San José Mayor Sam Liccardo celebrated the city’s progress towards restoring services and returning to a more stable financial footing in his State of the City address Saturday, while calling on City Hall to become as innovative as the community it serves.
“A year ago, I committed to you that I’d focus on two goals: improving public safety, and broadening economic opportunity,” said Liccardo. “To make San Jose safer, we need to restore our depleted police department.”
Liccardo referenced the recent pension settlement with the city’s 11 unions, which will save San José taxpayers $3 billion over the next generation. Resolving the litigation also will help the city retain and recruit firefighters and police officers, the mayor said, and that the city would launch new recruitment initiatives in the months ahead. Liccardo also cited progress in other public safety strategies like: doubling the number of Community Service Officers, restoring 14 firefighter positions that will add back a fire engine company, and expanding a teen jobs program to give 1,000 kids “a resume rather than a rap sheet.”
The mayor also detailed initiatives to broaden opportunity, including efforts to house the homeless. For example, Liccardo said that the city will be rehabilitating two deteriorating motels into apartments, using novel construction techniques to build a 150-unit micro housing village on city land, and leading a campaign to house all 700 homeless veteran in the region by 2018.
Looking ahead, the mayor said the city must keep an eye on the long-term future and be prudent in its investments, such as up building up its depleted rainy-day fund to protect against future cuts and making smart and strategic investments in transportation, infrastructure and our children. In particular, Mayor Liccardo also called for a 14 cent sales tax measure on the June ballot, to help restore critical services, including police and fire staffing.
Finally, the mayor committed to making San José City Hall more innovative in order to improve services to the community. To achieve this vision, Liccardo highlighted current efforts to utilize big data in new ways and create a more user-friendly permitting system, as well as innovations to come, like a competition for local students to create a remote device that repaints graffiti and efforts to bring 1- to 2-gigabit free or no-cost Internet access to thousands of residents and businesses. However, the mayor also stressed that success would require tapping into the creativity and innovation Silicon Valley is so well known for, and called on all San Joseans to “unleash their geek” to help improve their city.