Plans to build tiny cabins for the homeless have kindled surprisingly vitriolic backlash since the city proposed the idea more than a year ago. But the anti-homeless hostility reached a fever pitch in August, when District 2 Councilman Sergio Jimenez was cut off at a community meeting by audience members chanting “build a wall.” Jimenez tried to quell the outburst by warning attendees against the kind of divisive rhetoric spewed by President Trump. While the chant ended, the protest has now transmogrified into a concerted effort to derail the city’s so-called tiny homes project and oust Jimenez from elected office. Not long after that meeting, a group called San Jose Action materialized at SanJoseAction.com and on NextDoor, where people left factually off-base anti-homeless, anti-Jimenez comments on the forum. Who’s behind the group was a bit of a mystery. No names were listed on the website or on their Facebook page, and Fly’s emails to the group were ignored. But Jimenez says he got to meet some of the players when a constituent named Patty Fishburn invited him to meet with residents at her place, where he spent three hours answering questions they scrawled on slips of paper in a cookie jar. Despite the effort, Fishburn and her gang are still railing against Jimenez. San Jose Action held its first major meeting this past week at Hayes Mansion, and they expressly told the councilman not to come and refused to disclose who the guest speakers would be. Jimenez staffers Helen Chapman and Vanessa Sandoval showed up along with an impressive turnout—400 attendees, but, oddly, no public officials—to find out that the organizers were promoting Jimenez’s recall and that the surprise speakers included a ghost of election past: Steve Brown, the hard-right anti-LGBTQ candidate who lost to Jimenez in the 2016 council race. Brown took the stage along with fellow fringe candidate Jonathan Fleming, who’s running against Councilman Tam Nguyen in D7. Several attendees who spoke with Fly said they heard a lot of misinformation at the event, and that the speaker lineup only confirmed suspicions of San Jose Action being a political group masquerading as a grass-roots neighborhood association.
Here’s the Facebook Live video of the Dec. 18 San Jose Action meeting.