This San Jose neighborhood is in danger of losing its shady trees

Harrison Street is one of those old enclaves of Willow Glen in San Jose, a neighborhood that was expanded and broken by railroad tracks as the city grew in the late 1940s and early 1950s. And like many such streets in the city, one of the defining features is the camphor canopy that stretches from Fuller Avenue to Harrison’s dead end street.

However, this may not be the case for long. In early April, the City of San Jose published relocation notices on 15 of the 25 towering trees on Harrison Street, citing the damage to the curbs and gutters and the potential loss of roots from the street renovation that year. But losing the decade-old trees and the shade that comes with them doesn’t go well with some neighbors who worry the city is sacrificing what makes the road so special to improve it.

SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 23: Mary Pizzo, resident of Harrison Street, left, Mary Jo Hyland and John Francis Maggio stand next to camphor trees marked for removal from the city in San Jose, California on Friday, April 23, 2021 15 of the 25 trees that form a canopy along Harrison Street could be removed for breaking the concrete. The residents refuse to remove the trees. (Ray Chavez / Bay Area News Group)

“This community forest is a shady piece of heaven, even if Highway 280 and Caltrain are providing background music,” said resident Mary Pizzo, who took to the streets in 1987 with her husband John Francis Maggio, who occupy this house. Many of our neighbors worked at the Del Monte canning factory. They walked down the railroad at the end of our street as a shortcut to get to work. “

Any trees that are removed will of course be replaced, but they can take many years to deliver something near the same canopy.

Larry Ames, a San Jose park inspector who lives in Willow Glen, is also protesting and submitting a protest letter to the city’s transportation department.

He says he sometimes “bathed in the woods” under the camphor trees on Westwood Drive and planted the trees on his curb on Willow Street 40 years ago. “But I have to admit that the camphores along Fuller and Harrison seem bigger and healthier than anyone else,” he wrote. “I appreciate that San Jose repairs and repairs residential streets, and it makes sense to do any necessary curb repairs before restoring. But please don’t destroy the village to save it or deforest this beautiful tree-lined road to rehabilitate it. “

Ames is hoping the city can find a way to fix the gutters and pave the street without taking the trees out, and his letter should spark a hearing on the matter before the trees are removed, although nothing has been finalized. Last but not least, this is a good example of how the city trying to do the right thing – repairing older roads – can have undesirable consequences.

BOOST FOR URBAN PLANNING AT SJSU: Kelly Snider, a well-known city planner and development consultant in Silicon Valley, has taken on a new role in the state of San Jose with a $ 1 million gift to establish the first endowed professorship at the SJSU College of Social Sciences. She will lead the Advanced Certificate Program in Real Estate Development in the Urban and Regional Planning Department, where she has been a part-time teacher since its inception in 2014.

Scott Lefaver, a San Jose State graduate who was among the first to earn a Masters in Urban Planning, made a seven-figure donation to help create the position. Lefaver has been a lecturer in urban and regional planning himself since 1974 and launched the program in 2014 together with Mark Lazzarini, Eli Reinhardt and the late Charles W. Davidson.

“SJSU and this expanded program will bridge the gap between for-profit development and growth for the community,” said Snider. “We can have both. I am very excited to expand my role at SJSU and Scott Lefaver is the reason I can. “

DONATION DELIVERED TO HARKER: Andy Fang, Co-Founder of DoorDash, made a large $ 10 million donation to the Harker School in San Jose this month to help set up an alumni scholarship fund. Fang, who graduated from Harker in 2010, created the grocery delivery service – then called – with Stanford classmates Evan Moore, Stanley Tang and Tony Xu in 2013.

Fang became a billionaire when the company went public in December, and he sees this fund – which provides on-demand financial support for students who qualify for admission but otherwise couldn’t afford the private K-12 school – as a way to do this back.

“Great education is one of the best ways to level the playing field for disadvantaged children,” said Fang in a statement. “I hope this foundation can help families in underserved communities make the American dream come true.”

A decade of support: The Jim McEntee Legacy Committee / Friends of Human Relationships celebrated 10 years of helping community college students transition to four-year schools during the group’s virtual scholarship benefit Thursday night. Santa Clara District Director Cindy Chavez shared the legacy of McEntee, who served as director of the Santa Clara District Office of Human Relations for 27 years until his death in 2004. (No, we’re not talking about the human resources department, which deals with employees, but an office that advocates the civil and human rights of Santa Clara County residents.)

James McEntee, Sr. Civic Center Plaza in the county government center is named in his honor, but many believe he would be even more proud of the scholarship program, which has raised more than $ 242,000 to fund 133 scholarships since 2007 (with Plans for) awarded $ 40,000 to 20 students this year). Two previous fellows, Manuel Santana and Diana Urias, spoke during the online program.

If you missed the Thursday event, don’t worry. For more information and to make a donation, visit

Comments are closed.