Nearly 100 ideas are vying for funding in Mayor Sam Liccardo’s new budget, and they include everything from cleaning blight, to installing metal detectors at City Hall and mounting license plate readers on parking enforcement vehicles.
Liccardo is scheduled to release his final budget message on May 31, which could include some of the councilmembers’ funding requests. But with limited funding and Liccardo’s budget proposal in March stressing the importance of cutting back on spending, bracing for deficits and saving for a rainy day, it might be tough for most of these ideas to become reality.
The councilmembers were required to submit their project pitches to Liccardo’s office by Wednesday. After several more weeks of deliberation and public hearings, the City Council is expected to approve the final 2019-2020 budget on June 11, ending a monthslong process that began in late February.
Here’s what San Jose lawmakers are hoping to fund:
Metal detectors at San Jose City Hall – Councilmember Johnny Khamis
In one of the year’s most controversial proposals, Councilmember Johnny Khamis suggested installing metal detectors at City Hall to beef up security after a throng of protesters snuck chains into a council meeting and chained themselves to chairs to protest selling public land to Google for a new tech campus.
The idea was met with criticism by activists who said the metal detectors are another way for San Jose to stifle debate and dissent.
What will it cost? – $124,100, one-time funding; $97,100, ongoing funding
Automatic license plate readers for parking enforcement vehicles – Councilmember Johnny Khamis
In an effort to increase parking enforcement efficiency and compliance, Khamis is proposing mounting automatic license plate readers on enforcement vehicles. The reader scans a license plate and then alerts officers in real-time of parking violations.
“Enforcing parking by following routine patrol routes and manually checking vehicles for physical permits and parking violations can have a negative impact on compliance rates, customer experiences, and organizational operations,” Khamis wrote.
A similar proposal from Khamis, Liccardo and Councilmember Raul Peralez in 2015 suggested strapping license plate readers to the front of garbage trucks in an effort to catch car thieves. But that plan was killed after being met with scrutiny from civil rights activists, including the ACLU of Northern California.
What will it cost? – $295,000, one-time funding; $146,500, ongoing funding
Incentive registering your security camera with the SJPD – Councilmember Pam Foley
In an effort to motivate residents to register their home security cameras with the city, Foley wants to set up a rebate program to encourage people to participate. The program helps police officers find suspects because when a crime occurs, police can identify the locations of nearby video cameras and enlist the community’s help to collect video evidence and follow on leads.
“Recently, Bambi Larson, a District 9 resident, was tragically murdered,” Foley wrote. “This heinous crime has shaken many of our neighborhoods to our core, and has heightened our awareness of the need for public safety within our communities.”
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia has credited the arrest of Larson’s alleged murderer to home security cameras.
What will it cost? – $10,000, one-time funding
Ssssh. Quieting down those roaring trains in District 3 – Councilmember Raul Peralez
Last October, the Union Pacific Railroad implemented a new plan that had trains ripping through San Jose neighborhoods and honking their horns in the middle of the night. To combat the noise disruptions that Peralez says impact “quality of life,” he’s proposing establishing a quiet zone along the Warm Springs Subdivision corridor. The quiet zone would require the city to improve 14 grade crossings from Montgomery Street through Japantown to Horning Street.
What will it cost? – $5.5 million, one-time funding
The most “Pride-ful” street in all of San Jose – Councilmember Raul Peralez
Peralez wants to make downtown’s historic Post Street more “Pride-ful.” His budget request would fund LGBTQ+ pride flags along Post Street between 1st and Market streets, in addition to adding rainbow crosswalks, rainbow colored lighting and a new LGBTQ+ mural from a local artist whose work is approved by the City of San Jose Arts Commission.
What will it cost? – $65,960, one-time funding
Helping minorities break into the cannabis business – Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco
Earlier this year, the City Council prioritized creating a cannabis equity program. Chartered by a state law, the program aims to reduce barriers for minorities, the economically disadvantaged and previously incarcerated individuals who are interested in getting into the regulated marijuana business. To get the program going, Carrasco is looking for seed money to fund positions that would manage grants and develop the equity plan. The remaining funding would go to community organizations working with the city to provide cannabis business advisement.
What will it cost? – $150,000, one-time funding
Making San Jose more family friendly with diaper-changing stations – Councilmember Sylvia Arenas
As part of her Family Friendly Initiative, Arenas wants to equip the city buildings with private lactation spaces and diaper changing tables. “It’s shocking to me and to many in our community that city hall, our parks sites, our convention center, our cultural sites, and most other public spaces owned by the city had absolutely no changing tables – let alone lactation spaces,” Arenas wrote.
If approved, 269 changing tables and lactation spaces would be installed across the city in libraries, community centers and San Jose Municipal Stadium, among other locations. City officials have already started installing baby-changing tables inside City Hall’s 42 public restrooms.
What will it cost? – $2.6 million, one-time funding
Bolstering retail activity in Evergreen – Councilmember Sylvia Arenas
In an effort to bolster retail in the city’s secluded Evergreen area, Arenas is proposing a one-time retail study. According to her proposal, the strategy would include group and individual stakeholder interviews, an assessment of current conditions, demographics, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the area as well as recommendations packaged into a final report.
“Evergreen faces a chronic issue of too few services for residents and – at the same time – too many vacant storefronts,” Arenas wrote in her proposal. “There are a number of issues that result from this that range from public safety concerns in some neighborhoods to issues of low commercial visibility in others.”
What will it cost? – $55,000, one-time funding
Giving new life to the historic Almaden Winery Building – Councilmember Johnny Khamis
For the last 40 years, San Jose has owned the historic Almaden Winery building. Now Khamis wants to use $3 million in funds from the Google land sale, the sale of a Coleman Avenue property and the District 10 construction and conveyance tax to rehabilitate and preserve the building.
Once restored, Khamis said the upper level could serve as office space for city employees, while the ground floor could be used as a “historic interpretive site” along the Santa Clara County wine trail. The Friends of the Winemakers, headed by MBA Architects owner Marv Bramburg, have also volunteered to participate in helping the city fundraise in an effort to open the building to the public.
What will it cost? – $3 million, one-time capital funding
Making San Jose smarter – Vice Mayor Chappie Jones
San Jose’s Office of Civic Innovation and Digital Strategy has been working to increase “the number of public private partnership opportunities with the city to demonstrate, pilot and scale process, data and technology solutions that bring community benefit,” to San Jose residents. Jones wants to use funding to help create essential staffing positions to allow the office to grow. He added that his office will work with tech companies, as well as the Office of Civic Innovation and Digital Strategy, to help engage youth groups and the community in technology pilot programs.
What will it cost? – $500,000, one-time funding
Fixing up the struggling Alviso Park – Councilmember Lan Diep
Located on the north side of Highway 237, Alviso Park is deteriorating with many of its infrastructure needs going unfulfilled. Diep wants to take money from the sale of a Coleman Avenue property to help complete the Alviso Park Master Plan. The plan requires $15 million for completion, however, only $228,000 has gone toward the park thus far.
What will it cost? – $1 million, one-time funding
A bigger crackdown on absentee landlords – Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco
This program, which is run by a nonprofit leader with the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, works with neighborhoods to force absentee landlords to clean up and repair their neglected, dilapidated properties. The program leaders can file lawsuits against slumlords to force cooperation, and they’ve won many of their cases.
It started in District 10’s Hoffman-Via Monte neighborhood. A slumlord there abandoned his apartments — trash overflowed, buildings were covered in graffiti and gang violence exploded. But the program, which has had proven success since its launch, can only serve 10 cases at a time. The additional funding request will expand the program to serve other neighborhoods.
Foley also proposed spending $10,000 to expand the program in District 9.
What will it cost? – $27,000, one-time funding
Expanding Downtown Streets Team cleanup efforts in District 7 – Councilmember Maya Esparza
Downtown Streets Team’s crew currently works to keep the downtown area clean. Esparza is looking to expand that to target other “hotspots” for litter and trash, including areas around McLaughlin and Highway 280, Story Rd and Highway 280, Monterey Rd, Lucretia Ave and Story Rd, the Rocksprings neighborhood and other well recognized hotspots in the district.
What will it cost? – $100,000, one-time funding
Expanding Downtown Streets Team cleanup efforts in District 2 – Councilmember Sergio Jimenez
Last year, the city approved a request from Jimenez to partner with Downtown Streets Team for weekly clean-ups on Monterey Road from Branham Lane to Ford Avenue and the Blossom Hill Road and Snell Avenue intersection. Since then, they’ve cleared 65,370 gallons of debris – including more than 142 needles. Jimenez is requesting to continue the partnership through the fall of 2020 and to cover more rural areas of Monterey Road up to Bailey Avenue.
What will it cost? – $90,000, one-time funding
Bolstering a declining bus route – Councilmember Pam Foley
As VTA looks to implement a new transit service plan, officials have considered cutting back on certain bus routes that have low ridership. One of these is Route 65, which runs from the Cambrian area, through downtown and up into North San Jose. VTA is launching a campaign that offers up to five free rides in June in an attempt to increase ridership. Foley is proposing funding in the form of seed money to help see if it is possible to increase Route 65 ridership.
What will it cost? – $15,500, one-time funding
Chest compressions that could save lives – Councilmember Dev Davis
The LUCAS chest compression system provides uninterrupted chest compressions that can free up other first responders who may need to attend to other patients. Davis is proposing funding two LUCAS systems – which includes the cost of the battery, charger and maintenance for four years – to be added to the city’s future fleet of fire department vehicles.
What will it cost? – $40,000, one-time funding
Contact Grace Hase at [email protected] or follow @grace_hase on Twitter.