Council to Discuss Top Priorities, Audit of Consultants and Contracts

Regulating alcohol sales, electric car plug-ins and cannabis clubs are among the city’s top priorities this coming year, according to a memo up for discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Over the past couple years, given the reality of budget shortfalls and understaffing, city leaders have had to come up with a list of the top 10 priorities for policies and ordinances. The current-year list is as follows:

• Streamline off-sale of alcohol at grocery stores, making it simpler to apply for and obtain a permit.
• Come up with plug-in requirements for parking garages.
• Develop urban village zoning districts, which encourage mixed-use retail-residential development, to fit in with the city’s General Plan.
• Modify zoning ordinances on a quarterly basis, at least for changes that don’t require major analysis, raise public concern or can’t be found exempt from CEQA.
• Rezone private lot along Alum Rock Avenue to spur economic development and reinvestment along this corridor.
• Streamline real estate transactions to make it easier to buy and sell in San Jose. Make it easier to provide easements, right-of-ways and to enter into below-market-rate leases with nonprofits.
• Create a special events permitting process that establishes timelines for application submittals, permit decisions and new conditional permits. This applies to any events on city streets, in parks, plazas and paseos and in downtown.
• Make more specific guidelines for development agreements, to establish consistency.
• Encourage developers to convert hotels and motels to residential apartments or offices.
• Regulate marijuana businesses more strictly, especially in regards to land-use policy.

The city should also look to renovate vacant buildings to house the homeless, suggests Councilwoman and 2014 mayoral candidate Madison Nguyen.

“Homelessness in our city is growing at an alarming rate,” Nguyen writes in a memo. “It has been surveyed that San Jose is one of eight metropolitan areas with the highest rate of homelessness … Due to the urgency of this issue, we need to develop a more comprehensive plan to eliminate homelessness in our city.”

San Jose’s rivers and streams should be in the top 10 list, Councilman Johnny Khamis says in his own recommendation. The city should develop an ordinance that would enhance the city’s relationship with the Santa Clara Valley Water District by protecting the city’s waterways, he states.

Khamis’ plan to make it more affordable to remodel homes in San Jose should be on that list, too, per a memo signed off by council members Rose Herrera, Ash Kalra and Kansen Chu.

Councilman Don Rocha cautioned staff and his colleagues from using the priority setting session as a chance to rally for pet projects. He didn’t make a recommendation of his own, perhaps to avoid the appearance of pet project-pushing.

“Of course, many of us have our own pet projects,” Rocha writes in an accompanying memo. “This exercise can turn into something of a popularity contest, with council members scrambling to get their personal priorities over the line (myself included). This scramble sometimes crowds out a broader and more thoughtful discussion about the proposals’ policy merits and strategic usefulness in achieving city goals.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for September 10, 2013:

• The city reviews its investment policies annually to see if it needs any updates or revisions. No changes were recommended, but here is the entire policy document for your perusing pleasure.

• The city wants a public park and a 12,500-square-foot parking structure in exchange for approving development of a 166-unit residential housing complex at 825 N. 10th St. in Japantown.

• The council will vote on whether to support the League of California Cities in its push to lobby for an $11.14 billion water bond ballot measure and a meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown to figure out how to better handle low-level offenders released from jail in this year under public safety realignment legislation, AB 109.

• It looks like the city will put $1.4 million toward a $6 million children’s garden and playground at Guadalupe River Park. The 4.5-acre park will be built in honor of the Rotary Club of San Jose’s 100-year anniversary. The club raised the rest of the money for the project, which it plans to finish within about a year.

• The city should better monitor the consultants it hires, according to a report from City Auditor Sharon Erickson. A review found that there were some breaches of local and state ethics laws regarding conflicts of interest in some consulting agreements. In one case, a for-profit company got money meant for a nonprofit. There also needs to be an active effort to hire competitively, so the city doesn’t rely too much on the same consultants. And the finance department in some cases overpaid some contracts. Get that money back, Erickson advises. Read the entire audit.

• The Wastewater Facility master agreements need better contract management, too, another Erickson audit notes. The facility has five agreements that total $18 million. But the paperwork isn’t all in order and some of the bids aren’t issued competitively, so the city doesn’t always award contracts to the most qualified firm, the audit says.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 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. What about robberies, homicides, auto thefts and burglaries those are not priorities.  460 police officers to patrol our city streets is not a priority?  Sounds like the city manager, mayor and council have their priorities all mixed up.  Same ole song and dance from the Brady Bunch!

  2. > … electric car plug-ins … are among the city’s top priorities this coming year…


    TOP PRIORITY?!!!!!!

    I would think a ballot initiative to recall all the morons, grifters, and moral exhibitionist busy-bodies on the city council would be much higher priority.

    Maybe we should simply provide them with free valium and taxpayer provided lobotomies to discourage them from too much “thinking”.

    • These idiots think that having electric cars makes us “green”, without realizing the electricity comes from a power plant probably powered by a fossil fuel. Kinda like Sam Liccardo putting a bunch of bike lanes downtown that have just clogged up traffic and created more pollution by cars sitting in traffic. In the meantime, we have a police department that has fallen apart because of this mayor and his allies on the city council, yet they are fixated on electric cars and banning take out containers from restaurants. A bunch of smug clowns, led by Mayor Reed.

      • All this ‘eco-friendly’ garbage completely ignores the fact that we have been on a cooling trend for a number of years. More and more news outlets are finally acknowledging that overall global temperatures have been falling and that we are now able to compare actual climate date against climate models from a decade and more ago. The consensus – even from the UN – is that the ACTUAL measurements do not fit the predictive models in anyway.

        One indicator of this, as reported by numerous news outlets, is that Arctic ice has increased by 60% over last year. As well, a leaked UN report shows that ‘global warming’ has paused since 1997.

        • David,

          Thank you for so ably illustrating one of the primary tools of discourse employed by all too many on the left, that of the ad hominem attack. Rather than argue the issue on merit, you attack the messenger(s). In this case, you assume certain things about the ‘messengers’ and, based on those assumptions, the essence of your assertion becomes this: ‘He/she disagrees. He/she does not appear to be properly qualified to comment on the issue. Therefore, because he/she disagrees with my assertion and because I do not believe they are qualified to comment, their contrary assertions are not reliable.’

          In this case, no one is asking or asserting they are arbiters of ‘climate science’. In this case, what I have done is cite numerous sources which point to ‘original data collection’ and draw a conclusion.

          Rather than indulging in an ad hominem attack, rather than participate in the massive commission of regression fallacy of which ‘global warming alarmists seem so consistentlyh guilty, why don’t you address the central two issues:

          1. That the UN climate measurements are inconsistent with the models used which predicted global warming.

          2. That these same measurements show that:
            a. the average rate of warming from 1951-2012 was 0.12 degrees C per decade
            b. the average rate of warming from 1998-2012 was 0.5 degrees C per decade
            c. during the period of 1998-2012, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm for the first time on record.

          It is interesting to note that, although the scientists over at the UN observe that one reason for the drop in temperature is a drop in solar energy reaching the earth, they do not appear to admit that the reverse corollary could also be true: namely to acknowledge that the sun goes through cycles of higher and lower thermal and radiation output and that whatever warming has been observed might have been caused by an episodic increase in solar output.

          I also notice that, in your zeal to pursue your ad hominem attack, you also ignore the fact that the Telegraph UK article quotes a couple of scientists – Professors Judith Curry and Anastasios Tsonis – who both argue that the UN data – not predictive models – shows that the globe is entering a warming trend. Similarly, you ignore that *observed arctic ice surface area is already 60% larger than last year.

          Perhaps, rather than indulging in various forms of fallacious reasoning, you could simply address those these various important *actual* facts based on real measurable and reproducible data?

        • Anonymous, there is no reason for me to explain all the science here, since I provided a link that thoroughly explains how those articles get the science wrong.  Here are some more:

          Artic sea ice has increased?  WRONG
          IPCC held a “crisis meeting”?  WRONG
          Global warming has stopped?  WRONG

          Things are even worse than they were before.  Instead of a warming of atmospheric air, the warming is now building up in the oceans, which will result in even more planetary calamity.  9 of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the past decade.  Show me the data that refutes that?

          Of course, the term “global warming” turned out to be simplistic because that leads to false conclusions such as those that you believe.  Air temperature isn’t the only data point (although even air temperature data matches the predicted trends).  That’s only one element of global climate change.

          Peer review science is clear and unambiguous.  There is no “controversy” in the scientific community.  Only in the political community, where there is still too much entrenched ideology that doesn’t want to believe it or do anything to fix it.  So they find it easier to spend money planting false information that breeds doubt where none truly exists.

        • Real scientists know that you don’t have to do B to get a scientific answer.  And scientific consensus is not based on a poll.  It’s based on a compilation of all peer-reviewed research.  When more than 95% of peer-reviewed scientific research comes to the same conclusion, that is a scientific consensus.  (Just like it’s better to trust the 4 out of 5 dentists who recommend sugarless gum rather than the 1 who doesn’t.)

          The irony here is that the political side is the one denying the science of climate change.  It’s out there only because those who want to perpetuate the current system and believe it is too “hard” to change our energy habits spend money to get others to carry their message to a public that would prefer to believe that we are all ok.  It is always easier to bury our heads in the sand than to do something to solve a real problem.

          Having this discussion with you is obviously fruitless because you wouldn’t believe the science no matter what, obviously.  The problem is that your refusal to believe the science endangers my children and their children.  And I am not willing to sacrifice them while we wait for you to be convinced.

        • David:

          It is screamingly obvious that you do not have any real scientific credentials and are just trying to fake it.

          > And scientific consensus is not based on a poll.  It’s based on a compilation of all peer-reviewed research.  When more than 95% of peer-reviewed scientific research comes to the same conclusion, that is a scientific consensus.

          Duh.  What’s the difference between a “poll” and a “compilation”?

          The end result is the same: a percent of people who say “Yea” and a percent who say “Nay”.  It’s a statistical statement of “beliefs” or “opinions”.

          Is a statistical statement of beliefs or opinions the scientific equivalent of a controlled experiment?

          To forestall the temptation on your part to again fake your scientific gravitas, let me answer it for you: NO.  An opinion poll, survey, compilation, roll call, nose count, or whatever social studies word you want to come up with is NOT the same as a scientific experiment.

          And as for your sacred cow of “peer review”, REAL scientists recognize the “peer review” is deeply compromised and has been badly abused, particularly in politicized areas like “climate science”.

          Tragically, the integrity and credibility of real science has been badly damaged in this era of government funded “Big Science”, and real scientists are acutely aware of this and very disgusted.

          The cynicism in the scientific community is widespread and pervasive, and the corrupting influence and perversion wrought by BILLIONS OF DOLLARS of politically steered government grant is appalling.

          Scientists are mad and embittered that because of political activism, science has become a joke.

          Peer review is referred to as “pal review”, and government funded research is referred to as “coin operated science”.

          Officer Anonymous nailed it when he called you out for “ad hominen” attacks.

          It’s EXACTLY what you did and it tells every real scientist all they need to know about what you DON’T know about real science.

        • David:

          > Climate change denial of this sort is so dangerous . . .

          My feelings are hurt that you didn’t include ME among the “dangerous”.

          I have been debunking climate quackery for years and years, and the obtuse climate quacks just go on filling out their government research grant applications as if the gushing spigot of government controlled money somehow proves that their “science” is correct.

          It proves only that politicians who offer to pay “academics” to say things that will make people fearful will find a ready cadre of takers willing to take the money and say things that will make people fearful.

          > Peer review science is clear and unambiguous.  There is no “controversy” in the scientific community.

          The well worn, tattered, and downright shabby “trump card” of the warming quacks is the old “scientific consensus” claim.

          Any REAL scientist will instantly cringe at the stupidity of this claim knowing full well that science does NOT operate on the basis of polls or “popular opinion” among scientists, but on the basis of EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATION.

          The white trust fund children of the Sierra Club, who are the foot soldiers of the “global warming” political campaign do not know that there is a difference between science and politics.  They only know politics and they imagine that they can fake the understanding of science, since they were always able to fake their way through their social studies classes.

          Here is a simple test that might help you get a clue about how science works (I’ll even make it multiple choice):

          How would a REAL scientist prove that human caused global warming is occurring:

          A. Do a poll of fifty scientists and ask them if they think greedy oil companies are polluting the planet with CO2 and causing it to heat up and melt the icebergs and cause the polar bears to fall off and drown; or

          B. Do a controlled scientific experiment comparing the climatic effects on two identical planets of releasing different amounts of CO2 into the atmospheres.

          For extra credit, if option “B” is too hard to do, would option “A” work just as well for proving global warming?

        • Seems pointless to have a science-off with you, since you appear to be one of the several anti-science trolls who comment on this page. 

          Have you ever published a peer reviewed scientific paper?  Received a patent?  Spent time in a lab?  Done computational, predictive models?

  3. After reviewing the council’s agenda, not a single item on public safety was discussed. In the agenda is a link to a city memorandum outlining the top 10 priorities of the council.  Not a single item in the top 10 list relates to public safety. There were a couple of “runner up” items mentioned that didn’t make the list but guess what…none, not one was related to public safety. Where are the City Council’s priorities? Certainly not with safety and security of the citizens it purports to represent.

  4. > Come up with plug-in requirements for parking garages.

    I’ve come up with a solution that is so brilliant that I’m thinking of incorporating it into the Lou Scannon Global Initiative.

    Simply post the following placard in each city parking garage:


    There is no plug-in in this garage for charging you’re stupid electric vehicle.

    If your car runs out of electricity, consult with the manufacturer and ask him or her what to do about it.

    If your car is left in this garage for more than twenty-four hours, it will be impounded, recycled, and turned into flashlight batteries.”

    Problem solved.

  5. Wow.  We hate to say we told you so…(not really, but if it makes you feel better about your voting decisions)…but, we told you so.  For the record, I cant believe that I agree with Lou…..I guess anything IS possible.
      Measure V and W did incredible damage to the negotiation and “trust” in this City administration.  Measure “B” was just stupid, measure V and W were devious and meant to incur long-term damage to the Fire and Police Department.  Electric cars and foam containers…..Brilliant!

  6. So life DOES go on!
    Here we were thinking that the primary purpose of City Government was to pacify and placate petulant, pouty public employees.
    Sorry grumblers. We’ll get by without you just fine.
    Here’s your hat. What’s your hurry?
    Hasta la vista BABY!

    • LOL…spoken like a person who has never needed any help from public employees.  Mommy and Daddy still helping around the house are they?

    • Good thing you are in the minority with your ignorant view.  Most people expect a service for the taxes they pay, but you apparently expect nothing from your tax dollars. 

      If it’s nothing you want, then nothing you get, but you will still be paying taxes to the government mismanaged by the worst mayor and council in SJ history.

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