Showing posts with label san jose politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label san jose politics. Show all posts

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Events in District 6

This upcoming week has several events going on in District 6. These include a political debate, a pop-up bikeway, and a neighborhood block party (we need more of these). More info below and a big thanks to Alex Shoor for sending in the details.

Candidates Forum/Debate featuring all of the candidates running for the open San Jose City Council seat in District 6

Date: Wednesday, May 11

Time:  6:30 to 6:55 pm will be a casual chance to meet the candidates and obtain information from their campaigns. The debate itself will be from 7 to 8:30 pm. Many, if not all, of the candidates will stick around after the debate to interact with voters further.

Place: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1100 Shasta Avenue, San Jose (of course!)
Parking will be limited, so please walk, bike, carpool or take public transit if you can.

Candidates present will be:
- Peter Allen - Helen Chapman - Dev Davis - Erik Fong
- Norm Kline - Ruben Navarro - Chris Roth - Myron Von Raesfeld

The forum will feature as lead moderator Beth Willon, KQED's Senior Editor of the Silicon Valley News Desk.

Sponsors of the forum include: S/HPNA, the District 6 Neighborhood Leaders Group and the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Pop-Up Bikeway Demonstration Project

In honor of Bike Month, I want to invite you to experience what a safer, more bikeable Scott Street could look and feel like. Join the Greenbelt Alliance and the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association in a two-day event featuring a pop-up bikeway and a bike-themed neighborhood block party!

Friday, May 13th

7:30 - 10:00 a.m., 4:00– 7:00 p.m.

Scott Street from Richmond Avenue to Mayellen Avenue

Ride your bike down Scott Street to experience how the street could be transformed. Drop by our energizer station for snacks and info about biking in San Jose. Best of all - take advantage of FREE BIKE REPAIR provided by Performance Bicycle during the morning event hours! RSVP HERE

Neighborhood Block Party

Saturday, May 14th | 12:00-3:00 p.m.

Scott Street from Menker Avenue to Mayellen Avenue

Greenbelt Alliance and the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association will be hosting a bike-themed block party to encourage active transportation and engage residents and commuters in sharing their thoughts about biking in San Jose. Join us at the block party to meet your neighbors, learn about bike safety, and enjoy games and food! RSVP HERE

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2015 State of the City Address

Mayor Sam Liccardo delivered his first State of the City Address last weekend. Instead of using the City National Civic, the event was held at Independence High School. The location was appropriate since he spoke quite a bit about improving opportunities for those that live in East San Jose.

He also pledged to make safety a top priority and mentioned improving police compensation and staffing as two action items. Helping address the homeless situation and expanding after school and teen-job programs were also mentioned in the mayor's address, as was securing funding to bring BART to Alum Rock and Downtown San Jose.

Source: NBC Bay Area

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mayor Sam Liccardo's Inaugural Address

Sam Liccardo was sworn into office as mayor of San Jose a couple weeks ago. While I try to keep politics out of this job, I think the full text of his inaugural address is worth posting. Sam is an urbanist at heart and many of his views align with the goals of this blog. I'm optimistic that with his leadership San Jose will continue to head in the right direction. Without further adieu, here is his full speech:

Neighbors and friends, I'm thrilled to be with you this evening. Thank you for your patience with the change of tonight's venue. We'd reached capacity at the California Theater, and we didn't want to turn anyone away, particularly since about half of you are my own family members. I'm grateful that we're all now able to participate in this celebration, here, at this Center for the Performing Arts. Of course, I might have slept better on Election Night if we could have persuaded this many people to actually show up at the polls in November.
In my first days on the job, I've already learned that there are several things that Mayors can't control: the size of venues, Larry Stone's wardrobe, and the weather at the Washington-Dulles airport.
As you know, as a result of bad weather on the East Coast, Norm Mineta's flight to the Bay Area was cancelled, and he can't join us, but we are blessed to be joined tonight by several other past San Jose mayors who have inspired many by their exemplary leadership:
  • The inimitable Mayor Tom McEnery, who aroused our passion for a vibrant city
  • Mayor Susan Hammer, who united us, included us, and celebrated our creativity
  • Mayor Ron Gonzales, who emboldened us to invest in our children, our infrastructure, and our future,
  • Mayor Chuck Reed, who instilled a vision of an environmentally and fiscally sustainable city, one responsible to its future generations
To each of the Mayors present—and let me add Mayors Ron James and Norm Mineta, who could not join us this evening—we owe you our gratitude for your service. As to each of you, I've also benefitted personally from your advice. For example, just yesterday Tom McEnery told me that if I didn't keep it short tonight, he'd jump on stage to deliver a five-minute rebuttal.
I also want to thank the love of my life, Jessica, and my parents, Sal and Laura, who joined me on stage. I owe them, and all of my many family members here, much for their support, their good humor, and for their patient love.
Here we are, gathered in an auditorium where audiences come to venerate the power of the human voice. It is here that many have been entertained by the voices of legendary crooners like Ray Charles and Bing Crosby, amused by Bob Hope and Dana Carvey, inspired by the cast of Les Miserables, or profoundly offended by "The Book of Mormon."
Regardless, voice provides context to our communication. In a world in which billions of conversations are increasingly transmitted by emails, texts, tweets, posts, and—yes, even "emoji," voice carries meaning that is far deeper, far broader, and far more human. Voicepunctuates, enlivens, and inspires. Voice gives us our identity—as individuals, and as a community.
As I take office, I reflect on the voices that I hear from San Jose's past and present. Typically, an incoming mayor doesn't inspire confidence in a city by revealing that he hears voices, but they're there.
I recall particularly the voice of a wonderful leader who just recently passed, former Mayor Janet Gray Hayes. A decade ago, Mayor Hayes offered me the best political advice I've ever received. "Sam," she said, "If you're going to get into politics, there are two things you'll need to survive. First, you gotta have a sense of humor, because you'll go batty without one. And second, you'll need a large bladder, because those long council meetings can be brutal."
Of course, we also hear less inspired voices. How often have we heard from pundits who lament San Jose's purported identity crisis? "What is San Jose's identity?" they ask.
To this self-flagellation, I invoke the distinctive voice of Opera San Jose's founder, the incomparable Irene Dalis, who we also lost only a few weeks ago.
A renowned diva in her performing days, Irene didn't suffer fools, and had little patience for anyone who disparaged her hometown. Scott Herhold recently recounted that when Irene made her debut as a mezzo soprano at New York City's Metropolitan Opera House in 1957, the announcer asked how she wanted to be introduced to a global broadcast audience who would be hearing her voice for the first time. Irene insisted, "Well, you'll have to tell them that I'm from San Jose."
Indeed she was –growing up a few houses away from my grandfather's home, Irene Dalis knew San Jose's identity well. She knew it, because she shaped it.
Today, we can stop the lamenting. We're from San Jose. Let's embrace our city's distinctive identity, one characterized by our diversity, our openness, and our culture of innovation.
We are diverse. Almost 40% of us were born in another country. We were a majority-minority city before California became a majority-minority state, and decades ahead of the nation. Our diversity has become a linchpin to our economic success, in a Valley where one of every two venture-backed technology companies has a foreign-born founder. With bold leadership, we can position San Jose to become a global gateway to the U.S., and an American gateway to the world.
But we're not simply diverse; we're accessible. Newcomers do not experience the hierarchical or pretentious social landscape of other cities here. San Jose is open-source—the place where every person can have an impact—indeed, the grandson of a small shopkeeper and a water boiler repairman just took the oath of office to serve you as your mayor. San Jose uniquely provides a path to power for its "firsts": ushering in our nation's first female big-city mayor in Janet Gray Hayes, America's first Asian-American major-city mayor in Norm Mineta, and quite possibly America's first Hispanic mayor, Ygnacio Archuleta, in 1783. In San Jose, uniquely home-grown organizations—ranging from Somos Mayfair to CommUniverCity to PACT to Sacred Heart— embolden residents to speak truth to power, and they get results. Anyone with ganas -- a desire to make a difference—can do so in San Jose.
And we're innovative. Our dynamic social landscape has become the perfect breeding ground for the world's most innovative community. San Jose routinely produces more U.S. patents—over 5,000 annually—than any other city on the planet. As Connie Martinez eloquently puts it, "let's face it, we're geeks." San Jose has provided the launching pad for the geekiest and greatest of ideas, from the disk drive to high-efficiency photovoltaics, from commercial radio to e- commerce, from even fruit cocktail to the Eggo waffle. We are instinctively creative, and our creativity manifests itself in every homegrown source of pride: from bicycle art to Bike Party, from San Jose Taiko to the Taco Festival of Innovation.
"We are from San Jose." Our unique identity has been forged –and we should abide no doubts about who and what we are.
So much for our remarkable past and present. What of our future?
What voices will our progeny hear? What narrative, what song, what story, will we leave our children as our collective legacy?
For a start, let's hear a bit of the vision of my new colleagues--who represent the future leadership of our city. Councilmember Charles "Chappie" Jones committed in his campaign to ensure that "every resident who wants to be involved in our city will have that opportunity." Councilmember Raul Peralez, who has served our city as a police officer and educator, promised to promote San Jose's, "healthy growth" by "working respectfully together for the collective good." Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco reminds us of our roots, urging that "San Jose allowed my family to pursue the American Dream. I want to make sure that San Jose continues to offer that opportunity to today's families and beyond." Finally, Councilmember Tam Nguyen expresses deep concern about San Jose's "poverty and growing inequality," advocating for a city that is "more accessible to the public."
Each of these voices provides a hint of what is to come for our city.
But "to whom does the future belong?"
That question was famously posed by renowned playwright and San Jose native Luis Valdez, who has joined us this evening with his wife. "To whom does the future belong?" Valdez asked. His answer: "The future belongs to those who can imagine it."
"The future belongs to those who can imagine it." Friends, this is our moment to imagine San Jose's future.
It is in this moment, in the depths of winter, eagerly awaiting a new Spring, when we can dream anew, and stretch our imaginations around a different song, a narrative distinct from that of the familiar, predictable voices around us.
In my first weeks in public office in 2007, I read of a significant milestone for our planet: for the first time in history, more human beings lived in cities than not.
The pace of urbanization is only accelerating. As a result, cities have become the focal point for new thinking about the world's problems, for everything from poverty to crime to climate change.
In the meantime, Congress and state legislatures remain mired in bureaucratic gridlock and partisan bickering. So the torch has passed to urban communities and to creative local leaders to confront the world's great maladies. Across the country, we see cities employing novel approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Portland, boost immigrant-entrepreneurship in Minneapolis, and cut teen dropout rates in Boston.
But we're from San Jose—how will we tackle these challenges? Particularly in this time when San Jose—like so many California cities, bears the burden of billions of dollars of unfunded pension debts, backlogged maintenance, and infrastructure needs—how can San Jose demonstrate its leadership in addressing these challenges in this time of scarcity?
We need to continue Mayor Reed's legacy of fiscal responsibility, to be sure. But we'll also need to think differently about how we govern, and how we serve our residents.
We'll build new partnerships, leveraging the resources and expertise of non-profit organizations and private-sector leaders ready to join us in tackling homelessness or in boosting a 6th grader's reading skills.
We'll engage collaboratively in regional approaches to problem-solving for those issues—like rising housing costs, crime, traffic congestion, and drought—that do not respect city limits.
Above all, however, we will innovate.
In a time of public-sector scarcity, we can only flourish by creating a City Hall as innovative as our extraordinary community. I'm not speaking of innovation in familiar, popularly consumed forms – of ever-larger smartphones or ever-faster data connections. Instead, we will embark on a wave of civic innovation with a human face. What do I mean?
  • Our state faces chronic droughts. But we're from San Jose. We can replenish our underground aquifers with highly purified recycled water, creating a sustainable water supply for generations.
  • A growing income gap nationally divides our rich and poor. But we're from San Jose. We can help to close the skills gap by transforming every city library computer into a career training center to help job-seekers learn English as a Second Language, or accounting, or coding.
  • We face severe shortages in police staffing—and make no mistake, we will compensate our police officers well and fairly for their critically important work, and we will rebuild America's finest department. But we're from San Jose, and we recognize that an effective crime-reduction strategy should also include a summer job for a troubled 17- year-old.
  • Our commutes are crippled by traffic. But we're from San Jose. We'll show the world how to retrofit an auto-centric city into a city built for people – by creating a world-class transit network, re-designing our streetscapes, and by finishing—once and for al—BART to San Jose.
  • We face a crisis of homelessness. But we're from San Jose. We can and we must leverage the Valley's incomparable innovative spirit and resources to end homelessness in our lifetimes.
  • Throughout our nation, people vote less, volunteer less, and participate less. But we're from San Jose. Though novel forms of civic engagement like participatory budgeting and open data initiatives, we can re-connect our city to city hall. Even if only half of the voters felt they prevailed in the last election, our entire city will participate in San Jose's victories in the decade ahead.
Innovation, of course, doesn't come easy. Innovation takes risk, and risk requires courage.
Collectively, we must muster the courage:
to try what has been untried; to open our city's workings to public scrutiny; to allow volunteer energy to loosen City Hall's grip on every task; to collaborate with resolute adversaries; and, above all, to fail, to learn, and to endeavor again.
This, then, is our moment, our courageous moment, to imagine our future. Together, we can chart a new path, and re-imagine our city.
I conclude by extending an invitation to each of you: Join me in re-imagining San Jose. In the weeks ahead, we'll be forming public working groups to shape key initiatives to better support our kids' learning, to broaden economic opportunity, and to improve safety in our neighborhoods. Please join us, and participate in these conversations. We are many voices, but we are one city.
Through our imagining and re-imagining, we can create a bold future for our city, and bequeath a great civic gift to a world whose progress desperately depends upon urban leadership -- our leadership.
And on that global stage, they'll hear our voice—and we'll tell the world that we're from San Jose.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless San Jose.

Monday, April 14, 2014

US Chamber of Commerce Coming to Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is grabbing more national political attention lately and one of the most powerful lobbying groups is seeking to open a satellite office in the area. The goal is to lure VCs and startup companies to join the organization, which already has over 300,000 members. A few large tech companies in the area such as Apple and Yahoo are no longer members, likely because they are large enough to operate their independent lobbying group in Washington DC.

While a location has not been decided yet for their outpost, I have to say they could not pick a better place than Downtown San Jose. They would have easy access to both San Jose and Santa Clara County political operations, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, the new Patent Office, and thousands of companies within a 10 mile radius. It is also the only location that is easily accessed by multiple freeways, Light Rail, Caltrain, Amtrack, and soon Bus Rapid Transit. The last part of my pitch is the hundreds of restaurants, cultural and entertainment venues, convention center, and Arena within walking distance. I hope they take a very serious look Downtown and honestly would be surprised if they picked any other location.

Source: SVBJ

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 State of the City Address

Below is a video of Mayor Chuck Reed's final State of the City Address. His speaking points included SJC, connecting BART to Downtown San Jose, the A's, community reforms, green-tech, budget deficits, homelessness, taxes, and public safety.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Stats: San Jose Ranks #4 for Political Giving

The political campaign season has already begun despite there being over nine months left before the 2014 midterm elections. Nerdwallet has taken the campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics and ranked the 50 largest US metropolitan areas in terms of political contributions. San Jose came in at #4. I have to say that I am a little bit surprised to see San Jose rank so high on the list, but am not surprised to see that 75% of party-specific contributions went towards the Democratic Party. Check out the full article and more analytics at the source link below.

Source: Nerdwallet

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ed Shikada is our New City Manager

Most major/large American cities use a strong-mayor system where the elected mayor is given administrative authority and can appoint/dismiss department heads with little or no red tape. San Jose actually uses a "weak-major" system that is more commonly used in small towns where the mayor has no formal authority outside of the city council. That means that we have a city manager that works very closely with the city council and you can think of as being the CEO of the city. This role is responsible for managing day-to-day operations across 15 departments and our $2.9 billion annual operating and capital budgets.

Debra Figone was our previous city manager since 2007 and is now retiring. Ed Shikada is going to be her replacement. Ed is the current Assistant City Manager and has been working for San Jose since 2003. He's also a Willow Glen Resident and has been active in the Japanese community. Ed has been here through some tough times and stuck it out, so hopefully he will be a key contributor to San Jose's future success. He is going to take the reigns on December 21st.

Sources: The MercSVBJ, Wiki

Ed Shikada, a 10-year veteran of the City of San Jose, has been named city manager. Shikada most recently served as assistant city manager and will replace retiring City Manager Debra Figone.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sam Liccardo's Newsletter: Traffic Relief is on Its Way

In Sam Liccardo's latest newsletter, he talks about the plans for addressing increased congestion going forward. What do you guys think?


Traffic Relief on Its Way

                If you’ve noticed that the traffic along your commute has become much worse, you’re not alone: in April 2013, INRIX announced that San José area congestion increased 25% over the prior year alone.   While a sign of the “good times” to be sure –a typical bellwether of our Valley’s rebounding economy—the impact of traffic on our quality of life cannot be ignored: more stress, less productivity, and fewer hours for family or recreation. 

         Doing the same things the same ways---i.e., expanding freeways and “hoping for the best”-- doesn’t amount to a winning strategy, for several reasons.  First, it costs between $3 million and $15 million to add a single mile of a single additional lane to a congested freeway,  and few discretionary dollars remain at any level—federal, state, or regional—to pay for more freeway expansion.  Second, SB375 and other legislation appropriately place the burden on regions like the Bay Area to reduce our per-resident greenhouse gas-emissions, and encouraging more people to find commuting alternatives to the automobile improves our environment and relieves traffic.  Finally, San José will see more population growth–about 400,000 additional people over the next quarter century—than the next three largest Bay Area cities (San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont) combined.   Job and population will outstrip any expansion of freeway capacity by a factor of three over that time.  So, if you think it’s bad now, just wait: it will be worse.

        Fortunately, we’re not doing the same things the same way.  As a Board Member of both the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), I’ve worked to push San José and the region toward innovative approaches that offer important alternatives: 
  • BART is under construction!   Moving ahead of schedule and $105 millionunder budget (yes, you read that right), BART will open service in San José’s Berryessa station in 2017.   In 2000 and 2008,  I spent thousands of hours advocating for BART in the media, raising money to support those ballot measures, and speaking at community meetings, so BART’s arrival is happily anticipated by me, and by thousands of commuters stuck in rush hour traffic along 680 and 880.
  • Last month, I was proud to join People Acting in Community Together (PACT) and the VTA in announcing a long-sought pilot project to expand the mobility of our working low-income neighbors, by reducing monthly transit passes fares by over 60%.   Residents making less than 200% of the Federal poverty level ( e.g., $47,000 for a family of four) can obtain the $25 monthly pass bycontacting one of the non-profits administering the program.
  • In the last 30 months, we’ve introduced “express lanes” on southbound 237 and 680, using congestion pricing to provide commuters with travel time savings up to 15 minutes along those routes, and generating revenues for transportation improvements.   Look for Express Lane implementation to relieve long-suffering commuters on 101 and 85 in 2014-15.
  • In the last year, we’ve seen the launch of both car-sharing (i.e., Zip Car) andbike-sharing services, providing our fast-growing Downtown with an antidote for the increased congestion and parking demand from the addition of roughly 2,000 housing units likely to be under construction by this time next year.  Now that my efforts to initiate these innovations over the last half-decade have borne fruit, we’ll continue to push to make these services available outside the Downtown.
  • Within weeks, we’ll begin construction on a “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, linking Downtown and East San Jose with dedicated bus-only lanes, and high-frequency, high-amenity service along Santa Clara, Alum Rock, and Capitol.
  • As commuting trips along our trails system surges, we’re seeking continued investment in expanding our trails infrastructure.   Last year, I worked with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to obtain state grants for two trail segments in North San Jose.  Last month, we successfully obtained $1,200,000 in funding from MTC for the expansion of Los Gatos Creek Trail in West San Jose.
  • On the MTC Board, I’ve also recently voted to allocate regional grants to improve bike and pedestrian safety near San José elementary schools through our Walk N’Roll program, to retrofit streetscapes for better pedestrian and bike access along key corridors like The Alameda and San Carlos, and to boost our street repaving budget by $8 million.
  • We’ve recently obtained regional grants for implementation of “smart intersections” technology, and have begun construction on a sophisticated transportation management center on 5th Street.  Exciting innovations abound.  For example, working with our Transportation Department staff, BMW is testing ways that “smart cars” and “smart intersections” will communicate to dramatically reduce red-light running, auto emissions, and congestion at key intersections.  
We’ll keep pushing to reduce the traffic burdens you encounter every morning.   Let me know how we can better do so by sending me your thoughts


Sam Liccardo

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reddit Conversation with Sam Liccardo

Even if you could care less about San Jose politics, I would highly recommend reading this Reddit conversation with District 3 Councilmember Sam Liccardo. Some of the topics he covers include:

  • Downtown nightlife
  • How to compete with other Downtown areas in the South Bay and SF
  • The Homeless
  • Housing costs
  • BART to San Jose
  • Crime
  • The Gold Club
  • The 49ers move
  • Building codes & fees
  • The A's Ballpark
  • Downtown High-rises
  • Population growth and density
  • Office vacancies
In other words he covered almost every topic important to Downtown San Jose, and he did a pretty good job of addressing the questions directly and only dodging a couple. He even made a comment about the airport location specifically for Anthony Dominguez ;)

"It means that some locations are limited to 25 or even 20 stories, which isn't tall enough to justify the very large additional costs of steel construction (typically required on anything 10 stories or more). We also have a high water table due to the proximity of the Guadalupe, so developers have to pump water--permanently-- in order to install underground garages. So, our geography undermines our ability to build a skyline. That's why I'm proposing next week that we move the airport to Moffett Field. Just kidding." 

It's a great read, definitely worth 15min of your time! Again, here is the link.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sam: Leveraging Innovation to Improve City Hall

The text below is taken from Sam Liccardo's newsletter, and I couldn't agree with him more on our need to cut red tape and leverage technology and crowd-sourcing to improve current city processes. In order to help San Jose thrive (all of San Jose) we need to fix the existing permitting issues and increase the level of transparency. I'm really glad to see Sam highlight these issues and propose a strategy to address them--hopefully this turns into action! The full, unedited article is below:

Sam’s Corner: Leveraging Innovation to Improve City Hall 

San José is one city, but two worlds.  While our innovative local tech companies--from PayPal to Polycom to Pinger-- continue to hire at a pace at which they cannot find enough qualified workers, San José continues to suffers from an unemployment rate hovering around 7%.   Many more of our neighbors work part-time or multiple jobs at far less pay than they earned before the Great Recession.

Small businesses increasingly have become the employers of many San José residents—including self-employed entrepreneurs-- left behind in the tech boom.  One way to address the yawning opportunity gap would focus our municipal energies on lightening the burdens of those small businesses.   Hence, my efforts to launch StartUp San José several months ago – to fill empty storefronts by leveraging the entrepreneurial energy of our community with fee waivers, wi-fi access, and marketing assistance.

Yet as we all know, City Hall can get in the way.   The permitting process serves as a frequent source of frustration; red tape, uncertainty, conflicting directives, and delays drive small business owners batty.  Although processes have improved in recent months, stories still echo of store owners who anxiously await a city permit that will entitle them to start operating or employing workers.  By the time they’re finally granted the permit to operate, they’ve burned through most of their marketing budget by paying a lease for nine months without any revenue.

How do we “fix” this?  Technological innovation can help, particularly by improving the transparency and accountability of City Hall.   That’s why I recently proposed an initiative with Councilmember Johnny Khamis to take two important steps toward a solution:  employing tracking software, and launching what’s known as an “open data” platform.  

First, the tracking software:  currently, you can order a FedEx package from Timbuktu, and you can track it’s progress each mile with to a simple website, but if you submit an application for a city permit, it may disappear into a bureaucratic abyss.   Customers cannot know who to call, how to get it expedited, or the reason for the delay.   Relatively simple software, however, can identify the desk on which every application rests in City Hall, and for how long.   It can also pinpoint the source of any delay, such as an incomplete application, staff deliberation, or inaction due to a lengthy queue at intake.    By looking at the paths of thousands of such applications, and aggregating that data, we can isolate “choke points” where management might improve employee training, or implement streamlining measures, like automation.   Managers can also identify effective employees, and reward them for their performance.   Simply, City Hall becomes more accountable.

Next, we can improve the process by releasing all of the data that we’ve collected to the public.  How?  Launching City Hall’s first “open data” platform, in which the city allows the public to download of all of the data from a website—with the names and personal information appropriately redacted—that the city collects.   Open data platforms have enabled innovative software developers in other cities to create desktop software and smartphone applications to do everything from warning diners of restaurants with frequent health code violations, to informing transit riders of the arrival time of the next bus.   In this case, by hosting a “hack-a-thon” for local apps developers, we can unleash their innovative skills to provide smartphone apps that will help customers with “real-time” information, via a website or automated text, to inform them about the permit’s status, who to call if it appears “stuck,” and which supervisor to appeal to.  The app could to inform customers of the average duration for the approval process of each permit type, so they can budget accordingly.    Software developers might also find innovative ways to streamline processes, such as by using web-based tools that eliminate a trip to City Hall.

San José has no shortage of civic-minded software developers—including many bright college students -- who want to make our city a better place, and who can “beta-test” a potentially successful smartphone app, using San José as their laboratory.  By unleashing their creativity, we can improve the ways that our city service its residents, and boost our local economy.

Sam Liccardo

Monday, January 7, 2013

San Jose Looking for $1B in NEW Investment

Major Chuck Reed has set a goal to nab $1B worth of new projects over the next 6 months. This will help accelerate job growth as well as generate new revenues for the city. To help achieve this he is putting together a committee to evaluate and monitor economic competitiveness and is expediting planning and building permitting for high-rise residential, office, R&D, campus projects, and retail projects that are larger than 200,000 sqft.

Some good news is that there is already a billion dollars worth of development in the queue:
  • 3 million sqft of office/R&D
  • 800 high-rise residential units
  • 600,000 sqft of retail
Everything already in the pipeline will generate 10,000 jobs and $9M in annual revenue for San Jose.

In addition, to fill up vacant space in Downtown San Jose the city is planning to waive permitting fees and business licensing fees for properties where landlords are willing to discount rates to new lessees for a one year period. These incentives would apply to tech startups, retail stores, or restaurants.

Source: SVBJ

Friday, May 25, 2012

San Jose Expands Smoking Ban

Today new smoking laws go into effect that will make it even more difficult to light up in San Jose. Already there is a ban on smoking inside restaurants, bars, public buildings, city parks, within 25 feet to the entrance of a city library or community center, and in outdoor seating areas of sports centers.

Today's expansion also bans smoking in outdoor areas of restaurants and bars (pretty much most of Santana Row), in outdoor areas where people wait for services (Bus stops, ticket lines, ATMs, Food Trucks, etc.), and in outdoor common areas of condos, apartments, and mobile home parks.

Usually, I am against the government over-reaching on people's right to choose how they live their lives, but the exception is when those choices hurt others. Every time someone lights up a cigarette around other people, they are taking away their right to breath in clear air and are instead forcing cancer-causing pollutants into their lungs whether they like it or not. I see nothing wrong with smoking at home or with your friends, but I never got smoking in public. When I went to London and Paris last year, I have to say the the crazy amount of cigarette smoke everywhere really killed the ambiance on some of the most beautiful streets and cafes I have seen.

I think it's a smart move for San Jose and will hopefully make Downtown more attractive to families by removing smoking from a huge chunk of the streets.

No Smoking page

Monday, May 7, 2012

San Jose Budget May See Surplus in 2012-2013 Fiscal Year

After 10 years of budget deficits, service cuts, and layoffs... it looks like we may have finally turned a corner. In the budget year beginning July 1st, San Jose has a $9M budget surplus. This means that the city will be able to staff 4 new libraries, a community center, Lake Cunningham Skate Park, and maintain programs to suppress gang activity.

For all of the details, just check out the source link below!

Source: The Merc

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RE: San Jose Weighing Business Tax Increase

An article appeared in last week's San Jose Business Journal about San Jose considering a tax increase for businesses. Surprisingly, the city collects only $10-11 million of business tax revenue a year, much less than other cities in the bay area (Oakland collects $51.5M, SF collects $391.1M). The proposal currently being discussed is a way to double the amount of revenue that San Jose collects from the 54,800 businesses, the largest number of any city in the Bay Area.

I actually have to strongly disagree with this idea. Right now there are many regions of San Jose with office vacancies hovering around 25%, dramatically higher than many other Santa Clara County cities like Palo Alto and Mountain View. Raising business taxes in any way, will simply provide another reason for businesses to not come to San Jose. This isn't a possibility, this is an economic fact. You cannot raise taxes without a negative consequence.

The are two possible exceptions to what I said above:
1.) If San Jose is considered a luxury "product or service" where increasing the price makes it more attractive instead of less (think Bentley, Gucci, etc.). I don't think this is the case.
2.) If the money raised from businesses can be used to provide an improvement to those businesses greater than the additional cost they are paying (think Downtown's PBID)... this is unlikely since the money will likely go straight to the deficit.

Okay, now that I bashed this idea let me offer 2 suggestions:
1.) Use supply and demand to determine when to raise taxes. For example... when office vacancies hit 5%, then slowly increase the tax while lessening the negative impact. Don't do it when we desperately need these spaces to be filled.
2.) Sell additional services to businesses that companies would gladly pay a premium on. A great example is permitting, which has been a San Jose weakness for some time. Let a large company pay substantial extra fees to expedite the permitting process and move a project along faster (have nightshift and weekend employees if needed). The additional money those companies will get by opening the door faster will easily justify whatever extra amount they have to pay. We also want a brand image where San Jose is the best possible city for leading companies; enabling them to execute and build faster is perfectly inline with this image.

Source: SJBJ

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Local Election Results

Here are the San Jose election results--courtesy of the Merc--along with other Santa Clara County Measures:

Measure A - County Parcel Tax
100% of precincts counted.
Measure B - Increase Vehicle Registration Fee
100% of precincts counted.
Measure C - Water District Board Term Limits
100% of precincts counted.
Measure E - Foothill/De Anza College Parcel Tax
100% of precincts counted.
Measure G - San Jose/Evergreen College Bond
100% of precincts counted.
Measure H - Santa Clara USD Bond
100% of precincts counted.
Measure I - East Side USD Parcel Tax
100% of precincts counted.
Measure J - Franklin-McKinley School Dist. Bond
100% of precincts counted.
Measure K - Moreland Elementary School Dist. Bond
100% of precincts counted.
Measure L - Cambrian Elementary School Dist. Parcel Tax
100% of precincts counted.
Measure M - Modify Campbell Business License Tax
100% of precincts counted.
Measure N - Increase Campbell Hotel Tax
100% of precincts counted.
Measure O - Make Campbell Clerk and Treasurer Appointed
100% of precincts counted.
Measure P - Make Morgan Hill Clerk and Treasurer Appointed
100% of precincts counted.
Measure Q - Two-Story Limit for Saratoga Buildings
100% of precincts counted.
Measure R - Palo Alto Fire Department Staffing
100% of precincts counted.
Measure S - Change Saratoga Elections
100% of precincts counted.
Measure T - Update Mountain View Utility Tax
100% of precincts counted.
>>> Measure U - San Jose Marijuana Tax
100% of precincts counted.
>>> Measure V - Limit San Jose Binding Arbitration
100% of precincts counted.
>>> Measure W - Reduce San Jose Retirement Benefits
100% of precincts counted.

San Jose City Council - District 5
100% of precincts counted.
Xavier Campos
Magdalena Carrasco
San Jose City Council - District 7
100% of precincts counted.
Minh Duong
Madison Nguyen
San Jose City Council - District 9
100% of precincts counted.
Larry Pegram
Donald Rocha