Happy holidays! We’ve been through a lot together this year. So many of you were there with me as we rang in the year with our inauguration, celebrated our progress with the State of the City, and for every weekend clean-up in between.
By getting back to basics and working together, we are beginning to see progress on some of our most challenging issues. We would have never lowered homelessness by 10% without your advocacy. We couldn’t have lowered crime by 5% without your vigilance. And we certainly wouldn’t be celebrating a 300% increase in volunteerism without you sacrificing your time for the good of our entire community.
You all know I’m data driven, so I’d like to share some of the results we’ve seen come out of our focus on the basics. I am so proud of how far we’ve come – and excited to continue our fight for a safer, cleaner San Jose alongside all of you.
Getting people housed has been a cornerstone of my time here in office. Every one of our homeless neighbors deserves a safe, dignified place to live.
This year we opened the Guadalupe Quick-Build Community, Santa Teresa Safe Parking site, Arena Hotel and 27 new units of permanent supportive housing. That’s 296 new, managed space to bring our homeless neighbors in from the cold. Thanks to our collective focus and advocacy, we have 788 additional interim housing units and safe parking spaces in the pipeline, which includes the big push we made to secure approval for 200 temporary modular homes next to VTA’s Cerone service yard.
While I’m proud of the progress we made this year, we still have a long way to go. We have over 4,500 people currently living in unmanaged, unsheltered and unsafe conditions in our city. I will continue to push our Council, County, and State to move with greater urgency to create safe, dignified shelter for every single person on our streets, and once available, require that it be used. In order to provide shelter at scale, we will need to be much more pragmatic – which is why in the coming year I will be exploring other, lower-barrier solutions such as safe sleeping and parking sites so that we can accelerate our efforts to end unsheltered homelessness without breaking the bank.
The most basic responsibility of government is keeping everyone safe. But to do that, we need to fully staff our police and fire departments. That’s why this year we doubled the rate at which we are adding headcount in our police department and added an additional academy for Fire paramedics. We’ve also made San Jose safer with numerous policy changes and technology investments.
Our new Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) have already helped our officers solve hundreds of crimes in San Jose. By the end of next year, our ALPR network will reach 300 cameras and significantly improve our ability to take on home invasions, car and retail theft, and other crimes that harm our community. We also secured millions of dollars in competitive state and federal grants to help save lives at our most dangerous intersections and protect our community and small businesses from retail theft. And we’re closing a loophole related to catalytic converters that has limited our police officers’ ability to hold thieves accountable.
San Jose is the safest big city in the Bay Area and we’re working every day to keep it that way, but we know there’s still much more we need to do.
Cleaning Up Our Streets
I’m inspired by the community we’re building – thousands of committed residents working to make San Jose a cleaner, safer city for all. Volunteers helped us with 55 clean-up events, where we removed over 500,000 pounds of trash from our streets and out of our creeks. This is truly the beginning of something special – together, we increased the City’s annual number of individual volunteers by 300%. Clearly, our community cares about creating the clean city we all deserve, and is willing to do its part to make it a reality.
Beyond our weekly clean-ups, we transformed the first of 11 “Clean Gateway” projects earlier this month at the intersection of Santa Clara Street and Highway 87. We’re beautifying our entryways to the heart of San Jose and building civic pride and economic competitiveness in the process. We also launched a proactive code enforcement team to address blight in our commercial corridors and have begun discussions with Caltrans, the DA and our police department to reduce graffiti by increasing enforcement.
Last year our residents and companies were granted the most artificial intelligence patents in the nation, and this year we doubled down on our vision for San Jose to be the capital of AI innovation by investing in incentives and partnerships. We hosted the 2023 San Jose Global Innovation Summit, where tech leaders gathered to discuss bringing AI businesses to our city. We’re leading a new government coalition to decide how public agencies can safely and productively use AI for everyone’s benefit.
We also cleared the way for small businesses and large employers alike to come to and grow in San Jose by speeding up permit times. I heard from you about lengthy wait times to get projects big and small done in our city, and we’re responding by expanding self-serve permit applications, allowing qualified designers to self-certify more of their plans, and investing in technology and process improvements within our Planning Department. When we make it easier to invest in San Jose, we get more of the housing and jobs we need to continue to be a thriving and growing city that offers upward mobility to all.
We’ve worked hard this year to create a city that works for everyone and a city that’s safe for everyone. Thank you for your hard work and support this year; with our community committed to getting back to basics, I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together next year.
Sent as Mayor Matt Mahan's email newsletter.