SJ Measure T

Public Infrastructure Bond

Bond

Disaster Preparedness, Public Safety and Infrastructure Bond

Authorizes the City of San Jose to issue $650 million in general obligation bonds to upgrade communications and emergency response facilities, prevent flooding and repair bridges, streets and other critical infrastructure.

Vote YES
 

What the Measure Would Do

Measure T would authorize the City of San Jose to issue $650 million in general obligation bonds to invest in city infrastructure, including upgrades to emergency and disaster response facilities, flood prevention, water quality protection and the repair of bridges, streets and other critical infrastructure. The funds could be spent on land acquisition, design, construction and construction management. At least $300 million must be issued for the purpose of repaving streets and potholes in the worst condition.
A non-binding bond allocation plan approved by the city council outlines planned spending more specifically:

  • $300 million to repave and replace streets in the worst condition
  • $175 million to upgrade communications, police, fire and paramedics facilities to improve emergency and disaster response
  • $85 million to prevent flooding, including $50 million for land acquisition
  • $25 million to protect water quality 
  • $20 million to repair deteriorating bridges vulnerable to earthquakes
  • $20 million to replace streetlights and other outdoor lights with LED lighting
  • $13 million to upgrade community facilities and emergency shelters
  • $5 million to repair critical infrastructure

The city estimates that the average tax rate required annually would be $10.69 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The measure provides for oversight and accountability: the city auditor must produce an annual audit of the bonds, the city’s finance director must file an annual report with the city council and the city council must appoint a city resident committee to oversee the expenditure of the bonds.

The Backstory

Earlier this year, budget conversations at San Jose City Council brought to light the current lack of resources for maintaining and repairing city infrastructure. Major flooding of Coyote Creek, which resulted in the evacuation of 14,000 San Jose residents in the winter of 2017, also brought attention to the city’s emergency and flood protection needs.

The city’s deferred maintenance and infrastructure backlog is projected to reach $1.39 billion in 2018–19. In addition, the city ought to be spending $112 million annually to maintain existing infrastructure in functional condition. Without sufficient resources, the city has had to defer maintenance, resulting in 550 roads rated in “poor” or “failed” condition, 70 bridges that need repair, including 24 that are vulnerable to earthquakes, and numerous unfulfilled needs across the city’s community facilities portfolio. The city also needs to upgrade its emergency and disaster response facilities.

San Jose has not placed a general obligation bond on the ballot since the early 2000s. In 2000 the voters approved a $212 million library bond and a $228 million bond for parks and recreation, and in 2002 the voters approved a $159 million bond for emergency facilities improvements.

This measure was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the San Jose City Council. As a bond measure, it requires two-thirds approval to pass.

Pros

  • Funding from this measure will address an infrastructure backlog that must be tackled in order to keep the city running in functional condition and to protect residents on a daily basis, as well as in times of emergency.
  • Addressing repairs and improvements before infrastructure fails is a better use of public dollars than waiting until more costly full replacement is required or dealing with catastrophic failures. 
  • This measure would provide San Jose with funds to reduce flooding, improve water quality and conserve land.

Cons

  • The measure is not sufficiently specific enough about what projects will be funded or prioritized, and the bond allocation plan is not binding.

SPUR's Recommendation

SPUR supports investments in infrastructure that is needed over the long term. This measure will help to address San Jose’s $1.39 billion-and-growing backlog in deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs. Further, the Bay Area is prone to earthquakes, floods and droughts, and it is already being impacted by sea level rise. Through flood prevention efforts, Measure T will help avoid events like the 2017 Coyote Creek flood. This measure will also help improve San Jose’s emergency response communications and facilities so that the city can better deal with natural disasters that cannot be avoided. Measure T will provide funding for investments critical to the protection of people, infrastructure and the environment of San Jose.

Vote YES on SJ Measure T - Public Infrastructure Bond

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