Welcome to Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association

History of the Association

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We are a volunteer group of local homeowners and residents of the Sunnyhills neighborhood who are actively working to improve our neighborhood, and thus the city of Milpitas, through positive activities and programs.


History of the Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association (SNA) (Click here for a more detailed version.)

Sunnyhills was the first planned racially-integrated community in the United States in 1956, arranged by a Union co-op of the United Auto Workers. Today, Sunnyhills still has one of the highest levels of integration of any neighborhood.

In 1992, Bob Pecot, Carmen Montano, and Jim Alexander founded the organization as the Sunnyhills Improvement Committee to address neglected areas of the Sunnyhills neighborhood. Its original goals included cleaning up vacant lots, working with the city on street repair, and developing the Hetch-Hetchy right-of-way into a linear park. That last item was at the top of Bob's list because the right-of-way was filling with vagrants, weeds, and dumped refuse.

As the committee's number of participants, scope of issues, and influence grew, a more formal structure became appropriate. Thus, the creation of the Sunnyhills Improvement Association in 1994. The original board of the S.I A. was Bob Pecot, president; Carmen Montano, vice-president; Neil Mackenzie, treasurer; Jane Alexander, secretary; Jim Alexander, member at large; and Doretha Randolph member at large. Under Bob Pecot's leadership the organization grew and, after achieving some of its original goals, expanded its list of goals. Progress continued despite losing key members due to job transfers and attrition, including founding member Jim Alexander, who moved to Colorado due to a job reassignment. In 1993 S.I.A. was dealt a severe blow when Bob Pecot died of a heart attack.

Upon Bob Pecot's death, Carmen Montano took over as the second president of the S.I.A. Through energetic efforts, Carmen expanded the organization's membership and increased its visibility in the neighborhood. During her tenure, she made sure the S.I.A had presence at all city events. She also launched the first "Make Sunnyhills Shine Day." That day, over forty S.I.A. members swept through the neighborhood cleaning trash from vacant lots and covering all graffiti in the area. In 1994, Carmen married and moved to Monterey where her new husband worked.

Early in 1994, Ron Dittmer, who was vice-president under Carmen Montano, was elected the third president of the S.I.A. by unanimous vote. He nurtured an organization rocked by the departure of many key leaders and activists. Under his guidance, S.I.A. kept the Hetch-Hetchy project alive and got speakers to many meetings. In February of 1996, S.I.A. was shocked when Ron Dittmer unexpectedly submitted his letter of resignation by mail.

Neil Mackenzie, then treasurer of the S.I.A., took over as interim president until elections could be held. In August of 1996 Neil Mackenzie was elected as the fourth president of S.I.A by unanimous vote. Betty Roberts was elected secretary; Bob Roberts treasurer; Simira Phan, youth advisor; and Doretha Randolph member at large. Our VP spot was left open.

Neil nurtured SNA to become a strong, vibrant community devoted to a livable neighborhood and city. Under his guidance, S.I.A. as a corporation was officially dissolved in 1998 and re-incorporated under the name "Sunnyhills Neighborhood Improvement Association". Due to a lack of records and continuity, in late 1996 we started the process to dissolve the Sunnyhills Improvement Association with this note to the Secretary of State: "Over the past two years, the Sunnyhills Improvement Association (of which I am a Board member), nearly died. The leadership was in disarray. Membership fell off. Obligations were overlooked. One of those obligation was the annual filing required of corporations. The new leadership decided it was easier to start over than try to repair the damage. Fundamentally different bylaws have been drafted. New officers have been elected."

On August 27, 1998, the Sunnyhills Neighborhood Improvement Association was incorporated as a California Public Benefit Corporation with California Corporation Number 2119575. (The "Improvement" part is there because Carmen Montano wanted to commemorate efforts of SNA's predecessor, Sunnyhills Improvement Association.) On August 19, 1999, the Sunnyhills Neighborhood Improvement Association (1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913) was granted an Advance Ruling granting 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). SNA's taxpayer Id. number (EIN) is 77-0493926. The Association's 501(c)(3) status enabled it to solicit and secure grant funding in excess of $30,000 between 1998 and 2004. Much of the equipment for an activist organization was purchased: tables, chairs, coffee pots, pop-up shade gazebos, etc. A group of committed volunteers grew to deliver SNA's newsletter to 2000 homes.

Neil was a rare leader in that he could, and often did, do it all. Although he would always praise the support and assistance he got, he was the driving force. In the area of attracting backup leadership to SNA, however, Neil wasn't so successful. So, when he got terminal stomach cancer in 2004, members of the Association came together to reconstitute the organization using a team leadership model. Bill Ferguson was invited to be president. When he accepted, many other members volunteered for various other Board roles; at election time, 9 Board members were approved, the largest number in the history of Sunnyhills.

Under Neil's guidance, SNA achieved a long list of accomplishments and awards including:

  • creation of the Bob Pecot linear Park along the Hetch-Hetchy right-of-way
  • Garnered over $35,000 in grants
  • Music in the Park
  • Milpitas Community Breakfast
  • Sunnyhills Times newsletter
  • Become An Artist Day
  • International Potluck
  • Tree Planting in conjunction with City of Milpitas
  • Transportation Summit
  • Astronomy Nights
  • In addition to the specific programs highlighted above, SNA members also participate in the City's anti-graffiti campaign, weed abatement, tree plantings, youth services, Restorative Justice Program and in advocating for the community.

Become a member!

Annual dues are only $20/year and tax-deductible due to an IRS non-profit status letter. To use PayPal, click Donate below to send your contribution.

or print our membership form and mail a check to SNA, 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913
Pursuant to Article 12, section 1 of the corporation's Bylaws, rights of members shall include:
1) Notice of all regular, special, and annual meetings, plus notice of any committee meetings in which they have expressed interest.
2) Copies of any newsletters or other publications of the organization, plus requested copies of any other documents of the organization.
3) The right to vote at all general meetings and the right to vote on any sub-committees that they join.
4) The right to offer motions germane to the group and have those motions given a fair hearing before the assembled membership.

Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association, 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913, 408-262-0420, info@SunnyhillsNeighborhood.org