Mayor Mahan Takes His Budget Case to the Public Before Council Showdown

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan takes his first city budget to the full City Council Tuesday, and today he issued a direct plea for public support in what will likely be an uphill battle against a majority of the council that didn’t support him in the 2022 election.

Mahan was to host a “budget town hall” at the Camden Community Center, 3369 Union Ave., tonight at 6:30. Earlier today, he wrote a “Dear Neighbor” email to his campaign mailing list. In the email, the first-term mayor wrote:

“Amid tech layoffs, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and rising inflation, families across San Jose are sitting down at the kitchen table to decide what they can’t live without.”

“We need to acknowledge that we don’t have the resources to fix everything, but if we focus, we have enough for the necessities,” Mahan said.

How to spend approximately $1.5 billion in 2023-24 will be the first big test of political power for the mayor.

The mayor said his “back to the basics” plan calls for a focus on crime, homelessness, blight and “making sure everyone has access to a middle-class job.”

“We can either choose to do everything poorly or a few things extraordinarily,” he wrote in the email. “To achieve this vision, I’ll need my colleagues on the City Council to agree to focus.”
Mahan called on his supporters to come to Tuesday’s council meeting “to encourage the council to adopt my budget and help our city focus its hard-earned dollars on the basics.”

“Every single neighbor coming out to support this budget will show our council that now is the time for the city to deliver on the core responsibilities that will make San Jose work for all of us.”

He will host a rally tomorrow at 2pm at the City Hall rotunda. Without his “focused budget,” Mahan warned, “the status quo will continue.”

“We need to show them that the people will stand up and fight for a budget that prioritizes making San Jose the safest big city in America, ending the era of encampments, creating clean, beautiful neighborhoods, and bringing in the investment we need to help pay for it all,” he wrote.

Here are some highlights of Mahan’s budget message delivered last week:

Community Safety

  • Double the hiring rate for new police officers from the 15 approved last year to 30.
  • To address the paramedic staffing challenge, create new recruitment and retention solutions, including adding more Fire Academy classes each year.
  • Enhance police recruitment efforts including: increases to officer referral and signing bonuses, a one-time officer relocation stipend, and programs designed to engage youth interested in law enforcement careers.
  • In an effort to relieve the current strain on police and first responders, find ways to divert 911 calls that don’t need a badge and a gun, especially calls involving mental health crises, homelessness, and youth.
  • Use remaining American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to broaden San Jose’s ability to prevent youth violence.

 Reducing Unsheltered Homelessness

  • Move 1,000 unhoused residents out of encampments and into safe, managed environments this year, through emergency interim housing (EIH), and other low-barrier solutions.
  • Double Measure E funds set aside for Homelessness Prevention on a one-time basis this year.
  • Identify sites and funding for leasing private land and revisiting publicly-owned land assessed for EIH communities to reduce unsheltered homelessness, from safe parking to safe sleeping spaces and shelter.
  • Expand the Homelessness Program Dashboard to help residents understand where their tax dollars are going and which homelessness reduction dollars are having the biggest impact.

 Cleaning Up Neighborhoods

  • Dedicate ongoing funding to BeautifySJ, addressing illegal dumping, encampment management graffiti and other blight.
  • To increase opportunities for homeless residents to earn an income cleaning up our city, continue the SJ Bridge program for another year, increase Cash for Trash by at least 200 participants and double the weekly limit of bags they can turn in for prepaid Mastercard cards.
  • Launch a Beautify Your Block program to engage thousands of residents and small businesses in keeping their street blight-free by covering up graffiti, picking up litter and reporting other issues via 311.
  • Upgrade the City’s 311 system, expanding language accessibility.

Attracting Investment in Jobs and Housing

  • Launch a pilot program that dedicates Planning, Building and Code Enforcement project managers to high-priority permit applications, such as affordable housing and small business tenant improvements
  • Invest in Planning’s web portal so that every applicant can see exactly where their application is in the review process and estimated response times.
  • Create a pipeline for post-secondary school graduates to become City employees through a paid student fellowships that turn into full-time jobs upon graduation.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. Barry
    Nice article without taking sides…. Thanks for a straight report without polluting it with outside “maybe’s”!

  2. I wish Team Cindy would have a set of budget details of their own presented to the Mayor plus made available ahead of time to be reported here, too, first.

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