During my campaign, I heard many residents talk about “Quality of Life” issues that impacted them in negative ways. Each time I heard about these issues from residents I asked that they bring them to me after I took office. I sincerely hoped they would take me up on my offer to help.
Shortly after I took office, neighbors from Barrymore Drive banded together and came to see me at one of my community office hours at the West Valley Library. They brought a stack of photos, documents, and email threads. What really caught my attention were the issues they were facing on their street. When this neighborhood was built the streets were named for famous movie stars. It was a grand new development next to beautiful orchards, but of course other development ensued, orchards turned into apartments, and the area grew in size and density.
By the end of January, there were many issues on Barrymore Drive that needed attention. A water main was constantly leaking on the sidewalk, the apartments across the street did not clean up plant and tree trimmings that were at the rear of their buildings, the apartment walls were full of mismatched painting due to constant graffiti, there was a dark area that was ripe for hiding bad behavior. There was also graffiti, over parked cars, and shopping carts. Other problems included speeding, apartment dwellers parking on yard debris piles, and a person sleeping in a car who left human waste behind on the street. Clearly, the quality of life on Barrymore Drive was not what it once was.
I told the residents that some of these problems are easy to resolve and others are more difficult. However, I knew these people needed help to restore their quality of life and I wanted to do everything I could to help.
The first priority was to relocate and assist the person sleeping in their car along with the bodily waste, and also the large pile of debris that accompanied this car. A few days later the San Jose Water Company was out to fix the leaking water connection.
It took a while – including a personal trip to the apartment complex – but shortly after making contact we were able to speak with the corporate management team of the company who owns the apartment complete. I explained the issues that their neighbors were having including the fact that the fence looked like a patchwork quilt that invited tagging. I asked them if they would step up as “good neighbors” and do some additional maintenance. They agreed. A few days later the perimeter fence had a new paint job and no tagger has touched it since.
Barrymore Drive has both streetlights and a number of mature trees with vibrant growth. That growth does not allow very much light through to illuminate the street. The darkness this created and the patchwork painted wall contributed to the sense that no one is paying attention to the street. It also signaled that “this is a good place for mischief”. Residents could sense this and did not feel safe in their own homes. Knowing that DOT was installing LED lighting across the city in certain location, I sent my team in search of LED lighting for Barrymore. New LED lights will go in on Barrymore Drive before the end of the year.
The speed limit on Barrymore Drive is 25 mph, but you would have been hard pressed to find a sign. We worked with the Department of Transportation to get the signed moved to a more visible location that can now be better seen by drivers.
I also asked Parking Enforcement to look at cars that had been parked for months blocking street sweeping. Their enforcement helped move these cars out of the neighborhood. The anti-graffiti team was called to remove tagging, and dumped shopping carts. I introduced the residents to my smart phone app called San Jose Mobile City Hall for them to immediately report problems to the appropriate department.
I am happy to report that Barrymore Drive is a nicer place to live today. We still have work to do but the to-do list is shorter than it once was.
What I really hope you get from this story is that I can only help if you come tell me you have an issue. I hope to see you soon at an upcoming community office hours session.
Feedback from a Barrymore Resident:
Thanks for all your hard work on behalf of us residents of Barrymore Dr.
Thanks for being so attentive to us when we met with you at West Valley Library, and for following through on so many issues – even on such seemingly simple issues as moving the speed limit sign – something we had been told couldn’t be done! It is much more visible now.