More Parks, More Housing, More for Roads

Editorial Page: 11B

By Tom McEnery


San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery gave his state of the city speech on Wednesday at the annual Unity Breakfast. Below are excerpts from the speech. MANY in our city have said we must protect what’s left of the old San Jose. Preserve the ring of hillsides around our city, not just for the moment, not just long enough for the next development proposal, but forever. And don’t stop there. Give San Jose parks, worthy of her heritage as one of the greenest places on Earth. Make the Guadalupe a river park and garden, not a generation from now, but today. And look at San Jose’s other waterways — like the Coyote and Los Gatos — and the great opportunities that they hold.

I will commit time and effort this year to make this dream for San Jose come true. Some dreams cost money. This is one of them. I challenge this generation to fashion a proposal that will pass onto the next generation the preserved hillsides, open space and parks. We must dream another big dream. San Jose must increase the supply of housing before we drive our children out of this valley. There must be no drawbridges of our own making. We must build homes without paving our hillsides, ruining the fabric of our neighborhoods, or piling it up in our poorest city districts.

We must agree to look at the downtown, our older, vacant industrial areas and our city’s major streets. I will ask the citizens serving on the downtown working review committee to find new sites for housing and I will work with the city council to find new and creative ways to add more housing in the rest of the city within our established boundary . . .

Every year at this breakfast I’ve talked about ways to improve public safety . . . my budget this year will include additional funds to pay for a significant number of police officers.

This year we will continue to face two huge challenges — easing traffic and growing more thoughtfully. For answers we need to look beyond San Jose’s borders.

Our citizens have already spent millions of their own dollars to improve our transportation network. Each time we pay sales tax, an extra half-cent goes toward building new lanes on Highways 101, 237 and 85. And our property taxes go toward funding additional highway improvements for 85 and 87. Still, that’s not enough.

We need the support of our state. As the governor searches for a new funding source, we will work with our state delegation to ensure that our valley receives the financial consideration and support it deserves from the state.

Besides spending money, each of our cities will have to cooperate. If one city builds industrial parks and office buildings, without roads or nearby homes, traffic will only get worse.

Cities need to be able to take small steps toward better cooperation. This year I will seek legislation to give cities the ability to enter into cooperative development agreements. With a little luck, small agreements can work into long-term solutions.


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