City Council’s Campos, Kalra Say Fire Department Analysis Incomplete

An audit of the San Jose Fire Department didn’t include enough analysis of staffing, councilmembers Ash Kalra and Xavier Campos argue in a memo. They want to look into whether the shorter staffing levels are what led to longer response times and loss in overall service.

The audit counts 763 employees in the department, an increase from 2012 but still 12 percent less than in 2007.

“Given that there are almost 100 fewer personnel, this could in fact be a direct cause of the loss in overall services performed and response times,” the memo says. “In addition, this may also explain difficulty and capability of department staff to do activities such as frequent inspections, prompt follow-ups and community outreach and educational events.”

The City Council will consider the suggestion when it meets Tuesday.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for May 14, 2013:

• The city appears ready to pay $325,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of 2-year-old killed by a toppled city-maintained tree.

After a family dinner, Esmeralda Galan, Jose Ortiz and their toddler, Mateo Ortiz, parked at a relative’s house in downtown to pick up their 13-year-old son. Above them was the canopy of a 10-ton silver maple, rotted at the roots. Before they got a chance to hop out of the truck, the tree slammed into the cab, hurting the parents and killing their son.

The family later sued the city, alleging it let public property fall into dangerous condition. Someone should have known and should have done something about it, the lawsuit says.

City attorney Richard Doyle denies the allegations and any liability in the case. There’s not enough evidence to prove the city’s liability, Doyle says in a memo. Better to settle, he says, to sidestep the risks of a court trial.

• The council will publicly commend police officers Bruce Barthelemy, Gustavo Perez and Hau Ngo for “for their courageous actions in the line of duty” in catching suspects who were armed and dangerous.

• It’s a pretty well-reported fact that in many low-income neighborhoods, fresh produce is hard to find. Often, the only nearby stores peddle liquor and processed snacks. So it’s a little bewildering that so many cities crack down on roadside fruit vendors, citing them for permit violations or other petty grievances. A lot of community groups in San Jose, on the other hand, recognize these street-side produce sellers as foot soldiers in the fight against the widespread disparity in food access.

The council will consider a Planning Commission recommendation to relax rules on sidewalk food vending to make it easier for people to buy healthy food.

The revised policy would allow vendors to sell fresh fruits and veggies without a planning permit between 7am and 9pm, up to two hours a day per vendor and four hours a day per lot on sites like schools, libraries, community centers or religious assemblies.

“The intent is to ease access to healthful produce near where people live, work and play, and would support micro-enterprises by simplifying and reducing zoning regulations to allow the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables [near homes],” according to the recommendation submitted by Joseph Horwedel of the city’s Planning Department.

• Monitoring fire alarms at the city’s 300 public buildings will cost $475,000 this year, according to a contract up for consideration with Gilroy-based Security Alert Systems of California, Inc.

• The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden is about to be nominated to the World Rose Garden Hall of Fame. City Manager Debra Figone will travel to New York City to accept the award during a lecture later this month.

• A $1 million grant will pay for San Jose’s share of an upgraded Bay Area-wide public safety communication system called the Urban Area Security Initiative.

Councilmembers will consider restoring the 10 percent of their salaries cut since the Great Recession. That would bring Mayor Chuck Reed’s annual pay back up to $119,700. Councilmembers would earn $85,050, up from the current $81,000.

WHAT: San Jose City Council
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Yes I think the Mayor wants to contract out the Fire Department to the residents and their Garden Hoses.  Mayor Reed has been quoting that he knows he can save 650 Million and water is water.  So why not have the local residents put out the fires.  He himself grew up working on the bucket brigade and use to push the old fire trucks through the city.

  2. “…Councilmembers will consider restoring the 10 percent of their salaries cut since the Great Recession…”

    Thanks for including the link to Councilman Kalra’s Memo which correctly discourages accepting the the 10% salary increase until career employee’s salaries are restored.

    How can the term-limited Mayor and City Council be so brazen that they can take up a 10% raise for themselves at the same time they are continuing their attacks on career City employees?  First The Mayor and City council are their own “Bargaining Unit” (a defacto UNION) but they technically do not represent themselves in negotiations. The Mayor and Council have a committee made up of “community members” who are politically appointed by the Mayor and Council and may even include representatives from the City Managers Office which streamline the later negotiations process or may even incorporate it.

    That committee (just like the employees unions) studies the City’s finances and prevailing economic conditions locally-nationally-globally and compares SJ’s pay and benefit package to other City’s packages for Mayor/council. The committee’s work is 100% legitimate and undertaken with the same zeal as research committees for the police, fire department, pollution control, parks/rec libraries, streets and traffic… 100% legitimate!

    The Committee takes its findings to the negotiations table with the City Manager’s Office which is where “negotiations” are supposed to take place. The City Manager and her subordinates who deal with negotiations are for all intents and purposes also political appointees. SO we have political appointees form the committee “negotiating” with political employees from the City Manager’s Office who were all “appointed” by the same Mayor and City Council – essentially the City Manager and the wage committee serve the same master!

    The committee says the Mayor and Council should have their 10% salary reduction reinstated – they take that to the City Manager and her office agrees so no it goes to the Council to “debate” and either accept or reject. There is no real “negotiation” so so no chance of impasse leading to arbitration leading to Measure V’s limits on arbitrated awards. BUT EVEN IF THERE WERE NEGOTIATIONS, the MAYOR and COUNCIL ARE EXEMPT FROM MEASURE V – a detail the made sure was part of Measure V.

    • Meyer Weed… Of course the council is exempt from Measure V – Measure B was to limit binding arbitration awards. The council has never had binding arbitration, and why would it, only SJPD and SJFD have had the right to go to binding arbitration. You can only go to arbitration after a negotiation, and the council doesn’t negotiate with itself. So why would Measure V even reference the council?

      This fits your pattern of posting half truths on SJI all the time to attack the mayor.

      I have not heard one council member say that they are for the Salary Setting Commission’s recommendations, yet you contrive a conspiracy that says the council is pushing through a raise. Did you know that the council has in the past said that they didn’t want to convene the commission, but the city charter requires it? ( This was added to the charter in 1980 and amended by resident vote in 1994, way before anyone on the council was elecetd. Funny how, again, you blame them for doing exactly what the law says they must do.

      I see that there is another memo out on this that isn’t listed above:
      If you read it you will see that councilman Constance is also saying that the council should not get the pension benefit. In the memo he says he has previously made this recommendation, but I have looked and can’t find anything about it.But at least finally we have some of these expensive pensions going away.

      Now if we can do this for others.

      Based on all you posts on this site, I know you are an unhappy city employee (most likely from the police or fire department). Its too bad you only get paid low six figures. Too bad the new pensions – which dont affect you, only new employees – is only 65%. Too bad the pay and benefits for each city employee are way above the city’s median wages. Too bad you get a guaranteed pension for life, while those who pay you – the taxpaying residents – don’t.

      TOO BAD.

      You can always come get a job in the real world with the rest of us if you are so unhappy there….

      • “Too bad you get a guaranteed pension for life, while those who pay you – the taxpaying residents – don’t.”

        This sounds a lot like a REALLY JEALOUS person. TOO BAD!!!

      • THanks for reading Peter – and chastizing me while synopsising my post.

        I’d like to point out from your post that the City Council doesn’t “want to convene… but the City Charter requires it…) arguement is exactly the same argument the Mayor and Council uses on pension the pension reform ballot measures V and B and the second tier retirement package (W) – those measures ammeded and/or added language to the Charter.

        It is a very cowardly way of avoiding responsibility from themselves who wrote/sponsored/endorsed those ballot measures and placing it squarely (in politician logic) on you and the other voters who voted to approve those measures.

        Peter,  one thing I am sure of about you and the rest of private sector employees is this:

        If your employer, your bank, your insurance agent or your dry cleaner… violated a contract that caused you a loss of any amount YOU all would get a lawyer to take yor case and try to get your rights restored. Even if your loss was minimal you would fight for what that contract said yoiu are owed on principle alone.

        And if you didn’t How would you be able to look at yourself in the mirror?

  3. The council will publicly commend police officers Bruce Barthelemy, Gustavo Perez and Hau Ngo for “for their courageous actions in the line of duty” in catching suspects who were armed and dangerous…..and then BLAME them for out of control pensions, crime, RDA Debt, etc

  4. Funny its after the arbitration hearing with the city that Reed decides to do this.  Maybe the council did not want the Judge to know they going to restore their own 10%.  However for the cops that they are giving awards too. Reed says screw you!  You will have to fight for every penny.  And still working at taking more.

    • SJPD will be giving its own version of “the BIRD” to Reed and the rest of the elected idiots at City Hall later this month.  Rather than having officers and the survivinig family members of officers killed in the line of duty appear at City Hall on Police Memorial Day rememberances this years ceremony will be where it should have been and should be in the future…. at SJPD!

      Reed- Constant, Oliverio Nguyen Liccardo and Khamis and any candidate who wants to align themselves with them – Though you will be invited I can assure you:  YOU ARE NOT WELCOME by the rank and file!

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