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Viva CalleSJ is back this weekend — but San Jose may cut back future events

Viva CalleSJ is back this weekend — but San Jose may cut back future events

Viva CalleSJ is back on Sunday, once again closing about six miles of San Jose streets to vehicle traffic and opening them to bikes, pedestrians, skateboarders and strollers. The open-streets events have been increasingly popular since they started here in 2015, leading up to it happening three times this year.

But you should enjoy it while you can because the San Jose City Council may vote next week to curtail the Viva CalleSJ program, as well as the citywide Viva Parks initiative. The proposed cuts are part of an effort to re-balance the city’s budget after room is made for raises with unionized workers that were agreed to last month to avoid a strike.

The cuts would reduce the number of Viva CalleSJ events from three to two and would eliminate 25 percent of the 100 Viva Parks outdoor activations that take place throughout the city, as well as reduce positions in the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services department. By comparison, there are eight open-streets events scheduled in Los Angeles for this year.

Ed Solis, the city’s former Viva Calle czar who retired this summer, fought for years to get permanent funding for the program included in the city’s general budget instead of having it rely on one-time grants and other temporary funding sources. He says it will probably take years to get back to full funding  — especially the personnel positions — if the council votes to cut it next week.

“Viva CalleSJ and Viva Parks are equity and access programs designed to engage and activate our most needy communities. It’s a big hit to underserved areas of San Jose,” said Solis, who has been rallying advocates to make their views known at next Tuesday’s council meeting.

But another good way for residents to show their support for Viva CalleSJ is to come out to Sunday’s event, which will connect activity hubs in Japantown, at Kelley Park and at Tamien Park in the Calle Willow neighborhood between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The route will close Fourth Street between downtown and Japantown, Second Street from downtown south to Willow Street and Keyes Street/Willow Street between Senter Road and Pepitone Avenue. You can get a map and other information at www.vivacallesj.org.

There’ll be food trucks entertainment at the hubs, including a BMX stunt team at Keyes and Senter, wrestling matches at Parque de los Pobladores downtown, free admission to Viva CalleSJ participants to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, DJ music at Tamien Park, and both San Jose Taiko and San Jose Jazz’s Boom Box truck in Japantown.

WHERE THE CARS ARE: While vehicles won’t be allowed in the Viva CalleSJ zones, there’ll be a lot of cool cars and custom vehicles in Willow Glen as the Goombahs Car Club holds its 15th annual car show and food drive Sunday on Lincoln Avenue. Bay Area car customizer John D’Agostino will be the guest of honor during the festivities, which run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. And while it’s free to check out the cars, donations of cash, or  canned and boxed food for Second Harvest of Silicon Valley are appreciated.

PARK PLACES: It’s hard to believe that no new parkland has been added in Palo Alto in two decades, but it’s true. Or at least it was true until Thursday, when the groundbreaking took place for the $4 million renovation and expansion of John Boulware Park on Fernando Avenue. Improvements to the existing 1.5-acre park were already in the works when Palo Alto purchased a 0.8-acre adjacent lot and expanded the park project.

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The additions will include an asphalt basketball court, a synthetic turf dog park and a bocce court with a shaded picnic area. There’ll also be new playground equipment, including accessible equipment, and public art. The park will be closed during construction, which should wrap up next fall.

And if you’re wondering, John Boulware was a farmer who lived in what was then still Mayfield from 1861 until his death in 1894. He served on the Mayfield school board and was a Santa Clara County supervisor for four years in the 1870s, during  which time he was involved in laying out the route for Embarcadero Road.