San Jose, California

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San Jose, California
Seal of San Jose, California.png
General information
Mayor:Sam Liccardo
Mayor party:Nonpartisan
Last mayoral election:2014
Next mayoral election:2018
Last city council election:2014
Next city council election:June 23, 2015
City council seats:11
2014-2015 FY Budget:$3.0 billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:998,537
Gender:49.7% Female
Race:White 42.8%
African American 3.2%
Asian 32.0%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 0.9%
Two or More 5.0%
Ethnicity:Hispanic or Latino 33.2%
Median household income:$81,349
High school graduation rate:82.4%
College graduation rate:37.2%
Related San Jose offices
California Congressional Delegation
California State Legislature
California state executive offices
San Jose is a city in Santa Clara County, California. As of 2013, its population was 998,537.[1]

City government

See also: Council-manager government

The city of San Jose utilizes a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council, which includes the mayor and serves as the city's primary legislative body, appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council's policy and legislative initiatives.[2]

City manager

The city manager is the city's chief executive. The responsibilities of the city manager include overseeing the city's day-to-day operations, planning and implementing the city's operating budget and appointing departmental directors and other senior-level positions.[2][3]


The mayor is the chair of city council. He or she presides over council meetings and make recommendations on policy, program and budgetary initiatives. The mayor also represents the city in official civic ceremonies and on the state, national and international levels. Sam Liccardo is the current Mayor of San Jose.[2][4]

City council

The San Jose City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.[2]


The San Jose City Council is made up of eleven members, including the mayor. While the mayor is elected at-large, the other ten members are elected by the city's ten districts.[5]

A current list of council members can be found here.

Boards and commissions

A series of advisory boards and commissions that are made up of non-elected citizens, whom city council members have appointed and approved, advises the San Jose City Council. The roles of these boards and commissions are to review, debate and comment upon city policies and legislation and to make recommendations to the city council.[6]

For a full list of San Jose city boards and commissions, see here.



See also: San Jose, California municipal elections, 2015

The city of San Jose, California, held a special election for city council on April 7, 2015. A runoff will take place on June 23, 2015. The filing deadline for candidates who wished to run in this election was January 9, 2015. The city held the special election to fill the District 4 seat of former council member Kansen Chu, who won election to the California State Assembly in 2014.[7]


See also: San Jose, California municipal elections, 2014

The city of San Jose, California held nonpartisan elections for mayor and city council on November 4, 2014. A primary election took place on June 3, 2014. In any race where a candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, they were declared elected and are not required to run on November 4.[8] This happened in District 5, where Magdalena Carrasco defeated incumbent Xavier Campos, and District 9, where incumbent Donald Rocha defeated Lois Wilco-Owens.

In total, six of San Jose's eleven council seats, including the mayor's, were scheduled for elections in November 2014. But due to outright primary victories in districts 5 and 9 in June, only four seats were up for election in the November 4 general elections. These included the mayor and districts 1, 3 and 7. All four were open seats, meaning that no incumbent ran for re-election.

Transportation and pension reform were some of the key issues that shaped San Jose's 2014 election cycle.


The city's budget process operates by Fiscal Years running from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. The City Charter gives responsibility for drafting an expense and capital budget to the City Council, with input from both the Mayor and City Manager throughout the process.[9]


San Jose's adopted operating budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 is $3.0 billion. It includes funding for an additional police recruit academy, overnight security patrols in city parking lots, moving the US Patent and Trademark Office to City Hall and repurposing the South San Jose Police Substation.[10]


San Jose's adopted operating budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 was $2.9 billion.[11]

Contact Information

Office of the Mayor
200 East Santa Clara Street
18th Floor
San José, CA 95113
Phone:(408) 535-4800

City Council
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San José, CA 95113

To contact individual council members, see here.


In 2013, San Jose's federal lobbying related expenses amounted to approximately $160,000.[12] The issues for which the city filed in 2013, as well as the number of reports, can be seen in the box below. The issues column lists the generic issues that lobbyists working for local governments are required by law to disclose on quarterly federal disclosure forms.[13][14] The reports column gives the number of reports lobbyists filed in regards to each generic issue. To learn more about the details of the specific issues for which San Jose filed reports, read the federal disclosure forms by clicking the "Issues" links in the box below. The city of San Jose maintains a database of active lobbyists and clients. It can be accessed here.

Federal Lobbying Issues, 2013
Reports Issues
4 Federal Budget and Appropriations
4 Economic Development
4 Taxes
4 Urban Development
3 Airlines and Airports
3 Housing
2 Homeland Security
1 Health
1 Labor, Anti-Trust, and Workplace
1 Natural Resources
1 Science and Technology

Ballot measures

See also: Santa Clara County, California ballot measures

The city of San Jose is in Santa Clara County. A list of ballot measures in Kern County is available here.

Initiative process

See: Laws governing local ballot measures in California

Population as of the July 2011 census update: 967,487[15] San Jose is a charter city.

San Jose's has its own initiative process for ordinances determined by the city charter. The state process (see above for details) is applicable wherever the city is silent. The signature requirement is 5% of the number of persons eligible to vote according to the last report of registration filed by the County Registrar of Voters with the Secretary of State, or 10% to force a special election. Otherwise the process is governed by the California Election Code.

The San Jose City Charter

Public pensions

Main story: Pension reform: San Jose and San Diego voters weigh in

In the past 10 years, the city's budget has increased by 21 percent while employee costs have gone up by 87 percent for public employees, and 99 percent for emergency services.[16] The City owes $5.4 billion in pension benefits and has $1.1 billion in unfunded liability for its pension system and $1.2 billion in unfunded liability for retiree healthcare benefits.[16][17] According to Mayor Reed, unfunded retirement liabilities are projected to reach $400 million by 2016.

In May, 2011, the city council adopted Mayor Chuck Reed's Fiscal Reform Plan, which attempts to reform the city's pension system. Among the changes to be made:

  • Cap the city's contribution for new employees at 9% of base salary.
  • Raise the full retirement benefits age to 60 for public safety employees, and 65 for all other employees.
  • Increase the eligibility for retiree health benefits to 20 years of service.
  • Limit cost of living adjustments to 1% annually.

Negotiations with employee labor organizations are scheduled to be completed by the end of October, 2011. The package will then be put before voters in time to be included in the city's FY 2012-2013 operating budget.

San Jose actuarial reports show $3.5 billion of city debt for underfunded pension and retiree health benefits -- a shortfall that works out to about $11,000 for every household in the city. The calculations show the city's retirement programs combined have only 56 percent of the funds they should.[18]

Due to the enormity of pension issues facing San Jose, a group of state lawmakers launched a campaign for a state legislative audit of the city's finances and pension debts. The audit is in response to a June pension reform ballot measure that the city's mayor is pushing to ease the growing costs of employee retirement.[19]

2014 Pacific Research Institute report

In January 2014, the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based public policy organization, issued a report on the largest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcies across the United States as well as other municipalities facing financial straits. The municipalities included in the report were San Jose, Detroit, MI, New York City, Harrisburg, PA, Stockton, CA, and San Bernardino, CA.[20] According to the report, as of January 2014, the city spent 25% of the city's $1.1 billion general fund on pensions and retiree health care benefits, which was also increasing.[20] Several services were cut, including libraries, community centers, and new facilities left unused.[20] City workers were laid off as well, while police officers and firefighters in San Jose could retire after 30 years with pensions worth 90 percent of their salaries. In 2014, Mayor Chuck Reed proposed, and the city approved, a pension reform plan. The plan would allow current city workers to keep their pensions if they contribute 16 percent of their salaries to the pension fund, while future hires would be put into a less costly plan.[20]


The city council in San Jose approved a measure for the June 2012 ballot that would overhaul pensions for city workers to rein in their rising costs. San Jose's measure would place new city employees into a "hybrid" retirement plan combining a traditional pension with 401(k)-like accounts or Social Security. The measure would also give current employees the option of keeping current retirement plans by paying a larger share of their cost or selecting a lower-cost plan. Additionally, the measure would allow the city council to suspend cost-of-living increases for retirees in fiscal emergencies and require voters approve raising retirement benefits. On March 6 the city council voted 8-3 to place pension reform measures on the June ballot.[21]

Voters in San Jose overwhelmingly supported a plan to overhaul city pensions. The changes called for in the Measure B pension reform include[22]

  • Current employees keep pension credits already earned but must pay up to 16 percent more of their salary to continue that benefit or choose a more modest and affordable plan for their remaining years on the job.
  • Limit retirement benefits for future hires by requiring them to pay half the cost of a pension.
  • Suspend current retirees' 3 percent yearly pension raises up to five years if the city declares a fiscal crisis.
  • Discontinue "bonus" pension checks to retirees.
  • Require voter approval for future pension increases.
  • Change disability retirement with the aim of limiting it to those whose injuries prevent them from working.

Six months following the passage of Measure B, city officials are making some progress, but facing other obstacles as "some key, highly trained workers -- chiefly cops and wastewater plant workers -- bolt for better-paid jobs, worsening staffing shortages." That exodus has sharpened the cries of critics who had urged Reed to abandon the ballot measure in favor of a negotiated deal with the city's labor unions and another tax increase. They argue what progress has been made on pension changes -- mostly for new hires -- is overshadowed by legal bills to defend Measure B. The City Council this month set aside $1.2 million for contract lawyers handling the fight.[23]

See Also

External Links


  1. U.S. Census, "State and County Quick Facts," accessed on August 6, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 City of San Jose, "Government," accessed on October 29, 2014
  3. City of San Jose, "City Manager," accessed on October 29, 2014
  4. City of San Jose, "Office of the Mayor," accessed on October 29, 2014
  5. City of San Jose, "City Council," accessed on October 29, 2014
  6. City of San Jose, "Boards and Commissions," accessed on October 29, 2014
  7. City of San Jose, "Special Election General Information," accessed December 4, 2014
  8. City of San José "2014 City of San José City Councilmember and Mayoral Primary Election," accessed March 10, 2014
  9. City of San Jose, "Annual Budget Process," accessed April 2, 2015
  10. City of San Jose, "2014-2015 Adopted Budget in Brief," accessed April 2, 2015
  11. City of San Jose, "2013-2014 Adopted Budget in Brief," accessed on August 6, 2014
  12. Open Secrets, "City of San Jose, California, accessed on August 6, 2014
  13. U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk, "Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance," accessed on November 11, 2014
  14. Open Secrets, "Methodology," accessed on November 11, 2014
  15. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named census
  16. 16.0 16.1 Cal Watch, "Pensions Crushing San Jose; City Voters Eye Reform," September 24, 2010
  17. Cal Watch, "NEW: San Jose In Deep Pension Mess," September 30, 2010
  18. Contra Costa Times, "Daniel Borenstein: San Jose faces $3.5 billion debt for employee retirement programs," March 3, 2012
  19. San Jose Mercury News, "Lawmakers call for state audit of San Jose's pension problems," March 5, 2012
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Pacific Research Institute, "Going Broke One City at a Time: Municipal Bankruptcies in America," January 10, 2014
  21. San Jose Mercury News, "San Jose Mayor confident on key pension vote," March 6, 20012
  22. San Jose Mercury News, "All precincts counted: San Jose passes pension reform," June 5, 2012
  23. San Jose Mercury, "Some progress but big fights ahead on San Jose pension reform," December 30, 2012