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August 29-September 4, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Relief at Last

Practically lost in last week's four-hour-plus City Council meeting was the unanimous approval of a CityWide Aquatics Master Plan. A year ago Metro's "Splashless in San Jose" story brought attention to the public pool deficit of America's 10th largest city: two pools serving almost a million people while four are closed because the city hasn't funded their repair and maintenance. The vote last Tuesday was the culmination of 12 months of work by consultant Scot Hunsaker and Parks and Rec staffers, who took surveys and held hundreds of stakeholder and community meetings that were known to get heated enough to scald plenty of toes. In the end, they developed a consensus-based plan that will be implemented over the next 15 years. Although the City Council paddled out in March, voting to repair and reopen Alviso, Biebrach, Mayfair and Ryland pools by summer 2008, Parks and Rec's Cynthia Bojorquez says this plan will lead us to more water. "The plan now gives us spending for nine sites for the next five years, the six existing pools plus three leased school sites for summer programs," she says.  "And, we've now got funding to maintain our pools, which is huge." She says the city will open the first spray park at Mayfair Pool in 2009, and they have funding for two new pool studies, one for North San Jose and one for South San Jose's Edenvale. These may turn into the big pool dreams presented during the plan's development, a competitive swim venue or a large family-oriented recreational facility. Although Mayor Chuck Reed cautioned that there's no money to build more than what's been budgeted for the plan's first five years, Bojorquez is looking to identify sites and partners like schools, swim teams, developers and corporate sponsors who will kick down resources to build out the Master Plan. "We want to explore all of our options and find partners to make it happen because we can't do it on our own," she says. "That's the beauty of the plan, to keep our existing pools and look to grow." Bojorquez invites any and all angels who want to help buy a pool for the city to call her. Fly thinks Google Pool has a nice ring to it.

Meat and Greet

Last year, election politics had gums at the annual COMPAC Barbecue flapping about cold shoulders and conspicuous no-shows. This year, there was the inevitable let-down—who cares who doesn't show up if it's not a snub! And yet, the show must go on, especially for the event's 25th year, and so more than 1,100 Silicon Valley leaders—including District Attorney Dolores Carr, Mayor Reed and Assemblyman Jim Beall—packed Kelly Park last week for smoked meat with a side of gossip. "It's a big schmoozefest," said Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee. The event, which cost $150 per ticket, raised more than $260,000 for the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. COMPAC is a bipartisan political action committee that receives contributions from businesses throughout Silicon Valley. "It's the networking Mardi Gras," said Victor Arranaga, a senior manager for Applied Materials. On that note, may we make a suggestion for the next non-election-year event? Beads. Definitely beads.

Street Teem

Here's one solution that's designed not to get the homeless off the streets: The San Jose Downtown Association is considering employing the city's homeless to clean them, instead. The DTA has already budgeted for a 'clean team' to pick up the trash, scrap off the gum and remove garbage and debris from downtown's sidewalks, right? And part of polishing the image of downtown includes reducing the number of homeless people, right? So why not employ the homeless to clean the streets? It's the first time we've heard anyone suggest that the best way to get out of the gutter is to get into the gutter, but maybe it's just crazy enough to work. It's certainly something to consider, says Scott Knies, the DTA's executive director. On top of the clean teams, the association plans to deploy uniformed ambassadors across downtown to help direct people to stores and restaurants as well as enhance the overall safety in the area. The ambassadors will be trained in CPR and have radio contact with police. They will also be there to hand out packets to homeless people, giving them information about resources and other city programs for them to utilize, Knies said. "It really is to change perceptions about downtown," Knies said. "It adds a level of comfort and pride for the property owners." To get a sense of how this idea would work in real-time, Fly made a point to seek out Phoenix's downtown ambassadors while in that city. When quizzed on the subject of what to do in Phoenix, one provided the chipper but singularly useless assertion, "There's lots to do here!" Fly: "OK, what are some outdoor activities?" Ambassador: "We don't have a lot of outdoor activities because it's so hot here." Uh, OK, thanks for playing. Let's not make the same mistake here, DTA. Knowledge is power—or in this case, downtown dollars.

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