Our League in Action!
News From Our Action Chair Gloria Chun Hoo
League Begins Annual Legislature Interviews
As we approach 2020, the Action Committee will continue to look at what a “Strong Mayor” system would look like for the City of San Jose and how this possible change in local governance structure would impact the city.
In January, the Action Committee will begin organizing and conducting interviews with State Legislators. These interviews provide the legislators with an opportunity to share their priorities in the upcoming legislative session and allow League members to share our League positions and priorities. It is also an opportunity for us to learn how state legislation may impact us locally.
Our San Jose/Santa Clara League of Women Voters will be scheduling meetings with State Senators Jim Beall (D15), William Morning (D17) and Robert Wieckowski (D10). Meetings with State Assemblymembers in our region will include Assembly Members, Kensen Chu (D29), Evan Lowe (D28), Ash Kalra (D27), and Robert Rivas (D30). In some cases, our League members will be joining with League members from other local leagues in the same Senatorial and Assembly districts.
League Continues Work on a Proposed New Study on Local Governance
The Action Committee held its monthly meeting on Nov. 11 and decided to expand its research to include a review of how the local government structure works in several cities including Phoenix, Seat, Denver, Portland, Austin, and Charlotte, NC. The committee has already looked at Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco as part of a fact-finding review of this structure. This work is in preparation for a future more extensive study the committee proposes for our local League. This work will help our League in assessing what a change toward a “strong mayor” system might mean for San Jose.
Some questions the group will examine is how such a change will impact the balance of power, efficiency, and effectiveness of such a structural change on government operations and on transparency and ability of the community to be actively engaged and heard in city hall.
The Action Committee will not meet in December. Its next meeting will be on Jan. 13 and is open to all members. The committee will discuss the city’s proposed ballot measure for a new property transfer tax.
Plans are also being developed for an educational form on the new Schools and Communities First ballot measure supported by the League, and the campaign to get signatures on the petition for the refiled measure.
League Announces Work on a Proposed New Study on Local Governance
The committee's look at the implications of a Strong Mayor system for the City of San Jose may be formalized as a full League local study. By moving this to a League study process, more in-depth research, review of data and analysis, interviews and discussion, will take place. Based on the study results, and review of the findings with League members, we will arrive at a League position that can be used to take action.
Two long-time League members Trixie Johnson, a former League president and former San Jose City Councilmember, and Virginia Holtz, also a former League president and director of the Santa Clara Open Space Authority, will develop the "scope" for the study, now to be named "Local Government Structures." The scope and process for the study will be discussed at the next meeting in November.
League members and other volunteers will help gather signatures for a new and revised Schools and Communities First ballot measure; the new version has some improvements but requires signatures to qualify in order to replace the earlier version. The effort begins in November to meet a March deadline.
The City's proposed Citywide Anti-Displacement Policy is being discussed by the city council, along with other housing-related policies.
The Natural Resources/Climate Change Committee continues to monitor progress around San Jose Clean Energy, noting the efforts to move more San Jose residents to elect "Total Green," for 100% carbon-free, and 100% renewable energy. Many members of the committee have elected this option and urge others to do so.
The committee is following the discussion on Equity and urges public attendance at the first of two study sessions on the topic. The first will be Friday, Dec. 13 from 1:30 to 4:30 at City Hall.
Studying City Governance
Looking at new Governance Model of Strong Mayor for San Jose: At its September meeting, members of the Action Committee heard a detailed report from Trudy LaFrance on how the cities of San Francisco and San Diego govern with a "strong mayor" and the different levels of independent power a mayor wields in different areas. In those cities, the mayor appoints department heads that have different powers. Both are charter cities and those powers are specified in their charters.
More research will continue as the committee raises questions and better understands the variances between different governance models. The committee noted that any change would also impact a wide range of other City operations/governance and may have other unintended consequences which need to be examined. Many questions will be asked as the committee continues its deep dive into understanding what such a change may mean for the city.
Meetings to observe: Members urged to attend upcoming San Jose City Council Study Session on Displacement on Sept. 27 at 9 am at the Council Chambers and the Session on EQUITY on October 4 at 1:30 pm.
Support for Global Youth Climate Change Strike on 9/20 was discussed and in conjunction with a recommendation from the Climate Change Committee, our league endorsed and supported action for the local march on September 20. Vicki Alexander was the coordinator for the League's efforts.
Studying City Governance
Question: Should the City of San Jose change its form of governance -- from the current Council-City Manager system to a "strong mayor" system? This is a question that is being discussed, especially following a survey done by the Silicon Valley Organization (formerly the San Jose Chamber of Commerce). What would be the benefits and the negatives of such a change?
The League's Action Committee discussed this issue at its August meeting and the committee will work on this topic, to research and better understand the ramifications of changing the structure for city management/governance and to review the city's Charter revision process. Such a move would require a change to the City Charter. Such a major change should be part of an open process with a lot of community review and discussion and deliberation.
Schools and Communities First.
The committee will also be working to support the League-sponsored ballot initiative, Schools and Communities First, slated for the November 2020 election. The statewide coalition behind the measure has recently re-filed and will need to again gather signatures on a revised measure. The League will continue to work on building understanding and support for this measure.
High Speed Rail
We submitted a letter was submitted the High Speed Rail commenting on the proposed alternatives for the Modesto to San Jose portion, commenting specifically on the alignment going through San Jose. League member Bob Ruff has been the league representative. Safety concerns were raised in the letter regarding the staff-recommended Alternative 4 alignment. A copy of the letter is here.
Fighting Climate Change
Our league continued its fight against Climate Change by hosting an informative event, Paris to Pittsburg to San Jose. A crowd of 75 attended the August 13th League event, where we showed the National Geographic film From Paris to Pittsburgh, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Jim Eggers, Sierra Club Loma Prieta chapter director, and panelists:
Kerrie Romanow, Director of Environmental Services, City of San Jose
Julie Hutcheson, Director of Impact, Committee for Green Foothills
Angel Ibanez, Office of San Jose Mayor, Policy Analyst: Housing, Environment, Energy, Immigration
If you were unable to attend, or want to watch the film again, go HERE to view the film online. If you would like to get involved to combat Climate Change there are many local groups who are effectively fighting the good fight every day. Click HERE to see a few.
The Action Committee meets monthly on the third Monday at 2 pm - all are welcome.
League at City Hall Meeting with Council Members
League members working in small teams are meeting with City of San Jose Council members to hear their perspectives on three important topics: Housing, Climate Change and Coyote Valley. Meetings have already occurred with City Council members Pam Foley (D9), Lan Diet (D4) and Maya Esparza (D7).
These interviews are providing the League with information about how our decision-makers feel about some of the most critical issues facing the City and how to deal with them. Notes and learnings from these face-to-face meetings will be posted on our website. In some cases, for example in meeting with Council Member Esparza, League learned about upcoming Council action on the Ellis Act (tenant protection) and the concerns about the "dispersion" policy around low-income housing.
Upcoming meetings are scheduled with Council Members Raul Peralez (D3) on June 13 at 2:10; Dev Davis (D6) on June 13 at 2 pm; and with Sylvia Arenas on June 20 at 11:30 am. If you would be interested in joining these teams, contact Action Chair Gloria Chun Hoo. The Action Committee meets monthly on the third Monday at 2 pm. All are welcome to participate.
Schools and Communities First. The 2020 Ballot Measure Needs YOU!
The League of Women Voters of California is one of the proponents of the first commercial property tax reform measure to qualify for the ballot since the passage of Prop 13 in 1978. The League is now part of a powerful and growing statewide coalition of over 280 organizations working to ensure that this measure wins in November 2020. League members were indefatigable in 2018 in gathering signatures leading to the measure’s qualification. We expect to be equally energetic in campaigning for the measure’s passage -- and we need YOU to help in that campaign!
Since the passage of Prop 13, California has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from commercial property, leading to chronic underfunding of schools and local communities. Schools and Communities First will restore over $11 billion every year for schools, community colleges, health clinics, and other vital local services while maintaining Prop 13 protection for all residential property.
Kathy Mueller will be representing us on the local planning committee. At the recent steering meeting she was happy to report that:
There will possibly be a second speakers training in June or July; discussions are beginning now
AARP has endorsed Schools and Communities First
The State Democratic Convention is meeting in San Francisco this weekend and hopefully will endorse the measure
There will be some volunteer opportunities to further educate the electorate coming soon
If you are interested and would be willing to be trained to help educate the public about this ballot measure, contact Action Chair Gloria Chun Hoo at email@example.com.
The Action Committee is in the process of scheduling meetings with members of San José City Council. These meetings will initially be with newer members of the Council and eventually with all members. The goal: to hear their perspectives on three priorities of our League: Climate Change, Coyote Valley, and Housing. We also want to learn what their concerns/challenges and issues are and what they feel is ahead for our City and their respective districts.
If any league member would like to participate in these meetings, to be scheduled during May, June, and August, please contact Action Committee chair, Gloria Chun Hoo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier in February, members of the Action Committee, along with other league members, met with members of the State Legislature who represent our local cities and towns. This is an annual activity coordinated with the State League. To see results of those interviews go to our website at Interviews With Our Representatives here.
The Action Committee is also looking for additional league volunteers to help provide voter information and education, as well as advocacy, about a 2020 Ballot Measure called Schools and Communities First which the League is sponsoring. There will be training for the Speakers' Bureau on Saturday, May 18th. Please let Gloria know if you are available and interested.