Building more emergency housing, adding more cops on the streets, expanding neighborhood cleanups and speeding up the permit process are key recommendations from advisory committees created last month by San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan.
The mayor’s office today announced the recommendations released by the five “transition committees” he launched in January identifying approaches to solve what he calls the city’s most significant challenges. They are to be presented to the City Council Tuesday.
When Mahan announced the transition committee reports, he was joined by Gabrielle Antolovich, President, Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Center and Community Lead for the Public Safety Committee, and Deb Kramer, Executive Director, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Community Lead Clean Neighborhoods Committee.
The Transition Committees convened working sessions composed of community members, council members, and city staff focused on five opportunities identified by the mayor for improvement: homelessness, community safety, clean neighborhoods, downtown vibrancy, and planning and permitting. The mayor said he will utilize the recommendations from the transition committees to create a “more focused, better informed and more accountable” budget message next month. Because the committees were temporary and not official council committees, the mayor’s office didn’t consider them covered by California’s Brown Act, and met in private.
“These recommendations are foundational to building a more focused and accountable budget,” said Mahan in a statement. “Throughout this process, we have brought together community members, Councilmembers, and city staff to identify success metrics and innovative solutions that will get City Hall back to the basics of reducing crime, cleaning up our city, and reducing street homelessness.”
The goals for the Housing/Homelessness Transition Committee were to 1) reduce unsheltered homelessness and 2) mitigate impacts of encampments on local communities. Highlights from the recommendations focused on achieving these goals included:
- Build more Permanent and Emergency Interim Housing by:
- Focusing on delivering the emergency interim units that are under development to meet the goal of 1,000 units completed
- Identifying larger sites for Emergency Interim Homes that can accommodate new transitional housing projects at scale
- Being more innovative by acquiring additional hotels, acquiring or leasing privately-owned land, redesignating vacant commercial buildings or land for homeless facilities, building more modular housing
- Encourage the County to implement SB 1338 / The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act by Dec. 31
The goals of the Community Safety Transition Committee were to 1) increase pedestrian and traffic safety 2) reduce street-level crime and improve the felt experience of safety for residents and small businesses. Highlights from the recommendations focused on achieving these goals included:
- Increase the number of police officers on the street by filling vacancies in SJPD and explore innovative recruitment strategies for attracting and retaining officers
- Invest in differentiated 911 response to appropriately match the response to the type of call, building on our initial success with MCAT
- Commit to funding for traffic calming efforts on San Jose streets and roll out new designs on a more expedited timeline
- Continue to pursue state and federal grants to fully fund the rapid build-out of the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan
The goals of the Clean Neighborhoods Committee were to support city beautification by mitigating and diminishing: vehicle blight, graffiti, trash in public spaces, illegal dumping, code violations, weeds, and overgrowth. Highlights from the recommendations focused on achieving these goals included:
- Upgrade San Jose 311’s customer service tool mobile application to facilitate actionable complaints/reports in users’ preferred language, improve user-experience and satisfaction.
- Expand existing, or add new, city contracted organizations or partners (i.e. neighborhood associations, non-profits, government entities, private corporations, etc.) to support clean neighborhood efforts and beautification projects.
- Ensure the ’gateways’ to downtown San Jose are clearly defined, clean, and welcoming.
The goals of the Downtown Vibrancy Committee were to catalyze momentum for downtown to become a destination for residents and investment. Highlights from the recommendations focused on achieving these goals included:
- Permanently fund and create a team of downtown-focused staff that coordinate non-profits, government agencies, and private sector stakeholders to create a more cohesive downtown. This additional staff would create a team of five professionals solely focused on downtown.
- Activate downtown storefronts through leases, pop-ups, and through other innovative means by removing fees, permits, and other tax burdens.
The goals of the Planning and Permitting Transition Committee were to improve the ease, speed and efficacy with which businesses can engage with San José. The recommendations focused on achieving these goals included:
- System pilot a project manager for the five different types of projects for plan check and building permits: large commercial, large residential, small residential, tenant improvements, and affordable residential projects to identify ways to decrease the time it takes to receive a permit.
- Increase the quality of San Jose’s communication to its customers, including refining the web portal to share more information about where an applicant's project stands and enhance the ability for customers to stay in contact with the city.
Read the Mayor’s full memo here.