The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Bond Measure Support Still Teetering on the Edge of Needed Majority 

A tax to pay for Santa Clara’s infrastructure is still seeing roughly the same public support.

In a study session Tuesday, a public opinion research firm presented the findings of a second City-funded survey geared at gauging whether voters would support a $598 million bond measure to pay for capital projects. It revealed that public opinion is still essentially the same as it was the last time the Council got an update.

The survey polled 400 likely voters.

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It showed that the City could potentially get the supermajority of voters needed to push the measure through. However, the survey has a 4.88% margin of error. Further, getting to the 68% support cited in the presentation assumes people who are leaning toward voting “yes” will do so. That percent is also how voters answered once they had been primed to support the measure, or, as Ben Tulchin, president of Tulchin Research, put it, after they had been “educated.”

Even if those leaning “yes” vote for the measure, the margin of error means support might not meet the two-thirds of voters required to pass.

Tulchin told the Council that the biggest concern among voters is accountability. As a result, he recommended that should the City opt to put the measure on the ballot, “framing” it with language that assures voters the money will go toward infrastructure would be wise. For instance, using phrases such as “strict provisions” or “dedicated funding,” mentioning citizen oversight or audits on how the money is being used would go a long way toward ensuring the measure passes.

A proposed ballot measure could lower the threshold for such measures to 55%, which would mean the City’s bond measure would likely succeed.

If passed, the bond would increase yearly property taxes $29 per $100,000 of assessed value and $290,000 a year for Santa Clara’s top 20 businesses. The bond would increase the average single-family home’s taxes by $195 a year.

Council Member Suds Jain said his wife took the survey and called it “terrible,” saying that it was all “apple pie stuff” without specifics.

Many public commenters’ sentiments echoed the survey results, with many saying they wanted assurance that the money would go toward what the measure proclaims it will go toward.

City Manager Jovan Grogan was quick to note that the measure does not earmark money for specific projects. That is another type of measure, he said.  He assured the Council that a work plan as to what the money will be spent on will be meticulously detailed. Should the measure pass, that intended expenditure plan would come before the Council July 9.

“The public, and namely the voters, have lost faith in City Hall, and I believe this is an opportunity to gain back that trust,” said Council Member Kathy Watanabe. “And the way to do that is through transparency and specificity, so people know exactly what this money is going to be used for.”

A previous survey showed that Santa Clarans largely do not see recreational activities such as lawn bowling and the George Haines International Swim Center (ISC) as a priority.

Despite this, Vice Mayor Anthony Becker was keen to point to them — yet again — as items worthy of Council attention. Part of the problem, he said, is that there is a “teeter-totter” between the public regarding these topics. He inquired how the City could “convince” the public “maybe with some pictures … something they can sink their teeth into.”

Youth Fees Waived for the Remainder of the Year

The Council also opted to waive youth sports fees for the remainder of the year. The Council nearly waived the fees entirely, but Council Member Raj Chahal withdrew his motion at the last minute. The topic has gone around in circles repeatedly, with the Council wanting to balance its need to shore up its budget while still supporting recreation in the City.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor, who has repeatedly stressed eliminating the fees, grew weary of the Council’s inability to make a firm decision. Grogan stressed the importance of allowing the process to play out. After Chahal withdrew his motion, she called the discourse around allowing the process to play out “absolutely a ridiculous discussion and a waste of time.”

She even went so far as to accuse Chahal and Grogan of “fighting hard against the kids in this community.” Chahal sniped back, saying Gillmor was “playing politics,” railing against her characterization.

The item was a reconsideration after the Council parsed out the youth sports fees from the municipal fee schedule last month. Gillmor and political ally Watanabe have both stood against the increase even though the Council voted to institute a meager 14% cost recovery two years ago.

Gillmor said she looked at the fee increase as a “pilot program,” but it clearly isn’t working

“We are not to the industry standard for parks and recreation services, and I am happy about that,” Gillmor said. “Public is saying these fees don’t work … We’ve survived all these years without fees.”

The motion to waive the fees for the rest of the year and revisit the topic before December passed unanimously.

Consent Calendar Spending

  • A $6.05 million purchase order with Motorola Solutions, Inc. for public safety radios, related system components, accessories and services.
  • A one-year, $110,000 contract with Tucker Construction, Inc. for homeless encampment cleanup.
  • A $805,373 contract with CSG Consultants, Inc. for services related to street maintenance and rehabilitation in 2025, with an option to extend the contract through 2029 for a total contract amount of $7 million.
  • A $586,003 contract with BKF Engineers for flood protection in the Anna Drive neighborhood.
  • A $900,000 increase to a contract with Electrical Safety Consultants, Inc. for environmental health and safety consulting and training. The new total is $2 million with an option to extend the services as far out as 2032 and increase the total pay to $3 million over a 10-year term.
  • A three-year, $1.35 million extension to a contract with TruePoint Solutions, LLC for software support for the Accela Civic Platform permitting system. Total contract amount is now $2.44 million.

Council Member Karen Hardy was absent.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 25 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1 (669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.

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3 Comments
  1. Jessie 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    You see all this money going somewhere but no specifics like what the hell is $6.05 million purchase order with Motorola Solutions, Inc. for public safety radios, related system components, accessories and services?!… is the system we have in place not good enough?
    Or
    $900,000 increase to a contract with Electrical Safety Consultants, Inc. for environmental health and safety consulting and training?!.. training for our residents or the city workers?
    Or
    A three-year, $1.35 million extension to a contract with TruePoint Solutions, LLC for software support for the Accela Civic Platform permitting system. What the hell is a permitting service? Is that for the city or for the residents? Or is it something the city can use against the residents?!..
    All vague no details on anything! why doesn’t the city start with something more important like getting the flouride out of our water, or why doesn’t the city use their voices to stop Chemtrails being sprayed over our city or get the food prices down?!!.. the list of more important issues goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on….. and last but not least the city coffers how about you guys open them up and use that money instead of raising taxes or asking for money we don’t have!!!! Spend spend spend with your monies oh no No no, raising taxes is a lot easier than having to ask for the monies to spend!….
    City of Santa Clara you better start prioritizing issues that impact us residents on a day to day basis. No more frivolous spending on issues that we don’t see results on.

    • Steve 1 week ago
      Reply

      Really!!! Chemtrails as an important issue.

  2. W.S. 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    In the Bond Measure survey brochure that residents recently received, it broadly outlines where the funds are to be spent. However it DOES NOT say anything about HOW the $598 million will be proportionally disbursed. What percentage will be given to each of the categories the brochure outlines (road repair, underground drains/pipes, road safety, emergency facilities/response, parks/libraries). These categories are so broad that there needs to be better details within each one. Will the parks allocation go only to soccer fields or does it also include the Int’l Swim Center? I am still very much on the fence because there are no specifics.
    I am not thrilled about our property taxes going up, but I recognize that the City needs to make improvements. However, the lack of any fiscal responsibility by Mayor Gilmor to reduce the current city deficit of over $38 million (it might be more) demonstrates her weakness in running this city and does not bode well for this bond measure to pass.

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