SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Two new measures are heading for consideration by San Jose voters in November: One would expand the planning commission, increase the police auditor’s authority and change the timeline for redistricting, and the other would increase the city’s card room tax to fund a variety of programs.
The San Jose City Council approved both measures at its meeting on Tuesday.
Councilmember Sergio Jimenez said he is comfortable with the consolidated version of the first measure because all the changes it proposes would require charter amendments. “I think that the community… is smart enough to sort of pass that out and understand what we’re putting forward,” he said.
The first measure would extend the city’s independent police auditor’s powers to include the review of all investigations against police officers, reports of officer-involved shootings and other use-of-force allegations.
“This is a logical next step in terms of what we do around police accountability, and I know there are more than a few experts and advocates who believe strongly this is important for the city,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said.
The measure also would restructure the San Jose Planning Commission to create a more ethnically and geographically diverse board.
Growing from seven to 11 members, the commission would include one at-large member plus a representative from each of the 10 council districts; members’ terms would be limited and lobbyists could not serve on the commission. The council faced criticism in June over the commission’s lack of diversity.
The final component of this measure would allow the council to extend the redistricting timeline if U.S. Census results are delayed.
The second ballot measure, approved by a 10-1 vote, will raise the city’s card room tax from 15 percent to 16.5 percent. This would generate $15 million a year for youth programs, street repair, emergency and disaster preparedness, among other programs. The measure also would allow each card room to add 15 game tables for a total of 30 new tables citywide.
Liccardo cast the lone vote against the measure, saying it would promote casinos and gambling.
“There is a lot in newer studies that help us understand some of the impacts between gambling, particularly problem gambling, and a lot of the challenges we have already in our community – certainly domestic violence, suicide, child neglect,” Liccardo said. “Testimonies from social workers in Santa Clara County estimated about 20 percent of child neglect cases were caused by problem gambling.”
In 2019 and 2020, the existing card room tax was projected to generate $18.9 million, but pandemic-related restrictions on business have cut that by more than $5 million.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.