Last month, an estimated 1,200 registered voters in San Jose were asked about potential 2020 ballot measures to address housing and homelessness. On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council will discuss the survey results as they consider whether it’s worth the time and effort to bring them to voters next year.
Respondents were asked about three potential ballot initiatives, according to a city memo: A general obligation bond to pay for affordable housing and housing for the homeless near transit centers, a bond measure to provide housing for the homeless and a real estate transfer tax to fund general city services, including development of affordable housing and services for homeless residents, cleaning up graffiti and trash and pollution.
The question of whether to raise taxes on residents forged an unlikely alliance between the most conservative and most progressive members of the council.
“While San Jose has traditionally been a lower-cost place to live in the context of the Bay Area at large, the increases in costs and new tax burden are now squeezing people out of the middle class or out of our city,” Johnny Khamis and Sergio Jimenez wrote in a shared memo. “We also know that many of these taxes—sales taxes and gas taxes, especially—have a disproportionate effect on disadvantage communities within San Jose.”
For 2020, the city is hoping to resurrect a form of Measure V, a $450 million general obligation measure that failed in 2018, falling 2 percent short of the two-thirds majority required. The initiative would have funded construction of affordable housing and renovation of existing lower-income housing.
Part of the difficulty for passing Measure V was its high voting threshold, which required 66 percent for it to pass. The city is currently looking at general tax measures that would require only a majority of votes to pass per California state law.
Yet two of the proposed 2020 initiatives in the May survey also fell far short of the 66 percent threshold. The only proposed measure that garnered the required support was the one that would up the real estate tax. Per state law, such a measure would only need a simple majority to pass.
The city manager’s office wrote in a memo that it will conduct “additional survey research” and will return to the council with an update in August. Should the council green-light one of the ballot measures, it would be placed either on the March primary ballot, or on the general election ballot that fall.
“We realize that our needs are great, but we cannot keep going to the same well each time we face a need in our community,” Khamis and Jimenez wrote. “We must be more efficient in our use of existing resources, more creative in our use of those resources, and more creative in our approach to generating additional revenues in ways that don’t harm our residents who are struggling to make ends meet.”
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for June 4, 2019:
- The council will consider whether to authorize the city manager to develop an agreement with Caltrain, VTA and California High Speed Rail to assess the roles of each agency in a bullet train plan for San Jose. Diridon is the planned local station for high-speed rail, which will span 520 miles throughout the entire state. Improvements to Diridon and the infrastructure to the surrounding area will be considered. Service to San Jose is estimated to begin in 2029.
- The council will hear a second update on the plan to renovate and update the layout of Diridon Station. Modifications have been proposed the heavy rail layouts, improving pedestrian flow and expanding parking and outside transportation methods and implementing proposed changes in preparation for the bullet train to come to the station.
- The council is poised to approve a settlement in the case of LaBlanc v. Tri-City Recovery, Mark Staton, & City of San Jose in the amount of $100,000. The money will go to 18-year-old Kyle LaBlanc, who was struck and killed by a tow truck in January 2016 while he was walking in the bike lane on Curtner Avenue beneath the Highway 87 overpass. The overpass was dimly lit, which the LaBlanc family claimed was a contributing factor to LaBlanc’s death. The driver, Mark Staton, was employed by Tri-City Recovery, the other two defendants in the case. In an official memo, the city admitted that, “the city-maintained lights under the overpass above the westbound lanes were not functioning at the time of the accident.”
- Mayor Sam Liccardo will update the council on his Gang Prevention Task Force. His report pushes for more data-driven decisions for managing cases for at-risk youth, especially among the city’s law enforcement divisions and youth case managers. The entire report can be found here.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260