November 2017 Newsletter

On Mobile/Tablet, View in Landscape Mode

Newsletter Writer: Intern Akshay Manglik and Meera Balaji

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A Note From Rishi

  1. Public Hearing with CPUC on Monday November 6th, please join

City Happenings, Info, & News

  1. Huge drop in Saratoga Crime
  2. Investigation and Audit of San Jose Water Company - we are winning
  3. Saratoga ranked #1 in California for overall quality of life
  4. Saratoga Entrepreneurship Boot Camp expands to 12 locations
  5. Paint the City Utility Box Competition
  6. Saratogan commended for efforts to maintain trails
  7. Nice breakthrough! Arrest of Mail Thief
  8. State Senator Jim Beall visits Saratoga City Council Meeting
  9. Local government prevails for “Small Cell” towers
  10. Bye Bye Gene’s Fine food
  11. PG&E Upgrading Street lights
  12. Saratoga Village Plan update
  13. The Last of the orchards  - Saratoga gets featured
  14. City wide directional signs upgrade
  15. Joe’s trail sign

Upcoming Events

  1. Food and Toy Drive
  2. Prospect Road Improvement Project
  3. Sister City of Saratoga Trip to Croatia
  4. Unveiling of Willys and Betty Blessing Bench
  5. Saratoga Tree Lighting and Wine Stroll

Q&A with Councilmember Rishi Kumar

  1. What are the top few safety tips that can be huge deterrents?
  2. What should I do if I see a coyote?
  3. Can I put up promotion materials in Saratoga?
  4. What are the rules regarding leaf blowers?
  5. How can I guard against an identity theft?
  6. How can I guard against mail theft?
  7. What is the status of the Quito bridge project?
  8. How can I be informed of county emergencies?
  9. Anything being done to role back Prop 47?
  10. How can I meet with Councilmember Rishi Kumar

Glimpses - A Pictorial View 

(July through October)

A Note From Rishi

Dear neighbors


WATER HEARING MONDAY, NOV 6th 2017 @ 7:30pm

Have you been frustrated with super high water bills? Well...get involved.

WHEN:Monday November 6th, 2017, 7:30pm

WHERE: City Hall of San Jose, City Council chambers, 200 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose CA

We have been winning small wins with rate increase rejections by CPUC

CPUC is currently conducting an audit and investigation of San Jose Water

We have been pushing hard and finally…we are slowly seeing small wins with all these rejections

Here is the plan…please continue reading

We need your help to push back. Here is your chance to have your say on San Jose Water Company's request to increase rates for cost of capital.

Search for Public Hearing and you will find a word doc. Click open and read a concerted messaging plan for that evening. Please do show up and express your voice.

I typically park in the underground parking under city hall (6th street) and get my parking ticket validated at the desk on the first level. Hope to see you

Please take action:
#1 Join the Water Oversight Committee we need your help
#2 Subscribe to the Water Oversight Committee emails at and stay connected with the latest

City Happenings, Info, & News

Huge drop in break ins: at least 50% down compared to 2016

So proud! Crime is significantly down in @CityofSaratoga compared to last year. Amazing accomplishment...fighting crime, one home, one family one neighborhood at a time...collective making a huge difference!!

After 60+ neighborhood meetings choreographed methodically, printing flyers, going door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood, holding neighborhood safety deterrent discussions and identifying neighborhood leaders from each, it is very gratifying to see how the leadership is stepping up in each neighborhood and making stuff happen, holding block parties, collaborating on neighborhood projects!

The engaged communication and dialogue between neighbors is awesome too. Saratoga crime is down at least 50% compared to last year. Contact your local block captain to get involved. Visit the safety tips at see the special section that addresses the middle of the night break-ins.

How to prevent middle of the night break-ins

Getting to 50+ Neighborhood Watch programs

Year to year crime will likely drop in 2017, a huge win for us given the rise we have seen every year. Here is the how it increased every year since 2012: 2012:59 reported break-ins, 2013-72, 2014-98, 2015-125, 2016-130)
Credit goes to the heightened awareness, 50+ Saratoga Neighborhood Watch programs launched, the neighborhood leadership in engaging their neighborhood, communication via email groups launched, placing cameras and type surveillance cameras. However, despite this progress, we should still maintain our vigilance to ensure that another spike does not occur.

As of early November, there were ~*50 home break ins* in Saratoga, compared to 130 in total last year. However, despite this progress, we should still maintain our vigilance as to ensure another spike does not occur.

Break-ins while we are at home: As per the sheriff, in 2017 so far we have seen 4 attempted residential burglaries where the homeowner(s)/victim(s) were home at the time of the attempted entry and 12 residential burglaries where the homeowner(s)/victim(s) were home at the time of successful entry.

Additional safety tips are listed here.

More information can be found here.

*unofficial count


CPUC is now conducting a thorough investigation and audit of San Jose Water Company's past and present billing practice in response to concerns filed by San Jose Water Company customers, City of Cupertino, Office of Rate Payer's Advocate (ORA). Thank you for filing your protest letters and inviting your neighbors to file the letter too

Every protest letter is helping!

Saratoga Ranked #1 for Quality of Life

A recent WalletHub analysis of Californian cities found that Saratoga was the number one city in California for quality of life. The same analysis found that Saratoga was overall the 4th best place to retire in the entire Golden State.

The quality of life metric took into account cost of living, crime rates, air quality, water quality, public transit, and more. Let’s keep up the good work!

More information can be found here and here.

Saratoga Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Expands to 12 locations

The Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, started by a Saratoga High teen, recently expanded to Charlotte, North Carolina, as part of its offerings. It currently offers its free courses all over the Bay Area.

More information can be found here.

Paint the City Utility Box Competition


Calling all Saratoga Artists!

The Saratoga City Council is sponsoring a art contest to paint utility boxes to represent the history, heritage, and culture of its location. Saratoga residents age 10 or older that enter have a chance to win a $400 or $500 stipend. The application deadline is December 2, 2017. More information can be found here and here.

Happy Painting!

Saratogan commended for efforts to maintain trails

Jim Stallman, local Saratogan, received a city commendation for his seven year effort to rid the non-native “Goat Head” Puncture Vine weed, pictured above, from Saratoga bike trails. Jim is the chair of Saratoga’s Pedestrian Equestrian Bicycle Trails Advisory Committee. More information can be found here.

Huge Break-through: Arrest of Mail Thief

West Valley Patrol Deputies Apprehend Suspect in Possession of Over $80K in Stolen Checks & Stolen Mail from At Least 130 Local Residences

Saratoga, CA

On October 22, 2017, West Valley Patrol Deputies arrested Justin Rucker for Vehicular Evasion of a Peace Officer, Identity Theft, Mail Theft, Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Burglary Tools, and Possession of Altered Checks.

A Sheriff’s Office Patrol Sergeant came into contact with Rucker during a vehicle enforcement stop in the City of Saratoga. At approximately 3:50 AM, the Sergeant attempted to stop the vehicle Rucker was driving on Kirkmont Drive and Saratoga Sunnyvale Road. Rucker originally stopped, but attempted to recklessly evade the Sergeant by driving through a Saratoga resident’s front yard, running several stop signs, and exceeding the speed limit. Rucker eventually lost control of his vehicle, and his vehicle became disabled when it struck a curb during the pursuit. Rucker was placed under arrest and later booked into Main Jail without further incident.

An investigation revealed Rucker was in possession of a crowbar, nylon and Halloween masks, and numerous stolen items. The stolen items included assorted mail, credit cards, and checks, which varied to include altered, blank and uncashed checks. After sorting through the evidence, deputies determined there were over 130 victims and over $80,000 in seized checks. Rucker was in possession of mail from Saratoga, Los Gatos, and San Jose.

All recovered mail was returned to the United States Postal Inspector for distribution. The Postal Inspector will contact all identified victims in this case. We encourage our residents to call 408-299-2311 if they believe they are the victim of mail theft or identity theft.

More information on how to protect against mail theft here.

State Senator Jim Beall visits Saratoga City Council Meeting

State Senator Jim Beall visited the Saratoga City Council to give a legislative update on the agenda of the state and how it pertained to the city. He also discussed his bills SB 1, 3, and 492. More information can be found here.

On Oct. 18, Senator Jim Beall discussed grant opportunities and legislation priorities that could affect Saratoga, part of the 15th district he represents at a council meeting.

Beall encouraged the council to apply for the state’s Active Transportation Program, an annual grant the city could use to fund trails, bike paths and safe routes to school, which has seen its budget grow in recent years.

Beall said Senate Bill 4, which will be on the ballot in November 2018, addresses the issue of state grants related to historical preservation.

Traffic along Big Basin Way was another topic of discussion, as Saratoga’s geographical disposition puts the city at odds with beach-goers who want to avoid the traffic of Highway 17 into the Highway 9 mountains leading to Santa Cruz. This has led to an increase in health and safety issues in the downtown area.

Governor Brown vetoes a bill - local government prevails for small cell equipment

Great news!
The installation of high-speed “small cell” equipment in California will not be driven by new statewide mandates after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill pitting the lobbying power of the telecommunications industry against that of local governments.

Read about it here

Bye Bye Gene’s Fine Food

Gene’s Fine Foods in El Quito Village closed last month, ending a 47-year run of bringing high-end groceries to Saratoga.

Read about it here

PG&E Upgrading Street Lights – by Poh Yee
Beginning the week of August 28, PG&E will be replacing the remaining City- owned non-decorative streetlights with energy efficient and longer lasting Light- Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures. PG&E replaced all PG&E-owned lights in September 2016. The replacement project will be complete by September 7, 2017.
LED streetlights use 50-75% less energy than the current High Pressure Sodium Vapor (HPSV) bulbs and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New LED streetlights provide a more natural-looking light, which will last up to four times longer than HPSV bulbs, and has greater visibility for pedestrians and drivers.

Saratoga Village Policy update

Saratoga Village Policy was presented to City Council on August 16. Senior Planner Sung Kwon will take this project forward.

Implementation steps include parking code amendments, policy incorporation into the Land Use Element of the General Plan Update, and drafting of revised Village Design Guidelines. Staff anticipates that the Village boundary expansion will be considered as part of the Village Design Guidelines and General Plan Update, which is scheduled to begin later this calendar year.

Additional information regarding the Saratoga Village Policy Update can be found online at Sung can be reached at 408.868.1212 or

City wide directional sign update

Approve replacement of the citywide directional signs to match the approved Village directional signs. The City Council approved vehicle directional signage for the Village on December 21, 2011 as part of the Village Enhancement Phase 2 project (Attachment A). The signs are planned to be installed by the end of the year. As preparations begin on manufacturing the signs, staff identified an option to use this same sign style for the existing directional signs located along the City’s main arterials and gateways. The citywide directional signs guide visitors to major destinations including Mountain Winery, Montalvo Arts Center, and Hakone Gardens. Replacing the existing signs with the new style proposed for the Village would provide better visual continuity for drivers and introduce a more attractive sign throughout the City.

Coming soon - Wayfinding Signage Program for Local Wineries - 19 signs deployed

• Big Basin Way/Congress Springs Rd

• Pierce Rd

• Mt Eden Rd

• Saratoga Sunnyvale Rdwith two Wine Trail signs to be located just outside the City limits on Mt. Eden

/ Stevens Canyon Road.

The last of the Orchards of Silicon Valley....

Saratoga’s Orchard gets a mention here
Who remembers growing up with fruit orchards in Saratoga or Silicon Valley?
The complete article? Click on this

Joe’s Trail Sign

The City of Saratoga has received trail signs for Joe’s Trail from National Park Service (NPS) to mark the newly-certified segment of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. NPS is working on the design of a large interpretive sign to be installed at the Saratoga-Sunnyvale trailhead. When all of the signs are in place, a ribbon cutting event will be scheduled to share the good news.

Upcoming Events

Food and Toy Drive

Saratoga started the 11th annual food drive. Francisco Alvarez has put the Second Harvest Food Bank barrels at the Community Center, the Senior Center, Saratoga Prospect Center, and the Saratoga Library for collections. If you notice that any of the barrels are overflowing, please let staff know so that they can be emptied. The Food drive ends Monday, December 21.

The 10th annual Toy Drive for Sacred Heart Community Services will start on November 1. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the City Manager’s Office, the Community Center, or the Saratoga History Museum. The Toy drive ends Wednesday, December 16.

More information can be found here.

Prospect Road Improvement Project

City staff will hold the pre-construction meeting with the City’s contractor, Wattis Construction, during the first week of November. Following the meeting, the City will issue the Notice to Proceed to begin the construction phase. The first phase of work will include construction of the new concrete sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and handicap ramps. This will allow the contractor to secure and winterize the project at this phase during the rainy season. Construction of the medians will begin in the spring after the rainy season. This allows the project to avoid trenching and excavating the medians during the rainy season, which could lead to a flooding of dirt debris onto Prospect Road.

Sister City of Saratoga Trip


HIGHLIGHTS May 13-25, 2018

Now Only $3000 for 13 days

Presented as a Fund Raiser for Saratoga Sister City

Croatia is one of the most requested sites in Europe. Zagreb was among the 10 best cities to visit in 2017 by Forbes and Zadar was Voted European Best Destination in 2016 and now it is even cheaper.

Our last notice to members quoted a price of $3600 but because Sister City, with the cooperation of Vesna Lukic’s Unique Collection tour company, contracted privately we have the option to take advantage of the strengthening US dollar. At current rates, the 13 day trip is $3000 with all but a couple of lunches covered; same bus and guide for entire tour, local tour guides, hotel, and meals. Airfare is not included. We will stay three nights in Dubrovnik, two nights in both highlighted cities of Zagreb and Zadar as well as Opatila and Split. The complete itinerary is attached below.

In order to conduct this tour we need 15 persons to attend. We are about half way to that goal. Please invite friends and family, they don’t have to be Sister City members to sign up.

In order to secure this trip we need to ask for a non-refundable deposit of $500 per person. If the trip is cancelled we will refund the deposit in full.

Please send your deposit to:

Peter Marra, c/o Sister City,

P.O. Box 796,

Saratoga, CA, 95071

by November 7, 2017.

If you have any questions, please call Mike Story (408) 605-8218 or Peter Marra at (408) 741-1551.

Unveiling of Willys and Betty Peck Blessing Bench

From the San Jose Mercury News:

There’s an effort underway in Saratoga to honor Betty and Willys Peck with a bench in Blaney Plaza featuring life-size sculptures of the couple. It’s a wonderful way to commemorate the Pecks’ contributions to the town for more than five decades.

Willys, who died in 2013, had a long career as a copy editor at the Mercury News, but he was best known in Saratoga as a historian who was passionate about preserving the town’s history. Betty, who is now 95, was a longtime kindergarten teacher and the founder of the Saratoga Community Garden.

Sculptor Jerry Smith, a former mayor of Saratoga, has been enlisted to create the life-size bronze likenesses to accompany the “Blessing Bench” — in reference to the backyard bench where Willys and Betty said they would sit and count their blessings. Of course, with any project like this, the biggest hurdle is funding such a tribute. The materials are estimated to cost about $70,000, and while a good chunk of that has been raised, I’m told the fundraising committee headed up by Hugh Roberts needs to bring in about $13,000 more to get things rolling.

Saratoga Tree Lighting and Wine Stroll

Q&A with Councilman Kumar

Visit for the full list.

How can I stay safe against break ins?

Very important to take action today and place some deterrents around your home...not tomorrow, not next week but today.

There is no point in finding that “perfect product”. Pick a few products that you can quickly deploy around the home.

The top 25 safety tips here is a great resource to get you started

This link here even has product recommendations.

Having different levels of deterrent around your home helps tremendously!

Below are important considerations for you to enhance the safety of your home.

- Do you have a ferocious dog”? Your affectionate and loving dog can be the best deterrent to undesired intruders.

- Do you have an alarm system? Very important to have one. Get one installed today if you don’t have one. When the alarm kicks in, they typically scram for dear life

- Do you check all your doors and windows before you retire for the night. Please do not leave a window open for air circulation etc.

- Do you arm your alarm system when you sleep?? Very important to arm it every night. In fact, make sure you are able to hear a knock on the door or the door bell even if you are sleeping.

- Do you have a glass break sensor as part of your alarm system? Time to get one. The door sensors or the motion sensor will NOT trigger when they break the glass. But the glass break sensor will trigger. Ask your alarm company to install one. It is a simple sensor that is placed anywhere - one in each room. When a glass breaks in the room, the sensor will trigger and trip your alarm.

- - Fortify specific windows and entry points with shatter proof Polycarbonate panel over the breakable glass panel. Professional companies install it. Specifically if you have a glass panel next to your front doors, you should consider putting the Polycarbonate panel over it.

- Are your fence gates locked? Just put a simple padlock on the outside and a combination lock for your gardener /pool guy to get access. PG&E and SJWC do NOT need access into your back yard.

- Do you have motion sensor lights around your home? Front, back and sides should have these motion sensor lights.

- Do you have a camera to 'greet visitors' at your front door? How about a door-bell camera?  Do you have cameras pointing to your fence gates and your driveway?

- Do you have signs around your home announcing “video surveillance”?

- Does your home look occupied? Do you have a car parked on your driveway? Take steps to show your home is occupied.

- Do you have dead-bolts on your front door, the side garage door? What can you do to prevent your doors to be kicked and opened?

- Install a Security bar to prop up against your door like this

- Have a barking dog box next to your front door, that will "wake up and start barking" when it hears an intruder. A product like this

- Neighborhood leaders, please consider working with your neighborhood to install surveillance cameras at the entry/egress points of your neighborhood. Neighborhoods that have installed cameras have NOT seen any crime since. You can see the Saratoga Surveillance Camera program details at This is NOT city run, but by a team of Saratogans who got concerned with the rampant crime from last summer

What should I do if I see a coyote?

I have been hearing of growing concern with a few coyote minor incidents in Saratoga. This is unfortunately the annual norm for Saratoga given the wide stretch of our hillside. Not just Saratoga, even cities like Sunnyvale are experiencing the same.

Vector control suggests that we humans need to learn to coexist with coyotes.

Information on what to do can be found here and here.

Can I put up promotion materials?

Leaving promotional material is a violation of Saratoga's solicitor rules:

4-50.100 - Distributing on private premises.

No person shall cast, throw, distribute, deposit, scatter, pass out, give away, circulate or deliver any commercial or business handbill, circular or other advertising material or device to any residence or business, or leave the same upon any yard, driveway, porch, doorstep or vestibule thereof, or in any public hallway thereof, or upon any vacant lot or other private property in the city, without first having obtained the express consent, or upon the express request, of an adult resident or occupant thereof.

What are the rules regarding leafblowers?

The Saratoga City Council recently adopted a comprehensive change to the City’s leaf blower rules. The new rules would limit the use of leaf blowers in Saratoga to only those that have been certified to operate at 65 dBA or less at a distance of 50 feet beginning October 1, 2019. A 2 year phased approach.

How can I guard against identity theft?

Lately we hear about identity theft incidents. This is something that occurs frequently in Saratoga, based on Sheriff's report, along with home break-ins, phishing, car break-ins, mailbox theft. To safeguard against identity theft, I have my credit files permanently frozen. Information about how to do this is listed here.

How can I guard against mail theft?

The West Valley Patrol Division encourages residents to consult with the U.S. Post Office in order to gain approval for a locking mailbox. These mailboxes reduce the chances of becoming a victim of mail theft. With the holiday season quickly approaching we encourage residents to also make arrangements with package carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS) and/or neighbors to avoid packages being left on doorsteps for long periods of time.

In addition to calling the Sheriff’s Office, if you think you may be the victim of Identity Theft follow these suggestions below:

1. Sign up for credit monitoring (there are many companies providing that service including Equifax, but be sure to read the Terms of Agreement carefully and note if there are any set-up or recurring costs associated with the monitoring.)

2. Place a fraud alert with one of the major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

3. Placing a fraud alert is free and stays on your credit report for 90 days. Check your credit reports for free


4. Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity.

5. If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, here are two sites where you can learn more

about how to protect yourself: and

What is the Quito Road Bridges status?

– by Macedonio Nunez

The Public Works staff has been working with the City Attorney and the Federally Qualified Agency of Contra Costa County Public Works, who were hired last year as the lead to obtain Right of Way Acquisitions and Temporary Construction Easements for the Quito Road Bridges Project. The City requires the property for construction of the Quito Road Bridge Project, which will replace two bridges on Quito Road that cross San Tomas Aquino Creek in Saratoga.

Contact the city of Saratoga for further details

How can I be informed of Emergencies?

Santa Clara County’s Office of Emergency Services offers two simple steps you can take to help prepare for disasters and protect your family:
1) Sign-up for the County’s emergency alert system – AlertSCC.
2) Create a family disaster preparedness plan with the new ReadySCC phone
application. ReadySCC helps you create a plan, put together a kit, and know what to do and where to go in an emergency. You can download ReadySCC for free from the App Store or Google Play. Please share it with your family, friends and neighbors.

Is anything being done to role back Proposition 47 and the increase in crime?

Good to see that next week, the League of California Cities is consider resolutions calling upon the Governor and Legislature to enter into discussion with the League and other public safety stakeholders to identify and implement strategies that will reduce the unintended negative impacts of existing criminal law. The resolution seeks to address increasing crime rates connected to the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 109 and Propositions 47 and 57. Very much needed to reduce the crime in California.

Does Councilmember Kumar have office hours?

Glimpses - A Pictorial View

(July through October 2017)

A fantastic July 4th in Saratoga

The Prime Minister of India visits Washington DC

Meeting Neighborhood Safety Block Captains of Congress Springs neighborhood

Another term as a board member of League of CA Cities API Caucus

Great to be on the panel discussion at the International Summit on Smart World and Smart Cities

Summer social of the League of California Cities API Caucus.

Being interviewed by IND TV USA - FOG AWARDS

With Bollywood star Manoj Bajpai

With Bollywood star Pallavi Joshi

At the 25th India Day Parade

Doctor By Heart Movie release - along with Congressman Ro Khanna, Community Leader Romesh Japra, Mayor LIly Mei and Rajesh Verma

At the Beauchamps Block Party

At the Meadowbrook Annual Block Party

A Bollywood night geared for Seniors at Saratoga Community Center

Councilman Kumar meeting with State Senator Jim Beall at the annual joint meeting with the City Council (Source Link)

Meeting with Sunnyvale Councilmember Nancy Smith at Big Basin Cafe

Councilman Kumar with State Sen. Beall and the Cricket Zeal Academy Under 10 team - world champions

Councilman Kumar celebrating a birthday

Councilman Kumar at a neighborhood safety watch meeting (Shadow Oaks). More information about that here.

Councilman Kumar on a Washington DC panel discussion regarding Indian-Americans in the political sphere

Councilman Kumar with Assemblymember Kesha Ram Vermont (in purple) at the Indiaspora Annual Meeting

Councilman Kumar moderating a panel discussion with community leaders about Community Activism and Leadership

Councilman Kumar at the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus

Councilman Kumar at the inauguration of the new Saratoga High music building

Councilman Kumar with former Congressman Ernie Konnyu

Councilman Kumar with Assemblymember Kansen Chu at the South Bay Labor Council Annual Labor Day BBQ

At Chefs of Compassion by West Valley Community Service

Via Street Neighborhood Safety Meeting

Two new businesses Lillian Bakery and

At the 37th NABC

At the Saratoga High Senior Night

Another cake cutting

Making a Difference with Sheetal Ohri - Radio show on Bolly 92.3


Keeping the community informed about Mount Eden fire

9th Saratoga Dandia at West Valley College

Halloween can be fun

Vegas can be fun