Cannabis equity and safe parking top San Jose council agenda

One of the San Jose City Council’s recently-adopted priorities could get fast-tracked this Tuesday in order to meet a state deadline.

Earlier this month, councilors added the creation of a cannabis equity program to a list of priorities for the upcoming year, intended to guide city officials in managing their workload. The program aims to reduce barriers for minorities, the economically disadvantaged and previously incarcerated individuals who might be interested in opening a pot shop.

California lawmakers established the concept last year, but if San Jose wants to leverage funding to create its program the city has to act fast as the deadline to apply for grant funding from the state is April 1. Tuesday’s vote could allow staff to cut through the bureaucratic tape just in time.

In hopes of boosting funding from the state, Councilmembers Raul Peralez, Magdalena Carrasco and Pam Foley requested in a memo that the city considers advocating for more equity program funding a legislative priority. California has currently allocated $10 million for cities to start equity programs.

“The period to apply for this year’s grant was very short, only allowing cities a one-month timeframe to understand the grant requirements and apply,” the councilors wrote. “We must continue to capture any opportunities to help grow and shape our equity program with adequate resources.”

Safe parking program expansion

Just weeks after allowing places of assembly to operate safe parking programs for those living in their vehicles, the City Council will decide whether to fund additional sites for its pilot program.

LifeMoves, which provides services for homeless individuals in the region, has been running the city-sponsored program since November in the Seven Trees Community Center parking lot.

According to a staff report, LifeMoves has served 34 families on the lot as of March 14. Twenty two of those families have moved to a shelter or more stable housing. With those results, the city now has its eyes on two more sites: Roosevelt and Southside community centers. It would accommodate 50 more vehicles and the program scope would be expanded to include more than just families with young children.

An approval from the council on Tuesday would authorize the city’s housing department to enter into a $400,000 agreement with LifeMoves until June 30, 2021. Some of the elements of the expansion include:

  • LifeMoves staff will be on site to offer services five days a week between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m.
  • Contracted security will be at the sites between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • LifeMoves will provide trash receptacles and portable restrooms.

In a memo, Peralez said that he’d like to focus on outreach efforts for RVs parked along St. John Street between 15th and 17th streets – an area that’s already close to one of the proposed sites.

“The neighborhood has been working diligently with vehicle abatement, however the daily returns of the RVs has raised concerns from the neighborhood,” Peralez wrote in his memo.

Soccer field scrapped from parks funds

A large soccer field complex promised to San Jose residents nearly two decades ago may never come to fruition.

In November 2000, voters approved a $228 million bond – dubbed Measure P – to improve safety in neighborhood parks. While funds from that bond were used for design, the planned complex stalled and it remains the last project from Measure P yet to be completed.

Last September, the city decided to sell off the Coleman Avenue plot of land that was originally slated for the soccer field. Now, councilors will decide what to do with those funds.

City officials recommend investing $4.7 million from the sale back into projects similar to those specified by Measure P.

The remaining $20.1 million is recommended to be set aside in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget planning reserve.

With that money set aside, acting Parks Director Jon Cicirelli and Budget Director Margaret McCahan said in a memo that “there remains no financially viable path forward for a large soccer complex” with Measure P funds.

Some residents say that’s an unfair deal and money from the sale of the soccer park land should go toward supporting such programs.

“The full $20 million was promised to parks in September and December last year,” resident Jean Dresden said in an email. “If it ends up in the general fund, it could be used for anything. Still waiting.”

Contact Grace Hase at [email protected] or follow @grace_hase on Twitter.

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