Saturday, February 27, 2021

John Burrell Leonard, West Side Fruit Growers' Association and the Glendenning Barn at Apple Park

One of the most iconic historic structures on the West side of Santa Clara Valley barely remains visible about 50 yards Southeast from the corner of Homestead and Wolfe Roads in Cupertino, although it is no longer in its original location. That site is the Glendenning Barn, built and later owned by the Leonard family, founders of Vallco Park.

Robert Glendinning was a Scotsman who sailed to the United States in 1850, via Australia, where he met and married Margaret Howie. The Glendenning's sailed for San Francisco with a hope to make their fortune in the Gold Rush. They settled in a tent on the West side of the Valley, planted crops and built a home on property they would later learn was still owned by the heirs of  Rancho Quito. The Glendenning's owed $30 per acre to the owners of that land grant for their 200 acre parcel. 

The Glendenning's have a very complete family history etched on the Robert Glendenning (1824-1868) grave marker at Mission City Memorial Park in Santa Clara. Find-A-Grave unravels some of the mysteries of the Glendenning-Leonard Family history in their genealogy references online.

Find-A-Grave Web Site

Mary Lou Lyon, in her Arcadia book on the history of Cupertino, mentions that John Leonard, the son-in-law of Margaret Glendenning Burrell, built a barn on the original Robert Glendenning property around 1916. At that time, Homestead Road was called Younger Road. 

John Leonard's son was named John Burrell Leonard, however, he was known as Burrell Leonard to most farmers in the Valley. 

The parents of John Burrell Leonard were John Leonard (1883-1975) and Grace Willett Burrell Leonard (1883-1961)

The Glendenning Barn as it appeared around 1916.

Those who farmed in the area knew John Burrell Leonard (1911-2000), or, "Burrell Leonard" through the West Side Fruit Growers' Association and the large dry yard for prunes and apricots which existed along the East side of Wolfe Road between Stevens Creek and Homestead roads. Leonard was instrumental in organizing a collective of growers and investors to incorporate as the Varian Group, then another property investor's group known as Vallco. His father, John Leonard, started the John Leonard Fruit Plant and Dry Yard in Cupertino.

(John) Burrell Leonard inspecting a 1927 prune 
shipment headed for the East Coast.
(Arcadia Publication online)

Hartnell College, which received a bequest on John Burrell Leonard's death, posted this lovely tribute online, which captures Leonard's life and interests:
Leonard, who died in 2000 at the age of 89, was a descendant of a pioneering farming family that settled in Santa Clara County in the mid-1800s. He was a fruit grower whose orchard later became Cupertino’s Vallco Park development, and he was a major force in the incorporation of that city and its post-agricultural growth.

Because of his longtime interest in agriculture, Leonard had visited Salinas as well as Hartnell College over the years, according to Bill Hyland, longtime friend and business associate.

The Leonard estate has made contributions to 24 charitable organizations, including Hartnell, Hyland said. All of the organizations reflect his longtime interests-California history, land conservation, agriculture and the arts.

At the time of his death, Leonard was president of the Leonard Company, a property development and management firm at the Vallco Financial Center.

A bachelor all of his life, Leonard was a major landowner in Santa Clara County. His favorite property was his facility on Llagas Road in San Martin (between Gilroy and Morgan Hill), where he stored and maintained his collection of farm machinery, tools, photographs and other memorabilia from the Santa Clara Valley’s agricultural past.

Born in San Jose, Leonard grew up on his family’s 200-acre farm. John, his father, pioneered diversified irrigation farming and packed fruit under the John Leonard label. 

History San Jose, Burrell Leonard Collection

(This site seems to show Younger/Homestead Road.)
History San Jose, Burrell Leonard Collection

The history of the West Side Fruit Grower's Association is best told by Philo Hersey himself, one of the directors of the WGA organization, as recounted in a May 7, 1892 Pacific Rural Press article (found on the Web site), where Hersey's anecdotes on the history of the collective farmers' group may be read from the original newspaper.

Robert Bowdidge's Vasona Branch Blog, one of my favorite sites for local history, has an excellent collection of articles and images about the Westside Fruit Growers Association with some lines about fruit packing houses in the Valley. (If you are into model railroads and old rails in the area, you will definitely enjoy his railroad blog posts on those topics as well. Bowdidge is a very thorough and detailed history researcher.)

On July 14, 2017, The San Jose Mercury News featured the barn in a story about the region's farming history and the fate of the barn on the Apple Park property:

The Glendenning Barn and it's new location at Apple Park was visible in a July 2017 drone video produced by Mathew Roberts:

To be continued.....

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Jan Batiste Atkins: African Americans of San Jose and Santa Clara Valley

Professor Jan Batiste Adkins, Adjunct Instructor, San Jose City College, has published a series of Arcadia: Images of America series books on the local histories of African Americans, providing easily-accessible historic details and images for this important Bay Area cultural group. 

Atkins' books include:

African Americans of San Jose and Santa Clara County (Dr. Steven Millner, professor of African American studies at San Jose State University, provides the introduction.)

African Americans of San Francisco

African Americans of Monterey County

In her African Americans of San Jose and Santa Clara County Arcadia book, Adkins relates that African Americans settled in the Santa Clara Valley as early as 1777, with a community firmly established here by the 1800's. 

Between 1916 and 1970, a period termed "The Great Migration", nearly 6 million African Americans left the rural American South to resettle in Northern cities. This figure increased in 1963 when African Americans left the South in great numbers to escape Jim Crow laws, lynchings and voter repression. Some African Americans settled in San Jose, Santa Clara and Palo Alto, to seek new opportunities, particularly in the new technology industry, during the 1960's and 1970's.

According to Isabel Wilkerson, Smithsonian Magazine: September 2016

"At that moment in American history, the country had reached a turning point in a fight for racial justice that had been building for decades. This was the year of the killing of Medgar Evers in Mississippi, of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, of Gov. George Wallace blocking black students at the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama, the year of the March on Washington, of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” By then, millions of African-Americans had already testified with their bodies to the repression they had endured in the Jim Crow South by defecting to the North and West in what came to be known as the Great Migration. They were fleeing a world where they were restricted to the most menial of jobs, underpaid if paid at all, and frequently barred from voting. Between 1880 and 1950, an African-American was lynched more than once a week for some perceived breach of the racial hierarchy... 

...Merely by leaving, African-Americans would get to participate in democracy and, by their presence, force the North to pay attention to the injustices in the South and the increasingly organized fight against those injustices. By leaving, they would change the course of their lives and those of their children. They would become Richard Wright the novelist instead of Richard Wright the sharecropper. They would become John Coltrane, jazz musician instead of tailor; Bill Russell, NBA pioneer instead of paper mill worker; Zora Neale Hurston, beloved folklorist instead of maidservant. The children of the Great Migration would reshape professions that, had their families not left, may never have been open to them, from sports and music to literature and art: Miles Davis, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Jacob Lawrence, Diana Ross, Tupac Shakur, Prince, Michael Jackson, Shonda Rhimes, Venus and Serena Williams and countless others. The people who migrated would become the forebears of most African-Americans born in the North and West."

Adkins relates that many African Americans took jobs in the tech industry in Silicon Valley, as well as Ford Motor Company and public service agencies, "while Dr. Harry Edwards, John Carlos, and Tommy Smith took on civil rights challenges. The complicated history of the black community throughout Santa Clara County has mirrored the nation's slow progress towards social and economic success."

For those interested in African American Genealogy in Santa Clara Valley (and beyond), retired Local History and Genealogy Librarian, Mary Hanel has compiled a PDF list of resource books and tools for the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society, all of which may be found in the Santa Clara City Library Genealogy area at the Park Branch.

Likewise, the Sourisseau Academy has compiled an excellent history, Some Early African American Settlers in Santa Clara Valley, in PDF form. (Please see my Genealogy and Ethnicity page for more links and information.)

African Americans in Tech

To promote progress, African American women in tech have empowered themselves as tech entrepreneurs via the Tech Talk Association, which holds Black Women Talk Tech, an annual conference with over 500 female African American tech entrepreneurs, which is sponsored by Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, Oracle, Amazon, Nike and other major Silicon Valley companies.

The annual Black Women Talk Tech conference is designed to showcase and empower more African American women (and girls) to take on tech careers, to achieve tech leadership and to grow new businesses. The organization has chapters in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as other major cities across the U.S. (There is a Black Men Talk Tech group and conference as well, sponsored by Morgan Stanley, The Knight Foundation, Shea Moisture, and a few other businesses, however, the men could use more Silicon Valley tech sponsors.)

Where we stand now, in September 2020:

According to the ACLU, voter suppression for African Americans, Native Americans and other groups is still continuing in many states through the use of new voter ID and voter Photo ID  laws, through ongoing gerrymandering, through unwarranted purging of registered voter lists, through the elimination of voting sites near African American and Native American communities, through removing the option of voting-by-mail during COVID-19, plus other possibly unethical and unconstitutional efforts to control who may and may not vote in November 2020. 

For those reasons and many others, Jan Batiste Atkins' books are important reads here in Silicon Valley, where our political leaders, our media organizations, our tech giants and our major, regional philanthropic organizations, have the clout to study, fund and promote ethical norms across the country, via their Web platforms and news posts.

"I believe the only way to protect my own rights is to protect the rights of others."

--Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the United Negro College Fund luncheonMay 19, 1953

Monday, February 24, 2020

WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots in Santa Clara Valley

They called those who served in WWII The Greatest Generation, hailed the return of soldiers with parades and The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the GI Bill, then built memorials and awarded medals, producing inspiring Hollywood movies about U.S. soldiers’ courage under fire.

Unfortunately, some who served and lost their lives during WWII were not recognized, assisted, awarded honors nor provided with GI benefits and military burials, for decades. Some disappeared to new hometowns after the war where little was known about their service. Among those unsung heroes were the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and some of them lived here in our Valley.

If you dined at The Brave Bull in San Jose many years ago and were served by a straight-talking, tough as nails, almost 6-foot tall waitress named Marge, or took flying lessons from a by-the-book middle-aged woman of the same name at Reid Hill-View Airport (when Amelia Reid was in charge of the aviation school there), you most likely met former WASP, Marge Frenzel. 

According to Robin Reid, Amelia Reid's son, Frenzel was very tough on her student pilots, sitting behind them in the cockpit and telling them to “sit up straight” during lessons, believing their lives depended on comportment which proved they were really paying attention.

Frenzel, born in 1920 as “Anna Logan”, grew up in a small town in Kansas. She worked as an office assistant for a couple who owned a small airport in South Dakota, where she learned to fly during her first aviation job. 

Anna Logan, AKA: Marge Frenzel (above) was trained as a WASP in Sweetwater, Texas, WASP Class 44-1. After the war she moved to San Jose, California.

While in Sweetwater, Logan became friends with fellow WASP Marge Hurlburt, with whom she would later design the Hurlburt Hurricane NX 1223 along with another fellow WASP and co-designer, Duke Caldwell. Their aircraft was also known as the Camburn Special, a midget plane designed for air racing.

Logan/Frenzel was one of the first women to participate in the Cleveland Air Races of 1948, although women were only allowed to participate in a secondary race sponsored by Hale Department Store, since women were not permitted to fly in the actual 1948 Cleveland Race.  

I was told that Logan/Frenzel flew a North American T-6 (vintage aircraft racing was popular) and had to do a forced landing, telling others that her plane had been sabotaged. Competition was very fierce, so some women slept in the hangar with their planes to prevent tampering.

Crystal Eagle Award
Northern California Aero Club
Frenzel once stated (according to Robin Reid) that as a WASP ferrying planes, “You just figured it out; men (at the factories and bases) did not help us or tell us how to start the planes.” 

This seems to be consistent with what I have read online about the hostility which some WASP met at factories and bases among men who felt that women should not be in service as pilots, taking jobs from men. As you will read below, others felt that engaging women pilots to perform routine aircraft transport work, allowed men to serve in other more vital capacities during the war.

Logan/Frenzel ended both her Brave Bull waitress employment and her Reid Hill-View flight instructor career as she grew older, opting to become a San Jose school crossing guard later in life. 

She and Amelia Reid were never close according to Robin Reid; he states that they repeatedly argued about the layout and tidiness of the Reid Hill-View aviation school office. However, since both women were raised in small towns during the depression, they bonded as divorced women raising children alone. 
Amelia Reid-Image from
According to Robin Reid, Amelia Reid co-signed on a real estate contract to help Frenzel purchase a home in East San Jose, so Frenzel would have a safe place to raise her three sons; Cal, Glenn and Steve. As Robin Reid said about his mother, "You just did those kind of things to help people, in those days." 

The Chicago Tribune has a wonderful article about Amelia Reid (1924-2001) and her son, commercial pilot Robin Reid, including their history, backgrounds and flying achievements, at:

Frenzel was mentioned briefly in newsletters posted online by The Ninety-Nines’s, a women’s pilot association with chapters around the United States. Frenzel received a CrystalEagle award (see image above) from the Northern California Aero Club, during a program held at Hiller Aviation Museum. Frenzel passed away in 2005; her family still owns some of her planes.

It was very difficult to locate information about Frenzel in WASP source material, so I am indebted to those who knew her* for their contributions to this article. Many thanks to Robin Reid, who was kind enough to call me with information about his mother and Anna Logan/Marge Frenzel.

A wonderful memoir about Reid Hill-View Airport by Jim Meide, mentions Frenzel:

The Wings of History Aviation Museum in San Martin has undoubtedly the best display on the history of women in aviation, found anywhere. Congratulations to their docents and volunteers who spent many hours reproducing photos and adding factual text to the display at their site, for their efforts to remember and honor women pilots, many of whom broke records for speed, altitude and endurance.

Eleanor Thompson Wortz (below) also trained as a WASP in Sweetwater Texas, Class 43-4, just before Logan Frenzel. After the war she had an international career as a linguist and eventually moved to Los Altos with her husband. She worked for a brief time at Moffett Field in Mountain View, before becoming an educator.

If you attended the Los Altos United Methodist Church, took Business courses at the College of San Mateo, or had a swim at the Woodland Vista Swim and Racket Club in Los Altos, you most likely met Eleanor Thompson Wortz (left), who wrote an autobiography about her life and aviation experiences as a WASP, entitled: Fly Gals of World War II: Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). **

Like Logan/Frenzel, Eleanor Wortz is found in the Women Airforce Service Pilot Digital Archive, within the Woman’s Collection online at Texas Woman’s University, with selected biographies, photos and basic data about the WASP program:
Wortz's obituary is found at:
This article lists only a few of our local WASP and aviation heroines. If you search the archive of online magazines produced by the Ninety-Nines’s, a national club for women pilots, the local chapter reports may show the names of former local WASP and women pilots once active in air races and local chapter meetings:

Likewise, the Aero Club of Northern California has honored former WASP for their achievements:

A Northern California Wasp group at one time held annual reunions and posted that information online, yet, as the few remaining local WASP decrease in numbers, sometimes little is known or easily discovered about their lives and roles in the WASP program, if their biographical information has not been published or digitized by those archiving WASP history. TWU (Texas Woman's University) has digitized the publication, WASP NEWS.

History of the WASP

On September 10, 1942, Nancy Harkness Love, under the aegis of the U.S. Air Transport Command, gathered 25 rigidly screened women pilots to create the Women’s Air Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), operating out of New Castle Army Base in Delaware, Maryland. Only 40 women met the qualifications needed to serve. When they were accepted into the program, they had to purchase their own uniforms to ferry planes from aviation factories to military bases.

Similarly, Jackie Cochran, who learned to fly in 1932 while working as a cosmetics salesperson and later won international aviation races, also achieved the first blind instrument landing by a female pilot and set records for altitude and airspeed. She became the first woman to fly a bomber to England during WWII.

More about Jackie Cochran:

The British Air Transport Authority were already recruiting women pilots to move military planes during WWII.

By 1939 Cochran believed that U.S. women could serve in the same manner as women pilots in the UK. She proposed a similar program to Eleanor Roosevelt, however, General Henry “Hap” Arnold rejected her proposal. Not to be dissuaded, Cochran recruited 25 women pilots from the U.S. to train and serve in the war effort overseas by ferrying military aircraft for England, and in her words, to “free a man to fight”. 

It has been said that on her return from England in 1943, Cochran was irate to learn that Nancy Harkness Love had been given permission to train women pilots to serve in the WAFS. Cochran lobbied the military heavily to adopt her original proposal, which included military classes, training and duties for women pilots far beyond just ferrying new military planes to bases.

Eventually, due to Cochran’s perseverance, the WAFS were absorbed into a new service called the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) under her leadership.

Although women who flew sometimes died and were injured during their WASP service, the WASP did not gain full military status until 1977, thanks to Public Law 95-202, Section 401 (PDF), signed by President Jimmy Carter. The new law granted WASP retroactive veteran status. By 1984 WASP were finally awarded WWII Victory Medals. Those who had served one year received the American Theater Campaign Medal. In 2010, WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (see image below).

An excellent slide show, timelines and interviews of then-living WASP may be found on the NPR Web site at:

The NPR WASP timeline features accounts by WASP Margaret Phelan Taylor (images at left) of Palo Alto, as well as the tragic story of Mabel Rawlinson (see images below) who died at age 26 in 1943, when she may have been  hit by friendly fire while towing a practice target for inexperienced aircraft anti-artillery gunner students. 

Some believe Rawlinson's aircraft fuel was sabotaged with sugar by “angry male pilots who resented the females taking over their stateside jobs”, and that the sabotage was covered up by the military. This prompted Jackie Cochran to fly to the site of Rawlinson's crash to conduct her own investigation, where she determined that sugar in the fuel line and a stuck hatch was the cause of the crash.

Rawlinson’s story is told by her niece (unnamed) at:

Read Margaret Phelan Taylor's story on Palo Alto Online. Images of Taylor (above) are from that publication. Here is the direct link to the article about Taylor and Rawlinson, plus Taylor's comments about conditions for WASP in service and lack of military funds for burials, etc., from that publication:

This article is dedicated to WASP and the memory of Mabel Rawlinson.
Images of her are below, taken from her obituary,
written by her niece Pam Pohly, at:

To WASP who served without recognition for so many years;
Thank you for your service.

More Resources:

The Ninety Nines history:

National WASP WWII Museum in Sweetwater Texas:

Wings Across American by Doreen Parrish:

WASPS remembered:

On Eleanor Wortz:

WWII Roster of Women Pilots:

Gilroy Dispatch Article on WASP:


Sources not listed above:

Image of Anna Logan/Marge Frenzel WASP class photo reproduced for educational purposes, from Texas Woman's University online:  

Image of Eleanor Thompson Wortz WASP class photo reproduced for educational purposes, from from Texas Woman's University online:
*Many thanks to Mary Hanel, Santa Clara City Library Genealogy and Local History Librarian (retired) for information about Eleanor Thompson Wortz, to Robin Reid, to Jen Watson of Aerodynamic Aviation and to all of the docents at the Wings of History Aviation Museum in San Martin, California, for their assistance and willingness to answer perhaps far too many questions about WASP in Santa Clara County.  ---C. Alexander.

**(Copyright: Eleanor Thompson Wortz, 2011. Robertson Publishing, Los Gatos, California. ISBN 13: 978-1-61170-034-3; ISBN 10: 1-61170-034-5; LOC Number: 2011929982)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Infinite Looping: The Proposed HWY 280 Junipero Serra Trail to Apple Park

Image result for junipero serra creek trail cupertino
Junipero Serra Trail (the dotted section of the 
proposed "LoopTrail") - City of Cupertino Web site
This post was updated on February 9, 2019.

There are moments when a local history blogger is asked to address current proposals and their impact on the future of families and kids in one region.

This is one of those moments, so I hope you will indulge me as I address a proposal which was discussed by the Cupertino City Council on February 5, 2019. All images are from the City site, unless stated otherwise.

The "Junipero Serra Trail" is a proposed freeway embankment, bike and pedestrian pathway which would be created as part of the Cupertino Loop Trail, between the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge connecting Mary Avenue over 280, then over (or under) De Anza Boulevard along Highway 280, branching to Wolfe Road, Vallco and Main Street. Another segment would extend up and down Tantau Avenue, following Calabazas Creek to Rainbow Drive. (A segment of the Loop Trail would also extend along Regnart Creek.) The Loop Trail would then circle back near Stelling Road along the old railroad tracks, North to Mary Avenue. (Apologies, this is the best I could glean from the maps provided by the City online.

The Trail would pass over or under De Anza Blvd. at 280

You may have guessed that this circuitous trail would be ideal for Apple staff biking between the two campuses and their homes or transit points. The City has referred to the entire trail as "The Loop", mirroring the Apple Infinite Loop address, at:
"The Junipero Serra Trail is one of the trail segments that would make up “The Loop”. It will provide an off-street bicycle and pedestrian facility that runs parallel to the existing Junipero Serra Channel and Calabazas Creek and provide a connection between the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge and Vallco Parkway."
Some residents are rightfully concerned with child, family, home and auto safety at the 280 section of the Loop Trail, particularly since the proposed, non-street pathways and tunnels (also proposed along Calabazas Creek and along the old rail line near Stelling Road) are not visible from streets nor easily paroled by the small Sheriff staff at the West Valley Substation.

Some residents also feel that kids and families walking or biking under roadways, in tunnels, or along freeways, or along the somewhat hidden and walled-in creek paths, create real safety risks with increased crime and assaults, particularly threatening women and children. These real safety concerns are not consistent or reflected in the somewhat sanitized and idealized images presented by Trail proponents and City consultants, as shown in the image below from the City of Cupertino Web pages covering the Loop Trail trail alignments and options:

(The De Anza Blvd.tunnel under HWY 280 presents safety concerns for women and children, as do the fairly hidden locations for the Trail along local creek beds. See photos below.)
Reality Check #1 - Actual image of Regnart Creek, Cupertino

Reality Check #2 - Actual image of Calabazzas Creek near Rainbow Drive

As you can see in the photos of Regnart and Calabazzas Creeks above, the perilous creek Loop Trail sites are hidden by trees and fences. Crimes can occur out of public view, leaving victims unobserved and unaided for hours. Kids can easily slide down the concrete retaining walls into the creeks, causing serious injuries while isolated, with no help available to them, if the Trail is otherwise deserted.

The Junipero Serra Trail adjacent to HWY 280 is planned to extend under the South end of the Blaney Avenue Overpass (where Lucille ends at the older, street-level section of North Blaney), near dense housing developments with many young families and children in residence.

Worse, at that location Lucille Avenue circles under the overpass to old North Blaney Avenue at a blind street corner (see the City Loop Trail Enlargements/Sections illustration below) where there are no sidewalks under the overpass. These conditions prevent motorists and pedestrians on the street from viewing and avoiding swiftly-moving oncoming traffic, which often includes moving vans, multi-axle vehicle haulers and trucks with flat bed or towed major construction equipment, along the Eastern base of the overpass, near Cupertino Lock-It-Up Storage.

That Lucille/North Blaney Avenue blind corner, under the overpass is where the City has proposed a Junipero Serra Trail pedestrian and bike entry and exit access point along HWY 280, leaving many nearby residents concerned, due to the frequent speeders and drivers who ignore stop signs within feet of that blind corner, with oncoming traffic views in both directions blocked by the concrete base of the overpass.

Further, the outer (North) curb under the overpass has an intentional opening to the culvert system along HWY 280. The locked gate at that site is designed to allow emergency and maintenance vehicles access to HWY 280 and the culvert system of underground highway drainage pipes which fan out under the roadway.

This location has no sound wall nor any protections for pedestrians and bikers, should a vehicle moving 65-70 miles per hour on HWY 280 leave the roadway and slam over the culvert onto a proposed Junipero Serra Trail path exiting near Cupertino Lock-It-Up Storage. The safety hazards of a Trail and pedestrian/bicycle access point at this location are serious and numerous.

Instead, diverting walkers and bikers to existing bike lanes and sidewalks along Homestead Road, accomplishes the same goals of connecting walkers and bikers from the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge, past De Anza Boulevard to Wolfe Road, then onto Tantau Avenue, Main Street, Miller, Prospect Avenue and back up to Stelling Road and the Burnett Bridge, with far greater safety and with far greater road and patrol visibility should crimes be attempted.

At Trail planning meetings, area residents stressed that the Lucille/North Blaney Avenue blind corner under the overpass had no space for new sidewalks and no protections from 280 mishaps, and was not an ideal place to encourage increased pedestrian activity, particularly for children, yet residents' comments and urgent concerns conveyed to City consultants were not adequately reflected in the consultant materials placed online for the 280 Junipero Serra section of the Loop Trail.

Problem Blaney Avenue Trail access points at Lucille

(No safe pedestrian Trail access points exist near or under the North Blaney Avenue Overpass, yet this site is the entry/exit point planned for the Junipero Serra Trail section of the Loop Trail, according to consultants. The lack of a protecting concrete sound wall or crash barriers between HWY 280 and the proposed Trail pedestrian access areas are shown in the photos. Cupertino Trail Site Images )

Even Trail planners at the City state that the planned Lucille/North Blaney Avenue Trail access point at the corner is far too "pinched" for safe trail access and lacks protections from auto accidents on HWY 280. (See page 69, Draft Junipero Serra Trail Feasibility Study: Trail Alignments. "Pinch Point Below Blaney Avenue".) The study states in that section:
"Pinch Point Below Blaney Avenue 
Further east, the trail encounters a challenging 100’ long section starting below the Blaney Avenue over crossing to the open Junipero Serra Channel adjacent to Cupertino Lock It Up storage. At the bend of North Blaney Avenue, there is a 10’ wide pinch point between the sound wall and metal beam guard rail. A potential solution for widening the trail here is to shift the street curb line 2’ inward and relocate the guard rail accordingly. "
More text and the corner image from page 69 of the Draft Junipero Serra Trail Feasibility Study, where the roadway closely abuts HWY 280, with no sound wall barrier:

Most residents in the area are very concerned as to how this entry/exit point near Cupertino Lock-It-Up Storage was ever chosen for a Junipero Serra Trail access point along HWY 280 and why it remains in the plans, despite multiple safety issues.

Lucille Avenue has had multiple car break-ins impacting vehicles parked along the 280 side of the roadway. Plus, the connecting area of old North Blaney Avenue has experienced frequent, late night car-repossessions with multi-axle haulers blocking part of the narrow roadway at the base of the Olivewood side of the overpass, in the dark, just feet from the blind corner chosen for Trail access and pedestrian usage, shown in these photos.

Moving vans and other cars entering and leaving Cupertino Lock-It-Up Storage and on Olivewood Road at The Pointe, often park near this blind corner, with some Pointe residents ignoring the stop sign at Olivewood, assuming that no cars ever approach from the blind corner or from Lucille, under the overpass.

If the City wants to decrease severe pedestrian risks in the proposed Loop Trail plan, they will delete this Lucille/North Blaney Avenue blind corner as the site for a proposed Junipero Serra/Loop Trail access point.

This issue and this site is one of the main reasons I wrote this column on behalf of some residents, since some neighbors expressed strong concerns repeatedly about this access point and access elsewhere along the length of Lucille Avenue to the City at Trail planning sessions, however their concerns seemed to have been minimized in the documents which Trail consultants placed online for the City.

(To eliminate confusion between the two North Blaney Avenues which proceed both over the Blaney Avenue overpass and below the southeastern side of that overpass, the lower section of North Blaney near Olivewood, could be renamed "Old North Blaney Avenue". That street name change could then appear in City documents and in updated street maps in print and online, eliminating much ongoing confusion for residents in this area. As you can see from the Google map below, the street name "North Blaney" does not appear below the black arrow on the eastern side of the overpass, where that road appears to be a continuation of Lucille Avenue, unless the user enlarges the map significantly. This could easily be resolved, if the name of that old, Eastern section of North Blaney Avenue was to be renamed, "Old North Blaney Avenue".)

(The blind corner location of the proposed pedestrian Loop Trail access point along HWY 280, where Lucille meets the original, pre-overpass level of North Blaney Avenue at Cupertino Lock-It-Up Storage, past Olivewood Street. North Blaney (West) to Merritt Drive leads to Apple Infinite Loop. North Blaney (East) to Homestead Road (East) leads to Wolfe Road, Tantau, Apple Park, Vallco and Main Street. Google Map )

Most pedestrians avoid walking under the North Blaney Avenue overpass and stay on the sidewalk along Villa De Anza Avenue, near the Verandas Apartments, then cross over the 280 overpass, or walk south towards Merritt Avenue on North Blaney. (Consultants proposed a new sidewalk shifted two feet into the roadway from the existing curb at the East end of Lucille where it meets "old" North Blaney, along the metal barrier of the curb you see in the photos above. A three-foot sidewalk shift into the existing roadway would be even better, however, that would not remove the dangers from this blind corner where motorists approaching from either direction are not able to see kids or pedestrians on the other side of the tall concrete and dirt base of the overpass.) This is absolutely not a place to encourage foot or bicycle traffic, for obvious reasons which can be clearly viewed in the photos above.

This, along with speeding along Lucille and the lack of any 280 accident barrier wall at the proposed Junipero Serra Trail access point has residents in the area concerned about child and family safety.

When a "creek trail" is not anywhere near a creek:

The above section of the Loop Trail was referred to as the Junipero Serra Creek Trail in some City public hearing sessions. To correct that misstatement, the culvert along Highway 280 is actually a man-made drainage ditch to collect run-off from the roadway. The visible, surface-level culverts are connected to large cement pipes underground which are interconnected throughout HWY 280.

The area under or near HWY 280 in this section of Cupertino has never historically been the site of any creek. The site under the roadway previously consisted of orchards where City water was piped in for irrigation of trees and crops.

In summer, particularly during drought months, the culvert and the curb sewer drains in this area emit a rotten odor, as effluent settles and dries with no water to wash it away. Occasionally, when residents complain, the Sanitary District will flush out the culverts and sewer pipes in this area to relieve the sewage smell.

(No creeks here; this was all orchard land before 280 was built.)

When an overpass is really an older, unsteady dirt structure:

Residents who lived here years ago watched the North Blaney Avenue overpass being constructed in the 1970's. It consists of layers of dirt pushed upward by bulldozers into a wedge, reinforced by only one concrete wall on its North side, then topped by a concrete and asphalt roadway with some concrete supports underneath the tallest point of the dirt structure. This is not where residents want kids or families to linger, especially as this region is adjacent to the San Andreas Fault.

When residents don't want their homes near new (or old) gaps in HWY 280 sound walls:

There is a sound wall along 280 made of concrete bricks. The proposed trail will open up some sections of the sound wall, vastly increasing loud and continual highway noise at all hours, for nearby residents.

Residents living nearest to the overpass will be doubly-impacted, since freeway noise bounces off the concrete underside of the overpass roadway like an echo chamber, magnifying the decibels and distance which the loud and continual road noise travels into area neighborhoods, at all hours of the day and night, near family homes.

Why PG&E power towers should not be moved closer to family homes:

Another aspect of the 280 Trail plan is to move some existing PG&E power line towers closer to residential homes, to create more room for the trail along the freeway culverts. Exposure to these towers is controversial, from a health and safety perspective.

More information on power line towers and health studies relating to cancers, can be found, at Forbes Magazine online, which has links to recent studies and reports.

Why Tumbling Tumbleweeds should remain a classic song by the Sons of the Pioneers, not a new, local health and safety anthem for Cupertino residents:

Trash viewed all along HWY 280 berms in our Valley, may become trash strewn along the proposed Junipero Serra 280 Loop Trail path, very near to homes and two busy schools in Cupertino, where children might walk, bike and play, unsupervised.

Some residents regularly pick up plastic water and soda cans and bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers, large boxes, bags of tossed trash, cigarette boxes, paper coffee cups, used diapers, beer cans, used personal products, etc., from accessible freeway ramps and the sides of overpasses and streets in this City near their homes, so local kids will not have access to that trash and it will not build up, encouraging more illegal dumping and trash in our neighborhoods.

Likewise, Cal-trans has recently cleared-out trash and hidden encampments on berms between Lawrence Expressway and Saratoga Avenue exits along Highway 280, yet trash along 280 now seems omnipresent and continually visible on connecting berms along HWY 17/880, Hwy 85 and along most freeway landscaping in on-ramps and off-ramps of HWY 280, as you can see below.

According to some Cupertino residents, the last thing the City of Cupertino and residents need are new breaks in HWY 280 sound walls with new, easily-accessible, adjacent freeway paths, all ripe for dumping and illegal camping, near two area schools (Collins and Lawson) and single-family or apartment homes on nearby residential streets.

How have other Valley creek trails fared?

A similar City creek trail project was executed along the length of Guadalupe River in San Jose', leading to increased area crime, continual garbage cleanup efforts plus ongoing encampment problems:
"One reason people still shy away from the river is obvious. This neglected space through the city’s core is also where booming Silicon Valley pushes the societal injustices it wants to ignore. San José estimates more than 4,000 homeless people live in the city, and many of them make a life along the river. Walk or bike the trail, and you see tents under every overpass. Makeshift shelters grow thick in the willows lining the east bank of the river near downtown. It is clearly an environmental concern: Roger Castillo told me he sees homeless people poaching salmon and disturbing redds, leaving trash in the river, and digging into restored banks. Others told me people avoid the river because they fear the encampments."
---Eric Simons, Bay Nature Magazine: July-September 2018 (online)
"“The health hazard from the homeless using the creeks as a restroom is a major problem,” he said. “And the trash issue is large. Some of it is toxic materials — paint cans, hazardous waste.” --Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group, November 24, 2014 (online)
Encampments, sewage, trash and pollutants
mar San Jose's Guadalupe Creek
Mercury News
Coyote Creek in San Jose' has experienced the same issues with ongoing trash and encampments:
"The site was a place of misery where perhaps the nation’s largest homeless encampment, numbering as many as 300 people, once spread along a polluted Coyote Creek...Fencing and boulders were erected next to Story Road to discourage trespassers from coming back to the city-owned land. Rangers regularly patrol the area, breaking what had been an endless cycle of the vast encampment re-emerging after every cleanup. 
Make no mistake: This site is not pristine. Trash still is visible in some places beneath new plant growth, and tires and other debris poke out of the drought-lowered creek. The hard-packed ground also is rutted from the heavy equipment that plowed through for the final sweep that came amid December rainstorms. And it’s not uncommon for rangers to encounter a homeless person camping in an out-of-the-way spot." ---Mark Emmons, San Jose's "Jungle", San Jose' Mercury News: June 20, 2017 (online)

Coyote Creek encampment, San Jose Mercury News

Area School Crossing Guards, adjacent school streets (and City crew workers) are already overloaded:

The Loop Trail, while a good concept for outdoor exercise and for enhanced bike and foot transit, would place more stress on neighborhood crossing guards near Lawson School and conceivably, near Collins School, due to increased auto traffic, foot traffic and bike usage, particularly near the back entrance to the Apple Infinite Loop campus near Lawson School at Merritt Drive. (The West end of Merritt Drive connects with Larry Way and Randy Lane behind Apple Infinite Loop, where more Junipero Serra Loop Trail access points are being planned for the West end of Lucille Avenue, along HWY 280).

School crossing guards are not police officers nor traffic cops, yet they are already at risk, as are kids attending Lawson and Collins schools, due to intense traffic snarls and backups, as single family cars block driveways, clog streets and sometimes make illegal U-turns on Merritt, North Blaney and Vista Drive, to pick up children at both schools.

Even the best monitoring does not seem to prevent parents and children from darting between moving, waiting or parked cars or to jay-walk across clogged streets beyond crossing guards and crosswalks, in an attempt to more quickly reach waiting cars, parents or children, before and after school hours.

The situation has become so badly congested with complete gridlock existing on these three streets and their connecting roads between 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., then again between 2:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., that local residents are rightfully concerned that increased foot and bicycle traffic may further worsen conditions, which are already at critical gridlock mass, if the two proposed City Junipero Serra/Loop Trail access points along HWY 280 at Lucille and North Blaney avenues, and along HWY 280 on Lucille near Randy Lane and Larry Way, were to be built, according to Trail planners.

City of Cupertino Workers
Likewise, City Roads, Trees and Maintenance crews are already overloaded with work. Residents notice that City crews seem to be out working at dawn, seven days a week, rain or shine, week after week. Does the City really want to stretch crews further adding new miles of trash pickup and performing more acres of path and tree maintenance, when some projects have been left in limbo for years? (Think of the many years in which the Memorial Park duck ponds and fountains have remained empty concrete basins, when they could have been converted into acres of lovely, low-water native plant and succulent demonstration gardens--an improvement residents could enjoy, the City could be proud of and a project which could be used as an educational site for school visits and horticultural groups.)

Apple, once again, seems to be at the core of this project:

Many residents love Apple and recognize Apple walkers, bikes and bike riders. Residents report driving slowly behind Apple workers as they ride side-by-side in pairs while talking in the middle of local streets, or to avoid Apple bike riders gliding past stop signs in residential areas, or driving cautiously to avoid Apple workers who jaywalk on Lazaneo and Bandley Drive while heading to the Apple Cafe' and nearby restaurants.

With gratitude for all that Apple has done for Cupertino, residents continue to pick up silver Apple bikes left on sidewalks and landscaping, placing the Apple bikes back on street corners, hoping someone from Apple will claim them. Now, residents notice lime green GPS bikes where Apple workers seem to travel along mid-campus routes, popping up near corners and in the middle of sidewalks.

Again, these issues could be much worse, since residents also enjoy a more diverse and creative University-like vibe, with top-notch technical talent, an energetic, multicultural, entrepreneurial dynamic,  all of which inspires edgy new businesses and eateries, in a City which has now become a global center for new technology and innovation.

Apple bike at Infinite Loop
With that in mind, let's just say kindly and with no ill-will, that some residents believe that Apple already has provided a lot of free benefits for workers, including silver shuttle buses, catered meals and the aforesaid free bike usage.

When the City may have done enough for Apple:

Creating a City-subsidized path along HWY 280 for the biking and walking ease of Apple workers to and from Cupertino Apple campuses, after the City has already invested in numerous wide, green-striped bike paths and sleek new speed bumps near Apple campuses, Apple staff commute routes and Apple staff after-work hangouts and eateries, makes it seem to some Cupertino residents that the City has done enough for Apple workers.

(Pruneridge Avenue previously began at Wolfe Road. Pruneridge Avenue changes names, becomes Hedding Street, then Berryessa Road, which leads directly to Piedmont Road and Penitencia Creek Road, the entrance to Alum Rock Park. Click on the link below to view a larger version of this map. Google Map )

Residents recall that the City devoted an entire, now-lost section of Pruneridge Avenue between Wolfe and Tantau, once a wonderful biking and walking path which changed names yet extended East across the Valley all the way to Piedmont Avenue and the entrance to Alum Rock Park, to accommodate the new Apple Park campus and its new entrance on Wolfe Road.

Now, two new, poorly-timed intersection lights on Wolfe Avenue at what was once the beginning of Pruneridge Avenue (between Homestead and HWY 280) at the new Wolfe entrance to Apple Park, create multiple backups and increased co2 emissions from idling vehicles, as frustrated drivers wait, then wait, then wait some more, just to access ramps for HWY 280 or continue on Wolfe to Vallco, Main Street, Stevens Creek and Miller Avenue.

Sure, we would all love to live in a charming version of a new South Bay-style Amsterdam (a new windmill for Memorial Park and canals along Stevens Creek and De Anza Blvd.? Sounds great!) Yet, the City allowed our town to become far too overdeveloped for that green option.

At the very least, the City should be creating more SB-35 affordable housing for workers employed at all wage levels in Cupertino at the old Vallco site and at other City locations, plus, parks for kids on the Northeast side of town.

The City should avoid creating what is essentially a new version of a medieval boundary/ring road for bike riders and walkers, which a relatively low number of residents will actually use, due to the excessively noisy, drainage ditch-abutting location along HWY 280.

The planned placement of new paths in hidden vistas, along HWY 280, inside walled and steep stream beds, and through tunnels---all areas devoid of even minimal safety sight-lines from streets and sidewalks, are a huge safety concern for area women and children.

The proposed Trail path along HWY 280 (and the Loop Trail in general) seem somewhat ill-advised, according to some residents, particularly when just a few feet from Infinite Loop and HWY 280 on De Anza Blvd., Homestead Road leads directly to Wolfe Road and Apple Park, to Tantau and thus to Main Street and the Calabazas and Regnart Creek areas. Many of these streets were newly paved, with new or existing well-maintained sidewalks and bike lanes already prepared for bicycle riders and walkers, when Apple Park was being constructed.

The HWY 280 Junipero Serra Trail proposal in particular seems like an expensive and unnecessary project, duplicating already existing bicycle and pedestrian sidewalk paths which were just created in recent years (and at great expense to tax payers), while so many other projects in Cupertino were and are still, left in limbo, and are more critically needed according to some residents.

Cupertino's critically needed improvements, on hold:
  • More SB-35 Affordable Housing for seniors and other wage-inclusive workers and families at Vallco and elsewhere in the City
  • A new, multi-story parking garage for the library.
  • A new City Hall and expanded Community/City Council Room, with adequate new and separate multi-story parking to accommodate residents attending public City planning meetings and City Council meetings, which may take place while the library is open.
  • Subsidized programs plus a ground-level, senior-appropriate pool, gym, screening room, stage and wood dance floor, for the Senior Center
  • A new Teen Center with subsidized educational and social programs for youth, as well as teen robotics, engineering, art, music, recording and digital media production labs.
  • A Cupertino Heritage Museum building and grounds, including a Heritage Orchard and Heritage Vineyard (to replace the poor substitute of one small room in Quinlan Center, with most of Cupertino's history and artifacts left stored in an outbuilding on Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant property.) Cupertino residents deserve a real museum to honor the City's history, founders and role in fruit-growing, wine-making and technology, and as a new site for school visits and adequate City history displays and artifacts. Cupertino has lagged far behind other Silicon Valley cities which have created acres of buildings, displays and grounds, to honor their pasts.)
These needed projects above seem to be areas where some residents would prefer new, value-added expenditures to occur in the City, since the above projects would serve residents of all ages and physical abilities, in a safe and accessible manner, unlike the proposed Loop Trail, which duplicates existing, newly-created bicycle lanes and designated pedestrian areas in Cupertino.

Que' Serra, Serra: What will be (and most agree, should not continue to be):

Stanford has begun the process of removing the name of Junipero Serra from site names on campus. More localities are recognizing that his name should never be chosen for civic or private projects, due to ethical concerns.

The only known portrait of Junipero Serra.

In September 2018, Stanford University decided to remove the name of Junipero Serra from campus buildings, citing that Serra and other Franciscan missionaries imposed religion on indigenous peoples, forced slave labor on native populations and decimated tribes with new diseases brought to native communities through his missionary work. To many, according to the CNN report, "Serra represents Europe's imperial conquest of native peoples." 

City staff could be sensitive in naming projects since some historic figures and symbols represent acts of genocide, subjugation of native populations, plus other regrettable moments in history, which should not be celebrated.

The Junipero Serra name should have been avoided, since HWY 280 (as it is referred to now), yet once held Serra's name, has not been referred to as such over the last twenty years once Serra's actual legacy was revealed, in contrast with what many were taught for years in grade school. There have been many calls to remove Serra's statue from a San Mateo County HWY 280 Vista Point rest stop.

To conclude: A request from some concerned residents:

City of Cupertino, please do not build the Junipero Serra (HWY 280 )Trail, nor the Loop Trail in Cupertino.

Some Cupertino residents are not agreeable to:
  • The proposed Loop Trail access points near homes and schools 
  • Trails over or along deep and fairly hidden-from-view creek beds
  • Removing sections of HWY 280 sound walls
  • Pedestrian access points (or trails) along HWY 280, Lucille Avenue and "old" North Blaney, abutting HWY 280, and the proposed Junipero Serra Trail portion of The Loop Trail
  • Trail paths with no crash or sound barriers between HWY 280 roadways and culverts, and the proposed Junipero Serra portion of The Loop Trail
  • Obscured or missing safety sight-lines for paths in tunnels and along stream sites, plus the problems "hidden" paths creates for law enforcement while keeping residents, women and kids safe
  • The increased risks of more trash and encampments on sections of proposed trail paths and access points adjacent to HWY 280 and all around the City
  • The entire Loop Trail series of paths and access points, which are planned too near to local homes and schools, negatively impacting safety patrolling ability as well as nearby residents' privacy, safety and noise levels.
  • The new safety issues created for kids, schools, neighborhoods and safety vehicles, when more pedestrians, bicycles and other motorized or self-propelled travel and recreation transport methods, are added to morning and afternoon school traffic gridlock near Loop Trail access points
  • Time and extensive/expensive City funds directed to Loop Trail studies, public meetings, artist renderings, flyers, booklets, Web sites and consultants, when the above "Cupertino's Critically Needed Improvements" bullet points are left unresolved, year after year in Cupertino, leading to parking gridlock at the library and at City Hall (where employees have to struggle to find parking a block away) plus a severe housing shortage for new workers and service workers, throughout the City.
Please improve and better utilize the many newly-paved roads and new, wide, green-striped bike lanes in Cupertino, instead of creating yet another expensive project which duplicates recent City taxpayer outlays for already-completed pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

There are already existing wide and recently painted green-striped bike lanes, plus newly paved streets and improved sidewalks, near HWY 280, the Apple campuses, the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge, Main Street, City Hall, Stelling Road, Homestead Avenue and streets near the Regnart and Calabazas creek beds.
  • Instead, choose to better utilize Homestead Avenue and its bike lanes and existing landscaped sidewalks, to best protect Apple workers, local families, kids and nearby schools, on the first leg of a City-wide route between the Mary Avenue, Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge, Apple Infinite Loop, Apple Park, Tantau and Main Street.
  • From Main Street, instead of a new trail, please choose the new bike lanes and sidewalks on the newly painted and paved Wolfe Road, which becomes Miller Avenue when it crosses Stevens Creek. 
  • From Miller Avenue bike lanes and sidewalks, walkers and bike riders may continue on Miller to Prospect Avenue bike lanes and sidewalks, by turning right on Prospect, then proceeding past De Anza Blvd., where Prospect veers North and becomes Stelling Road, again, with more existing bike lanes and sidewalks. 
  • On Stelling, bike paths and sidewalks continue past Stevens Creek Blvd., where Stelling becomes Hollenbeck. Bike lanes and sidewalks continue on Hollenbeck leading past Whole foods, Quinlan Center, Memorial Park and finally, back to Homestead Avenue bike lanes and sidewalks, all with access back to the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge at Mary Avenue. 

All in all, this is a far more direct, visible and safe route, and a much more logical, inexpensive and family-safe route, to accomplish better City-wide bicycle and pedestrian journey from to and from the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge, through residential and commerce areas, on to Vallco, Main Street and the Apple campuses.

Thank you for taking the time to read the concerns of some Cupertino residents on this site.

Residents attended a Cupertino City Council Junipero Serra Trail Feasibility Study session on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 5:45 p.m., at the City of Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue, Cupertino. Agenda and meeting documents may be found online. Parking is very limited during library open hours at City Hall, so not all residents may have been able to attend the Council session.