A few years after upping the minimum wage to the double-digits, San Jose will consider raising it again.
Only this time, the city plans to make the wage hike a regional effort, joining with other Santa Clara County cities in a push to raise the hourly minimum to $15. This Tuesday, the City Council will vote on whether to pay a consultant to study the regional impact of a minimum wage hike, sharing the cost with other South Bay cities.
As housing costs outpace income growth in Silicon Valley, policymakers in several cities have called for citywide minimum wage raises. Palo Alto and Santa Clara upped the hourly minimum pay to $11. Mountain View adopted a $10.30 minimum last fall, allowing for annual inflation increases.
San Jose voters in 2012 approved a $10 minimum wage with annual cost of living increases. The statewide minimum is on track to hit $10 in January.
On the state level, a Senate bill to raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2016 and $13 the year after died in the Assembly. But unions plan to place an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would up the minimum wage by a dollar a year to $15 by 2021.
On Friday, the local Cities Association Board—comprising mayors and council members from 15 South Bay cities—voted to support a regional minimum wage. Now, San Jose will find an independent consultant to study the long-term economic impacts of increasing the minimum wage.
Critics of a wage hike, including Councilman Johnny Khamis, argue that raising the pay floor would hurt small businesses and kill jobs and end up hurting those it intends to help.
Mayor Sam Liccardo opposed the local minimum wage increase in 2012 but has backed this latest regional effort.
“I am happy to see this proposal moving forward on a regional basis,” Councilman Chappie Jones said in a prepared statement last week. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for the hard-working families of Santa Clara County."
But as it stands, the proposal includes a glaring exception that’s drawn criticism from community groups. In the memo up for consideration this week, Liccardo calls for: “An exemption for organizations employing persons in the ‘hard-to-employ’ such as parolees, homeless and emancipated foster youth …”
Shaun Cartwright, a court-appointed advocate for former foster youth, called that idea flawed and divisive for carving out the most vulnerable people.
“These are marginalized and vulnerable populations who could need these increased wages the most,” she wrote, “and we have many examples of people moving beyond the stereotypes who make valuable contributions to our communities.”
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for September 15, 2015:
- San Jose is drumming up a strategy to deal with the influx of visitors as host of the Super Bowl 50 this coming February. As the city prepares to clean its streets and draw on police and other public services, council members Raul Peralez, Don Rocha and Ash Kalra said the city should consider the rights of the homeless and victims of human trafficking. “As part of the effort to beautify and clean the city, it is critical that San Jose maintain the basic civil rights of our homeless population and engage residents with dignity and compassion,” Peralez, Rocha and Kalra wrote. “Any efforts to relocate residents to modify existing noticing requirements for encampments and personal property should be brought to the attention of the full City Council.” Meanwhile, the city should educate local hotels, businesses and the public to take a stand against human trafficking, they added.
- The council will finally vote on an emergency ordinance that would protect mobile home parks from development until the city comes up with a permanent policy to protect tenants.
- The San Jose Police Department will update its policy on elder abuse at the direction of Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury. Jurors found that the SJPD duty manual referred to the county’s child abuse protocol instead of a policy specifically for elder and dependent adult abuse. “This is the first time a civil grand jury has addressed deficient law enforcement policy in this depth,” said elder advocate Linda Kincaid, whose partner’s complaint prompted the grand jury investigation. “We hope to encourage SJPD to develop an appropriate policy on abuse of elders and dependent adults. Then we can take that policy across the country.”
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260