Budget Prioritization Survey

The City of San Jose has contracted with a public opinion survey company to poll residents on the city’s budget in a project fondly known as “the City of San Jose Budget Prioritization Survey.” The control group of the survey is 900 residents representing the entire City. They will be contacted by home and cell phones.

In the end, the survey company will try to ensure that the demographic breakdown of survey respondents mirrors the demographics of San Jose, with a certain margin for error. This data will be shared at a public study session at the City Council Feb. 16 at 9am.  This will give the Council scientific polling data on budget priorities from San Jose residents.  In addition to the phone survey we will be holding a Neighborhood Association/Youth Commission Priority Session this Saturday at 10am at City Hall in room 119 to discuss the budget deficit. Both meetings are public.

Since you may be one of the 1,006,000 residents who will not be getting a call, I wanted to share some of the questions via a web survey and then share the results on San Jose Inside on Feb 8.

On another note, the Council passed a citywide inclusionary housing policy which Councilmember Constant and I voted against. Then a few minutes later, the Council made an exemption to the policy for one section of the City. So although a citywide policy passed for every developer, the City made an exception that one development did not have to comply with the inclusionary housing policy. Makes me wonder; if inclusionary housing is such a good idea then why make an exception?

Here is a link to the City of San Jose Budget Prioritization Survey.




  1. How much is this survey costing the city and why is it necessary in light of all the other surveys that have been done asking the same thing?

    • Much more then a web survey.
      $50K is the approximate cost for this scientific survey that will attempt to capture the actual demographic (gender, age, race, homeowner,etc) of San Jose. We hear different messages on the scientific surveys then what is said at Council meetings.  The survey also helps the Council decide if something should be put on the ballot. For example the Council may want to put two increased tax/fee proposals on the ballot in any given election year. However if they survey says one or both are going to lose by a wide margin then the Council may choose to save the $250/500K that we would have to pay the registrar of voters.

  2. Good grief!  I checked out the survey and,  before I quit reviewing it in disgust, I saw where the City may want to increase our sales tax by as much as one-half percent. 

    It’ll be a cold day in Hell before I’ll vote yes on a measure like that.  Our spendthrift City management throws money at all manner of bottomless pits in lieu of providing basic services.  To give them yet more money would just be dumb!

  3. On a recent cruise, Captain Progressive of the “SS Dumbship”, put together an opinion poll in order to determine what course the passengers wanted to sail. After analyzing the results of the survey, he charted a course that averaged out all the passenger’s wishes, then steered the vessel accordingly. After a short distance the “Dumbship” ran onto a reef, promptly sank, and all hands were lost.

    Public opinion polls are a poor substitute for smart, decisive leadership.

    • This is truly an alarming and tragic story.

      Did Captain Progressive really intend to run onto the reef?

      Were any of the hands that were lost women or minorities?

      I think the government should do something so this never happens again.

      • Get serious would you. Of course Cap’n P didn’t do it on purpose. After all, he knew nothing of navigation, of seamanship, of Archimedes, nor of geography. Since his only previous work experience was as a “community organizer” he can hardly be blamed for being entirely ignorant of the immutable and unforgiving laws of nature. He was an innocent child and it was foolish for the company owners to trust him with the command of their flagship.

  4. This is not a budget prioritization survey.

    It is a poll to design a ballot measure and plan associated campaign ads.  ( If you know which cuts are least popular, then you know what kind of cuts to threaten.  Why run an ad threatening to close libraries if it is more effective to threaten to close fire stations?  )

    This is also not about avoiding an expensive election.  To do that, you would take the poll after the council structures the measure, but before it goes on the ballot.  The results are more accurate if you can better describe what you will vote on.

  5. I would like to see the city quit annexing pockets of county areas. I see we just got another chunk in the Burbank area. Can these annexations be temporarily stopped? Does the county pay us anything for the support of these new neighborhoods or does it just dilute our current services? Does the county pay us anything for additional police and fire services in the areas we are annexing?

    • The City of San Jose is annexing the county pockets as part of the settlement from the lawsuit with the County over music hall at the fairgrounds.  There is a timetable of the annexations that was agreed to for the settlement. The City does get the additional 9% of the property tax and the 5% utility tax for example however over we time we need to upgrade those pockets with sidewalks, curb, gutter and storm drains. When possible it is a good idea to avoid lawsuits. If the County would agree to slowing down the annexation timetable I would support it.

      • Thanks for the response.

        I know a couple of the officers that work in the areas that absorbed large areas of annexed county neighborhoods some of which are pretty bad areas. They said that no additional officers have been added to patrol these new areas which has basically diluted current service and spread them more thin. These new areas are going to be a big drain on the city it seems.

      • In my opinion, suing the county of an innocent music hall on the Fairgrounds was one of the stupidest things San Jose has done in quite a while.  If the City wants to sue the County then it should be suing the county to stop the lead pollution from the Reid-Hillview airport in East San Jose.  This airport has been exposing the residents of East San Jose to elevated levels of airborne lead for over 40 years. 

        I suppose you are going to say that you did not know the EPA has ranked Reid-Hillview as the 25th highest lead polluting general aviation airport, out of 3,414 airports, in the country.  If this were a business polluting lead in the middle of a residential neighborhood, with 8 schools within one-half of a mile of it, the city and county would have stopped it years ago. 

        Granted, since general aviation is an overwhelming recreational activity, the recession has caused it to become nearly inactive in the last few years.  However, the damage has been done in the past, and there is nothing in place to prevent it in from reoccurring the future. 

        EPA lead measuring methodology, and airport ranking.


      • Where can I find out more about the SC county vs. San Jose fairgrounds music hall lawsuit settlement ?  Google search did not help me much.

        I’d love to better understand all the short term and long term financial issues involved, but in the long run (but I’m not sure SJ thinks too far past one election cycle) it seems like the city would benefit from annexing some of these county pockets.  Some of these areas are run-down and this effects the property values, and business opportunities in those areas.  As it is it seems like those areas are pulling-down the surrounding areas in San Jose.  Its like the are limbo waiting for the inevitable.

        For example Coconut Willies (the burned out graffiti magnet on West San Carlos) is in one of these pockets.  When I contacted the county about the code violations, they basically blew it off—the county code enforcement seems to be non-existent.  I don’t think San Jose code would allow a structure like this to stand for years.

        Fundamentally it seems inefficient for both the County and City to have small pockets of county land surrounded by City land.

        That said SJ should not just bend over and get screwed by the County on the deal, and instead get a fair deal on the annexations.

  6. 12. Which one of the following three strategies the City of San Jose should place the highest priority on to address its budget shortfall?

    Reducing existing city services

    Raising Taxes and Fees

    Reducing City Employees’ compensation and retirement benefits


    Don’t Know

    ####How about getting fiscally responsible and competent city leaders who know a thing or two about budgeting instead of grandstanding constantly in their bid to be the next mayor…… hint, hint….