San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo today released his March Budget Message, outlining a proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that prioritizes public safety, beautifies San Jose and offers “solutions to homelessness.”
“For the first time in decades, we see declines in the cost for retirement benefits for the next half-decade, as a result of our longstanding efforts to implement sensible pension reform in collaboration with our employees and voters,” Liccardo said in a statement. “The dividend from Measure F and our many years of sacrifice will fund bold efforts to address homelessness, crime, and blight, such as by constructing 1,000 quick-build apartments for the homeless, adding dozens of additional police officers to the force, and employing unhoused residents to clean and beautify our city.”
Projections for San José’s general fund reflect an incremental ongoing surplus attributed to falling retirement costs and strong tax revenues over the next five years, according to the city.
The forecast also assumes that all of $125.4 million of services funded this year with the help of federal relief aid and one-time City funding will expire, leaving the city with a nearly $100 million service-level deficit.
Because of this, Liccardo said his budget will ocus on a limited set of priorities: homelessness, public safety, blight, and “resilience.”
Mayor Liccardo is proposing a historic investment to double down on what he said are “the three most cost-effective solutions to combat homelessness, each of which has been pioneered in San José:”
- Scale the construction of successful and innovative Quick-Build Apartment communities to provide a total of 1,000 units. With 597 quick-build units already completed or under development since the pandemic began, the Mayor’s direction will provide funding for the construction of at least 403 additional quick-build units to reach the goal of 1,000 pandemic-era housing beds under development by the end of the calendar year, and funding to support ongoing operations under more cost-effective models.
- Conversion of another 300 hotel or motel rooms for the unhoused. The City has pioneered motel conversions since 2016 on two sites, and now Governor Newsom’s Homekey funding provides opportunities to identify several more, with City support for operations and maintenance.
- Accelerate Homelessness Prevention funding in light of the well-documented obstacles in the state’s delivery of emergency rental aid. With Destination:Home, San José pioneered “gap funding” for families in need of rental assistance in 2018, and found that with investments as modest as $4,000 per family, more than 95% of families stayed successfully housed a year later.
Mayor Liccardo urged an acceleration of changes to the city’s General Plan to allow religious communities to construct affordable housing on parking lots and surplus land.
“San José has long had the most thinly-staffed police department of any major city in the United States,” the mayor said in his budget message.
The national average shows for every 1000 citizens, there are 2.4 sworn officers. In San José, the average for every 1000 residents is less than half that: one sworn officer.
Liccardo called for dedicated ongoing funding to add dozens of new officer positions in the coming years, including 15 new sworn positions this year alone and bringing the total to 1,168. The new officers will focus on expanding neighborhood foot patrol, bolstering sexual assault and domestic violence investigations units, and improving traffic enforcement. He also called for the addition of more officers in future years (based on current projects of future surpluses) by incorporating that additional expenditure into budgetary assumptions and projections.
Under the plan, “for the first time in decades, the San José Police Department would have a standard, designated beat of walking and/or bike patrol in the downtown area, and a rotating walking patrol for high-crime neighborhoods.”
The budget also allocates one-time funding for additional overtime to re-arrest criminal defendants who have failed to appear on their warrants, and funding for non-sworn staffing for the drafting of “high bail” affidavits for uniquely dangerous arrestees.
The mayor also pledged to invest in training of police officers for safe response to civil unrest and street demonstrations, focused first on “ensuring that every lieutenant in the field has the best training available.”
The proposed budget commits ongoing funding for initiatives that remove trash and address blight citywide, expanding innovative programs that empower unhoused residents to become part of the BeautifySJ solution, such as San José Bridge and Cash for Trash.
This includes money to continue a hybrid vehicle abatement model which includes parking compliance staff who patrol every city street at twice a month to identify inoperable vehicles as well as additional funding to boost parking enforcement.
The mayor also recommended additional funding options be found for the continuation of the highly successful Resilience Corps, which currently employs more than 460 young adults in supporting the community’s resilience to pandemic, drought, wildfires, and economic downturns.
The mayor also proposed using funds to accelerate the design and development of an innovative transit connector between the Mineta San José Airport and Diridon Station, in anticipation of a prevailing bidder for development in the coming year.