October 27, 2017:
It’s official – reaffirmed and finalized!
The Willow Glen Trestle is formally listed
in the California State Historical Register!
Many thanks, everyone!
was most impressed
by the incredible amount of community support!
In May 2017, the State Historical
Resources Commission (SHRC)
unanimously declared the Willow Glen Trestle to be historic (see below),
but the City then asked for a “re-do” -- it filed a request for “redetermination”.
At the SHRC’s
Oct. 27th quarterly meeting, the Commissioners
heard from both sides and then reaffirmed their May decision:
the Trestle is historic and is listed as such on the State Register.
On October 5, 2017,
the Santa Clara Superior Court issued its ruling
in the City’s favor: it is not required to do an EIR for the trestle.
The City had presented a 1-page memo from 2004
when the plans had been to restore the trestle and use it for a trail
that said that the trestle was not historic,
and the Court said that that evidence, “thin as it is,” is “sufficient”.
“That the Friends [of the Willow Glen Trestle] can point to other contrary and more recent evidence … is irrelevant….”
While we are disappointed by the Court’s ruling, we are still victorious:
our intent was to get the trestle recognized as historic,
either by the City’s EIR process, or else by protecting the trestle so that we could pursue the matter ourselves.
Now that the Trestle is recognized as historic, we can work to save it!
Google is planning to come to
There are impacts & opportunities for the Los Gatos Creek, including the Trestle.
May 10, 2017, the California State Historical Register formally listed the Willow Glen Trestle
Fifteen nominations were heard at the May 10th quarterly meeting of the State Historical Resources Commission.
Most of the nominees had maybe a letter or two of support; the WG Trestle had 24!
Letters from Co. Supervisor Dave Cortese, the former SHPO Wayne Donaldson, the grandchildren of the engineer that originally designed the trestle, the ACTC cycling group, and a number from neighbors recalling seeing the trains in their youth.
Several neighbors of the trestle came down to Pasadena just to speak at the hearing (many thanks!!)
Quoting Cmsnr Hoyos, “I'm encouraged and I'm glad to hear a community take such great interest in something that's theirs.”
Commissioner Bertoli summarized:
“I need to go to my personal feeling. The bridge – this short bridge – little bridge – has a very, very attractive aesthetical quality, if we just analyze it from that point of view.
And there are a few, but not many, of those quality of bridges, and the scale of it seems to be pretty much at the scale of the community.
And from that point of view, in my opinion, it seems very appropriate to keep it, to maintain it.”
Also: “It is not one of the many, it is one of the very, very few, and as anything that is historical, or … have historical consequence, that criterion, of having one of the few that remains, that is an important one to preserve the history of California as a whole.”
The commission then did a roll-call vote, and unanimously voted to list the trestle on the California Historical Register.
>> Watch the video!
The discussion of the Willow Glen Trestle begins at time-marker = 2:12:30;
the proponents presentation is at 2:21:48;
the opponents start at 2:42:22.
The five-minute rebuttals are at 2:59:00 for the proponents, opponents at 3:04:20.
The Commission begins discussion at 3:09:15;
the question is called at 3:22:10, the voting begins at 3:22:45, and at 3:23:05 it is unanimously approved.
>> Guest Editorial in the Mercury News 5/25/17
to the SJ Parks Foundation’s WG Trestle Fund!
We’re collecting funds to help with the trestle’s restoration and maintenance!
The San José Parks Foundation (a 501-c3 tax-exempt organization)
has set up an account exclusively for the Willow Glen Trestle:
Go to sanjoseparks.org for more information,
or mail donations to
San Jose Parks Foundation
P.O. Box 53841
San Jose, California 95153
attn: The Willow Glen Trestle Fund
for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources
has been agendized to be heard at the quarterly meeting
of the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) in Pasadena on May 10th.
* Meeting agenda
* Pending nominations (15 total statewide)
* Complete formal application
* Official photo set
If you haven’t already done so, we hope you will
write to the
>> Julianne Polanco, State Historic Preservation Officer, California State Parks, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please copy William Burg, State Historian, at email@example.com
(And I’d appreciate a copy as well: Larry@WGTrestle.org )
Subject: “In Support of Willow Glen Trestle for State Historic Nomination”
Write about how and why you feel the trestle is important to you personally and/or to our local history in Willow Glen.
* Have you or your family members been affected by the trestle -- did anyone in your family work at a cannery?
* Do you appreciate that Willow Glen has remained a residential community, as promised back in the 1920s by local rail-magnate T.S.Montgomery, even though the railroad could easily have enabled industrial development in Willow Glen?
* Do you appreciate that San Jose doesn’t have railroad tracks running right down the middle of town on 4th Street, thanks to the way city officials in the 1920s played competing railroads against one-another to get the tracks moved?
* Or you could just write about how you appreciate the historic character of our community and hope we can preserve some ties to our past!
>> Here’s a letter of support from County Supervisor Dave Cortese.
We had our
“remand hearing” in Santa Clara Co. Superior Court
Friday, February 3rd, at the Downtown Superior Court, 191 N. First St.
Department 10: Honorable Helen E. Williams. (Here’s our filed brief.)
Next step: various briefs and responses are now being filed,
Judge Williams will review all the information, and then a decision is made.
(She has 90 days to decide, but may rule earlier. We are optimistic!)
(Here’s a chart showing the Trestle’s timeline.)
After days of
heavy January rains (the “Pineapple Express”),
Lexington Reservoir filled to overflowing,
and the Los Gatos Creek rose to about the “once in 10 years” flood level.
Debris collected on the trestle, but the water flowed thru and on past the trestle just fine!
The following week, Steve Holmes organized a clean-up,
and bags of trash (and a dozen basketballs!) were removed.
(The February floods of the Coyote didn’t affect the Trestle of the Los Gatos Creek – different watersheds.)
When asked by Assemblymember Evan Low
that we “Suggest a Law”
we suggested one to clarify and reaffirm CEQA rules for historic preservation.
older news …
Two (temporary) setbacks…
Keeper of the National Historic Register returned the
as described in an SJMN article (9/26/16).
[Note: the nomination was not “rejected”, and we are working to address the Keeper’s concerns.]
Official draft minutes of State Historical Resources Commission meeting,
Link to audio recording (the WG Trestle discussion begins at about time = 1:18:40]),
• The Appellate
Court ruled (8/12/16) in favor of the City on
a ’standard of review’ legal issue,
as described in an SJMN article (8/23/16),
even as the Court found that “[t]he City’s actions in approving the project before preparing and adopting
the MND [the required environmental study] violated CEQA [Calif. environmental law].”
As mentioned in another
we sought review of the appeal by the Calif. Supreme Court (9/21/16):
• Reply in Support of Petition for Review (Supreme Court Case No. S237378), by Friends of the WG Trestle (10/21/16)
• “Friend of the Court” brief by California Preservation Foundation, West Adams Heritage Association, Glendale Historical Society and Citizens to Save College Avenue (10/21/16)
• “Friend of the Court” brief by Save Our Heritage Organisation (San Diego) (10/21/16)
• “Friend of the Court” brief by United Auburn Indian Community and Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians (10/21/16)
The State Supreme Court on 10/26/16 declined to review the case.
This was not unexpected: the Supreme Court grants less than 1% of cases that seek review.
issue now goes back to the Santa Clara County Superior Court,
where the original argument is to be reconsidered under slightly adjusted criteria
(basically whether the City had sufficient evidence that the trestle was NOT historic
rather than whether there was sufficient evidence that the trestle MIGHT BE historic).
We are very optimistic!
On June 2nd, 2016, a three-judge panel
for the 6th District Appellate Court heard oral arguments
on the City’s appeal of the Superior Court’s July 2014 decision
that the City had to do a proper environmental review
regarding the historic aspects of the Willow Glen Trestle.
the State Historical
Resources Commission (SHRC)
has been ruled that the WG Trestle is eligible for listing
on the National Historic Register!
>> See Press Release <<
• SJ Merc. News Editorial 4/20/16
• SJ Merc. News Sal Pizarro “Zombie bridge” 4/21/16
• SJ Merc. News Julia Baum: next steps 4/23/16
The State Office of Historic Preservation (SOHP)
has evaluated our nomination of the
trestle at their April 18, 2016 meeting!
It was one of only 11 statewide this quarter to make the cut!
You’re invited to read the trestle’s fascinating history
and see photos of it from various viewpoints.
and letter of
support from Wayne Donaldson
(Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, appointed by President Barack Obama)
We hope to save the
trestle so that it can serve as a connection of Downtown to Willow Glen,
and a connection of future generations to our “Valley of Heart’s Delight” agricultural past!
The demolition plans are on hold -- see summary of process to date w/ updates (8/4/15)
In the meantime, we are seeking a
listing of the trestle
as being “of Local Significance" on the National Historic Register.
Such a listing would help save the trestle.
The nomination is now pending before the California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP).
>> You can help! <<
Please write a note or letter to William Burg, Office of Historic Preservation.
>> Send an email to William.Burg@parks.ca.gov
If you’ve written in the past, many thanks! -- but it doesn’t count for this:
Rewrite your letter, addressed
directly to William Burg at OHP,
and say why you feel that the WG Trestle is historic.
You can talk about the structure itself;
you can talk about the impact of the Western Pacific railroad on the shaping of Willow Glen and San José,
the industrial developments north of the Los Gatos and the residential nature of Willow Glen,
the people involved in building or operating the trains – anything historical.
If you have childhood memories to relate of the train going off to the canneries, that’d be great.
It’s also fair to talk about the character of Willow Glen and how the trestle could be an iconic gateway to the community:
a connection not only to the Los Gatos Creek Trail from downtown, but also a connection between future generations and our agricultural past – a connection between “Silicon Valley” and “the Valley of Hearts Delight”.
(Note: only emphasize historic matters: comments on flood control, contamination impacts of disturbing the trestle, cost and schedules, riparian habitat preservation, etc., have no impact on the historic designation and would only add to the workload of the reviewers.)
>> Comments should be sent by March 15, 2016 <<
Here are links to:
* System Map of Western Pacific Railroad
* a map of the rail spurs in SJ serving the numerous canneries, etc., and
* the spur map superimposed on a present-day street map.
[And here’s my personal letter.]
Want to see what a trestle trail looks like? See photos of one in Houston Texas
Council approves the demolition plans:
On May 19th 2015, the SJ Council
voted 7-2 to ignore the Historic Landmarks Commission recommendation,
to approve Staff's plans for the prefab replacement bridge, and to sign the contract for the trestle demolition.
Kudos to CM Rocha and Peralez for standing up for reason.
(CMs Kalra and Herrera were absent, although Herrera had previous expressed support for demotion.).
The plan is for destruction to begin sometime in June,
assuming the Judge agrees that the City has satisfactorily completed the EIR process
and signs off on the “discharge of the writ”.
Many thanks to the dozens
(hundred or more?) friends, community activists, trail supporters,
environmentalists, historians, and neighbors who came out to support the preservation of our piece of local history.
While the results were disappointing, it was still a moving sight to see the see of orange signs in support of the trestle!
(I'm just sorry I didn't print more of them -- I think we ran out!) It was a truly amazing evening!
To quote Jessica Mitford, "You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty."
(On the other hand, another "famous philosopher", Yogi Berra, said: "It ain't over till it's over." …)
Many thanks for all your support!
Guest editorial: “Larry Ames and Joe Horwedel: Trestle decision will speak to San Jose's character” (5/13/15)
Mercury News editorial: “Willow Glen Trestle should be saved” (5/19/15)
Report of outcome: “Willow Glen trestle: San Jose City Council votes for razing despite residents' pleas” (5/21/15)
Follow-up article: “Pizarro: Willow Glen Trestle advocates lose two-year battle to save bridge over Los Gatos Creek” (5/22/15)
On Tuesday, May 19th, at 1:30 in the afternoon,
The Mayor and Councilmembers considered 3 items and decided the fate of the Trestle:
• they didn’t agree with the Landmarks Commission that it is historic;
• they agreed with Staff that a prefab bridge is preferred; and
• they signed the contract to demolish the Trestle.
video of May 19th SJ Council meeting w/ final vote on WG Trestle
with 37 speakers, 30 of them for the trestle. (LLA’s talk is at time=3:25:40)
Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) discussion May 6 regarding WG Trestle nomination for recognition:
A bittersweet & confusing epilog:
at the San José Parks Foundation Summer Soiree, 6/25/15,
Honors and awards from SJPF, Council, Mayor, and County.
Thursday, May 14, 7 PM, Jean Dresden gave a free talk at the
Willow Glen's Railroad Wars
Ever wondered about the history of the train routes through Willow Glen? Curious about their role in the founding the city of Willow Glen? Here's a talk just for you.
The Willow Glen railroad story is full of intrigue and conniving, lives disrupted, and grassroot organizing. Hear about the big players and the local residents. Learn about the Western Pacific Beltline and the two different Southern Pacific mainline alignments. Gain a sense of Willow Glen when the Prune was King and railroads made or broke a community's economy. The railroad conflict ultimately ran all the way to the Supreme Court and helped create the aura that makes Willow Glen. Whether you're a long-time resident or a newcomer, you'll enjoy this visit to the past.
Your presenter will be Jean Dresden, a San Jose native and history researcher well-known for her dynamic presentation style.
• link to article on SJ Historic Landmark Commission
• link to “Amendment to the Draft Environmental Impact Report”
Q: To connect the Los Gatos
the Three Creeks Trails in Willow Glen,
would you prefer a new prefab steel bridge…
…or would a preserved and restored historic wooden train trestle be more interesting?
· Initial Draft EIR, Jan 2015
· Appendices, Jan 2015
· Amendment (Public Comment & Revised Historic Report), 4/25/15
Comments to Initial Draft EIR were due by March 13th, 2015.
Here are some of those that were submitted:
Write a letter!
(>here< is a “sample letter” w/ details and contact info to help you get started…)
>Here< are the charts from the March
2, 2015 talk at the WG Library:
an overview of the regional trail network, local history, the stream habitat,
and how it all ties together at the Trestle.
This summer, the Friends of the Willow Glen Trestle won their public-interest lawsuit
challenging the San José’s refusal to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR)
to consider alternatives to demolition of the evocative 1922 Willow Glen Trestle
as part of the Three Creeks Trail.
(Here is our 7/29/14 Press Release, and
here is the official court ruling.)
The City is appealing that decision.
(more information as it develops…)
· Guest Editorial by L.Ames and B.Grayson in SJ Mercury News 10/17/14
· Opposing Editorial by T.McMahon and P.Oliverio, 11/5/14
· Follow-on discussions in the “Letters to the Editor”
· rebuttal to Councilmember’s statements.
The City is proceeding with their plans for the replacement bridge,
and have issued a “Notice of Preparation” of the Draft EIR for Three Creeks Trail Pedestrian Bridge Project (file no. PP13-085).
Here are the comments by LLA for the Scoping of the DEIR (Nov. 2014).
In the San Jose Mercury News:
· guest editorial by L.Ames and B.Grayson, 10/17/14
· guest editorial in opposition by T.McMahon and P.Oliverio, 11/5/14
· various Letters to the Editor
· response to some of the points in the McMahon/Oliverio op-ed
Help save the Willow Glen Trestle!
See it for yourself:
· take a YouTube tour!
· look at the Overview chart-set
· contact us.
Thank you, Richard and Deborah,
for the fund-raiser of Feb. 22, 2014, to help save the trestle!
If you missed the event but still would like to help, you can! <link>
the “Initial Study and draft Mitigated Negative Declaration” (IS/MND)
officially explains how the Trestle it to be demolished, and what will replace it.
the City is basing the “non historic” statement on this "short-form" 2004 report by
and this State report based on it, and this Federal report based on that,
while ignoring all of the more recently uncovered and more interesting facts:
· LLA comments to the IS/MND (12/19/13)
· SJ Staff report & recommendations on IS/MND, based solely on comments received thru 12/16/13
· LLA letter to Council re: IS/MND, w/ history updates (1/7/14)
· Collection of letters to SJ re: IS/MND
· SBH letter to Council re: IS/MND (1/14/14)
· LLA comments to Council 1/14/14
· video of Council Meeting 1/14/14, agenda item 4.6
· LLA status update 1/22/14
please follow us on our Facebook
page for latest updates:
“Friends of WG Trestle”
And here’s an illustration
of how the trestle could be restored
and made into an iconic gateway to Willow Glen:
(Thnx, Jim Ammon!)
And a heartfelt thanks to all of you who wrote to support the trestle!
Over 120 emails were sent to the Council and others!
Many included poetic and profound comments
>here< for letter of support from Rod Diridon Sr. et al at CTRC – train advocates).
You have inspired us to continue the effort to save the trestle!
>> Next steps <<
If you’d like to help financially,
the San José Parks Foundation
has set up a fund to help with trestle preservation and restoration.
click >here< for photo album of trestle thru the years
The City’s own Engineering Study
the trestle is sturdy and readily adaptable to trail use.
See for yourself: take a YouTube tour!
Follow us on Facebook
Read the Editorials in the SJ Mercury News
by L. Ames & H. Chapman (5/8/13), and
by SJMN Editor Barbara Marshman (5/10/13)
Contact us if you would like additional information
* city agenda item 2.17 to fund the trestle removal, 4/9/13
* the Engineering Study commissioned by the City. The study describes the trestle repair in detail, but recommends the steel bridge based solely on a (somewhat faulty) trade matrix and without any consideration of public sentiment or historic value
* an evaluation of the Engineering Study and point-by-point rebuttal by L. Ames, a professional aerospace engineer
* and a YouTube video tour of the trestle from all sides by Dan and Helen Chapman
* representative diagram of trestle repairs (“bent 7”)
* diagram showing height of 100-year flood (“waist-deep”)
* diagram of 100-year flood zones in Willow Glen
* notes by J. Dresden on creosote timbers in creeks, and hazards involved in removing them (5/4/13)
* city memo on shift of BART alignment due to creosote bridge pilings (11/13/07)
* memo by Councilmember Liccardo on hazards of disturbing creosote pilings (11/30/07)
* memo from Councilmember Oliverio asking for a Council study session (5/9/13)
* Editorial in San José Mercury News by L. Ames & H. Chapman (5/8/13)
* Editorial in San José Mercury News by SJMN Editor Barbara Marshman (5/10/13)
* memo from City (Parks PRNS and Dept of Public Works) 5/17/13
* comments by L. Ames in response to City memo 5/30/13
* link to video of NBC-11 segment on trestle, featuring Councilmember Oliverio and WGNA’s Zappelli
* notes to the eList, 4/17/13
* notes to the eList, 4/20/13
* notes to the eList, 5/12/13
* notes to the eList, 5/15/13
* link to City’s presentation on trestle replacement 7/9/13 & 7/17/13
* notes and observations on City’s presentation to Save Our Trails, 7/9/13
* notes and observations on City’s presentation to WGNA, 7/17/13
* letter of support from Rod Diridon Sr., David Ginsborg, and the Calif. Trolley & Rail. Corp, 7/16/13
* editorial in the SJ Merc. News 7/16/13
* Council agenda item 2/22/11 to apply for SCVWD grant for restoration of trestle
* other sites along the Los Gatos Creek that need a bridge (LLA, 7/24/13)
* diagram of Confluence Point
* LLA letter to SJ Council 8/8/13
* LLA talk to SJ Council 8/13/13
[Councilmember Oliverio made a 19-minute video of his comments from the dais wherein he repeatedly complains out “those individuals” 8 times and singles out “Mr. Ames” by name six times. This video was prominently featured on the official Dist. 6 city webpage for the following several years, up until he was termed out from office at the end of 2016.]
* possible concept for completing the Los Gatos Creek Trail from Meridian to Lincoln.
* Sept. 9th presentation on replacement bridge
* letter from Campbell Historic Preservation Boardmember S. Blake 6/9/13
* letter from the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Cmsn, 9/19/13
* Presentation to the San José Historic Landmarks Cmsn 11/6/13
* Official Synopsis of HLC mtg 11/6/13
The Three Creeks Trail, Lonus to Minnesota (including the Trestle?):
* City of SJ's Initial Study & Mitigated Neg. Declaration, 3/11/14
* LLA's first set of comments, 3/12/14
* Comment period extended and publicly announced, 3/28/14
* LLA's second set of comments, 4/8/14
Official memos for May 19, 2015 Council action:
· Agenda item 4.7: staff recommendation against recognizing historic landmark status: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43714
· Info from HLC in support of granting status: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43713
· resolution to rescind prior contract: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43479
· certifying CEQA for demolition of WG Trestle and new prefab bridge: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43480
· recommendations for Agenda 4.5: Memo by Matt Cano on why trestle should be demolished: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43676
· Don Rocha's compromise WG Trestle blue memo: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/43872
* “Item not on the Agenda” talk before SC Co. HLUET Cmte, 5/21/15
* Superior Court order 6/22/15 denying the City's request to demolish the trestle
* Friends request for a Stay, 7/30/15
* City notice to Appellate Court 8/4/15
* update to-date, 8/4/15
* LLA on KLIV, 8/5/14
* Recognition & Awards at the SJ Parks Foundation Summer Soiree, 6/25/15
Councilmember Oliverio’s Aug. 20, 2015, post on NextDoor:
“continued litigation regarding a dilapidated chemical soaked trestle bridge … puts $3 million in the District 6 parks budget at risk which means … the trail connection remains closed and future park projects are in jeopardy.”
Please see response (8/26/15)
* LLA invited to give presentation at WG Kiwanis luncheon, 7/11/16
* Remand Court Case Feb 3, 2017: our initial brief; City’s “Memorandum of Points and Authorities”; our Reply Brief; our response to the City’s objection to our list of relevant documents; and our “request to notice”
* June 2017: City continues to fight the trestle’s historic designation. The State Historical Resource Commission will consider the request for “redetermination” at their Oct. 27th meeting in Sacramento.
* Court case continues, w/ Judge requesting more info and more time. 6/21/17
last update 10/30/17