San Jose plans to spend millions on public safety and infrastructure
May 16, 2022
San Jose officials are evaluating a work plan to advance several key infrastructure and public safety projects using voter-approved bond dollars.
City Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss recommendations for using funds from Measure T, a $650 million bond measure approved by voters in 2018 to pay for disaster preparedness, public safety and infrastructure projects. .
Recommendations for public safety include $5 million to cover potential increases to the construction of four stations, $9 million for a patrol unit to fill a San Jose Police Department station and more than $2.2 million dollars for a police headquarters upgrade. Additional recommendations include maintaining a reserve fund to cover unforeseen cost overruns in several ongoing projects, such as the modernization of police headquarters and the rehabilitation of several fire stations. Council members will also be asked to approve the proposed site for a new fire station, Firehouse 36, at Capitol Expressway and Tuers Road.
Board members agree with most of the recommendations, adding some adjustments. Several officials have looked into fire stations and water quality issues.
“By passing the bond measure, voters reaffirmed the importance of investing in our public safety infrastructure,” Councilman Dev Davis and Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a memo. “Our city will need future action to make major investments like these, that’s for sure.”
Davis and Liccardo want to keep $3.5 million in a public safety reserve account to ensure several critical infrastructure projects are built, including the replacement of Fire Station 23 on Capitol Avenue in District 4 .
“It’s a very big concern for us – we want to be able to make sure that we’re going to be able to build all the fire stations that we said we were going to build with this bond measure,” Davis told San Jose Spotlight. , adding San Jose has fewer fire stations per 1,000 residents than Mountain View. San Jose has one of the lowest ratios of firefighters per capita of similarly sized U.S. cities, the memo said.
A 2020 city audit found the San Jose Fire Department was understaffed, resulting in a backlog of fire inspections. A county health ordinance requiring firefighters to be vaccinated and reinforced for COVID-19 as a condition of employment has raised concerns that the SJFD and its county counterpart will lose significant numbers of personnel.
Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Jr. said San Jose Spotlight Fire Station 23 was the last station scheduled to be replaced with Measure T funding.
“Funding for this project is currently available,” Sapien said. “However, if for some unforeseen reason this station does not materialize, there will be no decrease in coverage as this project involves the replacement of Station 23 and not the addition of a new station.”
Council members Sylvia Arenas, David Cohen and Magdalena Carrasco recommend that the city continue to use the funds to support local water quality projects. They stressed in a memo the importance of continuing a study of the water quality of Lake Cunningham, a man-made body of water near the Eastridge Shopping Centre.
“The effort to save Lake Cunningham is at a critical stage. The study and subsequent strategy is the remaining opportunity for our East Side families to have access to a healthy, usable lake,” they said. they wrote. “We recommend the CEO continue this critical work and return to the board with a study and strategy, as unanimously recommended last June.”
Measure T funds have already had a significant impact on other parts of San Jose’s infrastructure. City Department of Transportation spokesman Colin Heyne said San Jose’s Spotlight Measure T funds helped rehabilitate 197 miles of streets.
“Typically, we stretch our budget by treating streets that hadn’t yet fallen into ‘poor’ or ‘failing’ condition with less expensive surface sealing,” Heyne said. “But with Measure T’s clear mandate, we prioritized paving areas that include some of the most deteriorated roads in the city. The funding allows us to grind those streets down and bring them back to like-new condition.”
The San Jose City Council meets Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Learn to watch and participate.
This story will be updated.
San José Spotlight is the city’s premier nonprofit news organization dedicated to independent political and business reporting. Please support our public service journalism by clicking here.