Looking forward after devastating year
SAN JOSÉ, CA – Mayor Sam Liccardo released his March Budget Message, outlining his Proposed Budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The past year has challenged San Jose more than ever before. Thousands of San José families have experienced the devastating loss of loved ones, debilitating illness, widespread fear, and severe economic pain from COVID-19. This is only the beginning of San José’s recovery, and in approving the Mayor’s spending plan, the City Council will endorse a budget that incorporates elements most essential to successfully emerge from this crisis.
“With the anniversary of the nation’s first stay-home order fast approaching, we can see ample signs of hope, but many challenges ahead.” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. We will need all of our collective focus, fortitude, and resilience to overcome this pandemic together.”
4 Focus Areas
To emphasize that focus, the Mayor’s budget message targets four areas for recovery and resilience investment, for example:
Mayor Liccardo urges saving at least $80 million in federal relief funding for the Budget Stabilization Reserve, anticipating foreseeable longer-term budgetary challenges next year and beyond.
Supporting an Equitable Recovery for a “Better Normal”
Resilience Corps: Creating several hundred jobs-primarily for young, low-income adults– focusing on supporting the community in five critical areas: pandemic response, environmental resilience, countering learning loss of struggling students, economic recovery, and disaster preparedness.
Airport Connector: Next-generation transit system connecting Mineta International Airport, Diridon, West San Carlos, and Stevens Creek Boulevard, providing jobs for large construction projects. Proposal calls for a request for proposals to be issued by May 2021, requiring bidders to demonstrate their financial capacity to construct a privately-financed, innovative transit project.
Small Business Resilience
The pandemic has devastated our small businesses-and they will continue to need our help. Mayor Liccardo proposes inclusion of funding for programs like: San Jose Al Fresco, Storefront Activation Program and a Small Business and Recovery Manufacturing Initiative.
Back to Basics: Clean Safe and Liveable San Jose
With the persisting pandemic, trash and blight have worsened, and the emptying of local jails and pandemic-related obstacles to arrest and keep in-custody criminal defendants has increased neighborhood crime.
- San Jose Bridge: In 2020, 53 participants, of whom 21 were offered full-time employment, serviced over 70 locations, collected nearly 7,000 trash bags, and removed 155 tons of debris–with most of the collections (108 tons) focused in Council Districts 3, 5, and 7. The Mayor proposes expanding this program to include 100 participants, and dramatically increasing the collection service of existing and new locations for two years.
- Cash for Trash: Since November 2020, 125 unhoused residents have removed 23 tons of trash in 14 locations in exchange for pre-loaded MasterCard debit cards for up to $20 a week. The Mayor proposes expanding the program to serve 500 unhoused residents and funding for two years to dramatically scale efforts.
- Restoring our Parks–Beginning with the Guadalupe River Park: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our parks, open spaces, and trails. With the onset of the pandemic, many parks have become inundated with homeless encampments. Crime and vandalism have increased dramatically, including fires, blocking trails with vehicles and debris to prohibit public use, and other related problems. The Mayor recommends filling vacant park ranger positions dedicated to overseeing the park and one time funds to utilize the San Jose Conservation Corps or Resilience Corps along with other volunteers for massive clean up efforts.
- Methamphetamine and Addiction-Related Crime: The frustration and fear in the community over crime related to methamphetamine addiction–and particularly our most crime-afflicted neighborhoods–has peaked. Supervisor Cindy Chavez and District Attorney Jeff Rosen have agreed to be co-convenors with the Mayor of a group of decision makers at the City, County, and Courts to identify local solutions for reducing the harms and criminality posed by individuals afflicted with addiction issues.
Accelerating Solutions to Homelessness and Affordable Housing Crisis
- Emergency and Transitional Housing Communities: At Mayor Liccardo’s urging, the pandemic afforded the City the opportunity to demonstrate how it could rapidly build three housing communities at a small fraction of the time and cost of conventional affordable housing, brining more than 300 unhoused residents off the streets. As other cities and philanthropic organizations take notice of San Jose’s demonstrated success, Mayor Liccardo has focused on a fourth site near the Guadalupe River Park, and has already secured more than $5 million in funding commitments from donors, using the same model, but employing many of the residents as stewards for the restoration of Guadalupe River Park. The Mayor further proposes a fifth site be identified for build-out with the help of philanthropic funding, and with efforts to identify more sites owned by Caltrans and other public agencies.
- YIGBY — “Yes in God’s Backyard”: Some churches have expressed a willingness to build 100% affordable housing for homeless and low-income families and individuals on their parking lots, but current City land use designations have long posed a barrier. Staff has identified approximately 435 acres of assembly use properties owned by nonprofit faith organizations zoned Public/Quasi Public (PQP), a significant portion of which is underutilized surface parking lots that could be converted into affordable housing. The Mayor proposes hiring an outreach consultant to bring forward the YIGBY PQP policy to take advantage of the generosity of philanthropic partners.