Voters Approve New Sales Tax, Oppose Deregulating Pot Clubs

San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved a new quarter-cent sales tax and shot down a separate measure that would have deregulated the city’s pot clubs.

Measure B, a 15-year sales tax that’s expected to bring $40 million a year to the city’s general fund, passed with nearly 62 percent of the vote.

Measure B results. Source: Santa Clara County

Measure B results. Source: Santa Clara County

Measure C, which would have replaced the city’s marijuana ordinance with looser rules, lost by a huge margin. Two-thirds of voters rejected the initiative, which faced an uphill battled after its own author came out against it in the past month.

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Measure C results. Source: Santa Clara County

Because Measure B was a general tax, the city can spend the revenue on any number of city services. A special tax locks funds into a specific use, but would have required a supermajority vote to pass.

Regardless, the San Jose leaders promised to use money raised from the tax hike to restore the city’s depleted police force and chip away at a massive backlog of street repairs.

Mayor Sam Liccardo thanked voters for endorsing the tax measure, which he called an investment in the city’s future.

“After years of belt-tightening through fiscal reforms and other cost-cutting measures, the voters agreed that additional revenues are needed to continue restoring essential city services,” he wrote in a statement Wednesday morning. “As we move towards adopting a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year, it’s critical that we focus these additional dollars on our residents’ top priorities: enhancing public safety and repairing our deteriorating roads.”

According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, Measure B secured a clear victory. The tax will take effect in October, which the city says will raise $30 million for the rest of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

In his budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, the mayor proposes spending $17.7 million of that revenue on repaving major roadways. This tax bump means that the city will have enough cash to meet the annual funding needs for basic street repairs for the first time in a decade.

Under the same budget plan, Liccardo wants the city to spend some of the tax revenue to hire 41 new police officers. Fire companies that had to cut back will be able to restore two squad car units and pay for the technology to change traffic signals for emergency vehicles.

Also in the proposal: a call to hire 19 community service officers for the San Jose Police Department. These lower-ranking officers respond to burglaries and other low-priority calls to free up sworn officers to deal with more serious crimes.

“This spending plan represents an important step in restoring the services that our residents depend upon most,” Liccardo said. “However, given the uncertainty in future years, we must remain disciplined and prudent in all of our spending decisions.”

The mayor’s budget plan, including the new sales tax spending proposal, will come up for discussion in a public hearing next Monday as well as the next day’s City Council meeting.

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


  1. Measure C failed, who would have guessed that reading comments on SJI. Could it be California’s recreational marijuana initiative coming this fall is doomed as well.
    My question then is it the economics of a black market product that is making pop farmers rich or the over regulation by the government that will drive the price even higher, ” no pun intended”, that people are voting against here.

    Obviously pot heads rule, here so why was this voted down? Sounds like we need an investigation if not a pole.
    Or could it be we just don’t think this crap is good for us?

    • The comments here were nothing more than astroturf by one person. Same person tried to do the same on reddit, got found out, and the moderators came up with new moderation policies because of it.

    • Did you read the ballot measure arguments, it sounded like it was written by a teenager who wanted to be able to smoke a joint in the classroom. Hardly any indication of the upcoming ballot measure that will pass by a wide margin.

      • It may or may not, but there’s other fish to fry in this industry. Kamala Harris promised us banking. Let’s hope she can do it.

    • This City is a Joke . This tax increase will give very little to Public Safety . The Monopoly on Medicinal Marijuana is Pathetic . Most people have ” No Problem ” getting their meds from anywhere BUT San Jose

  2. “Regardless, the San Jose leaders promised to use money raised from the tax hike to restore the city’s depleted police force and chip away at a massive backlog of street repairs” I don’t believe any professional politician any longer.

  3. They will continue to fight the police on competitive wages! This is more Monopoly play money for SAM and his pet projects and his pals that continue to “develop” the downtown. The SJ voters were duped again. Not exactly the smartest group! One only has to look at the Almaden Valley overwhelmingly reelecting Johnny “crybaby” Khamis

  4. So the mayor has a bit of money to “enhance public safety” and has decided to do so by hiring 41 new police officers and 19 community service officers. What that will do to enhance public safety is next to nothing. Consider:

    The patrol division has, for a number of years now, consisted of a patchwork of regular duty officers, full-shift overtime officers, and officers held over after having worked a 10 hour shift. Conceived as a desperate measure to buy time while awaiting promised reinforcements (which have not materialized), this approach has consistently failed to provide the manpower to meet minimum staffing while extracting a severe physical and psychological toll on the workforce.

    The department has now entered a new phase of desperation (consider it the next step in its decomposition), that of regularly-scheduled forced labor. Intending to accomplish through coercion what it could not accomplish through incentive (overtime pay), the department has now ordered its dwindling complement of police officers to fill the empty beats. If my information is correct, what is required is an extra 2,360 hours per week — just to attempt to reach minimum staffing (and this does not include the significant overtime demands just to staff the airport).

    Well, guess what? Were the department to add, this very day, enough officers to man those empty beats it would require 59 new cops. So the mayor’s bold move to enhance public safety is a fraud, especially when you factor in the number of existing employees who will retire or resign within the next year, the number who will be more prone to disability as a result of overwork, and the city’s ongoing failure to attract qualified candidates.

    Mayor Liccardo’s commitment to public safety is as hollow as was his city’s promise to keep people safe at the Trump rally. All he’s committed to is the suppression of the horrific truth about the damage he, Chuck Reed, Pete Constant, Deb Figone, and others did to this city’s police department — a department that common sense predicted, and experience has now proved, cannot be fixed by offering rock bottom benefits.

    As for community service officers, the name says it all, they serve, not protect.

    • Well stated, I do not need a civilian in a light blue shirt to come and take a worthless report that will never be investigated because we DO NOT have enough real police officers. San Jose never had to place a call to other agencies to assist for a possible riot or EVENT. It should be an embarrassment to this city. I guess that happens when they are 600 officers short thanks to the names you mentioned. How many of those 41 officers will stay in San Jose, can’t blame them to get trained, certified and move on to other cities that give a damn about them. Forced overtime, cancelled time off what a great way to treat employees. Would sure like to see the sick time totals officers take just to get a day off!

  5. Its really a good thing we passed that new tax, most of it will likely go to paying attorney fees and injured Trump supporters for last week’s riot.
    Put that in your Pot hole Sam!

  6. Somewhere between a third and a half of the money raised by the tax will be used to pay new hires in city hall to oversee and administer where and when the new tax money is spent. The stupidity of the average SJ voter cannot be overemphasized.

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