By Omar Torres,
Long time SVYD member and current D3 City Council Candidate
San Jose is in desperate need of neighborhood coalitions and the community involvement they foster. Crime has increased and extensive cuts have been made to basic neighborhood services. With our quality of life at stake, it is important for residents to get involved with their local neighborhood associations or community groups. My roommate and I both direct community centers in the Guadalupe-Washington areas and are part of two neighborhood associations near our home: Guadalupe-Washington and Tamien.
Both neighborhoods have suffered from budget cuts that significantly impact residents, but those same residents are increasingly attending neighborhood meetings and becoming more active for the benefit of their families. Our residents want to organize and these neighborhood coalitions provide rich and meaningful opportunities for community involvement.
Last Wednesday, District 3 residents and community groups toured downtown’s South University Neighborhood, located immediately south of San Jose State. Issues of concern for residents were discussed, such as traffic, blight, gangs, crime, lack of community involvement, and other quality of life topics.
Earlier in the summer, the D3 Community Leadership Council, which includes residents and neighborhood groups, hit the pavement and conducted “neighbor walks” in the Vendome, Guadalupe-Washington and Delmas Park Neighborhoods. And D3 is not alone in this coalition building effort.
Just over Highway 101, the same night we walked last week, District 5 United, along with Councilmember Xavier Campos, hosted county supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese. Both supervisors answered questions from residents and covered critical issues facing the county. And last month, District 7 United held an inaugural informational meeting at the Tully Library.
Jeremy Barousse, of the District 8 Community Roundtable, told me that neighborhood coalitions such as his and those mentioned above bring value to the community by providing forums where “residents can come together to learn about and discuss relevant and timely local issues, most notably public safety, neighborhood services, land use and development, education, and traffic.”
These neighborhood coalitions are collaborative efforts between elected officials and community members to improve our communities. Specific bylaws and community members—not city staff or elected officials—guide the work of these coalitions. Residents lead the groups, although councilmembers, such as D3’s Sam Liccardo, attend coalition meetings on a regular basis.
If you do not have an existing neighborhood association—currently, D4 and D9 are the only council districts without a district-wide coalition—I encourage you to create one like the residents of the Tully Ocala Capitol King Neighborhood Association did a few years ago. Contact your councilmember or utilize the resources of United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County.
Below is more information on current coalition groups. These people can be the loudest voice at City Hall, and we need neighborhood more advocates to come up with creative ideas to move our city forward.
D1 Leadership Group, Second Saturdays of every month, West Valley Branch Library, Steve Landau http://www.d1leadershipgroup.com
D2 Neighborhood Leadership Council , First Mondays of month, Edenvale Branch Library, Roseryn Bhudsabourg http://groups.yahoo.com/group/D2NLC
D3 Community Leadership Council, Third Wednesdays of every month, City Hall Tower T-1446 Dave Truslow, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SJ_District3_Group
D5 United, Third Wednesdays of every month, Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Library, Juan Estrada, http://www.district5united.org
D6 Neighborhood Leadership Group, Last Tuesdays of every month, Hoover School Community Center, Bob Sippel http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SJ-D6NL
D8 Community Roundtable, First Thursdays of every month, Evergreen Branch Library, Jeremy Barousse http://www.D8CRT.org
D10 Leadership Coalition, chaired by Dave Fadness for more information contact the Michele.Dexter@sanjoseca.gov