Annexing County Pockets

During the past few years, the City of San Jose has annexed 42 county pockets. These annexations came about in two ways. First, the State of California changed the law that made county pockets that are under 150 acres unable to vote on whether not they wanted to be annexed. Second, the County of Santa Clara had wanted San Jose to annex county pockets for years. San Jose avoided the topic until there was a court settlement with the County where the City agreed to annex a portfolio of county pockets from west to east based on the “sphere of influence”—lines that have been drawn for decades that indicate which cities county pockets would be annexed into.

By default, county pockets are different depending on their location and needs. Some county pockets have a high crime rate and gang activity while other pockets have an extremely low crime rate and no gang activity. Some county pockets do not have storm sewers, streetlights or sidewalks while others do have such infrastructure. The more affluent county pockets have higher real estate values and therefore bring in more property tax revenue to cover services while less affluent county pockets have lower property values and thus lower property tax revenues.

Last week, the city voted to annex the last under-150-acre county pocket in District 9 that is surrounded by San Jose on three sides, a combination of commercial and residential which is just down the street from the Camden Community Center. The commercial properties are along Camden Avenue and Bascom Avenue while the residential is tucked away in a neighborhood of single family homes in the $800K range.  The majority of residents of this particular county pocket wanted to be annexed by Campbell instead of San Jose. They spoke at the council meeting to how they identified with Campbell and not San Jose since they liked a small-town feel and Downtown Campbell was closer then Downtown San Jose. 

There was also a concern about response time for fire, so after further study it was concluded that County Fire, based on geographic location, would continue to better serve the residents. Therefore the current fee for the fire district on the homeowner’s property tax bill would continue to go to county fire so the service would not change.  Due to the higher property value of the homes and the commercial land this annexation resulted in positive revenue for The City of over $230,000 per year. While prior annexations will cost the city money due to less revenues from property tax this one was positive. So going against all the speakers at the meeting the council voted to annex the pocket. 

On a personal note, it was tough a tough vote for me since my childhood friend was the neighborhood association president for this county pocket and did not want San Jose annexation. It’s important for me to separate what is best for the city as a whole. If at any time I was told I could pick and choose which county pockets to annex, then I may have voted no on the pockets that were going to cost our city money.

I think if we were doing it all over again it would have been wise to annex the higher property value pockets first so we could bring in the revenue to pay for city services. Sometime in the future, and it is not known when, the City may annex the very large county pockets such as Burbank in District 6, Cambrian Plaza in District 9, two in District 7 and the massive county pockets in District 5 which would make up about a third of the entire district.

Here is the presentation on annexation that was given to the city council by the planning department.



  1. I think part of the annexation story revolves around the tax increment dollars that the Redevelopment Agency skimmed from “improved” properties that were already in the SJ City limits. 

    Santa Clara County did not benefit whatsoever from the skimmed funds and, consequently, SJ agreed to compensate the County via annexing a myraid of poor and decrepit County pockets. 

    Bottom line:  The RDA received 100% of the tax increment revenue, while City taxpayers must now pick up the infrastructure costs associated with the mostly ghetto areas.

  2. So at least two-thirds of the property owners who will be impacted formally object to this annexation.  And the “surrounded on three sides argument” includes a gerry-mandered strip of San Jose between the subject area and Campbell.

    I wonder if people in that strip feel like they belong to San Jose versus Campbell?

    Why not cede that strip to Campbell and let these people be annexed to Campbell, if they must be annexed at all?

    Let me guess—this is one of those “more affluent” zones.

    Never mind.

    • E. Litella,

      Yes as mentioned in the blog this county pocket had a higher property tax value and commercial property then most of the other county pockets that the City agreed to annex in the court settlement.

  3. Reading the whining of the residents in the Mercury News was amusing.  They made it sound as if a giant wall was being erected around their homes, and they would not be able to go to Campbell to shop/dine if their address was San Jose.  Guess what, their life is unchanged.

  4. So the City Council annexed county pockets that will cost the City more than the tax revenue those pockets generate?

    Annexation now means that the Police and Fire Department will have to provide policing/fire and emergency medical services to those pockets and their populations!

    Hasn’t the City reduced the number of police officers from over 1400 to around 1200 and hasn’t the City Manager stated she could, if necessary,  police the City with 970? 

    Hasn’t the Fire Department been cut by more that 50 firefighters this year and had to close 5 fire stations due to lack of staff? 

    How many other City departments had staff slashed? 

    Those same departments are now going to bear the burden of providing City services to the annexed land?  And those pockets can’t support their own costs?

    Pier : are you nuts?

    • “Hasn’t the City reduced the number of police officers from over 1400 to around 1200 and hasn’t the City Manager stated she could, if necessary,  police the City with 970?”

      This is exactly what I want to know: how does anyone justify voting to effectively increase the poplulation of San Jose for public safety services which must be provided while at the same time overseeing the downsizing of public safety manpower to levels not seen for a couple of decades. Not only that, but why weren’t the wishes of the people affected respected. You acknowledge that about 2/3 of the affected people preferred to be annexed by Campbell. Sounds like democracy in action. Actually, no. It sounds more like typical liberal politician subtext: ‘they just don’t know what’s good for them.”

      If I say “GENIUS!” loud enough, will you hear the sarcasm in my tone of voice? And

    • Again part of an agreement reached in the settlement of the lawsuit with the County.  These were unanimous votes except for this county pocket. Again if the City Attorney told the Council we could pick and choose then I may not have voted for the county pockets that were going to be a revenue drag for the city.

      • So, according to your article and statement, The City of San Jose was obligated as a result of a lawsuit to absorb into itself pockets of residential/retail space all of which is going to generate more calls for service from public safety while at the same time spearheading and achieving measures V and W whose net effect largely will be to make it harder to attract and retain qualified candidates to public safety and simultaneously destroying whatever minuscule amount of trust remained within the rank and file of PD and FD for towards City Hall. And, all the while, your achievement with V and W pales in comparison to what you have NOT achieved: actual meaningful spending reform and worthwhile changes in how the City conducts its business.

        I cannot begin to delve into the intellectual dishonesty, moral deficiency, fallacious reasoning, and logical convolutions in which you and most of your peers have indulged during the last year. Just one example of this is that you have never, at any point addressed any of BS Monitor’s valid questions in a meaningful, logical and intellectually honest way. What you have done is employed straw man arguments, red herrings and other forms of logical fallacy to support an intellectually and morally deficient set of positions which have had the net effect of allowing you to follow a ‘path of least resistance’ approach to spending reform.

        If San Jose’s residents were able to look at the whole story and had media outlets which were honest enough to give both positions equal consideration, they would be appalled, perhaps even outraged. That being said, I believe that, in the history of San Jose, names like Chuck Reed, Pete Constant and Pierluigi Olviero will become the pejoratives they deserve to be.

        • You cannot hire more cops if you cannot control wage costs when revenues fall short. Simple math. I will not vote for more taxes until San Jose can cap wages. Government has these problems because of unions.  A private company would outsource peripheral services while holding down wages or cut wages so as to provide services. If the person does not like this then they can quit and work elsewhere. When times are good the company can raise wages if actually needed to attract applicants. And yes please annex nice neighborhoods rather then only poor neighborhoods.

        • Tony, you have a point, but only up to a point. Take a look at the City’s budget. Wages/benefits aren’t the real culprit. Wasteful spending on pet projects and services which don’t form the core mandate of municipal administration are the problem. If San Jose’s leadership had pared their spending down to the essentials of core services, and was still in the red despite verifiable fiscal responsibility, then I might agree with you. However, they have failed to do that and have made no meaningful movement toward real fiscal responsibility – despite the empty, fallacious rhetoric regarding Measures V and W in which PLO, Reed and Constant have conspicuously indulged.

          Furthermore, revenues in San Jose have fallen short because of shortsighted policies enacted by city council and administration. These policies are not the fault of unions, per se, and they are particularly not the fault of the public safety unions which have so successfully been demonized by the above-named city leadership. These policies, taxes and fees have made San Jose into one of the least business-friendly cities in the Bay Area. Real reform would have prioritized changing San Jose’s policies, taxes and fee structure to make of the city a more friendly business environment. Unfortunately, real reform would have taken real effort on the part of the City Council and Administration. Unfortunately, it would appear that those entities are, largely, too intellectually lazy, morally deficient, and incapable of logical, reasoned discourse, as PLO and Reed have, conspicuously proven on the webpages of SJI in earlier discussions on pension reform.

          Rather than pointing your finger at the Unions, it is more appropriate to point the fingers at City Administration, your elected officials, and, yes, the people who have elected those officials to positions of influence and power. Rather than point the finger at unions, why not instead get involved in the reform process by becoming better informed about the way the city expends $3 BILLION dollars anually and yet cries budget deficit annually and demanding responsiblity and accountability from your elected officials.

  5. It all makes sense now: cut fire, cut police.  pay for annexing county pockets that will burden fire and police while not bringing in enough tax revenue to pay for itself!

    Does anyone really wonder why the City and the RDA are in such poor financial shape? Pier and Reed making foolish decisions like this one after the other add up folks.

  6. I understand your motives for doing what’s best for San Jose, but you’re supposed to represent the people in your district.  Having asked your childhood friends opinion on this and him saying “Please don’t” should be an indicator of what the overall public opinion is.

    I took a drive this morning through the proposed area (I had to get a prop for an RC plane over at RC Unlimited) I saw a lot of “For Sale” signs and a few homes that looked to be empty. Empty homes don’t generate revenue. Given the crash of the real estate market, and everyone’s home values are still taking a hit from it, I can surmise that it will be some time before we see the non-depressed tax revenue that we want to see from that area.

    Affluent neighborhoods demand more services.  They won’t put up with potholes.  If needed, they have the funds to legally call the city out on it’s contractual obligations. That’s just a given.  You really think they’re going to just put up with the city rezoning?

    From a ranching perspective, the strategy I see playing out here is, “Do whatever it takes to get the top dollar for the crop”

    Here’s a metaphor of a story for you. A lot of metaphors I’ll toss in parenthesis ()

    I think it was 1986.  I could be wrong on the year, but other than the year this story is historically accurate.
    In the spring, there was just the right amount of weather.  It was a bumper crop (1998 San Jose, huge tax revenue) Then San Jose experienced freak rain storms during Cherry harvest season, while the cherries were still green. (9/11, market crash)

    When cherries get rained on at this time, the overwatered cherry splits and starts growing mold and slime. Their value drops (our property values) and the best you can hope for is to sell them at a drastically reduced rate to canneries for maraschino cherries and pie filling.

    That year we tried something different.  We hired a pilot to fly a helicopter over our 90acre orchard next to Evergreen College. You know what happened?

    Cherries fell to the ground, in the mud.  It kept raining.  The family ended up spending 1000’s of dollars keeping helicopters over the ranch and it was all for naught.

    There was 2 sides of consensus in the family on this.  Some said “OMG FREAK STORMS WHO KNEW IT WOULD GO DOWN LIKE THIS?” while others said “I TOLD YOU THE RAIN WASN’T GOING TO STOP!”

    The family took a huge hit that year on the crop, it was mostly all rotten and ended up being canned.  Luckily farming isn’t the only business our family is into.

    While I love being an optimist, the rain isn’t going to stop for a while in San Jose.  The economy is still spiraling down.  So I have to be a realist and say, “We’re better off trying to make due with what we have now.”  Fuck it, sell those rotten cherries off and save that money you would have spent on helicopters for next years fertilizers.

    I just wouldn’t count on super duper tax revenue from this land grab.  Things just have not been right for that to happen.

    And in a funny, almost prophetic manner, SJI asked me this humanizing question.

      • I’m saying that we can’t long term predict if there’s going to be a short term (4 year) economic recovery no more than we can long term predict if it’s going to rain in the middle of the summer during cherry harvest season.

  7. I live in a county pocket and I will do what ever I can to avoid annexation.  Fortunately I live in a larger pocket and no information has been provided for it either.  The City of San Jose would provide my neighborhood nothing more than the County of Santa Clara provides now.  They would just increase my taxes to provide for services that have no effect on my neighborhood.  The City of San Jose council has an agenda which does not have the citizens in mind.  Perhaps they should be reminded that San Jose is a BEDROOM COMMUNITY not a Big City!

    • Mike,

      Why have two government entities providing the same services to a geographic area? Residents of County pockets drive on city roads and use city parks for example.

  8. From a policing standpoint one of the most important factors in servicing a neighborhood is the average intelligence of its residents. Areas inhabited by people with average to above-average IQ’s typically require little from the police department: they’re better at solving their own problems, better at controlling their own vices, and strongly inclined to keep the government out of their lives. It’s not that they don’t break any laws, it’s more that they don’t break them in ways that ruin life for others. Contrast that to neighborhoods inhabited by those with below-average intelligence, and what you find are people for whom every aspect of life is a challenge, from showing up to work or school, to remaining responsible as parents, to preventing anger from erupting into violence. In short, they make lousy neighbors and neighborhoods lousy.

    The majority of the recently annexed neighborhoods are populated by people at the low-end of the low-end of the IQ scale. Neighborhood disputes, uncontrollable children, runaways, and mental illness problems are common, and result in a great many calls for service. These are the gray area calls, the type that don’t really affect the crime rate,unless something goes wrong—often after the police have arrived on scene (where they are typically met by unreasonable screaming, demands, expectations). These are the calls where every jerk who wants to get into a cop’s face has a family of witnesses ready to be on his/her side, where alcohol and drug influence is common, where losers get off the couch only for the chance to make things worse, where really dangerous people blend in easily, and where everyone is some kind of politically-empowered minority.

    Our police department will handle the many felonies committed in these shit-hole neighborhoods—and catch its share of thugs and thieves, but it will be the already overtaxed beat cops who will suffer the stress and physical injury that comes with trying to meet the demands of idiots who will test their patience and resolve, and put them in the kind of no-win situations—the nuisance calls that erupt into shit storms—that feed the feeble minds and news columns of local cop-haters.

    I’d imagine that in the next year our cops will handle more high-stress calls in just these small, newly annexed parcels than they will in the entire Almaden Valley—despite having fewer cops than they had last year. Their service of these areas will subtract from their already declining service to the rest of the city, and subtract from the city’s tax coffers.

    But, of course, a new ballpark will fix everything.

    • Hilarious AND brilliantly observed BS! In case your free for the next five 4 to 5 years we are taking applications for Chief of Police,….feel free to apply.

      • ,….and your point is exactly what Mr. Oliverio? Let’s be honest and not pretend these areas receive the level of service they would if they had gone to Campbell. These annexations receive ZERO policing from SJPD unless there is a request for police. I was not in my beat the entire day today thanks to the staffing you desire. Our ability, and now initiative, i.e. motivation, to be proactive has varied down to ZERO.

        Of course the exception would be if you were to call the Chief on your cell speed dial and request special patrols.

        But hey, congrats. Morale has never been lower at SJPD and SJFD in the generations. Well done.

        • Here is the reality Oliverio. I work in a district which has taken on huge crappy areas of the Burbank area. Very high crime rate, rampant blight. Not one officer was ever added to our district. Calls pend for hours on end because we cant get to them. You are cheating the long term residents of San Jose. If I lived in one of these areas I would do anything in my power to NOT be annexed by San Jose. Our department is broken and crippled. It may not be apparent in the paper in the next day, week or month, but it is coming very soon.

        • Officer X,

          So knowing that the city had a agreed in a court settlement to annex county pockets would you rather add county pockets that are like Almaden Valley or pockets that are similar to Dobern Ave, Poco Wy, Rocksprings, South of Alma?

        • Councilman Oliverio:

          Left with that choice, is there really a choice? Unfortunately, and this is the bottom line, citizens are left to pay the price for more foolish decisions made by politicians. In this case, not those currently holding office, so you can pass the buck.

          I stand by my statement. Annexations, not to mention those throughout our city who do not wish to be counted (i.e. undocumented illegal aliens), add to our population with no plan to increase public safety resources.

          Someday I’d love to hear how you intend to address our staffing crisis at SJPD and SJFD. I’m guessing it’s at the bottom of your list of things to do,…

        • Officer X,

          I wrote about the staffing issue most recently in January below.

          The Council has discretion to ensure that a police academy does occur now, as it only takes six votes.  The Council in the short term could simply allocate $4.5 million from the anti-tobacco funds (Healthy Neighborhood Venture Fund) and designate the money towards the police academy for 45 new officers. We have $7.8 million in this fund that has not been spent and could be directed on anything the Council wants.

        • Councilman Oliverio:

          Would love to see you champion that one sir. It is not a bad start to stopping the personnel exodus that is occurring at 201 W. Mission Street. We need an academy ASAP. That, as you well know, is only a band aid. We need this council to open their eyes to something other than the A’s, property developers, and these bleeding non-profit/special interests that are reducing public safety. As you correctly characterized, public safety in San Jose has become a gambling venture. In my opinion, our luck left the room several years ago, and officers did not replace her…

      • It doesn’t matter the varying level of resources. It only matters that they are going to require more resources in a time when fewer resources are available and no end in sight for that condition. The reality is that, regardless of resource requirements, residential areas absorb more money/resources than commercial and more than the city actually gets from them in revenue than commercial. Bottom line: they will push San Jose further into the red than it already is – a condition that will exist in perpetuity. This is, once again, an example of the city looking at the short-term cost only (financial settlement with the county) and not the long-term issues.

        • While Pier /Reed / Constant and the rest of the fiscally irresponsible City Council ( who by-the-way is also the Board of Directors for the near bankrupt Redevelopment Agency).  These term-limited /high office seeking panderers hide their culpability behind accusations that career pubic servants are somehow responssible for the DECISIONS that they make.

          Continue cleaning house in future elections and remember that those who steal campaign signs   by pretending to be cleaning up trash (Pier) – those that defend them (Reed/Constant & the Mercury Ne) and those who reject the sentiments of a Majority of the inhabitants of the area recently annexed don’t give a hoot about the people they represent.

        • You Get It… I got it,I’m Surprised they SJI didn’t delete it or censor it in someway.  It seems that SJI has been doing this for a while.  this is a “blog service” that will delete or censor your comments if you get too “close to the truth” about their political buddies.  Talk about agenda’s… Damn!

  9. LOL,…you again! 

    Well did you inform your friend that with Sheriff’s Office patrol leaving there would be ZERO POLICE PATROLS or did you make more false promises? Nice having a friend like you. I truly feel for those residents.

  10. I can guarantee that there is going to be Police other than SJPD brought into play once the Mayor’s evil plan takes hold. 

    Contract District Police agencies with the likes or similar to Amtrak Police, Bart Police, and others will be the 1/2 price contract police agencies you’ll end up with instead of the professional SJPD officers. 

    The Sheriff’s Office will not come into play with this municipal fiasco.

    Good Luck San Jose Taxpayers! Vote Wisely Tomorrow!

  11. “until there was a court settlement with the County where the City agreed to annex a portfolio of county pockets”

    Looks like there is a legal agreement but when did this happen?  Could the city have paid the County money instead of annexing?

    • Phil,

      See my post at the top.  I believe that, if SJ had not been so greedy, a share of the RDA tax increment from redeveloped properties could have been funneled to the County. 

      That didn’t happen, so SJ taxpayers will suck it up now.  But look on the bright side – we get to see all of those shiny new corporate-owned buildings on North 1st Street.

    • Phil,

      City sued the County over a concert hall at the Fairgrounds. City lost the lawsuit and agreed as part of the settlement to annex the county pockets under 150 acres. No idea if we were offered the ability to pay cash in lieu of annexation but my guess is we did not have the money or we capitulated to the annexation request.  This happened prior to Mayor Reed.

  12. ” Hasn’t the City reduced the number of police officers from over 1400 to around 1200 and hasn’t the City Manager stated she could, if necessary,  police the City with 970?  “

    Sounds like City Manager is running Police Department rather than police professionals

    When did City Manager tell public – ” she could, if necessary,  police the City with 970 ” or does City Manager operate with different definition of Sunshine and open government ….. than public and Council ?

    Did Council tell public and vote on this.i change in

  13. Seriously folks don’t complain to me. Sure I voted for annexation but you’re not my problem you don’t live in my district.

    As for Fire and police services – I posted the link to the “master plan” in the blog. You can see for yourself that there are two or three Santa Clara County Fire companies strategically located on the Campbell side of I-880 who will respond to your 911 fire/medical calls. We’ll contract with them to cover their costs. I know, I know you’re saying “P-yair you keep telling us San Jose is broke! How will we pay?”

    Don’t worry , those county guys are real professionals. They will respond out of a sense of duty! Not like those Union Thugs at San Jose Fire – who tried to have me arrested for cleaning up trash!!! All they want is money,  money,  money, money,  MON-ey! Greedy union thugs!

    Police? Well that’s a tricky one. See the police only want money too and big retirements but they don’t want to do their job. They are not so bright – I told them “I was just picking up litter! And they believed me – In all reality I should have probably gone to jail for stealing those “No on V” signs. We might have to outsource police service to some security guards.

    Finally Hymer Wizen I didn’t steal your sign because it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that you and the majority of your neighbors were against annexation. What matters is that I was for it. That’s right I was for it. Capisce? Besides you lived in a “county pocket.” County pocket is code for “area where it is OK to put trash/litter/campaign signs/broken down cars in your front yard area.”

    Now you live in an “incorporated city area” which is code for “If P-Yair wants to take your yard sign I will cause I got the City Attorney AND the police chief on speed dial- sucka!”  Check me out on youtube playin’ those union thugs!

    Welcome to San JO!

  14. Just did some reading in the San Jose Business Journal that our city council recently approved tens of thousands of new housing units to be built in north San Jose. What are they thinking? This is insanity, at a time when the city services are beyond cut to a bone. How can we possibly be annexing thousands of new residences? Yes, I know Pier, there was a court settlement. Things are modified in court all the time. Take it back to court. Quit ramming this issue down the throat of neighborhoods that don’t want to be annexed. You, the mayor, and the rest of the council members who are for this are behaving like little dictators, ignoring the wishes of the citizens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *