Measure T: Roads, Emergency Services
Measure T would put up to $650 million toward the city’s emergency preparedness, public safety and infrastructure, including upgrades of 911 communications and repairing bridges vulnerable to earthquake damage. At least $300 million of the money from the bonds would go to repaving potholes and fixing streets that are in the worst condition. Up to $50 million could be put toward conservation in Coyote Valley focused on preventing flooding and water contamination.
The average levy would be 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The additional funds are vital because San Jose’s backlog of unmet and deferred repairs and rebuilding is at $1.4 billion, the city council notes in its resolution putting the measure on the November ballot.
The list of infrastructure that needs repair includes a 70-year-old storm sewer system, 32,000 storm drains and 1,100 miles of pipes in need of upgrades to prevent flooding and spillover issues, according to supporters.
These backers say it’s clearly time for a public safety boost after decades of underinvestment. The “Yes on T” coalition includes Mayor Sam Liccardo, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, and La Raza Roundtable de California among others.
But opponents including the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County say the bond is likely to cost $1.1 billion with interest. They fight back on a number of fronts, saying San Jose will require that contractors sign a “project labor agreement,” known as a PLA, with unions to work on infrastructure projects funded by bonds. That may be true in some cases under a city council action in April that authorized the director of Public Works to negotiate PLAs on capital projects of more than $3 million, but there are exemptions to that including street maintenance projects. The city is still finalizing what the final list will look like.
The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and Santa Clara County Libertarian Party argue that these labor agreements will prevent local workers from having a “fair shot at the work here in their backyard.”
“Please do not endorse this type of discrimination with your vote,” the opponents wrote in a letter filed with the city opposing Measure T. “Send the bond back to the drawing board and tell these politicians to fix it so all workers can work in their community.”
Measure V: Affordable Housing
Measure V would authorize $450 million in bonds to build below-market-rate housing in San Jose, with an average levy of 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The money could be used to buy land for housing developments, build new housing, and rehabilitate existing apartments or homes to create long-term affordable housing. While supporters say it’s a crucial step to ensuring affordable housing for the city that would help save money in the long run, opponents argue it is an additional burden on taxpayers.
The city resolution putting the measure on the ballot notes that almost half of San Jose renters and owners at or below the household area median income paid more than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs. The resolution also points to the homelessness crisis, which leaves 74 percent of San Jose’s 4,350 homeless residents unsheltered on any given night.
Given the frequent use by homeless people of public services such as 911 response and hospital emergency rooms, supporters of Measure V say its approval would save taxpayers more than $19,0000 per person annually.
“We need Measure V to help chronically homeless residents get back on their feet, off neighborhood streets, out of creeks and parks, and out from under local freeways, both to address issues of health, public safety, blight, and public nuisances, and because it’s simply the right thing to do,” backers wrote in a letter filed with the city.
The “Yes on V” coalition includes Mayor Liccardo, eight city council members, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the League of Women Voters, and La Raza Roundtable de California among dozens of other local elected officials and organizations.
Groups opposing the initiative argue that “too much government” is what’s getting in the way of affordable housing in San Jose.
In a letter opposing the measure, the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County cite a National Association of Home Builders statistic that 24.3 percent of the cost of new housing is “government red tape,” fees and permit costs.
Opponents have also pointed to Measure A, approved by Santa Clara County voters in 2016, saying people should wait longer to see how that money is spent before committing to additional taxes. The “Yes on V” coalition counters that Measure A wasn’t enough to address the housing crisis since it was focused on permanent housing for the homeless.
Measure S: Construction Procurement
This measure, a charter revision, would change the way the city handles large public works projects. Instead of awarding contracts to the “lowest responsible bidder,” the city would hire contractors determined to offer the “best value.”
That distinction would allow the city to prioritize contractors known for higher quality work and would give economically disadvantaged companies a better shot at winning government contracts.
Measure S would up the bidding threshold from $100,000 to $600,000, adjusted annually for inflation, lower the design-build contract threshold from $5 million to $1 million and allow the city to modernize public noticing.
Measure U: Salary Setting, Competing Initiatives
Measure U’s purpose is twofold. It would remove the City Council’s ability to set their own salaries. And it would allow the council to place competing ordinances on the same ballot in local elections.