'Maybe it's time to leave': Residents demand change after explosion, vandalism in San Jose neighborhood

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents living near North 18th and Jackson streets outside Downtown San Jose say they've recently seen an explosion, vandalism and a high-speed getaway.

The series of unfortunate events have all happened within the span of two weeks.

Now, many in the city's Northside neighborhood are demanding change.

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Residents told ABC7 News, "discouraging" is how they'd describe their last few weeks.

"I literally had the convo when I started the car and my exhaust was gone," San Jose native, Derek Stanfill explained. "Like, maybe it is time to leave. Maybe this place isn't for me anymore."

Stanfill and his wife Leah have lived near N 18th and Jackson for the last six years. Their catalytic converter was stolen early Saturday morning. The couple's Honda Element was parked outside their front door.

However, Saturday's catalytic converter theft isn't the only hazard Stanfill and his wife Leah have had to deal with.

Their month started with a fiery scene. There was an explosion right next door, at a home that was supposed to be vacant. SJFD said one person was injured.

More recently, Monday brought a high-speed getaway just a block away from their home.

San Jose police explained that at about 4:30 p.m., a San Jose patrol officer who was driving a marked patrol vehicle saw a gray BMW commit a "vehicle code violation" near N 17th Street at Washington Street.

The male driver of the BMW saw the patrol vehicle, and before the officer could pull-over the vehicle, the BMW sped off on 17th Street.

SJPD said the BMW then struck a parked white Chevy Suburban, which caused the Chevy to hit a parked black Honda Accord.

San Jose Fire responded and extracted the driver from the BMW.

The driver was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was issued a citation for reckless driving, no proof of vehicle insurance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Fortunately, the parked cars were unoccupied. PD said the driver was the only person inside the BMW when the crash happened.

Stanfill said it seems City leaders are more concerned about the future, rather than what's currently going on outside their front door.

"We know these tech companies are coming in. I know we're building new things downtown, but there are still residents here," he said. "And we still have needs and we need to be listened to, and we need to be protected."

We met other residents who said that while alarming, those events aren't the norm for the Northside Neighborhood.

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"Over the 7.5-years we've been here, we have observed a few instances like that," resident Lauralee Quin admitted. "But for the most part, I think it's a rarity."

Mayor Sam Liccardo also lives within the community. ABC7 News reached out. However, Liccardo wasn't available for comment.

"That's something that blows my mind, that he lives two blocks away," Stanfill added. "With what goes on in this neighborhood!"

"I think that we all need to do more, starting at the top," he added. "But even down to my level just being a resident."

He said residents have an obligation to say something when they see something, to clean up trash they might come across, etc.

Stanfill also expressed criticism for District 3 Councilman Raul Peralez, saying he hasn't seen impactful action.

ABC7 News reached out to Peralez's office. While he wasn't immediately available for comment, his office released the following statement:

"The public safety of all our residents is always of concern to myself and my office. However, we know that as one of the largest cities in the Bay Area, San José is still in dire need of increased police officers. We continue to work in collaboration with our San José Police Department to address the issues that our residents are facing. This upcoming Sunday I will be hosting a community meeting at the Northside Community Center beginning at 11 a.m., and we continue to invite residents to join us for an open conversation of the concerns residents may have."

Stanfill said the recent series of misfortune and subsequent inaction, as he calls it, has him considering going after Peralez's seat when District 3 is up in 2022.
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