City to Start Polling for New Tax Measures

While the budget approved Tuesday by the City Council avoided cuts, it fell short of enough money to restore and ramp up services, like repaving streets and hiring more cops.

City leaders voted 7-4 to explore the possibility of putting a tax hike on the November ballot. Residents can expect calls from pollsters asking them how they feel about four separate measures: a quarter-cent tax hike for public safety, a quarter-cent tax for streets, a general sales tax increase and bumping the cannabis club tax from 10 to 20 percent.

“I think it’s clear that folks would like to see a greater investment in city services, in boosting city services,” Councilman Don Rocha told San Jose Inside. “We really need to enhance what we have … I’m really interested to see what residents have to say.”

If residents favor a tax increase, a measure will likely make it to the fall ballot. The money could go toward general service improvements like extending library hours, hiring more firefighters and police or tackling the massive backlog of street repairs. Or it could be pegged for specific costs. A measure would need two-thirds vote approval to translate to reality.

Polling costs $50,000 and starts in July and the results will come back in time for the Aug. 5 council meeting.

A quarter-cent increase to the city's 8.75 percent sales tax would rake in $34 million a year in additional revenue. A half-cent tax hike would raise $68 million.

Earmarking the funds for a specific purpose would need supermajority support to pass. A general tax increase would only need a simple majority but may not garner as much voter support, the city says.

More from Tuesday’s council meeting—the last before summer recess:

  • The council heard the final reading of a strict new marijuana ordinance that limits cannabis clubs to a small fraction of industrial zones in the city. That leaves hundreds of parcels, but not all have willing landlords and not all are available for rent. The new rules mean that most pot shops in the city will have to close or relocate. They also have to re-think their supply chain since the ordinance requires all medical marijuana sold in San Jose to be grown in Santa Clara County or a contiguous county.
  • All agreements with bargaining units passed, which means 3 percent pay raises for electricians, maintenance workers and engineers working for the city.
  • Google will consider installing its “fiber huts” on city property, making San Jose one of the pilot cities for expanding its brand of residential high-speed broadband. The city wasn't formally chosen yet, a Google rep said. But it's part of a planning process with 34 other cities across the U.S.
  • Councilman Xavier Campos’ request to re-cast a vote for a Planning Commission appointment failed. So it’s official: real estate agent Nick Pham ousted incumbent Hope Cahan for a seat on the commission, thanks in part to Campos’ unintentional support.
  • Homeless residents will get to redeem their housing vouchers at hotels and motels now.    
  • Construction on a new $8.9 million library, the Southeast Branch, was approved unanimously. This marks the 20th library to be built using bond revenue approved by the council 14 years ago.
  • The Diridon Area Plan, a master plan to completely transform the city’s biggest transit hub into a dense urban zone, passed with full council support.

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


  1. No on any more taxes, this council of clowns just do not get it. You can only go to the well so often. Had you not spent millions to buy land to build a ball park that will never come. I can go on and on Chucks spending billion on worthless projects then again blame it on pensions. Lets spent 8.9 million on another library that will probably stay closed because it can’t be staffed. How many years now has the 20 million police sub station been closed because there are not enough officers to staff that either.

    Diridon Area plan, where is this city printing money or just flat out hiding it. How much did they spend on airport? What a complete joke. Voting NO on any more taxes and of course NO on Sam.

  2. Sam, do you go on you’re monthly miniature SF bike ride downtown San Jose? They offer free “herb sandwiches” and free MJ to smoke before the bike ride. Great job Sam, get high before you ride in traffic. Well done my friend (not really) like your bike lanes are a joke. Can’t wait to see you out there and sign the petitions for more pot clubs. And you wonder why we don’t want to come downtown after dark!

    Vote Dave!

  3. Hey ‘Vote Dave’ retired….was Dave’s endorsement of Campos a complete joke too??? A person who publicly supports Xavier during a mayoral campaign would have to be high on those ‘herb sandwiches’ wouldnt you think??? Please explain, Retired :-)

    • And the answer is…….wait for it……….. VOTE DAVE. Chuck and clowns had their time now it is time to go!

      Thanks SJC for your interest, have a good day.

      • You would think someone who is retired would have enough time on their hands to formulate a thoughtful response, but this trait is very prominent for many Cortese apologists. Cortese preceded Liccardo on City Council and is responsible for this mess we are in right now – it seems your selective amnesia is missing these facts. Cortese supported one of the most corrupt politicians in SJ history AFTER the corruption came to light and its comical how you have become an apologist for labor without providing substantive logic.

        • Dude…..shut up already!!! your whining about an endorsement is totally ridiculous….and yes get a life, Liccardo is done no matter how many gripes you put out on this blog….you’re still irrelevent, just like me lol

          • I can understand why you are upset. You cite polls that do not exist, and your ‘throw the bums out’ mentality of eradicating the insiders neglects to acknowledge that Cortese was both a city councilman and Chuck’s vice mayor and supports a lot of the projects that Sam does.

            Pace offering: In reality, can we acknowledge that both Sam and Dave were the two strongest candidates in the first round and at least have ideas on how to move SJ forward. Whether they be right or wrong in our book, at least they had the courage to present their ideas rather than speak in platitudes?

  4. Correction on the second bullet item….none of the City bargaining units got three percent raises. They only received a 3% salary restoration of the 10% cuts they took in 2010-11. This might make them 5% closer to being fully restored. And even that 3% restoration was consumed by a more than 3% increase in retirement and medical costs. Like City PD, City engineers are still the lowest paid in the Bay Area (maybe excepting CC County), and are actively being sought out by other agencies. One engineer has already left, and a senior engineer will be gone by next week, with another senior engineer a finalist for a position with another agency. The bleeding continues.

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