Editorial: Put housing, infrastructure bond measures before San Jose voters

The San Jose City Council should give voters the opportunity in November to decide the fate of two major ballot measures — a $650 million public safety and infrastructure bond and a $450 million affordable housing bond — designed to tackle two of the city’s most pressing issues.

It’s too early to determine whether the ballot measures deserve voter support. City staff is still working out the specifics of what the bond measures would cover. The plan is to have the city manager return within four weeks with more specifics. In a better world, those details already would be available before Friday’s deadline to submit ballot measures for the November election. But it’s not entirely the city’s fault. The council was forced to focus on passing its budget in June and does not meet in July.

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Rather than wait another year, it’s better to schedule the vote and take the rest of August to determine the components that would be targeted. The more transparent and detailed the council can be about how the money would be spent, the better.

This is not a case of the City Council going back to voters time after time for additional funding. San Jose has not placed a bond measure before voters since 2002. Its debt level is relatively low for a city of its size. But the failure to seek additional funding for nearly two decades has created a substantial deferred maintenance problem. Mayor Sam Liccardo put that number in excess of $1.4 billion.

In general, the public safety and infrastructure bond would target upgrading 911 communications for police officers, firefighters and paramedics; repairing bridges vulnerable to earthquake damage; repaving streets and potholes that are in the worst condition; preventing flooding and water supply contamination; and repairing critical infrastructure.

The mayor has placed building Station 37 on Lincoln Avenue among the first group of capital projects that would be funded. He identified a police cadet and officer training facility for funding to help meet the goal of rebuilding the city’s police force. Liccardo also wants to include up to $50 million “for land acquisition for natural flood and water quality protection, focused primarily on Coyote Valley.”

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The affordable housing bond would target helping working families, veterans, seniors, teachers, nurses, paramedics and others, including the homeless.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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