Planting the Seeds of San Jose’s Economic Resurgence

As this week brings news of our local unemployment rate just beginning to taper downward, local businesses are peering out from their frozen dens for the first signs of Spring.  That’s of little solace to thousands of our families still losing their homes and jobs, but it does raise a crucial question as we try to get people back to work: how can we best communicate to businesses that they should make San José the place to grow?

Although the media typically focuses on the flight of jobs and companies from California, a 2007 study from Public Policy Institute of California found that far greater employment shifts occur within California, from businesses moving from one county to another—usually adjacent—California county.  Yet an even larger impact on local jobs comes from a corporate boardroom’s decision about where and whether they will expand,  rather than whether or where they will relocate.  The authors, economists Jed Kolko and David Neumark, conclude that real estate costs appear to drive many of those decisions.  Naturally, the regulatory costs that cities impose on a company’s real estate decisions also play a key role.

This week, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmembers Rose Herrera, Nancy Pyle, and I will lay out a multi-pronged business incentive plan.  We don’t pretend that this will provide the panacea for our anemic job growth, or that any one of these proposals will itself magically alter the trajectory of a San José business.  Rather, we aim to improve the perception about doing business in San José, and to encourage business decision-makers to take advantage of the City’s willingness to help them hire and grow here.  These proposals include:

• Waiving business license fees on any new small business employing up to 8 employees, to help the many residents—particularly in our immigrant communities—who often start small businesses during periods of high unemployment;
• Reimbursing companies for city fees on tenant improvements or new development, by rebating the additional tax revenues created by the development activity over several years;
• Creating a fund to pay for expedited permitting where we need to move nimbly to secure a company’s expansion, tenant improvements, or move into a vacant building;
• Waiving fees for employee parking in public garages for two years for any company choosing to enter or renew a lease in a downtown office or retail space;
• Deferring the payment of some City impact fees on development—relating to transportation, sewer, or other infrastructure improvements—where those improvements will phase in over time; and
• Working with local business organizations to effectively spread the word about these incentives, and other programs, such as Enterprise Zone tax credits, that will make San José the place to hire and grow business.

Two principles animate these proposals. First, we need to take calculated risks to become a locus of job creation. Doing nothing, of course, poses far greater risks, by condemning us to our current economic anemia.  Second, with a $100 million deficit, the City cannot use current dollars as an incentive for business activity. As our Office of Economic Development has explored, however, we can commit future tax revenues generated by that new business activity.

These ideas, and others that might be generated by the community, local businesses, and our colleagues, can work effectively if packaged together to sell San José to the rest of the world—but only if we act with the urgency that our struggling families deserve.

Sam Liccardo represents District 3 on the San Jose City Council.


  1. Shovel Ready:

    What you say pretty sums up why things are not going to turn around for the foreseeable future. Federal, state and local politicians are pushing policies that retard economic growth. I see none of the pragmatism that Clinton’s people picked up after 1994.

  2. You could create a system of fee rebates and temporary exemptions. 

    Then you’d need one set of employees to process the forms, and another set of employees to process the fee exemptions.

    Of course, you have to pay them, which means less money for the rest of the budget.

    Or, you could just reduce the fees and eliminate some of the paperwork.

    • Greg, we’re constrained by our $100 million deficit here; reducing or eliminating fees will simply expand the size of that deficit.  For that reason, we’ve constrained the outright fee waivers to a relatively small category (business license fees on small firms). Although one might simplistically respond, “so what,” the reality is that after eight consecutive years of service cuts, these reductions will cut well into the bone of our basic police, fire, library, park, and other services.  Employing a system of fee rebates ensures that we can pay businesses back as future tax revenues are created.  While job creation is a critical priority, we do it in a way that’s fiscally damaging.

      • The proposal was to reduce the bureaucracy.  Have fewer steps needed to open a business.  Fewer forms to fill out.  Fewer people to process the forms.  Fewer managers to manage the people who process the forms.

        If the city put up fewer hurdles, they wouldn’t need so many fees.

  3. Say it ain’t so Sam.
    Existing small businesses would have to keep paying the business license fee while their new competitors would NOT be required to pay it?
    Well THAT’S a good way to drive established businesses out.

    • All small businesses should be exempt from the business license fee. It’s a nuisance fee and just a hindrance to commerce.

  4. Sam,

    All good stuff, but better still.

    Contact 20 businesses that have actually left San Jose in the last two years and ask them specifically why they left.  Document those problems and apply resources to fix them, if you can.  If you can’t, document why you can’t.

    Next, contact 20 businesses that have moved to San Jose in the last two years, if you can.  Ask them why.  Document those positives and put more resources to improve them.

    Then take out relatively cheap advertisements and publish both the positive and negative case stories.  State how you are improving the good ones and fixing the problem ones.  Get some reporters to write articles, etc… 

    Oh yea, fix the roads and balance your budget.  Nothing attracts successful organizations more than other successful organizations.  If you are a first rate city, first rate companies will want to be here.

    Small Business Owner

  5. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  This is so far removed from the realistic decisions that businesses and entrepreneurs are dealing with that if a salesman from the city told me that this was what he was going to do for me to encourage me to expand in San Jose, I would hit him in the head with a flower pot.


    Sorry.  I didn’t mean to shout.

    As a businessman and entrepreneur, I survey the landscape and see desolation and obstruction in every direction.

    At the federal level, I see an anti-capitalist president, intent on wrecking the economy with trillion dollar a year deficits, a currency poised to inflate to zero value, a government that has nationalized the auto industry, the student loan industry, and is trying to nationalize healthcare, a Congress about to pull the plug on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and dump trillions of dollars of liabilites onto the tax payer, the Bush tax cuts about to expire, and a President who denies that taxes will go up.

    At the state level, I see a dysfunctional legislature, that never passes a balanced budget, never says no to the rapacious tax-sucking special interests, cannot permit honest elections, and thinks that major wealth creating economic activities like agriculture, energy production, and making cars are evil.

    At the local level, I see clueless, powerless, petty funtionaries trying to pander to and stroke every little ethnic, gender, environmentalist or union narcissist, with no cohent idea of resource limits, political equity, or laws of reality.

    As a businessman, it’s hard enough to think of how to compete in the marketplace and satisfy customers. 

    But with layers and layers of government overhanging every business initiative and decision, and with every level of government experiencing deficits and requiring more resources, and more revenues, and more power to justify it’s bureacracy, a businessman in this era and in this society is just a potential tax cow whose main concern, realistically, is not prosperity but just to avoid getting devoured by leviathan government.

    I am really mad because I see potentially enormous economic opportunity and potentially huge wealth creation possibilities in California.

    And the only thing keeping Californians from accessing that wealth is mindless, stupid, lunkhead government and it’s special interest captors.

    The central valley of California is an area of enormous agricultural productivity.  The wealth of the central valley could be increased ten-fold with water projects and irrigation.

    Can’t do that.  Envionmentalists (i.e., Marxists) won’t allow it.

    California has enormous energy resources.  There are oil and gas reserves in the coastal waters of California that rival Saudi Arabia.

    Can’t do that.  Environmentalists won’t allow it.  Instead, we need to do something completely impractical and guaranteed NEVER to be economically feasible, like windmills and electric cars.

    Manufacturing?  Can’t do that.  Unions want cadillac healthcare like GM workers get.  And, before you actually build a plant, don’t forget the thousand page environmental impact report.

    The business environment of California is such that big business can’t do business here any more.  (Has anyone visited the IBM Cottle Road plant in South San Jose recently?  It ain’t there anymore.  Wonder why?)

    Big businesses are customers of small businesses. 

    No big business.  No small business.  It’s called a lack of a sustainable business ecology.

    So “Planting the Seeds of San Jose’s Economic Resurgence” is just a pipe dream.

    P-I-P-E   D-R-E-A-M.

    It is NOT going to happen. At least, it’s not going to happen as a consequence of trivial adminstrative tinkering with fees, and permits, and deferrals, and blah, blah, blah.

    It’s going to take a bottom to top cultural change across our society resulting in people ONCE AGAIN recognizing what it takes to CREATE wealth in a society, and that CREATING WEALTH is a good thing—not a bad thing—and needs to be respected and rewarded.

      • WOW!!!, must suck being you… you have no clue that Shovel Ready is on the mark.  I, therefore, must conclude that you’re a local gov’t. bureaucrat, one who could not survive in the real world.

        • Its like the old Romper Room Show of negativity here:

          “I see Greggy, Johnny, Dale, Doofy” (and their million pseudonyms) talking about how awful San Jose and its politicians are.

          Change the record album already, this one is scratched and constantly skipping.

        • Same,

          You’re benighted comment was a bright spot in my day.  Thanks for the mindless peanut gallery comment.  I hope you’ll stay with us here, so that we all might laugh at your future comments. 

          BTW, I’m not a chickens**t with a pseudonym, appears, however, that you are… more laughs!

    • So right on. Government activity does not create wealth, it sucks it out of society and destroys it.

      That said, at least the city is making an effort to encourage business formation, but it is kind of like tilting at windmills. It will take a major effort by the California state government to win back the million or so people who have left the state in the past decade, and the businesses associated with them.

      At least people on the local level recognize the need for a change.

    • Shovel Ready,

      If you do not know what you are talking about it is best to keep your mouth shut.

      “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) ”

    • The number of jobs in the US economy was the same at the end of Bush’s 8 years as it was at the beginning; there was zero job growth over the 8 years. Therefore, it can be concluded that Bush’s tax cuts had zero effect on employment. They did, however,have a big effect on throwing the budget from a surplus into a huge deficit.

      Destroying the environment will make a few people rich in the short term and make everybody a lot poorer in the long term. Example: diverting more water for agriculture under political pressure from VP Cheney caused the complete destruction of the salmon fishing industry in Northern California. Not exactly an “economic opportunity” if you happen to operate a fishing boat. They all had to move to Alaska. And now we all have to pay more for salmon.

      • > Destroying the environment will make a few people rich in the short term and make everybody a lot poorer in the long term.

        Developing energy resources and expanding agriculture is not “destroying the environment”.

        Societies that use MORE energy are environmentally cleaner and more sustainable than backward societies that burn animal dung and strip forests for fire wood.

        “Environmentalism” as it is practiced today is a form of willful stupidity.

        China has a billion people to feed and a trillion and a half dollars of U.S. dollar reserves.  From the Chinese perspective, the U.S. looks like a third world country run by tree worshipping witch doctors.

        For the price of a few venal politicians, China could own the U.S. government.  (It only took 600 million to buy the U.S. presidency for Obama).
        A few tens of millions are probably all that are needed to buy the state governments in California, Oregon, Washington and western Canada.

        China could own the California central valley,  build irrigation projects and import water from western Canada, and make the central valley the food basket of the world and an unparalleled wealth producing colony such as the world has never seen.

        In ten or fifteen years, the trust fund children of the Sierra Club will be moving back in with their parents, and the Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco will be a Chinese brothel.

      • Don’t know where your numbers come from, but non-farm payroll increased from 131.8M in 2000 to 137.1M in 2008. So there was growth during the Bush years. 2009 is 132.0, reflecting the large number of job losses during this recession.

        The tax cuts did not increase the deficit. It is short-sighted to focus on the deficit, which is the product of two numbers. Federal tax income increased nearly 25% during that time to $2.5T. But the irresponsible government spending (yes, Republicans are just as capable of that as Democrats) rose 52%, to $2.7T (in 2007, since TARP distorts 2008 comps). Had spending simply increased at the same rate as income, the deficit would have been a surplus.

  6. Sam notes that real estate costs help drive expansion decisions.  He’s right.

    But it’s residential retail that really hurts.

    For a business, the cost of the office building is far less than the total cost of employee housing.  Adding one employee takes about 400 square feet.  That costs 800 dollars per month to rent, paid with pretax dollars.

    That same employee needs a home.  A home costs about two thousand dollars a month to rent, paid with post tax dollars.  Call it 3000 to the company.

    If you want to attract more business, you’ve got to deal with housing, countywide.

  7. San Jose’s problem is not that we lose most of our potential tax revenues, jobs and businesses to other California counties.

    The real problem is that city government is in denial that many jobs and business will never come to San Jose or we lose them to neighboring cities because San Jose is less desirable business location then other local cities because

    1) has most difficult local government approval process

    2) for years downtown business location policy caused many retail stores, businesses and hotel to go to other cities losing taxes and jobs

    3) city government imposed higher labor cost policies unlike nearby cities,

    4) city / RDA gives millions in business / developer tax subsidies while receiving few new taxes and mostly low income jobs which wasted economic development tax dollars

    5) does not providing comparable city services as neighboring cities

    6) continues to overbuild affordable and market housing that don’t pay for city services so city raised business taxes, licenses, service fees and business improvement district fees to highest level in Silicon Valley to make up city tax shortage

    7) San Jose does not enough jobs so that 10,000’s go to other cities for jobs and San Jose loses millions in tax revenue

    8) San Jose controlled VTA designed public transit system that does not go where people want to go so North San Jose has worst traffic in county

    9) for years restricted retail, hotels and housing in sprawling North San Jose so companies wanting pedestrian friendly business locations go to San Francisco, Palo Alto, or other cities

    10) not realized that downtown San Jose is undesirable business location for most businesses but continues to spent million taxes better spend on city wide services

    A good start but San Jose needs to reduce business costs, speed up approval processes and provide competitive city services for taxes paid

  8. Sam,
    Looks like a good start in the right direction. The flip side of the coin is to quit building high density housing and annexing county areas, both which suck money away from existing services.

    • Steve,

      Sam says all the politically correct things but, like most politicians, he’s a chameleon. 

      He recognizes the job/resident imbalance, yet he’s part of the group who approved borrowing funds from a variety of accounts (including our library parcel fees!) to build yet more affordable housing.

      • Greg and Steve,
        A response to several points you’ve raised here:
        First, Greg: contrary to your “chameleon” reference, nobody in the City has been more consistent or outspoken than me in voting against residential conversions of industrial and commercial land, in an attempt to reverse decades of a worsening jobs-housing balance.
        Second, Greg, the “borrowing funds from a variety of accounts to build yet more affordable housing” misses some critically important context. The RDA has proposed to “borrow” some $65 million in affordable housing funds (i.e., dollars required by state law to fund affordable projects), and I merely proposed to cap the amount of that borrowing at $40 million.
        If you’re really concerned about improving the jobs/housing imbalance, Greg, then you’ll support policies that reduce the chronic difference between the value of residentially-zoned land versus industrial/commercial land.  One policy that does so is the inclusionary policy that I’ve successfully pushed. Lenders and investors in the industry will tell you that through their standard residual land analysis, inclusionary policies reduce the market value of residentially-zoned land, thereby reducing the incentives for developers to push to convert industrial land.  That should be welcomed by anyone concerned about our jobs-housing imbalance.
        Third, contrary to Steve’s suggestion, if housing is going to be built—and the existing General Plan 2020 already entitles land owners to build tens of thousands of units more—then the type of housing with the LEAST negative fiscal impact is high-density housing near transit.  Low-density housing poses the greatest drain on our services, with the least tax revenue per square foot.
        Finally, Steve, you’re right that annexing county areas is a loser for the city treasury because it disperses city services.  Unfortunately, the agreements with the County that mandated those annexations were approved years ago, before I came into office, and we’ve committed to honor our agreements, in part because the County and the City serve the same residents (i.e, any dollar spent by the City is saved by the County), and because it’s incredibly inefficient for the County to be providing services in diffuse pockets throughout the region, when the City can more efficiently do so in a contiguous geographical area. 
        Thanks for your thoughts, gentlemen—I hope we can continue this dialogue.

        • Thanks for your response, Sam. I understand this agreement was made years ago. I agree that the city could provide better contiguous service, but it seems we got some of the worst county pockets which are going to demand lots of resources up front. Talking to a couple of police officers that work these areas, I learned that no extra officers have been added to patrol these new areas, but that the size of their beats have been increased with many more calls for service. What do you see as the short and long term answers to address the policing issue? A spike in crime is not what we need if we are trying to encourage business to come here.

  9. I voted for Sam Liccardo, and I will also urge my friends and family to vote for him again.

    Liccardo wants to focus on job creation, and he also wants to work on an economically viable downtown.

    Point taken, excellent platform.  You are doing well, Sam.

    However, this is not your fault, but I really think you and Coto need to work on this. 

    In order to have a good economic base, we need all sorts of active business customers, right?

    Well, San Jose dorm residents are a captive audience.  I just read on another blog where SJSU got a one of the worst ratings in the country last year for a Housing Policy that actively harasses students out of the dorms for issues involving speech.  What that ninny, Verril Phillips, will not address is that a week after the Virginia Tech tragedy, he gave a green light to student groups parading around campus with fake guns and harassing people.  Real smart, Verril, you tea lady.  Sam, why I am a bringing this up.  Because, if we drive SJSU students from downtown, they will live elsewhere.  Lunches, movies, some nightlife and some events downtown, it all is based on a regenerating audience.  So I will make the calls to people supporting your initiative, ok?  Can you go and talk to Whitmore, the President over there, and get some people who have actually worked for a living to work with the students, and let’s work together for a vibrant San Jose!  I believe in your effort, and I am only asking to help with ours.

    • Bob,

      Thank you for recognizing the importance of SJSU students t DTSJ.  One of my complaints is the lack of options for the thousands of students who live or come through DT each day.  I share this not just as a resident, but also as a former SJSU student who lived DT.  There is definitly an opportunity available there that could vastly improve downtown that should include more than just clubs and bars as I would guess those students who live in the dorms are under 21. 

      The San Jose Downtown Residents Association will actually have President Whitmore as our guest speaker for our April Quarterly Meeting.  The subject we have asked him to discuss are ways residents and SJSU can work together to make DT a much more friendly destination for students.  I encourage your attendance as well as anyone else interested in meeting him. 

      Meeting details are:

      When: Thursday, April 29th
      Time: 7:00 pm – 8:30pm
      Where: MLK Library, 2nd Floor Rm 255/257
      150 East San Fernando Street

      To learn more about the San Jose Downtown Residents please visit

      • Paul Higgins

        Good work!

        I applaud you sincere efforts and appreciate your fundamental efforts for a better downtown.

        Whitmore has failed to engage the thousands of former students and his vice presidents such as Phillips are functional idiots.  Phillips actually could be held in violation of the law to the extent of personal liability for violating the civil rights of students.  He is known by the faculty as having a peculiar sense of race relations on campus and there are many people on campus that wan Phillips to resign.  Whitmore also has been known to express a lack of confidence in the Student Affairs staff.

        • Let’s focus on the sincerity expressed by Paul Higgins.  I think the Downtown Association is doing good work, and I also urge you, Bob, to attend the meeting that Paul is talking about.  Mr. Higgins seeems to be working hard for a better downtown and his interest as a almunus for San Jose State is evidence that Paul, like Ed Mosher, the brilliant haberdasher of Mosher’s Ltd, located in the Fairmont, has the true faith of any outstanding alumnus.

          With regards to Phillips.  There has never been a more incompetent and negligent administrator at San Jose State than Verril Phillips.  He has single handidly unraveled the proud spirit of activism at San Jos State.  The recent vandalism of the school’s historic bell is evidence of Phillips’ incompetence and there are many current faculty, students, community members that want Phillips out, even investigated.  Coupled with Lazy Larry Carr, Phillips works to undermine the work of students and faculty, turning SJSU into an overpriced middle school, instead of a university.

        • I agree with you, James, that Paul has really opened up the effort to get people to be part of the downtown group.  My wife and I talked to some local business people in the area and they are very pleased with Paul Higgins and they think he is a very dedicated person. 

          With respect to San Jose State, James, you should know that I have talked to some major alumni and they want Phillips out.  He is rude, very unprofessional, and they are very disatisfied with his performance.  SJSU, James, was a great university in our city, and Phillips is one of the symbols of its decline.  I am sure you are aware of the fellow who worked under Phillips who served liquor to underage students on university time.

        • Paul Higgins was contacted by a friend of mine wanting to get some advice about opening a restaurant in downtown San Jose.  He was courteous, friendly, and so very informative.  Higgins is what the downtown association needs.  He has done a great job working with people, and my cousin feels that Higgins was responsbile for her success.

          There is no one at San Jose State, Bob, who is helping engage the students as downtown customers.  The Student Affairs and Housing staff are just collecting paychecks and treating downtown with benign neglect.  Verril Phillips did actively protect this guy who was serving booze to underage students.

          Bob, what is more embarrassing about Phillips is that at a public meeting, Vice President of Student Affairs, Verril Phillips, actually encouraged the student council to violate open meeting laws by insisting that people coming to speak list their full address.  After that meeting, my cousin called both the State Attorney General’s office and County Counsel and they were told that Phillips could have been forced to resign for violating California open meeting law, and he also could have caused the student council leadership to be also cited.  This guy does not care about the students or downtown San Jose.

          Downtown needs San Jose Inside, downtown needs Eric Johnson, Paul Higgins, and I love Peter Campbell’s columns as well.

          Education does not need Verril Phillips, an uncaring person with no interest in student success.

  10. Sam,
    Is it true that the City Council is spending almost
    $1 million dollars to implement the new plastic bag ban on grocery stores?

    • I wouldn’t be surprised. This stupid bag ban in one reason why people are becoming turned off by meddlesome government.

    • > Is it true that the City Council is spending almost $1 million dollars to implement the new plastic bag ban on grocery stores?

      Beautiful!  A superb illustration of how UN-serious any city council “Economic Resurgence” plan is.

      Inside the breast of any civic do-gooder (especially those of the “environmentalist” stripe) beats the heart of an authoritarian.

      I would score the “plastic bag ban” as a minus one thousand on the “jobs created or saved” tote board.

    • Steve, good question.  The one-time $600,000 costs of implementation of the bag ban will be greatly outweighed in the first year by the ongoing savings of implementation.  Why? Because your local recyclers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to manually extract plastic bags from sorting machinery (the processing machinery has to be stopped completely to ensure it can be done so safely).  They pass those costs along to ratepayers, i.e., you.  Grocery and other small retail stores pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually for plastic and paper bags, and they pass those costs along with the “free” bags to consumers, i.e., you.  Your tax dollars pay to clean creeks, outfalls, and sewers of plastic bag-created blockages. 
      Also, keep in mind: the $600K comes from restricted Environmental Services grant funds, not from the General Fund, so that money can’t be used to pay for police, libraries, etc anyway.  It will be used for outreach and education to local businesses, the distribution of free re-usable bags to consumers, and the like. 

      • > Also, keep in mind: the $600K comes from restricted Environmental Services grant funds, not from the General Fund, so that money can’t be used to pay for police, libraries, etc anyway.

        Oh, I see.  It’s FREE money.  Manna from heaven.

        How come the gubbermint always seems to get lots of free money, but working people never do?

  11. Unexpected initiative, but a good start.  I didn’t think councilmembers were programmed to do more than pander to the traditional interests to line up support for the next election cycle.

    Destructive Competition is often seen when neighboring communities compete to win projects with all sides doing unfortunate things like waiving fees for building sewage, streets and other services in a deperate attempt to win a choice job source.  You see this in small towns where everyone is so desperate to get a plant, factory, mall or mega-store that they’ll give away almost too much (when measured against the economic benefit to the community.)

    I brought that up just to point out that a lot of subtle competition between adjacent communities involves issues like parking, stoplights, business taxes and property tax concessions (public ownership of land leased back to developer in eleborate scheme to avoid paying a fair share of property taxes for schools, state budget black hole, and other purposes.)

    Many large corporations are not civic boosters and would gladly relocate if they could convince their employees to move with them.  The reality is that the quality of life in the bay area is among the highest in the world (as reflected in real estate prices)and since this is where the talent is many continue start and continue to grow here in the bay area.  That critical mass could be changing but not yet.

    This proposal sounds good in principle and I like the unexpected proactive planning for growth during decline.  Perhaps we could partner with state and federal resources and do even more to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.  Tech isn’t the end all be all either.  Sometimes something humble like a shoe repair shop might be preferable to a chain outlet that closes withing two quarters.  Let’s make it possible for San Jose residents to attain economic aspirations by supporting and encouraging “small business” with local ownership.

  12. Back to basics please. Who exactly is advising Council from staff side on what are observable impacts? Voices of experience and who have a track record of solutions, or just senior managers promoted for their cheerleading and self-promotion potential? On fees, first eliminate those with arbitrary criterion and wide differentials. For example why does a non-profit agency pay $45 for every $1000 in construction value while Cisco pays $10? Why do those submitting honest contracts pay more tax because there is no audit? Second, there already should be a “fund” for projects in need of a push. It is the 50% more paid for current expedited service, which work just fine. If these fees were set aside and the “base” fees covered normal development review activities there would be less need to use General Fund money. These and other aspects of what really makes a difference to businesses are found in the attitude and competency of those staff who understand the nuts and bolts of the process and those in the design community who do regular business here. If they were taken serious, customers would not be coming in at 7 am to get a ticket for 10 am service, unheard of in the history of San Jose.