Growing the Pie, Job by Job

Increasing the tax base helps government provide services at levels that meet most residents’ expectations. At the national level it’s clearly impossible to grow the economy to pay off the national debt. At the state level, the current rate of economic growth is unlikely to keep the budget balanced this year. However, at the local level where budget deficits are not allowed, an increased tax base could go towards providing services to residents and thus restoring key positions.

As our region grows, San Jose benefits from both the marketing efforts of our Office of Economic Development and, of course, private-property lease rates. One of the advantages in San Jose has been a lower square-foot cost of commercial space than up in the Peninsula, plus larger buildings for expansion. Of course having Sun Micro abandon their gigantic campus in Menlo Park for Facebook to occupy or the massive commercial office build-out at Moffet Field does not help San Jose, as these developments will soak up a portion of the company expansions before they can move south to San Jose.

On Friday, Mayor Reed cut the ribbon for SolFocus, which moved their headquarters and 100 employees to Zanker Road. Joining them shortly will be Cavium Networks, which is moving its corporate headquarters to San Jose to occupy approximately 100,000 square feet on North First Street. Also, as noted in the press, San Jose will be asked to share a portion of its sales tax revenues back with Netflix as they move their DVD division to San Jose this year. Along with new companies there will also be expansions from companies already in San Jose like Super Micro, Tandem Diagnostics, SoloPower and Zazzle to name a few. 

But as we know, companies ebb and flow, as Cisco just laid off approximately 1,300 San Jose employees. Yet we must move forward by focusing on companies that actually have a product they are selling in the marketplace.  Over time we will work our way to having more jobs and tax revenue in San Jose but we must be patient with retaining land for this purpose.

On Saturday, a signing ceremony took place between 1stAct and the San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association (SPUR)—an organization of urban planners that focuses on advocating for the “Urban Center.” SPUR, funded by the Knight Foundation, will be located downtown for at least three years.  It was nice to hear the overwhelming positive comments regarding San Jose from SPUR and the Knight Foundation.  I look forward to their contribution to San Jose as the Council will adopt the new General Plan this Fall.

Finally, as the bill for High Speed Rail approaches $100 billion, it seems less likely that it will ever be built.  Much has been said about a tunnel in San Jose and its cost. Part of the cost of tunneling is based on the geology Downtown and along Hwy 87. Case in point: Take the sinkholes on Hwy 87.

Last month, a sinkhole developed on southbound Hwy 87 south of 280 and the Virginia Street overcrossing. Although Caltrans filled the sinkhole, further investigation showed that the underlying cause is excessive groundwater infiltration which caused the sinkhole to expand, requiring more significant repairs.

The specific project to repair the sinkhole(s) is expected to start on Wednesday evening Aug. 24 and end by Sept. 30.  The current plan has manageable impacts to southbound Hwy 87 and the Alma Street exit ramp which include the following: The third lane from the center median in the southbound direction will be closed most every day from 9am to 3pm.  The Alma Street exit will be closed 9am to 3pm, with detours via Almaden Expwy.  All southbound lanes will be narrowed as well to create safe space for crews to complete the repairs. 

Oh and yes the Jazz Festival Downtown was great.



  1. On the subject of HSR, it’s difficult to believe that Mr. Rod Choo-Choo and the spendthrift, Carl G., will support the undertaking to their dying breath. I cannot think of any boondoggle in the history of our state that spends so much money and gets so little in return.

  2. “Finally, as the bill for High Speed Rail approaches $100 billion, it seems less likeley that it will ever be built.”

    Yeah, the hits against California High Speed Rail Authority just keep on coming. Did you see this letter to FRA Administrator Szabo from the Kings County Board of Supervisors:

  3. Pier,
      If you guys keep cutting poice budgets the only “businesses” interested in moving to San Jose will be the Russian Mafia, Nortenos, Surenos, Mongls…
      Oops…they’re already here!
      What time is the ribbon cutting?

    • Here is a meaty excerpt from the Kings County Supervisors’ lenghty letter:


      On October 25, 2008, former High Speed Rail Association CEO, Joseph Vranich, provided 12 minutes of candid, jaw dropping testimony to the State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee regarding the Authority’s work on the High Speed Rail Project17

      • He was asked to appear because of his 40-year work with and advocacy of high speed rail. He is the author of “Super Trains.”

      He, “for the first time” in his life could not endorse high speed rail, because he found the Authority’s work “regrettably, to be the poorest I have ever seen.”

      He indicated the Authority’s plan was untenable, stating: “the train will be slower than they say it will; will cany fewer people than they claim it will; and will cost much more than they admit it will.”

      He exclaimed that the ridership projections are “so far from reality that I have to call it what it is: “science fiction. ”

      He said the Authority’s loadfactor figures exceed some of the best systems in the world. “This, simply put, cannot be believed”

      He said that in order to achieve the predicted travel times between key destinations, the system would have to operate at an average speed of 196 MPH This, he said, is “a feat that has yet to be accomplished anywhere in the world”

      He indicated “ridership projections rely on super bargain fares – far lower than fares are in 2007 on high speed rail systems.” For perspective, he added: “The Authority wants us to believe that the per mile charge in 2030 will be 1/7th what Amtrak charges today [2008] between New York and Washington. This also cannot be believed”

      He indicated the costs and profitability figures are “not credible “, and the design information provided is “like looking at a bowl of spagheffi it’s so jumbled” – this from an expert in the field

      He continued “what appears in thousands of pages of documents fails to address the mandates in AB3034. “

      He reiterated that high speed rail holds great promise, but based on the fact that “the work of the Authority is so deficient” and the Authority has failed to learn from the failures of Texas, Florida and Los Angeles to San Diego “as if they never read a single page of history” he reluctantly concluded “it forces me to say it is time to dissolve the California High Speed Rail Authority. Give it no more funding than is requiredfor terminating contracts and transferring data and duties to a more responsible agency and conducting an orderly shut down. ”

  4. > Finally, as the bill for High Speed Rail approaches $100 billion, it seems less likely that it will ever be built.

    Is there ANYONE in the political class, with any degree of public credibility, who thinks this turkey is ever going to be built?  Anyone with a brain in his or her head knows that this sucker is deader than a doornail.

    It is unbelievable.

    There is a huge, steaming turd laying in the middle of the ballroom floor, stinking up the place, and the politicians just keep dancing around it, pretending it’s a bouquet of roses.

    Open your eyes, get out the pooper scooper, clean up the mess, and tell the unions that their puppy died.

  5. Pier,

    Sorry to burst your bubble. Read this article from this week’s New York times blasting San Jose and SolFocus. It created 90 jobs here, but the huge majority of the business is in China. It creates solar panels in a country which could care less about the environmental damage it does, and anybody with a brain knows there is lots of toxic waste created by the production of solar panels. Pretty convenient for hypocrites to look the other way and pretend we are so damn green.

    Here is a small excerpt from the article…..

    “Mr. Reed called the opening of the new headquarters of SolFocus, which produces large, free-standing solar panels, an “enormously important” development for the city’s economy.

    “Clean technology is the next wave of innovation that Silicon Valley needs to capture,” the mayor said, noting that the San Jose City Council had committed to increasing the number of “green jobs” in the city to 25,000 by 2022. San Jose currently has 4,350 such jobs, according to city officials.

    But SolFocus assembles its solar panels in China, and the new San Jose headquarters employs just 90 people.

    In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned. President Obama once pledged to create five million green jobs over 10 years. Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade. But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream.”

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