SAN JOSÉ, CA — Today, Mayor Sam Liccardo released his March Budget Message, outlining his Proposed Budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
“For the first time in decades, we see declines in the cost for retirement benefits for the next half-decade, as a result of our longstanding efforts to implement sensible pension reform in collaboration with our employees and voters,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “The dividend from Measure F (2016) and our many years of sacrifice will fund bold efforts to address homelessness, crime, and blight, such as by constructing 1,000 quick-build apartments for the homeless, adding dozens of additional police officers to the force, and employing unhoused residents to clean and beautify our city.”
Projections for San José’s general fund reflect an incremental ongoing surplus attributed to falling retirement costs and strong tax revenues over the next five years. However, the forecast assumes that all of $125.4 million of services funded this year with the help of federal relief aid and one-time City funding will expire, leaving the City with a nearly $100 million service-level deficit. To deliver the services that San Joséans value the most, and to ensure fiscal resilience in the years ahead, the Mayor’s budget message calls for a focus on a limited set of priorities: homelessness, public safety, blight, and resilience, for example:
- Homelessness: Mayor Liccardo is proposing a historic investment to double down on the three most cost-effective solutions to combat homelessness, each of which has been pioneered in San José:
- Scale the construction of successful and innovative Quick-Build Apartment communities to provide a total of 1,000 units. With 597 quick-build units already completed or under development since the pandemic began, the Mayor’s direction will provide funding for the construction of at least 403 additional quick-build units to reach the goal of 1,000 pandemic-era housing beds under development by the end of the calendar year, and funding to support ongoing operations under more cost-effective models.
- Conversion of another 300 hotel or motel rooms for the unhoused. The City has pioneered motel conversions since 2016 on two sites, and now Governor Newsom’s Homekey funding provides opportunities to identify several more, with City support for operations and maintenance.
- Accelerate Homelessness Prevention funding in light of the well-documented obstacles in the state’s delivery of emergency rental aid. With Destination:Home, San José pioneered “gap funding” for families in need of rental assistance in 2018, and found that with investments as modest as $4,000 per family, more than 95% of families stayed successfully housed a year later.
o Yes in God’s Backyard (YIGBY): Mayor Liccardo urges to accelerate changes to the City’s General Plan to allow religious communities to construct affordable housing on parking lots and surplus land.
- Public Safety:
- Rebuilding the San José Police Department: San José has long had the most thinly-staffed police department of any major city in the United States. The national average shows for every 1000 citizens, there are 2.4 sworn officers. In San José, the average for every 1000 residents is only 1 sworn officer. Although the passage of Measures F and B in 2016 enabled the restoration of more than 300 of the 600 officers lost through the aftermath of the Great Recession, SJPD remains understaffed. Mayor Liccardo calls for dedicated ongoing funding to add dozens of new officer positions in the coming years, including 15 new sworn positions this year alone and bringing the total to 1,168. The new officers will focus on expanding neighborhood foot patrol, bolstering sexual assault and domestic violence investigations units, and improving traffic enforcement. He also calls for the addition of more officers in future years (based on current projects of future surpluses) by incorporating that additional expenditure into budgetary assumptions and projections.
- Walking and Bike Patrol in Downtown and other High-Need Neighborhoods: For the first time in decades, the San José Police Department will have a standard, designated beat of walking and/or bike patrol in the Downtown, and a rotating walking patrol for high-crime neighborhoods.
- Addressing Mental Illness on Our Streets: Although cities in California have no funding, expertise, or legal authority to deliver mental health services that remain the province of counties, the City created the Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCAT) two years ago to incorporate dedicated mental health staff to patrol beats with SJPD. Initially funded with a one-time Department of Justice grant, this year’s budget proposes the addition of sworn and unsworn positions with ongoing funding for MCAT teams.
- Re-Arresting Defendants Who Have Failed to Appear Post-Release: Allocate one-time funding for additional overtime to re-arrest criminal defendants who have failed to appear on their warrants, and funding for non-sworn staffing for the drafting of “high bail” affidavits for uniquely dangerous arrestees.
- Traffic Safety Improvements and Innovations: Work to reduce traffic fatalities by implementing high priority traffic safety improvement projects along San José’s most dangerous roadways, and pilot an application that incentivizes safe driving San José will also work with the DMV to identify ways it can use speed cameras in conjunction with license plate reading cameras (LPR’s) with velocity-assessment capability to compile lists of speeding cars to the DMV, which can then send the registered owners notification that the vehicle’s driver violated the speed limit.
- Police Reform: invest in training of officers for safe response to civil unrest and street demonstrations, focused first on ensuring that every lieutenant in the field has the best training available
- Battling Blight in San José: Removing blight continues to be a top priority for residents
- BeautifySJ: Commit ongoing funding for initiatives that remove trash and address blight citywide, expanding innovative programs that empower unhoused residents to become part of the BeautifySJ solution, such as San José Bridge and Cash for Trash.
- Abandoned Vehicles: Allocate ongoing funding to continue a hybrid vehicle abatement model which includes parking compliance staff who patrol every city street at twice a month to identify inoperable vehicles as well as additional funding to boost parking enforcement.
- Resilience and Recovery: As a result of climate change, San José faces growing threats from drought, rising sea-level, grid instability, and more, in addition to ever-looming risks from earthquakes and other natural disasters.
- The Mayor urges the development of an interdepartmental team dedicated to driving key goals relating to the expansion of the City’s purification plant for recycled water, microgrid development, expanding the urban forest, seismic safety, and other resilience goals.
- The Mayor also recommends additional funding options be found for the continuation of the highly successful Resilience Corps, which currently employs more than 460 young adults in supporting the community’s resilience to pandemic, drought, wildfires, and economic downturns.
- The Mayor seeks major investments in child care, to expand access for more than 1,000 children from low-income families, enabling thousands of parents to return to the workforce.
- Finally, the Mayor proposes using funds to accelerate the design and development of an innovative transit connector between the Mineta San José Airport and Diridon Station, in anticipation of a prevailing bidder for development in the coming year.
Finally, the Mayor also encourages significant contributions to San José’s reserves to retain the City’s fiscal resilience to future downturns.
City Council will vote on the Mayor’s March Budget Message on Tuesday, March 15 at 1:30 p.m. The Mayor’s March Budget Message recommendations guide the development of a proposed budget for the next fiscal year.