*Don't miss all the updates in District 10 July Newsletter! Be sure to check the sidebar for important upcoming events and other announcements!
I am honored and humbled that you, the residents of District 10, have given me the opportunity to serve our community as your representative on the City Council for another four years. I love working for the people of San Jose and am enthusiastic about working with you to help our City become safer, more financially responsible, and customer friendly. I look forward to seeing you on Monday at Almaden Lake Park as we celebrate our nation’s birth at the 3rd Annual July 4th Family Fun Festival and Fireworks! A big thank you to event lead Denelle Fedor on the District 10 team, her fellow team members, our community volunteers, City staff, vendors, and our generous sponsors, all of whom help to ensure that this District 10 event is fun, safe, and successful!
District 10 Priorities Funded in 2016-2017 Budget
The new budget year began on July 1st, and with it, the City’s 2016-2017 spending plan. Several of my priorities were included in the budget by Mayor Liccardo. The budget was approved by a unanimous vote of the City Council in June. You may read more about it in the Mayor’s June Budget Message (http://sanjose.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=2140&meta_id=577891) and Supplemental Memo (http://sanjose.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=2140&meta_id=578642).
Some of the City’s tax income exceeded expectations in 2015-2016, and most of this one-time (extra) revenue was set aside for a rainy day (future spending needs). Setting aside money during good economic times helps the City weather economic storms and prevents dramatic fluctuations in the City’s ability to provide services to the community from good times to bad. It is a fiscally responsible course to follow.
Even though there are some items in the budget that I would choose not to fund were I the only person on the City Council, overall it is a sound spending plan. It focuses the overwhelming majority of spending on the things that are most important to the residents of San Jose and, more specifically, to District 10 residents: police, fire, street maintenance, libraries, community centers, and parks & trails.
Here are some highlights from my budget requests that were included in the 2016-2017 spending plan:
Quality of Life:
- Expansion of the current Residential Pilot Parking Program taking place in the Cadillac neighborhood in District 1 to cover the Hoffman Via Monte neighborhood in District 10. This will help combat blight and improve parking for residents in multi-family housing (http://www.sanjoseca.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2857).
Other highlights of the Mayor’s budget initiatives (http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/57131) that will have a positive impact on our district include:
- The SJPD Community Service Officer (CSO) program will expand from 54 positions to 73 positions to “handle low-priority calls for service, freeing time for sworn officers to respond to higher-priority calls for service and conduct proactive police work”.
- Adding 41.0 police officers to authorized staffing levels (to be fully deployed by 2018, taking into consideration recruitment, academy training, and field training).
- Eliminating the brown-out of two fire stations within the City and adding a squad car to respond to medical emergencies.
- Allocation of $100,000 per Council District for traffic safety and traffic calming improvements to help move the City toward the VisionZero goal of zero traffic-related deaths in San Jose.
- Expansion of the Viva Parks! program to activate Chris Hotts Park and create activity in an area so that neighbors will feel safe in this park which has seen past gang activity.
Overall, the Mayor and City Council focused most spending on our residents' top priorities and is acting in a fiscally-responsible manner. Your input and ideas are appreciated, so if you have budget-related questions or suggestions, please contact me or my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to have your input – it’s your money and we work for you!
Achieving One-Two Punch For Fiscal Responsibility
Within the past two weeks, the San Jose City Council threw the first punch for fiscal responsibility by unanimously approving authorization for the City Manager to negotiate the sale of the money-losing Hayes Mansion to Asha Companies, which has offered $47 million for the property. You can read more about the sale and the history of the property in these articles:
The mansion has required several million dollars PER-YEAR in General Fund subsidies since the property was purchased, renovated, and expanded by the City. It has consumed money that could have been spent on core services. Also, the outstanding mortgage (which is actually bonds) on the property is presently over $36 million.
This sale is a great opportunity for the City to get out of the hotel business – a business the City knows little about and one we should not have gotten into in the first place. The selling price of $47 million will allow the City to pay off the mortgage and have some money left over to help offset some of the past losses on the property. Most importantly, it will put an end to the subsidies that the property has required.
It was investments like this, by past City Councils, that inspired me to write legislation two years ago to prevent the City from taking on such risks in the future by requiring a 2/3 vote of the City Council (http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/31519) and to have a thorough best-case/worst-case analysis (http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/31518 - see section 8 on Debt) before we make multi-year bond commitments backed up by our General Fund. I am grateful that my colleague ratified these policy changes and I hope that we and future City Councils will avoid any more Hayes Mansion mistakes in the future.
The second winning punch for fiscal responsibility came on June 24th when the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA) Board unanimously voted to end the agency’s 23-year contract with Outreach & Escort Inc., who handles paratransit services throughout the county.
As the chairperson of the Transit Planning & Operations Committee (TP&O) of the VTA, I was proud to lead the efforts to ensure the public was made aware of the overdue VTA paratransit provider audit, where findings showed that as much as $7 million in payments by VTA for Outreach services were not supported by documentation showing the services were delivered.
This was a $20 million annual contract and it was the first time in 23 years that it was audited. When the contractor failed to supply data supporting its ridership figures, it became evident that the Outreach contract had lacked sufficient oversight and that the contractor did a very poor job of record-keeping and documentation.
The VTA Auditor General determined that Outreach presented conflicting figures and VTA was given inconsistent data. For example, Outreach reported 46,410 personal care attendant and 10,193 companion trips in one recent period. Yet, in a follow-up review in January, Outreach reported 112,441 attendant and 94,384 companion trips. Many records lacked the pickup and drop-off times necessary to validate trips, prompting auditors to question the authenticity of the trips. There are also indications that trip records were modified soon after the VTA requested more data, the audit concluded. It became quite clear that it was time to look for a new vendor.
The Outreach contract had previously been granted “evergreen” status under the past VTA General Manager which is almost unheard of for a contract of this size. The current VTA General Manager, Nuria Fernandez, has already obtained board approval to begin the long-overdue bidding process to find a new provider for this service.
Outreach will continue to operate under what is called “under convenience” so that essential paratransit services will continue throughout the coming year while the VTA completes the vendor bidding and selection process. To be clear, despite the vote, riders will experience no changes to their services and should see a seamless transition.
My goal, as a board member of the VTA, is to make the agency as transparent and accountable as possible for our riders and taxpayers so they understand what they are paying for, and the audit exposing serious issues with the Outreach contract ensures that vendors who receive fare-payer and tax-payer money will not escape oversight on my watch.
The full Audit General’s report can be viewed here (Pg. 25, Item 6.2A) http://vtaorgcontent.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/Site_Content/bod_062416_packet.pdf
Continuing To Advocate For You
I am pleased to share that follow up conversations with Waste Management have continued to move positively as we work address community concerns related to the Guadalupe Landfill. One of the positive outcomes that has resulted from my discussions with them is the signage they have placed along Guadalupe Mines Road to encourage trucks to slow down and to tell people visiting the landfill to ensure they are covering their loads. They are also exploring the possibility of placing radar speed signs along Guadalupe Mines Road, to address several speeding complaints my office has received. Waste Management staff is in the process of evaluating this idea with the City’s Department of Transportation staff. This is a step forward and a win for our community as we continue to work together to ensure Waste Management continues to be a good neighbor in District 10.
New Efforts To Stop Illegal Fireworks in San Jose!
The Fourth of July - American Independence Day - is a wonderful day filled with backyard barbeques, public celebrations, and, for 230 families, a trip to the emergency room. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an average 230 fireworks-related injuries on or near to the July 4th.
Each year there are 9,300 serious injuries caused by fireworks, 40% of those injuries are caused by illegal fireworks. 45% of injuries incurred are suffered by children under 14 years of age. The number of fires caused each year in the U.S. due to fireworks is 20,000.
Some fireworks incidents turn deadly. In 2014, 11 people died from eight different fireworks-related accidents, including two who were not, themselves, the people setting off the fireworks.
These are some sobering and serious statistics and yet every year the statistics repeat themselves. This year, we hope to put a dent in those statistics in San Jose by enforcing the recently-passed Illegal Fireworks ordinance that included the following new administrative fines:
Other efforts include a pilot program which will take place from Friday, July 1st, through Tuesday, July 5th, when illegal fireworks activity typically increases. The San Jose Police Department will focus available resources on targeted enforcement to address the blatant use of large-scale illegal fireworks shows at schools and parks.
- $500 for the first offense
- $700 for the second offense
- $1,000 for subsequent offenses
Police will utilize data analytics through its Crime Analysis Unit to capture and identify reported fireworks-related activity citywide. Depending upon available staffing, Police will look to assign designated fireworks patrols in uniform and plainclothes to advance enforcement in the community. During the pilot period, residents will also be able to report illegal fireworks and submit videos or photos through an online reporting tool that will be available on the City website. For more details refer to: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?nid=2343
Please encourage your neighbors to participate in the public fireworks displays which have returned to our community. Fireworks can be viewed at the July 4th Family Fun Fest & Fireworks at Almaden Lake Park hosted by my District 10 office, the Rotary fireworks in downtown San Jose, and fireworks at the San Jose Giants stadium.
There are many options to celebrate Independence Day without disturbing your neighbors, creating a fire risk, and panicking humans and their pets with illegal displays. Not only can you be a part of these great public celebrations, or just watch from a distance, you can have a hand in presenting the July 4th Family Fun Festival & Fireworks by donating or volunteering.
Have a safe and happy Independence Day!
Summer Water Saving Tips
Thank you San Jose for doing a great job saving water. Beginning July 1, 2016, San Jose’s water conservation target will ease from 30 percent to 20 percent. With residents and businesses conserving water, and this past winter’s rainfall, San Jose’s water supplies have improved. Let’s continue to make our water conservation a lasting habit.
Follow these outdoor water use rules this summer:
- Water when it’s coolest – Water outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. when using a hand-held hose with automatic shut-off nozzle or a drip irrigation system.
- If using a sprinkler system, watering hours are the same, but there are designated days:
- Odd numbered addresses may water on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.·
- Even numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.·
Learn all San Jose’s water use rules and tips: www.sjenvironment.org/waterconservation
- Water efficiently – Don’t let water flow into gutters or streets.
- Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing off with water.
Family Camp Registration Is NOW OPEN!
San Jose’s Family Camp is located in the heart of the Sierras near Yosemite National Park, just east of Groveland, California. Family Camp is situated on 47 acres of land leased from the U.S. Forest Service. The Stanislaus National Forest and the middle fork of the Tuolumne River serve as the scenic backdrop to this mountain playground.
Family Camp at Yosemite provides an all-inclusive camping experience where guests of all ages can fish, hike, swim, participate in organized programs, or just sit back, relax and take it easy. Reserve your tent today for the 2016 camping season (June 10 - August 7). For questions, please contact staff at (408) 794-6208 or email@example.com.
For questions, comments or concerns you may reach my office at (408)535-4910 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Johnny Khamis
*Don't miss all the updates in District 10 July Newsletter! Be sure to check the sidebar for important upcoming events and other announcements!