My 2022–2023 March Budget Message

  1. Rebuilding the San José Police Department
  1. Walking and Bike Patrol in Downtown and other High-Need Neighborhoods
  1. Addressing Mental Illness on Our Streets
  1. Re-Arresting Defendants Who Have Failed to Appear Post-Release
  1. Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Innovations
  1. Traffic Safety Improvements: Identify at least four high-priority projects, with a focus on quick-build projects, to implement on our highest-risk roadways–the 17 Vision Zero priority safety corridors — where close to 50% of our traffic fatalities from 2020–2022 to date have occurred. At least two of those projects should be constructed on Senter Road and Monterey Road, which have featured a rash of horrific injury-accidents and deaths.
  2. Automated Speed Detection and Messaging: Automated speed enforcement (ASE) is used in 14 states, but California law does not allow it. While San José continues to advocate in Sacramento for ASE, it can engage with the DMV to identify a means by which it can use speed cameras in conjunction with license plate reading cameras (LPR’s) with velocity-assessment capability to compile lists of speeding cars to the DMV, which can then send the registered owners notification that the vehicle’s driver violated the speed limit. (All of our LPR’s, of course, would continue to be deployed in a manner consistent with our City’s privacy policy, avoiding, for example, any sharing of data with federal immigration enforcement.) Using behavioral insights, we can determine how a timely post-driven text or email might apprise lead-footed drivers that their unsafe driving is being monitored. For example, messages might tell registered owners that “we’ll be issuing tickets along that corridor for the next several weeks,” or “your neighbors have complained about high speed-driving in the area, and have asked that we reach out to you.” The City Manager is directed to identify the one-time cost to (a) cover the cost of standard speed/LPR cameras, and (b) pilot of a partnership with the DMV to cover the cost of their use of their registration database, and return with a recommendation through the budget process.
  3. Safest Driver Program: Cities such as San Antonio, Boston, and Seattle have enlisted drivers to participate in pilot programs to assess how a smartphone app could incentivize and educate drivers on the quality and consequence of their driving habits. Each city observed substantial reductions in distracted driving, harsh braking, and speeding. The initiative became so successful that insurance companies started integrating it for policyholders to receive discounts on premiums for safe driving. I direct the City Manager to return through the budget process to set aside $50,000 to enable the retention of a summer cohort of Coding It Forward and/or Stanford Community Impact Fellows to support getting the program up and running.
  4. Hire Ahead
  1. Police Reform
  1. Reimagining Public Safety
  1. Security Camera Rebate Program
  1. Commitment: Commit ongoing funding to ensure one-time expansions of BeautifySJ become permanent, with emphasis on maintaining or expanding programs that empower the unhoused to become part of the BeautifySJ solution, such as San José Bridge and Cash for Trash.
  2. Accountability: Develop a program evaluation plan — focusing on visible outcomes, not on outputs — for all Beautify programs, to ensure efficacy and cost-effectiveness of each program of BeautifySJ.
  3. Community Cleanup and Beautification Grants: Expand BeautifySJ grants for emerging and re-emerging business and neighborhood associations, and streamline the application process and distribution of funds.
  4. Capital Equipment: Allocate one-time funding to purchase a compactor truck and other vehicles necessary to support BeautifySJ programs.
  5. Illegal Dumping on Trails: Develop a workplan and allocate funding for design and installation of bollards along trails to deter illegal dumping from vehicles, with a focus on Remillard, Story, Watson, Tully Ballfields, Guadalupe, and the three direct discharge areas of the creeks.
  6. Reducing Costs of Cleanup: Engage haulers currently contracting with the City to negotiate reduced dumping fees — similar to the deal negotiated by the City of Fremont with Republic Services. Explore other ways to reduce costs and streamline cleanup operations for illegal dumping, including improvement of coordination with departments to optimize the use of transfer stations and maintenance yards while reducing costs and labor. If necessary, allocate one-time funding from the Integrated Waste Management Fund needed to enable longer-term savings as required through negotiation.
  7. Clean Creeks: Augment the Clean California Grant with matching City funding for Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful and South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition. Return through the budget process with recommendations for activating and patrolling creek trail alignments that receive escalated cleaning, such as the Notting Hill Drive / Corie Court area along Coyote Creek, to deter illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, and re-encampments.
  8. Abandoned Vehicles: The suspension of non-essential services in the pandemic caused the backlog of requests for abandoned vehicle abatement to balloon. In response to neighborhood frustration, and to ensure a more equitable response to under-reporting neighborhoods, the City incorporated a more proactive response in 2021. Parking compliance staff now regularly patrol every city street at least twice a month to identify inoperable vehicles and vehicles that pose a health and safety hazard, in addition to responding to SJ311 requests. Early results from the hybrid model demonstrate some progress, however we continue to hear widespread frustration about perceived City inaction. The City Manager is directed to (a) allocate ongoing funding to continue the hybrid vehicle abatement model; (b) add one-time funding to boost parking enforcement for two years; © consider and return to Council with the evaluation of a more flexible standard for abating problem vehicles; and (d) emphasize enforcement within small business corridors–such as Japantown, Story Road, East Santa Clara Street, and Alum Rock Avenue–where parking scarcity threatens the survival of small businesses the most.
  1. Drought Resilience: All of the evidence suggests that the Sierra snowpack will no longer support the Bay Area’s water needs and our local underground aquifers have become more constrained as the threat of land subsidence grows. It is critical to develop more resilient local water sources, and our most drought-proof source is recycled water. We currently filter 8 million gallons of our recycled water daily to a level of purity clean enough to drink — if we obtained state certification to create a potable source. In 2015, we launched a public campaign with the Water District to encourage local and state investment to boost water recycling through the expansion of our jointly-owned Advanced Water Purification treatment plant. The momentum in expanding that system waned and waxed, and negotiations have since stalled over the deposition of the waste effluent from recycled water purification. In my view, there is a larger obstacle, however: the City still has not defined clear objectives and long-term strategy for utilizing City-owned assets to maximize our resilience. As we clarify our objectives, we can better engage with the Water District and other private sector parties to co-create a path to achieve them. The City Manager is directed to allocate sufficient funding to hire consulting expertise to identify the most promising combination of approaches among several — including direct potable recycling, indirect potable recharge, desalination, expansion of stormwater retention and use of greywater, and greater conservation — to secure a drought-resilient future for San José. Such study should not interfere with any ongoing discussions or investigation of existing options; given the urgency of need for solutions, such processes should occur on a parallel track.
  2. Sea Level Rise: The latest projections anticipate an increase in the Bay’s sea level by at least 8 inches by 2050. Coupled with the risks of standard coastal flooding from a 10-year storm or king tides, residential communities in Alviso and other parts of North San Joséface considerable vulnerability to inundation, which also threatens the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility and the well-being of 1.5 million residents who rely upon it. Construction of an Army Corps of Engineers levee project has suffered setbacks due to construction cost escalation, and requires substantially more state and federal funding. Success requires multi-agency coordination and strong advocacy in Washington D.C. and Sacramento.
  3. Microgrid Development: The inability of PG&E to maintain a reliable grid has imperiled thousands of medically vulnerable residents and created excessive risks for reliability-sensitive employers, such as hospitals, dialysis centers, laboratories, and data centers. City emergency response infrastructure depends on century-old technology– diesel backup generators — that depend on fuel supply chains that will become unreliable after any catastrophe. Bandwidth and funding constraints have undermined implementation of past Council direction to use Measure T funding for microgrid development at the EOC and fire stations. We cannot spare any more time, as our residents’ lives will depend on the reliability of electricity supply to our critical facilities in any disaster. We have unique opportunities to partner with innovative companies to pilot and demonstrate projects integrating clean energy generation and storage into key facilities, and even to help take entire neighborhoods “off the grid.”
  4. Urban Forest: The dramatic decline in San José’s tree canopy will have lasting and increasingly severe impacts on human health, air quality, neighborhood livability, and energy consumption. These impacts will be most directly felt through the “urban heat island effect,” particularly given the anticipated increase in daily high temperatures of 4 degrees by 2050. The City Manager is directed to guide the successful growth and management of our urban forest to reduce heat islands and create a greener, more beautiful city, with a priority on those neighborhoods with the sparsest canopy, such as those in Districts 4, 5, and 7.
  5. Seismic Safety: The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the Bay Area has a 72% likelihood of experiencing a 6.7 earthquake by 2043, most likely centered along the Hayward fault which runs east of San José. A 2003 report from the Association of Bay Area Governments estimated that soft-story apartments would account for two-thirds of the residential buildings rendered uninhabitable in an earthquake. A 2002 study by SJSU’s Engineering Department estimated that San José had approximately 1,100 soft-story multifamily buildings, imperiling more than 22,000 mostly low-income residents in nearly 11,000 older apartments in neighborhoods such as South University and Cadillac. Eight years ago, several colleagues and I co-authored a memorandum, which Council approved, urging Staff to explore incentives and other mechanisms for seismic retrofits of soft-story buildings. A recent grant award by CalOES Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will fund consultant work, and the City Manager is directed to accelerate our progress dramatically to return to Council with options to incentivize or require seismic upgrades in these perilous structures.
  6. Coyote Valley Open Space Implementation: In addition to the many environmental and recreational benefits of preserving Coyote Valley, it can play a critical role in boosting our resilience to drought, flood, and wildfires. San José made history on November 6, 2019 when it ended more than three decades of development battles in Coyote Valley by voting to approve land purchases of 937 acres in concert with the Open Space Authority and the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Council’s changes to the General Plan in November of 2021 will protect another 2,400 acres of open space from industrial development, for a total of 3,300 acres. In 2020, OSA, POST, and the City initiated a master planning process for protected lands in CV to restore and reconnect creeks and floodplains, identify connections to nearby parks and regional trails, enhance agricultural operations, and develop opportunities for unique visitor amenities. Staff from my office has served on the executive committee for the planning process, but we must ensure City participation continues beyond my term, and that will require active staff management and engagement.
  7. Electrification of our Local Economy: In addition to being a major source of carbon emissions, natural gas dependence increases fire risk in homes and undermines emergency preparedness with uncertain fuel supply lines. In 2019, San José became the largest city in the nation to require all-electric utilities in new commercial and residential development, and our metropolitan area has the highest utilization of electric vehicles of any major city metro in the U.S. To achieve our climate goals, however, we must do much more, including the rapid build-out of vehicle-charging infrastructure, and the retrofit of our existing housing stock, prioritizing the reduction of utility costs for struggling residents. We need to aggressively push for existing federal and state grants, and deepen philanthropic partnerships, such as our successful efforts with Bloomberg’s What Works Cities.
  8. Citywide Infrastructure Backlog Prioritization and Funding: While we have made considerable progress in reducing our massive infrastructure backlog in recent years — particularly through the passage of Measure T and the VTA Measure B — we have much more to do to replace deteriorating bridges, public safety facilities, storm water and sewer pipes, and other infrastructure essential for resilience. We need focused management of grant-writing and lobbying to secure necessary funding for critical projects.
  1. Child Care
  1. Small Business Support
  1. Al Fresco/ Storefronts Activation Grants: San José Al Fresco kept many struggling small businesses viable during the pandemic, in addition to activating our streetscape to take full advantage of our sunny climate. Using one-time funding, extend the duration of activation grants that will help more cafes, restaurants, exercise studios, and other small businesses conduct commerce outdoors.
  2. Waiving Fees on Small Commercial Tenant Improvements: Empty storefronts can drag down an entire block or business district, attracting blight, and repelling foot traffic that might otherwise support neighboring businesses. If this message is approved, the City Manager must set aside one-time funding to enable 50 businesses to waive up to $10,000 in city fees and permit costs per business to fill vacant storefronts, prioritizing neighborhood business districts and Downtown.
  3. Employee Transit Passes: Restaurants and other small new businesses are challenged mightily to attract workers in Downtown, many of whom struggle to afford parking at Downtown garages and commercial parking lots. During the Great Recession, we launched a parking waiver program for small businesses in Downtown that spurred considerable new lease-up activity. We have greater constraints on our Downtown parking inventory today, however, but we can use revenues from public garages and meters to help reduce transportation costs for the many workers — waitstaff, bartenders, retail staff, and bank clerks — with a free VTA SmartPass. In the same way that the City and other large employers encourage their workers to use transit with a SmartPass, small businesses could have the same opportunity, with City help. The City Manager is directed to allocate one-time funding from the Parking Fund to support VTA SmartPasses for small businesses in the Downtown and surrounding business districts subjected to parking meters, such as East Santa Clara Street and Japantown. An allocation of $200,000 could serve more than 500 employees for two years.
  4. Food Access
  1. Waiving Fees: Lighthouse Ministries, Loaves and Fishes, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, and other food providers seek to expand operations in our City to meet the pandemic-era need. The City Manager is directed to create a one-time fund of $500,000 to eliminate or reduce fees for these essential organizations, and to enable them to focus their scarce resources on their important work.
  2. Community Impact: The preliminary results of a countywide study of food need and response provides an opportunity for the County, City, and non-profit providers to best align scarce resources and address this growing challenge in our community. Staff is directed to deliberate with the County, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, and other providers, and return to Council through the budget process with an allocation that will leverage our collective impact in addressing the food insecurity of thousands of our families.
  3. Disparity Study
  1. School of Arts and Culture/ Escuela de Artes y Cultura: Beyond the Plaza
  1. Eastside Education Initiative/ Latino Education Advancement Foundation
  1. San José Abierto and the Cultural Funding Portfolio
  1. Allocate one-time funding to extend the San José Abierto grant program to support arts and cultural organizations focused on activating and convening our community in the Downtown and neighborhood business corridors;
  • Support existing contracts with the San José Jazz, the San José Downtown Association, the School of Arts and Culture, and Filco for the distribution of grant funding;
  • Prioritize funding events that support multiple cultural groups, or attract a critical mass of attendees, such as Music in the Park, San José Symphony, and the Urban Vibrancy Institute;
  • Allow greater flexibility of ticket pricing for those organizations hosting larger events, to enable them to secure acts likely to attract greater public attendance.
  1. Buttress the City’s Cultural Funding Portfolio with a one-time allocation to support arts grants through another low-revenue year in the TOT accounts;
  2. After a dramatic and painful shutdown of its main event mid-festival during the pandemic’s rise in March of 2020, Cinequest has an opportunity to revive the annual event–bringing filmmakers, audiences, and actors from around the globe–in August of 2022. In order to re-launch the first successful live Cinequest event in three years, a substantial upgrade of technology for filming, editing, and projection is needed. As the group scrambles to restore sponsorships, it also must shoulder rising costs of rental and operations at the California Theater and other venues. The City Manager is directed to allocate $75,000 to Cinequest for a portion of these “reboot” costs to reignite the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival in San Jose.
  3. Downtown Ice
  1. Airport Connector and Diridon Station
  1. CreaTV
  1. Recovery Task Force
  1. Savings — Building Our Reserves
  1. Budget Stabilization Reserve, to make meaningful progress toward achieving the goal of City Council Policy 1–18 to increase our reserves — currently 7.5% of our General Fund expenditures — to 10%. The City’s careful budgetary management and use of this reserve was instrumental in staving off the worst of budget reductions at the pandemic’s onset.
  2. Essential Services Reserve: The City Manager is directed to set aside $3 million in one-time funds that may be used to support services of essential importance to our residents, as determined by the Council. I request that my Council colleagues make their cost requests strategically in the weeks ahead, mindful of their impact on the workload of overstretched City budget staff.
  3. Fellowships and Service
  1. Encouraging Philanthropic Support for Our City: a Donor Wall, and San José Forward Foundation
  1. Infrastructure and IT Reserve
  1. As directed by the priorities identified in the City Council-approved Mayor’s March Budget Message, develop a budget that balances the City’s delivery of the most essential services to the community with the resources available. Consider current needs in the context of long-term service delivery priorities.
  2. Pose explicit questions of equity — including who benefits and who is burdened — when considering changes to City services to achieve a balanced budget.
  3. As the City remains committed to balancing ongoing expenditures with ongoing revenues over the long term to maintain the City’s high standards of fiscal integrity and budget management, use a combination of ongoing and one-time solutions to achieve a structurally balanced budget over a two to three-year period that prioritizes the incorporation of items previously funded on a one-time basis in the General Fund in 2021–2022 and community and economic recovery workstreams currently budgeted within the American Rescue Plan Fund.
  4. To the extent possible, maintain or increase General Fund reserve levels to help address any unanticipated budgetary shortfall in the following year as a stopgap measure.
  5. Evaluate program-level budgets and determine if there are opportunities to shift resources or reconfigure operations to improve service delivery, meet the objectives of the City Roadmap, generate new revenues, address truly significant community or organizational risks, fund services added on a one-time basis in 2021–2022, and/or respond to specific City Council direction. Review existing vacancies for opportunities to reorganize work groups to realize cost savings or to achieve current service level demands through alternative means. Factor in performance measure data in proposal development.
  6. Focus on business process redesign to improve employee productivity and the quality, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of service delivery (e.g., streamlining, simplifying, reorganizing functions, and reallocating resources).
  7. Explore alternative service delivery models (e.g., partnerships with non-profit, public, or private sector for out- or in-sourcing services) to ensure no service overlap, reduce and/or share costs, and use City resources more efficiently and effectively.
  8. Identify City policy changes that would enable/facilitate service delivery improvements or other budget balancing strategies to ensure equity and inclusion for how services are delivered.
  9. Analyze non-personal/equipment/other costs, including contractual services, for cost savings opportunities. Contracts should be evaluated for their necessity to support City operations and to identify negotiation options to lower costs.
  10. Explore expanding existing revenue sources and/or adding new revenue sources.
  11. Establish a fees, charges and rates structure designed to fully recover operating costs, while considering the impacts on fee and rate payers whereby a cost recovery structure may be lower in certain circumstances, and explore opportunities to establish new fees and charges for services, where appropriate.
  12. Focus any available one-time resources on investments that 1) continue high-priority programs funded on a one-time basis in 2021–2022 for which ongoing funding is not available; 2) address the City’s unmet or deferred infrastructure needs; 3) leverage resources to or improve efficiency/effectiveness through technology and equipment or other one-time additions; 4) accelerate the pay down of existing debt obligations where applicable and appropriate; 5) increase budget stabilization reserves to address future budget uncertainty; and/or 6) provide for funding needs for non-bond eligible furniture, fixtures, and equipment associated with the continued implementation of Measure T.
  13. Engage employees in department and/or city-wide budget proposal idea development.
  14. Continue a community-based budget process where the City’s residents and businesses are educated and engaged, as well as have the opportunity to provide feedback regarding the City’s annual budget.
  15. Use the General Plan as a primary long-term fiscal planning tool and link ability to provide City services to development policy decisions.



Mayor of San José, California

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