But, to this day, the proposed San Jose Fire Station 37 at Lincoln Glen Park has yet to be built; whereas, the neighborhood still relies on old Station 6 that operates with only one fire engine and its crew from Cherry & Minnesota Avenues.

As a side note, many of Willow Glen’s storm and sanitary sewers are approaching a century in age, whereas they must be replaced; while past years floods have also required control measures within the Guadalupe Watershed (as assisted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), but have since gone dry with the drought emergency of 2014.


Willow Glen Station 6, currently located at 1386 Cherry and Minnesota Avenues in Willow Glen. The station at this site will celebrate its 51st anniversary of public service as of July 28, 2014.

It’s like a tired cliché: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

What’s changed is the inflated cost of building, resourcing and staffing; yet, it seems that the borrowing against the faith and well-being of Willow Glen residents is an old and established pattern.  By Nailan’s historical account of Station 6 and its opening to service, that remaining station at 1386 Cherry Avenue was opened and dedicated to service during the year of 1963.  At that time, Station 6 costed $108,000 and the building was placed on property that was acquired for widening of Minnesota Avenue.  A week-long celebration was sponsored by Willow Glen business owners and civic leaders and San Jose held its first real Fire Parade on July 26, just days before its official dedication.  Nowadays, area residents and businesses still require better service and response times; but, memos from City Hall seem undecided and in a fray of budgeting concerns, as well as other political matters.  To add insult to injury, aside from appearing in last year’s Founders Day Parade (September 2013), the anniversary of Station 6 and its crew has largely been overlooked.


A nostalgic article recalls the corner of Minnesota & Cherry Avenues back in 1893, now the site of Willow Glen’s Fire Station 6, built in 1963. That’s when this post station was known as Kensington, California. Its been over 120 years since the time of this photo; whereas, too, just past the 50th anniversary of the current day Fire Station.

Currently, until Fire Station 37 is built, central Willow Glen’s population is served only by Fire Station 6, which operates with only one fire engine and its crew; thereby leaving many under-served areas in the dense reaches of the neighborhood.

The argument has not changed: a problem occurs when there is a major emergency in the area; because, that is when Station 6 (its engine and crew) is tied-up for what’s sometimes several hours.  In that scenario, central Willow Glen goes without direct fire or EMS capabilities all during that interim. The neighborhood must rely on stations from other areas, further diluting the abilities of these essential services.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because neighborhood ad hoc committees have been studying the issue for years, even using maps that have been provided by the San Jose Fire Department and presented to the Mayor and Councilmembers at City Hall.  Oddly enough, where it stands now, it appears that updated maps have since been developed, but they do not seem that much better in circumstance. If you have seen these maps before, you may not recognize revised versions as of late.  They might be seen as being worse.

[For SJFD map presentation and analysis, click on the below square-tiled images, as well as subsequent slideshow for comparison and contrast]

Willow Glen has become the epicenter of the emergency response time issue, which is related to “under served areas”; but, this neighborhood is not unlike that of other areas of the city.  Its simply become the model and leader of this public address.

The greater Willow Glen Planning Area has nearly 80,000 residents; therefore, when a fire station is tied-up, it’s not just central Willow Glen that suffers, but the greater planning area finds itself with grossly inadequate services.  It may well cross into other planning areas, too, depending on the number of calls and the nature of an emergency.  Many places in the neighborhood will have no direct service, such as when major events occur.  It becomes a system of triage; that’s by definition, “the determination of priorities for action in an emergency.”  Emergency 911 dispatch will send firefighters and EMS, but it often comes from facilities further out, if not inadequately resourced and staffed for the job that’s been called to attention.  For example, at the bottom of the triage system is the likes of a remote auto collision, as per se; whereas,  in such case, 911 dispatch will not result with police or a fire engine to that site, unless someone is seriously injured, a criminal act is involved or traffic is hindered.  Otherwise, 911 will typically advises auto drivers to call their insurance providers and have a tow-truck service such incident, thereby going without a formal police report.  All therein describes what has been the crux of the debate by community activists, especially during the last San Jose Mayoral primary election of 2014.   But, all of this does not argue away what happens when someone suffers from a heart-attack or their house is on fire, whereas emergency personnel either arrive late and/or with the inappropriate apparatus.

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As of 21 May 2014, the city once again created another memo, “FIRE STATION 37 (WILLOW GLEN): ANALYSIS OF OPTIONS,” presented to the Mayor and City Council.  It was delivered from Jennifer A. Maguire, Deputy City Manager/Budget Director; Rubin Torres, Interim Fire Chief; and David Sykes, Public Works Director.   In the attached images (see slide media in the above) are what’s again the under-served areas of central Willow Glen, but what looks to be a far worse scenario, since it was last addressed by neighborhood associations, ad hoc committees and stakeholders.  Those areas highlighted in pink are underserved areas of concern.  But the those areas marked in red are critical… the worst of any statistic or essential services standard.

Those colors represent “estimated response time compliance,” and it’s not at all good.  The color pink translates as 50% to 70% compliance.  Red translates as 0% to 50% compliance!  That’s like saying, “maybe we’ll show, or maybe we won’t.”  Just don’t expect a 911 dispatcher to admit that.   Indeed, at that, even yellow is not satisfactory, representing only 70% to 80% compliance; which is also not good, because every second counts and makes a significant impact on someone’s life. Nothing less than 80% should be tolerated, whereas even the lowest percentage in those brackets should be circumstantial in their oversight.  It’s questionable how any authority could give leeway to any performance that’s below 80%, whatever the circumstance.  That would seem to go against the definition of “essential” services, which implies something that is core, fundamental, absolutely necessary and extremely important.

Realizing this dilemma, as of May 2014, the Mayor and City Council have been told that Station 6 is surrounded by a pattern of pink and red deployment areas; aside from which, the inner areas around that station are yellow.  This is probably because Station 6 only accommodates one fire engine.

Underneath that,  on this current map, there is a huge trajectory of red deployment areas, looking like a “ring of fire,” which includes the entire area from which the proposed Fire Station 37 would serve, aside from the outer reaches of the closed Station 33 at Communications Hill.  Notice that Station 33 is across the freeway; as well as that its firefighting apparatus and crews would have to zig-zag continuously down from its residential development site to its destination.  Station 33 would then have to go across Hillsdale/Foxworthy Avenues to get to the area opposite of the Guadalupe River, Almaden Road and namely Curtner Avenue, going west bound.  In more casual vernacular, this deployment area is like a “charlie foxtrot,” because of the incredibly poor response time and compensation, aside from inhibited access.

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Hypothetically, if Station 6 was occupied with an emergency call and Station 33 was open as a compensating service, it would still take 9 to 10 minutes (as calculated by mapping systems) for firefighters and apparatus to go from Communications Hill to such places like: Willow Glen Community Center (nearby the proposed Station 37 site); Willow Glen High School; or, Foxworthy Shopping Center (location of Zanatto’s grocery market).  That’s on a good day; whereas, this does not meet the requirement of 8 minutes or less for emergency deployment, response and arrival time.  That also does not consider the longer stretch westward beyond those points.

Within previously said 21 May 2014 memo and analysis of proposed Fire Station 37, it acknowledges in its conclusion that “Of the options presented above, only the option to build Fire Station 37 and keep Fire Station 6 open would improve response times.”  Those three options presented to City Councilmembers for consideration were:

a) Build Fire Station 37 and close Fire Station 6
b) Build Fire Station 37 and keep Fire Station 6 open
c) Do not build Fire Station 37 but remodel Fire Station 6

Despite that acknowledgement, the city now makes claims against option (b) “Build Fire Station 37 and keep Fire Station 6 open”:

This option carries significant unfunded costs totaling $9.4 million: 1) $6.1 million in one-time capital funding to complete project design and construction ($4.7 million), a figure that may increase farther due to rising construction prices, FF&E ($460,000), and the likely need to purchase a new fire engine and related equipment ($930,000); and 2) approximately $3.3 million of annual ongoing costs related to staffing and fire station and apparatus maintenance costs.

Furthermore, even though the city recognizes its predicament with inadequate response times, it has chosen to fold to such a challenge, ignoring the need for essential services in one of San Jose’s most central and popular neighborhoods.

The Mayor and San Jose City Council recognize the results of the November 4, 2008 Election, San Jose Measure L “Fire Station Construction,” but have continuously decided upon the postponement of building Station 37 in Willow Glen.  Instead, in response to neighborhood activists and stakeholders, the Mayor and some councilmembers have re-framed the issues and postured proposals, so calling for a reduction in the number of firefighters per truck, down from four to three.  The San Jose Firefighters Local 230 has continued to contest that proposal and its logic.

That debate became heated, especially as of April 2014, when the firefighters joined with the San Jose Police Officers Association to create a Facebook Page called San Jose By the Numbers.   It was at this time, when primary elections for San Jose’s Mayoral position were underway.  The firefighters and police had already been at long odds with the Mayor and some of the city councilmembers; but, the differences became more profound.

In that Facebook world, over the last year — if not particularly the last few months — Mayor Chuck Reed led both Councilmembers Liccardo (District 3) and Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio (District 6), both of Willow Glen, in leading the argument for 3 on a truck, down from 4.  Sam Liccardo is a mayoral candidate, running since the primary elections, against Supervisor Dave Cortese for Mayor.  Oliverio lost in the Mayoral primaries and will eventually term-out as Coucilmember.   Liccardo will also term-out, unless he wins against Dave Cortese for Mayor.

Meanwhile the contest for the current City Hall Council, and its legacy, is working against that of the previous councilmembers and many of the people at the elected county and state offices.

From February to May 2014, these issues were centered on the social networking world of the internet, as well as in newspapers and television media.  Bay Area television channel 2 KTVU was one of the news stations to feature Supervisor Cortese, who challenged Mayor Reed and the City Council back in February 2014; such as when Supervisor Cortese, a mayoral candidate, realized that emergency response times were not what they seemed.  That story was already being addressed by Willow Glen Neighborhood Association via its own Facebook Page; but, it became a regular story for news television stations, like NBC Bay Area, with a series of news stories and investigative reports.  Other news networks followed suit.  Of the more scandalous news reports in this time, it was this news story from KTVU that candidly asked how a house that’s situated across the street from a fire station could possibly go without attention, so as to simply burn down.  Answer: that fire station had a ladder truck, but no water pump and/or hose truck for support.  Likewise, it was the KNTV/NBC Bay Area report that showed how the City of San Jose was manipulating its own reports, a practice that was revealed that February 20014.   As of May and June, before the Mayor and City Council went on vacation in July, that issue had remained relevant.  The city is still quoting those past reports, as well as it’s continuing its same arguments with recent reports that actually show continuing dilemmas.

In February 2014, the issue was brought to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, as cited in the Board Minutes, pubic issue items 15 and 16, which made for a considerable amount of the business that day.

Item 15: “Consider recommendations relating to Fiscal Year 2014 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Trust Fund Expenditures. (Public Health Department) (ID# 69129).”

Therein, the county recorded its admonition of the City of San Jose, with regards from both individuals as well as the County Supervisors themselves.  A decision was then approved as amended, unanimously. Aside from monetary implications — in short and part thereof —the county was to:

Provide notice to City of San Jose of failure to cure the material breach of the 911 EMS Provider Agreement that the City was earlier notified about, and to address consequences…

That decision from item 15 of the County Board Minutes was considered concurrently, as well as unanimously accepted with:

Item 16: “Accept report relating to the San Jose Fire Department’s response time performance. (Public Health Department) (ID# 70272)”

To show the more wry tone of such admonishment, consider that the current Board of Santa Clara County Supervisors is made-up of members that had actually preceded current in-office Councilmembers at the City of San Jose.  In short, Supervisor Cortese was supported by former City Councilmembers and a State Senator, including:

  • Ken Yeager, who preceded Pierluigi Oliverio as the former San Jose District 6 Councilmember, before becoming County Supervisor in 2006.  District 6 makes the greater share of the Willow Glen Planning Area.
  • Cindy Chavez, who preceded Sam Liccardo as the former San Jose District 3 Councilmember, before becoming County Supervisor in August 2013.  Of course, Chavez was also a former San Jose Mayoral candidate, much like Liccardo is now for 2014.
  • Joe Simitian, who is the former State Senator representing California’s 11th State Senate district; who has returned again to County Supervisor as of January 2013. Simitian was also previously a California Assemblymember and Palo Alto City Councillor.
  • Dave Cortese, who is Vice President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors; as well as a 2014 San Jose Mayoral candidate against Sam Liccardo; but, also, who is a former San Jose Councilmember and Vice Mayor of the City.
  • Mike Wasserman, who is President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, wherein he once served eight years on the Los Gatos Town Council including two as Mayor.

These actions have seemingly had some result, but not complete.

Since “San Jose By the Numbers” posted their video, the City of San Jose has re-opened Station 29, a “Haz-Mat” or hazardous materials facility; but, four other stations are in questionable status.  For years, many trucks have been out of service (parked in yards) and other stations have been on a what’s called a “brown out.”  In that scenario, the City of San Jose defines a “Flexible Brown-Out” as “When a fire station temporarily reduces its number of assigned on-duty companies (apparatus and crew).”   The reality, in that case, is that the city adopted its “flexible brown-out” policy as early as 5 May 2011; whereas Station 29 has only come back online recently as of summer 2014.  Still, conditions for apparatus and crew at other city operated stations are precarious, if not in a “rotating” system of allocation.

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When San Jose By the Numbers made their video, there were five stations on closure and two on brown out.   Closed were Stations 30, 33, 34 and 35, as well as truck 3, a 2011 Hi-Tech pumper, at 3rd and Martha Street (downtown San Jose).  Some of these stations have since re-opened; but, supposedly, they all do not have water trucks.

Station 33 at Communications Hill Still remains closed, since approximately 2010; which was prior to firefighters being laid-off from the force in 2011.  WABC New York television, reporting at that time, said that Station 33 would close and that “For now, Stations 13 and 18 are charged with responding to Communications Hill.

San Jose was now in the national spotlight as the nations tenth largest city — third in the state — whereas, it was loosing key personnel and morale at both the fire and police department, aside from at its other city bureaucracies.   The reporting of emergency response times was a scandal that had nearly become comparable to that of Los Angeles.  What was being reported across the Bay Area in early 2014 was similar to that reported by the Los Angeles Times, two years earlier, as of April 12, 2012:

Con­tro­versy over the Los Angeles Fire De­part­ment’s re­sponse times erup­ted in March 2012 after fire of­fi­cials admitted to over­stating how fast resc­uers arrived at emer­gencies.

The Times has fol­lowed up with a series of in­vest­ig­at­ive stor­ies and a groundbreak­ing data ana­lys­is that un­covered deep-rooted prob­lems in a safety net mil­lions of Angel­enos rely on when they dial 911.

San Jose “By the Numbers” projected the view made by the San Jose firefighters and the police association, countering the rhetoric of the Mayor and certain city council members; thereby, providing “Straight talk about budgets, public safety and all things San Jose using the City’s own numbers” (quoted from their Facebook Page.)  In other words, it used City Hall’s own statistics and information to put the record “straight” as they saw it, thereby exposing the conjecture from City Hall that has been perpetuated at large amongst the citizens.   By the Numbers “faced the face,” accusing City Hall of manipulating countless memos and agendas and thereby presenting it as the usual “budget” issues.  Aside from that, “By The Numbers” role has been to speak-out for active police and firefighters as from the standpoint of the Police Officers Association or the Firefighters Local 230; as such, avoiding individual conflicts within the existing political climate, as well repercussions from within the chains of command (either within the forces itself or city-wide government).

Throughout all this happenstance, it cannot be denied that many of the responsible councilmembers have been in office since Willow Glen’s fire station 37 had been approved by voters nearly six years ago in 2008; whereas, aside from the closures and brown outs, not much has changed with the circumstances, beyond budget debates.   Mayor Chuck Reed and several council members have been present all these years and more; but, they continue to postpone the issue.  Mayor Reed and Willow Glen District 3 Councilmember Liccardo came into office as of January 2007; whereas District 6 Councilmember Oliverio, also representing greater Willow Glen, came in as of March 2007.  Willow Glen’s third council member for District 9, Donald Rocha, came in as of January 2011.  Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen was elected to District 7 as of 2005 and nominated and approved as Vice Mayor as of 2011 with her re-election to council.   In all these years, the Mayor and Councilmembers have chosen to delay, reframe the issues and pass budget memos; but, they have never found a way to fulfill the expectations of city ballot Measure L from 2008, aside from appropriately and fairly empowering Measure O, as its precursor.

In one of the latest budget scenarios, prior to the 10 June City Council Agenda item 2.24 was proposed, a Memo titled “REPORT ON BIDS AND AWARD OF CONTRACT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE 3336 – FIRE STATION NO. 21 PROJECT was addressed to the Mayor of San Jose, thereby tagging Fire Station 37 in San Jose Council District 6 (Willow Glen) to the development of Station 21 at District 8.  That memo, issued as of 16 May 2014, stated:

The Proposed Capital Budget for 2014-2015 incorporated a $1.0 million increase to this project to account for the estimated construction cost escalation. However, based on the actual bid results, additional funding of $416,000 is necessary. The recommended source of the funding is recommended to come from the Fire Station 37 (Willow Glen) Reserve appropriation. The Fire Station No. 37 project is currently on hold pending resolution of initial capital and long-term operational funding. At this time Fire Station No. 21 represents an operational priority for the Fire Department and is recommended for award.

In that scenario, fire station 21 has suddenly taken “an operational priority” over Station 37, which has been on the City Council’s Agenda for over 6 years; but has been considered by neighborhood ad hoc committees prior to that.   Comparatively, Station 21 is said to be a “relocation project” for the White Road Area.  It is not known how long Station 21 has been considered for relocation; but, considering that Willow Glen’s Station 37 has been in process for so long, it seems questionable why its being delayed once again and tagged against Station 21.  What is more, Station 21 does not appear to be mentioned in the countless memos for both San Jose City Hall, city departments and even County and State bodies; that is, such as Station 37.   The proposed station for White Road is not in a densely populated area, whereas it’s located opposite to the entry of Lake Cunningham Park in what’s the Alum Rock Planning Area, at the far east of San Jose, towards the foothills.  Lake Cunningham is in Rose Herrera’s District 8, adjacent and nearby Xavier Campos’ District 5.

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Visiting Lake Cunningham recently, de·Anza Post found that the site of the proposed Station 21 will be right across the street from Lake Cunningham Park entrance; that is, what appears to be a far-reaching empty lot, set at side of a wide-open road and no major developments within visible sight.   Indeed, the closest thing here is the park itself, which was not popularly utilized on the summer weekday of the visit, except for the far-off Raging Waters theme park, situated on the far-end of Lake Cunningham.  Then to realize that this area’s current fire station is a modest facility, it’s not really evident as to why the City Council says that a new replacement and relocated Station 21 “represents an operational priority.”  If this area has little traffic now, what will it look like by autumn or winter moths, when summer recreation is complete?  This is a far more sparsely populated area of the city.  The newly proposed location at White is situated five to six minutes away from the current Station 21 at 1749 Mt Pleasant Rd.  Realizing the standard of the Mt. Pleasant Road station, perhaps they should eventually get a new station; but, why is that delaying the funding of Station 37 on Lincoln Avenue, aside from re-opening station 33 at Communications Hill?

San Jose City Council decided that Station 21 has pressing “priority” and put this and other stations into a zero-sum game against Willow Glen’s already voter-approved Station 37.  At that, the proposed Station 37 is within a generational, established and populated community.  Building Station 37 supports an existing community, whereas building and enhancing Station 21 seems to bet on future development that is not yet secured.

What is more, it’s not as though the proposal for Station 21 will be cheap over the long run; which, ironically, has been the primary argument against going through with Station 37.  City Hall has pretty much kept the development of Station 21 low profile, as compared to that of 37.

But, there is a memo showing the awarding of the contract for Station 21’s construction as of 16 May 2014, which is just part of the overall budget.  It’s not a minor project, but even larger than Willow Glen’s proposal:

The Fire Station No. 21 project is the ninth fire station to be initiated under the Neighborhood Security Act Bond Program. The Fire Station No. 21 project consists of a new single-company, two-story building, with three apparatus bays containing approximately 8,750 square feet. Subject to regional development and funding, this facility has been designed to accommodate future expansion to a full two-company station of approximately 11,500 square feet.

That’s right.  All that, and yet, the city says that the Willow Glen facility is too large of a commitment.  Willow Glen’s proposal is assigned to indefinite hiatus; whereas, in this language from the above, Station 21 is already committed to “future expansion.”

That’s not it.  Within the Public Safety section of a report, “2013-2017 Adopted Capital Improvement Program — Use of Funds (Combined),” it compares Station 21’s own 5-year total use of funds and construction projects cost to that of Station 37’s projected course.  White Road’s Station 21 will cost $6,133,000 to Willow Glen’s $620,000 at Lincoln Avenue.  In other words, Station 21 will take the lion’s share of these budget dollars; which, for an amount of “Total Neighborhood Security Bond Fund Projects,” adds up to $7,193,000.  Those remaining amounts aside from those pertaining to Station 37 and 21 have already included: Fire Station 19 – Relocation (Piedmont) for $20,000; as well as, $420,000 for a South San Jose Police Substation.  Both of these later amounts are from the 2012-2013 year.

But wait… that’s still not the final price tag for Station 21.   Let’s go back to square one, whereas to cite the said memo from 16 May 2014, which was made in preparation for the 10 June 2014 Council Agenda, item 2.24, tagging station 21 against Station 37:

As per the “cost summary/implications” accounting, the footed “TOTAL PROJECT COST” for the “Fire Station No. 21 Relocation Project” will be:

$9,443,300.  (Just under 9.5 million dollars).

Through all these considerations:

The city of San Jose cannot commit to building a new Station 37 for an existing and traditional neighborhood such as Willow Glen, which is a central and well populated vicinity within the greater city.   There’s obviously a need for an additional fire station, aside from a long overdue update of its existing Station 6.

The city  has not yet opened Fire Station 33 at Communications Hill; but, meanwhile plans to expand development on the opposite side of this large development.   There has yet to be any known ways to compensate for this kind of development, but the plans are being pushed through anyway.

Until recently, the Station 29 area was not much different, although it provides a unique essential service, in that it also provides a Haz-Mat crew and apparatus.

Despite this, the city has already commenced plans for Fire Station 21, overlooking what’s happening in places like Willow Glen, Communications Hill and Innovation Drive.

Whereas the area around Station 6 and the proposed 37 are highly populated; that is followed by station 33 in terms of such demographics and existing plans and infrastructure.  Even the area at Innovation Drive has much industrial and residential development.

Comparatively, focusing on Station 21, there has yet to be much visible development in that immediate vicinity, or relatively nearby; but, the city seems determined, not acknowledging the existing patterns that got the greater city in this mess at the first place.


As of 2014, SanJose’s Mayor, City Council, Planners, and other bureaucratic staff, may look back on this city’s earlier history as humble days with simpler solutions; but, there’s much to be learned from those formative years that represents who we are today.

According to San Jose Fire Department historian and author, Richard L. Nailen, San Jose’s Fire Chief LeBeau and City Manager Hamann made speeches at the opening of Station 6, more than 50 years ago.  The station was at that time equipped with a brand new 1962/1963 era 1000 GPM LaFrance engine, similar to those used at new stations throughout the city.

Richard L. Nailen claims in his book that “Twelve new firefighters were budgeted for Truck Co. No. 6, to be activated at Station 9 early in 1964 when a new 100-foot aerial arrived.” This seems to contrast to the turn of events at current day 2012/2013 and up to the present summer of 2014, whereas the old fire department at Cherry Avenue is still being used, but is currently considered understaffed by much public criticism.

Richard L. Nailen also states in his history that “Sales tax revenues and city growth held firm, despite cutbacks in defense industries so vital to the local economy” as it provided for much of the expansion during the early 1960s, not just for Station 6, but several stations like the Almaden Golf Course area, as well as industrial and Airport facilities.

Nailan notes that “The eight fire stations provided for in the 1957 bond issue — No.’s 5, 6, 9, 10, 14, 16, 18, and 20 — were now complete, but much of the 1961 bond money remained unspent. And San Jose had no trouble selling its bonds.”

Much of the the history of the Willow Glen and San Jose Fire Departments-- as well as the struggles of annexation and financial hardship, expansion, etc., -- can be read in the following book: "Guardians of the Garden City: The History of The San Jose Fire Department," by Richard L. Nailen; Smith & McKay Printing Co., San Jose, CA; printed, 1972; see pages 120, as well as 208 to 211. The book also covers "Equipment Soon To Be Restored For Eventual Display," including pictures of fire trucks and apparatus that appear to be many of those in today's San Jose Fire Museum (see the appendix at pages 246 to 249).

Much of the the history of the Willow Glen and San Jose Fire Departments– as well as the struggles of annexation and financial hardship, expansion, etc., — can be read in the following book:
“Guardians of the Garden City: The History of The San Jose Fire Department,” by Richard L. Nailen; Smith & McKay Printing Co., San Jose, CA; printed, 1972; see pages 120, as well as 208 to 211. The book also covers “Equipment Soon To Be Restored For Eventual Display,” including pictures of fire trucks and apparatus that appear to be many of those in today’s San Jose Fire Museum (see the appendix at pages 246 to 249).

The story of Willow Glen Fire Department is covered in the book “Guardians of the Garden City: The History of The San Jose Fire Department,” by Richard L. Nailen; Smith & McKay Printing Co., San Jose, CA; printed, 1972; see pages 120, as well as 208 to 211. The book also covers “Equipment Soon To Be Restored For Eventual Display,” including pictures of fire trucks and apparatus that appear to be many of those in today’s San Jose Fire Museum (see the appendix at pages 246 to 249).

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