San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s revised 2018-19 spending plan includes targeted investments in police, blight cleanup and affordable housing in addition to squirreling away $15.5 million in reserves to prepare for budget shortfalls on the horizon.
The City Council on Tuesday will consider the mayor’s proposals for San Jose’s $3.5 billion budget, which anticipates a $4.3 million deficit in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and another $15.5 million gap the year after.
“We still face challenging years ahead, requiring a prudent and strategic approach to spending,” Liccardo said in a news release announcing his June budget message. “We must focus our investments carefully to improve safety, broaden economic opportunity, enhance neighborhood quality of life and strengthen infrastructure.”
Below are just some of the investments the mayor has proposed for the coming year.
- Last year, the San Jose Police Department fielded 3,635 dispatches for domestic violence, but victims were only linked up with a social worker/advocate in 1,000 of those cases and only 200 of those survivors actually opted to receive services. “While various agencies offer critical services to domestic violence victims,” Liccardo wrote in his budget message, “many fall through the cracks because these efforts appear too often uncoordinated and poorly aligned with survivors’ needs.” As requested by Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, the mayor wants to direct $160,000 to a pilot program that offers emergency housing and help to victims of domestic violence. That includes increased staffing in SJPD’s domestic violence and sexual assault unit, which has been depleted by staffing shortfalls over the past several years.
- Liccardo recommends redeploying two full-time SJPD employees from the Police Activities League, in which officers offer coaching to local youth sports teams, to the short-staffed Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Investigations units.
Sexual Assault Training
- While overall violent crime rates in the past decade have increased at a somewhat proportional rate to population growth (15 percent), the number of reported rapes in San Jose has doubled. Some of that may owe to a revised definition of the crime by the U.S. Department of Justice, but that doesn’t account for the entire uptick. The mayor agrees with Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas’ request to budget $150,000 in one-time funding for nonprofit organizations such at the YWCA to teach middle and high school students about affirmative consent.
- At the behest of Councilwoman Dev Davis, allocate $110,000 for an audio-enabled crosswalk outside the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center on Bascom Avenue.
- By request of Councilman Tam Nguyen, spend $115,000 on pedestrian safety upgrades around the Vietnamese-American/Shirakawa Community Center and Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church, including a new crosswalk on Lucretia Avenue.
- SJPD has been using the South Substation to train cadets, deploy non-sworn community service officers, refill its fleet, background and recruit new hires, write reports and host its school safety and cannabis regulatory divisions. But residents voted years ago to have the facility deploy sworn officers, and the city has yet to realize that original vision. Liccardo and SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia say it should take at least another year for that to happen. SJPD must first figure out an alternative academy training site and add at least 100 new officers. Liccardo directs the city manager to spend $1.5 million to move forward with the years-long transition into a fully operational substation.
- Although voters in 2016 agreed to tax themselves more and state lawmakers have since secured more funding for basic road maintenance, Liccardo said those efforts have been stymied at the ballot box and in court. To address some of the backlog in road repairs, the mayor directs the city manager to allocate $1.45 million in one-time funding for repaving this coming year.
- Liccardo suggests spending $90,000 to hire the nonprofit Downtown Streets Team to recruit homeless people to clean up the blighted Monterey Road corridor.
- At the request of council members Johnny Khamis and Don Rocha, the mayor wants to direct $120,000 to the nonprofit Our City Forest, so it can raise matching funds to plant more trees throughout San Jose.
- Many of San Jose’s renter-majority neighborhoods suffer from years of neglect by absentee landlords, which has resulted in blight and unsafe living conditions. Per direction from Councilwoman Arenas, the mayor wants to spend $155,000 in the coming year to support the Responsible Landlord Engagement Initiative, a program that incentivizes property owners to keep their rentals in good shape.
Education and Opportunity
- An estimated 9,500 children in San Jose can’t check anything out from the city’s libraries because of late fines, which disproportionately affect youth in the East Side. The mayor wants to spend $234,000 to cover those late fees so those kids can once again use library resources. The idea from council members Rocha and Chappie Jones reflects similar library fine amnesty programs in New York, Denver and Los Angeles.
- The mayor wants to allocate $6,000 for Vice Mayor Carrasco’s proposal to buy 3D printers for the Hillview and Alum Rock libraries.
- Downtown Councilman Raul Peralez and his colleague Arenas pitched the idea of filling empty storefronts with new pop-up businesses to boost foot traffic, create jobs and improve the aesthetic of business districts. Last year, the city allocated $200,000 for storefront activation grants but received more than $300,000 in qualified requests for the program. The mayor proposes another $200,000 in one-time from the city’s parking fund to continue offering the grants in targeted commercial corridors.
Once the mayor’s spending plan is hammered out this week, it will come back at the last council session of the fiscal year as part of the final budget adoption. For more about the city’s budget process, click here.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for June 12, 2018:
- The council will review a work plan for San Jose to build 15,000 market-rate and 10,000 below-market-rate homes by 2022. “Between the years of 2009 and 2017, an average of 3,000 units were built per year,” according to the memo signed by city staff. “While San Jose’s housing production may drop below this average over the next five years, the city can achieve its housing goal of 15,000 market rate units by 2022 through a combination of new construction and residential entitlements. This work plan focuses on work items that will move projects to construction in the near term, increase the number of housing entitlements approved by the city, and position development entitlements and permits to be able respond quickly to market conditions.” Advocates from housing nonprofit SV @ Home, however, said they’re concerned that the work plan doesn’t require the city to act more quickly.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260