Here’s what issues are heading to San Jose City Council
San Jose City Hall is pictured in this file photo.

After a month-long hiatus in July, the San Jose City Council will come back to review one of the biggest land deals this fall and take up police and election reform again.

Police reforms

The long-awaited recommendations to reimagine policing are coming back to council in late October or early November, according to Will Armaline, a San Jose State sociology professor who sits on the city committee that put forward the reforms.

Earlier this year, a city committee composed of representatives from numerous South Bay community organizations, including Silicon Valley De-Bug, Asian Law Alliance, SOMOS Mayfair and the Vietnamese American Roundtable, recommended reforms to police responses and civilian oversight in the San Jose Police Department, along with support for families impacted by the justice system.

According to a survey of more than 1,500 San Jose residents in the report, 72% to 82% of people surveyed support a non-police approach to issues such as mental health, traffic safety, school safety and assisting the homeless.

“There’s been a great deal of progress already in developing the alternatives to policing,” said Armaline, founding director of the San Jose State University Human Rights Institute. “I have a great deal of optimism about (these) recommendations, because it is widely supported publicly. It has tons of research behind it in terms of its potential effectiveness.”

San Jose officials formed the committee in September 2020 after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, which sparked protests across the nation.

The committee hit a snag in April 2021 when seven prominent members quit, claiming it lacked structure and had no focus on police reform. Organizers recreated the committee two months later, after city officials promised it could create recommendations for police reform.

Cambrian Park Plaza development

A mixed-use development five years in the making will finally see its day in front of councilmembers.

Cambrian Village will transform Cambrian Park Plaza at Camden and Union avenues from a 1950s-era shopping center into an 18-acre development combining residential and commercial uses with open space. The urban village design includes 305 apartments, 48 single-family homes with 27 attached accessory dwelling units and 25 townhomes. The village will also offer a 229-room hotel, 50 apartments in the senior living center and four acres of open space.

The city Planning Commission approved the plans last week. The parcel, which sits in an unincorporated portion of Santa Clara County, will come before councilmembers for approval of the environmental impact report and to initiate annexation on Aug. 9. A vote on annexing the parcel could take place as early as Sept. 13.

“This is one of the biggest development projects the council’s gonna vote on all year,” Alex Shoor, executive director of Catalyze SV, told San José Spotlight.

Shoor said approval of this project, as well as the Paseo de Saratoga redevelopment approved in June, will not only make residents more comfortable with the changes coming in San Jose— it also encourages developers to invest more in urban villages.

“When developers see that San Jose is growing up and hitting adolescence, getting a little bit taller and as we grow, I think developers will realize, ‘hey, we can do this too,’” Shoor said.

Election reform 

San Jose is drafting an ordinance that seeks to limit foreign influence in local elections.

Councilmembers are set to vote on the policy around November, Councilmember Sergio Jimenez told San José Spotlight. It would prohibit foreign-influenced corporations or donors, with no stake in San Jose, from making contributions to local elections.

Foreign-influenced is defined as more than 1% ownership by a single foreign national or more than 5% ownership by multiple foreign nationals. That would prevent nearly every member of the S&P 500 from making political expenditures in city elections, including Silicon Valley tech giants Apple, Alphabet (Google) and Meta, according to nonpartisan nonprofit Free Speech for People.

This effort is part of a larger discussion happening at council to make campaigns more fair and transparent following a heated and costly 2020 election. San Jose has toyed with the idea of a pilot program to publicly finance campaigns and make campaign mailers disclose who the top donors are in an effort to show who is paying for ads.

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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