How the Council Set Its Priorities

The San Jose City Council met last week to discuss and prioritize certain ordinances the city should pursue in the coming year. Creating an ordinance requires staff time from the department that the ordinance will affect and, as always, time from the City Attorney’s office. In many cases, outreach for ordinances must be done to garner resident and stakeholder input which takes time and staff facilitating the public meetings.

The city is unable to move forward with every ordinance on the “wish list” much like any other organization public or private. Therefore, councilmembers are asked to prioritize by selecting their top choices and see which of those match their council colleagues’ preferences. An ordinance moves forward if it gets six votes, and those that don’t get selected remain on the list for next time, which is approximately one year. The council selected their top choices twice and was able to prioritize seven ordinances out of 30, which include:

● Converting Hotels & Motels to affordable housing.
● Closing Medical Cannabis Collectives that do not pay Measure U tax.
● Restricting Tattoo parlors near K-12 schools.
● Development Agreement Policy (Negotiate deals for Economic Development).
● Restrict burning of wood in residential fireplaces.
● Ban any construction within 100 feet of creeks.
● Survey vacant buildings to house the homeless and more to be discussed in detail at council study session on October 29.

Some of the other ordinances that did not make it include: limiting new Wal-mart stores; a healthy eating initiative; neighborhood preservation; liquor store conversions; downtown bars that provide music pay to fund police officers.

We could have had an extended discussion on each topic, however, the items selected will come back to the council for further discussion at least two more times.

Two items I voted for that did not make the list were liquor store conversion and distinctive neighborhoods. The liquor store conversion ordinance would have the potential to eliminate existing liquor stores. Liquor stores do not really add a lot of value in my view, and I would prefer to see alcohol sold at grocery stores, because grocery stores offer a variety of food. Over time this would allow for more grocery stores to open, which is seen by many as an essential component of a neighborhood.

Neighborhoods of distinction would allow private property owners to create their own zoning based on the majority of the property owners’ desires. So, rather than government mandating regulation, it is a tool that allows private property owners to make their own decisions. For example, an Eichler neighborhood may decide that it wants to maintain Eichler architecture (Post and
Beam) for any new construction within its neighborhood boundary.

One item that made the list was converting existing hotels and motels into low income housing. This seems like it would be an interesting discussion and would have a wide variety of viewpoints, depending on how it would be potentially implemented. More to come on this topic, for sure.

Prioritizing and ranking priorities is important for organizations. However, in the case of government, certain priorities may not always represent what constituents want. The only real way is through the election process, because we have a representative democracy where we choose to elect an individual to vote on behalf of a larger population. Maybe someday residents will vote by electronic devices from their homes to select priorities midstream. Until then, it is what it is.

This week the Council will again take up the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan. Personally, I have found it curious that most of the emails I have received advocating for the implementation of the HCP are from residents outside of San Jose.

Pierluigi Oliverio is a San Jose councilmember for District 6.


  1. Pierluigi,

    I agree that liquor stores don’t tend to add value but I don’t understand how the City could implement a liquor store conversion ordinance that would give the City the power to eliminate existing liquor stores. 

    It sounds good but it seems like it would be a very difficult thing to accomplish.

  2. More government meddling in private enterprise.  I hear the liquor store owners are pushing a measure to do away with Council Members… all of that hot air competing with the HVAC industry is downright unfair!

  3. Another example of how out of touch you are with reality…. If you didn’t get the memo, prohibition has been over for some time and Liquor stores are legal and part of every neighborhood in the country. Its stupid to have to go to a grocery store to buy some liquor when all I want is liquor….

    Good thing your spending so much time thinking and writing about these 2 very important issues.. ( liquor store conversion and distinctive neighborhoods ) while the rest of your city is on it’s way to the highest homicide rate EVER…!!!

    Seriously, do us all a favor and just resign already…. I think that your resignation would literally save lives…..

  4. This the WORST in the bayarea… The redtape and little town bureaucracy have cost business owners piles of money…. Hey Pierie go talk to the ice cream shop owner in your district at Lincoln and Willow… You people are a walking disaster! But Im sure that is a feather in your cap. You wear your smugness well.

  5. Oh, so now they want to restrict people from enjoying their fireplaces, after paying for a home that came with one? This administration has outgrown its britches. I can’t wait to get out of this city. I can’t stand it anymore. I use to love it. Sad.

  6. Regarding the Habitat Conservation Plan.
    It’s too bad our City places so little value on habitats or conservation. Had we demonstrated any respect for something other than development and the almighty dollar we might not be now subject to the onerous demands of federal regulations.
    Selling off that parcel of land at Almaden Expwy. & Coleman Rd. where Alamitos Creek joins Guadalupe Creek to developers so that 20 houses can be built demonstrates quite clearly how little value our city places on conservation.
    Is San Jose a “green” city? Only when it comes to the color of money.

  7. Limit new Walmart stores?  Please explain this, as this sounds like the council wants to limit economic growth.  If the council must limit something, how about pharmacies and mini storage centers.  I don’t know how many Walgreens and CVSs an area can support, but the City can’t be getting much in tax revenue; it’s just being deluted.  Just how much tax per SF do mini storage centers bring to the City?  Why do we need more? 

    Here’s something else council should be contemplating, why do retail centers have so many non-retail businesses: real estate offices, martial arts studios, fitness clubs, after school learning, etc. I cedrtainly use these businesses, but they seem better suited for 2nd floor locations, rather than prime first floor locations.  Excluding malls, the 10th largest city in the US doesn’t seem to have any.(I can only think of one in Evergreen).  Is there some ordinance that prohibits this?  Sadly even Milpitas has some two story retail centers. 

    And if Sam is advocating so hard for bike lanes, why hasn’t that translated into allowing fewer parking spaces at retail centers?  Fewer parking spaces means more sqftg for retail, and more sales tax.

  8. What an important list….I for one am glad that this liquor store and tattoo shop issue are being dealt with….now if that small city crime issue could be addressed that would be icing on the dog poop cake….keep up the great work PLO, you have my vote for mayor!!!

  9. ● Converting Hotels & Motels to affordable housing.

    Sam Liccardo’s brain(less) child. What an asinine idea considering PLO’s own, correct, observations that affordable housing is, basically, a disaster for the city generating little – if any – revenue for the city, unlike market-rate housing, being more dense than typical market-rate housing and therefore creating more need for city services overall – particularly those for public safety.

    ● Closing Medical Cannabis Collectives that do not pay Measure U tax.

    City Hall’s management of ‘Cannabis Collectives’ has been so inconsistent as to make me suspect a case of collective schizophrenia. Having observed the goings-on with MMJ in SJ, I can say that this is a mini-disaster primarily of City Hall’s creation and one in which that lunatic, Dave Hodges, plays a prominent role. He’s kind of the poster child for everything that’s wrong with the MMJ industry in addition to being boorish, a didact and, frankly, unreasonalbe in his speech and actions.
    ● Restricting Tattoo parlors near K-12 schools.

    Rather than restricting the industry, why don’t you figure out how to simply ensure that these businesses adhere to the laws affecting their conduct, including not tattooing juveniles.
    ● Development Agreement Policy (Negotiate deals for Economic Development).

    Hopefully this isn’t too late, as City Hall needs to undo a lot of damage done to its relationship with businesses – especially small businesses.
    ● Restrict burning of wood in residential fireplaces.

    Stop hosing homeowners!!!! Get your meddling noses out of our homes!!!

    ● Ban any construction within 100 feet of creeks.

    Don’t you have other, more pressing concerns? Like, maybe, rising crime and a diminishing police force?

    ● Survey vacant buildings to house the homeless and more to be discussed in detail at council study session on October 29.

    Yet another expense the city can’t afford and one which will, inevitably create innumerable cost and liability issues. But, if I had to guess, I’d say Madison Nguyen and Sam Liccardo are spearheading this one. Maddy is sick of transients camping out in her back yard and Sammy is sick of transients hookers and dealers causing problems in his district. But, as my experience dealing with other shelters shows, sometimes these kinds of solutions create as many problems – albeit different ones – as they resolve. Concentrating large numbers of people who are asocial, anti-social, dependent on chemicals of various types, mentally ill or simply unable/unwilling to live within the constraints of social mores truly does create problems and usually ones the PD and FD have to resolve.

  10. Courageous Pier, I know a family that uses their fireplace for heat during the whole winter. Is the city of San Jose going to by this family heater so they don’t freeze.

    Who is going to enforce this ridiculous, idiotic, dumb law, the police? I doubt it.

    Can you imagine a San Jose Police Officer showing up to your home on Christmas Eve and telling you if don’t put out your fire you will either get a citation or go to jail.

    I for one, will not enforce this law, I will take the discipline.

    This council is bunch of lunatics.

    Is that better JK.

  11. The city, through it’s zoning decisions, has long been in the business of screwing existing homeowners, suppressing home values by flooding the market with high density housing. Most gallingly, high density projects are routinely approved on empty lots surrounded by less dense housing- a real slap in the face to the neighboring property owners.

    So maybe this ‘neighborhoods of distinction’ is an opportunity for homeowners to recoup some of the financial harm inflicted on them by the City.
    If a homeowner in a R6 zoned neighborhood could persuade half his neighbors to change the zoning to R20 then he could demolish his house and build three houses in it’s place, thus being rewarded with the equity gain long denied him by our City while at the same time helping the City to fulfill it’s desire of seeing all San Jose residents packed together like sardines.