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What’s Happening in California’s Oldest City?

Ellen Garboske Ellen Garboske

We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend, Ellen Garboske. Ellen was a current Board member and a very active PAC-SJ supporter. In 2004 she was named a Preservation Heroine.  Here is the article about her from the Winter 2004 issue of our newsletter, Continuity. Ellen will be missed by all whose lives she touched. We extend our thoughts and sympathies to Ellen's family at this difficult time. Thank you for sharing her with us all these years.

PACSJ Summer Walking Tours

Mark your calendars for the third Saturday of the month from May through August. At 10:00 on those days, we’ll be setting out to explore different neighborhoods in San Jose.   There will be a bonus afternoon walk in October.  

July 18, 10 AM - Celebrate the 125th Anniversary by taking a walk around Japantown.  

August 15, 10 AM - Tour National Historic District and original port of Santa Clara & San Jose, Alviso.  

October 24, 4 PM - Join a late afternoon walk to view the Neon Signs along and near San Carlos Ave.

Tickets and more information here.

Visual San Jose - Photo Contest 2015

The contest winner's photos were displayed at a Reception Party on June 16, which coincided with a "Closing Party" for Southern Lumber.  We will certainly miss Southern Lumber.   Awards included cash and products from our sponsors.  Winners in each of three categories — Youth (under 19 years old), Non-Professional and Professional — will appear in the June/July issue of Content Magazine.

We received a whopping 157 entries for this year's contest!  View the winning photos here.

Best in Show -  “Fade to Grey”  By Christina Warren


  • 1st – “Casa Grande/New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum” by RonHorii 
  • 2nd – “Historic Willow Glen Trestle” by Lee Viray Cahili 
  • 3rd – “Sunset Vista Renaissance Revival” by Dennis Mellican 


  • 1st – “Yellow House, Little Italy” by Agnieszka Jakubowicz 
  • 2nd – “Willow Glen Trestle (1921-22)” by James Watkins 
  • 3rd – “Bridge Over Red Withered Chair” by Kymberli Weed Brady 


  • 1st – “My City, My World” by Cynthia Voly
  • 2nd – “Henry’s Hi-Life” by Sydney Martin 
  • 3rd – “Century Theater” by Samantha Ledbetter

Honorable mentions were also awarded to:  Basim Jaber, Emily Funkouser, Craig Scoffone, Alayne Yellum, Tay Othman, Edgar Ramirez, Edward Arroyo, Katherine McGowan and Alyssa Miller.

The subject of three winning photos from the Visual San Jose Historic Photo Contest 2015 was the Willow Glen Trestle. It is a wonderful example of HISTORIC San Jose and we fear it will be demolished soon, replaced by a boring ordinary steel bridge.

Visual San Jose is hosted by the Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC*SJ), the San Jose Historic Landmarks Commission and Content Magazine.  We want to thank and are grateful to the following for their sponsorship: Southern Lumber, Whole Foods, Content Magazine, Garden City Construction, Keeble & Shuchat Photography, Richard Dischler Photo Workshops, Bay Photo, Rocky Nook, SanDisk, San Jose Water Company, Schoennauer Company, Leah Toensikoetter and Big Dog Vineyard.

The PACSJ Summer Yard Sale 

Mark your calendars!  The Summer edition of the PACSJ Yard and Salvage sale will be August 20, 21 & 22.   

ACTION ALERT! Tuesday, June 23, 7 PM — San Jose City Hall Council Chambers.

The Appeal of the Planning Director’s approval of the Historic Preservation Permit for Park View Towers will be heard Tuesday evening, June 23. The item will be heard during the evening session of the City Council which begins at 7 PM. Also being heard that night is the appeal of the Planning Director’s approval of the Site Development Permit for the same project. 

We believe the project does not comply with the St. James Square Historic District Design Guidelines, the San Jose Downtown Zoning Ordinance, the San Jose Envision 2040 General Plan, and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation. 

The proposed project includes two high-rise towers which are in violation of the height restrictions for the Historic District. As a result, we also believe the project overwhelms the historic First Church as shown in the illustration. The project does include a proposal to restore the historic church. We believe the church should be restored and the integrity of the Historic District should be maintained. 

See the attached letter that more fully details the areas of concern. If you agree that the project should conform to the City’s policies then please attend the City Council meeting and/or contact the Mayor and your Councilmember. 

You can email the Mayor and Council at the addresses below: 

  • Mayor Sam Liccardo - 
  • D1 - Councilmember Charles “Chappie” Jones - 
  • D2 - Councilmember Ash Kalra - 
  • D3 - Councilmember Raul Peralez - 
  • D4 - Councilmember Margie Matthews - 
  • D5 - Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco - 
  • D6 - Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio - 
  • D7 - Councilmember Tam Nguyen - 
  • D8 - Councilmember Rose Herrera - 
  • D9 - Councilmember Don Rocha - 
  • D10 - Councilmember Johhny Khamis - 

Thanks for your support. Hope to see you at the June 23 City Council meeting.

For more information, view our appeal letter Park View Towers Appeal370.pdf

"It's About Time" San Jose Clock Tower Project

PACSJ board member and tireless Clock Tower spokesman was recently interviewed about the subject on Channel KMVT, community TV. View John's interview here.

The movement to restore the Clock Tower of the San Jose Museum of Art to its original height is picking up steam.  The clock and the tower of former San Jose Post Office building were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.  The restoration, begun in 1908, intended to rebuild the original tower was cut short - A new clock was installed in a shorter tower but the full restoration of the tower's height was not completed.  Check out why the clock and the tower are so special to the history of San Jose, and what you can do to get involved.

Website and on Facebook


For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.   PAC-SJ is now an Amazon Associate.  PAC-SJ automatically earns a referral fee of 0.5% (or higher) on all products, including those sold by third-party merchants. 

Here’s how it works: Click this Amazon link. Select your items and complete your purchases as you normally would.

Thanks for your support!

Help save the Century Theater Domes! Sign the Online Petition!!

You may know that the Century Theatres on Winchester are at risk of being demolished as the City explores possibilities to redevelop the site.

Along with our friends at the Retro Dome/Guggenheim Entertainment, we have launched an online petition asking our City leaders to preserve one or all of the Domes and direct the new developer to incorporate the Dome(s) into any proposed development.

Join the many Silicon Valley residents in favor of preserving these historically significant venues. We believe the Domes should be saved and reused, and incorporated into any development proposal. One example of reuse would be preserving Century 22 to provide a home to The Retro Dome, which occupied a sister Dome on Saratoga Avenue but was recently displaced when plans were announced to demolish the former Century 25. A wonderfully historic building would be saved from the wrecking ball and The Retro Dome would be reborn and serve as a home to multiple Silicon Valley-based performing arts groups.

Sign the petition now:  Watch for more information as the campaign to Save the Domes moves forward.

Do you want to learn about what development is planned for your Council District?

You can sign up for email notifications on the city web site:

"The City of San Jose is committed to providing the information and opportunities to encourage residents and other interested parties to follow development activity in their community and to actively participate in the land use development process. To this end the City offers an email subscription service where by you can be informed of recently submitted development applications in your community. if you sign up for this service, you will receive an email informing you that the Planning Division has received a development or permit application located within a given geographic area that you select. This service provides notification on most planning permits. If you would like to be noticed via email, choose subscribe and it will take you to the registration process."

Here's the link:

Smokey says "You too can prevent Historic Structure Fires!"

OK, Smokey didn't say that.  But PACSJ may need a fire prevention mascot of its own soon.  Help prevent the loss of even more historic structures to fire and vandalism by helping the City enforce its Vacant Building Ordinance.  File an online complaint on the City's website. 

Start here:

On the left side under "Online Services" click on "Submit an Online Blight Complaint." From there fill out the appropriate information. If enough people file complaints maybe the City will pay attention and work harder to protect these historic resources.

San Jose Public Library Foundation presents SCAN JOSE - Grab your smartphone to learn about the history of San Jose!

Explore historical downtown San Jose  - One smartphone = 3 walking tours! SJPL has created three walking tours of downtown San Jose that you can take using your smartphone and your feet! Go to to see images from the California Room Collection while standing at the locations that the photographs were taken. Think of it as a time machine in the palm of your hand!

There are three tours to choose from:
A Walk Around the Plaza - takes you on a loop around Plaza de Cesar Chavez
Tragedies and Calamities - a no holds barred look at some of the tragic events in San Jose history
Old Santa Clara Street - highlights some of the great architecture that has sprung up and come down over the years.

PAC-SJ is looking for a few qualified applicants to be considered for openings on our Board. Help us pursue our mission of preserving the architectural heritage of San Jose and help educate homeowners, developers, and decision-makers about the importance of historic preservation