San Jose Neighbors Continue Illegal Park Work, Undeterred by the City

The city of San Jose is doubling down on its message that efforts by Alviso neighbors to spruce up city land are not allowed. 

The neighbors have taken up working on the 3.3 acre parcel of city-owned land along Grand Boulevard in between Trinity Park Drive and Wilson Way. This field has been empty since the year 2000 and has long been identified as a place for parkland in the Alviso Park Masterplan.

Neighbors say after more than twenty years waiting for the promised park space, they are tired of waiting and are updating the land themselves: planting trees, removing old fencing, planting flowers, and clearing debris.

As first reported by San Jose Spotlight, neighbors say two surveillance cameras have been placed on streetlamps surrounding this parcel in the last week, with one on Trinity Park Drive and one on Wilson Way. Neighbors suspect these cameras were installed to keep an eye on the work they’ve been doing. 

Either way, neighbors say they are undeterred and plan to continue working on the park. 

“We see how the City of San Jose, the Parks Department, the city itself, how they have the ability to come up with money when they want it to benefit themselves, but when it’s for the community, they tell us always, ‘there’s no money’ and we’re just tired of that,” said Mark Ezpinoza, who has lived in Alviso since his childhood.

Ezpinoza said that there are dozens of neighbors who have been helping with these efforts. He explained that neighbors want to see city investment in a space they can a proud of, a place where plants can grow, where kids can play, and perhaps volleyball courts can be installed. 

The Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department of San Jose said on Wednesday in a statement, “We understand the frustration of residents and the City of San José Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department is assessing the work being done at Alviso Park.”

The department said that the neighbors’ work at this parcel of land, “is unauthorized and constitutes trespassing.”

“Without oversight, this work can result in hazards for others who may walk, bike, or recreate in the area,” the statement from the department continued. “For example, if rocks from the stripping are kicked up, it can become a tripping hazard and below grade infrastructure damage (such water mains or power lines) without an established work zone or dedicated maintenance/construction.”

The department said that it’s next steps will be to “issue a warning to the resident(s) involved.” It added that the city is open to working with others to develop the parcel, but, “this would require a competitive bidding process to ensure safe work conditions are done by qualified and insured contractors.”

The Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department sent Espinoza a notice of violation of municipal code in September for his work on this city-owned land. The notice said that further violations, “will result in further enforcement action, including citations, criminal charges, and/ or other remedies.”

“I feel I am doing the right thing,” said Mark Espinoza. “If I am benefiting my community, I will continue to do that, even under the threat of trespass or arrest.”

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