State of The City Address

What is a City? What does it really consist of?

San Jose has 1,400 miles of roads, 250,000 street trees, 1,800 miles of sewer lines and over a million books in our libraries.

Our City has 590 traffic lights, two and two-thirds regional shopping centers, 5,400 city employees, 150 parks and one international airport with a brand new terminal.

In San Jose you will find a house on Winchester Boulevard with 160 rooms; there are also three interstate highways, 225,000 households, a downtown with five million square feet of office space, and one quite small replica of an electric light tower.

We will find the state of our City, and our Valley, not in some set of statistics, not in the gleaming glass of an office building, not in the size of our shopping malls, and certainly not in the size of our City’s population or the rhetoric of her Mayor.

We do not measure the quality of our City by its parts or its pieces.

If we truly want to find the quality—the state—of our City we need to look hard, but not far. We need to look to a million places—each other. And, we need to look one place—within.

San Jose is a story that is told by people, by each one of us.

Our valley is home to over a million people, a million differences, a million decisions, and a million dreams.

Imagine if each of our dreams had substance, form or shape. If we piled them on top of each other, our dreams would be taller than any building. If we laid them side by side, they would be wider than a 40-lane highway. If we counted them, our dreams would outnumber yesterday’s orchards or the circuits on a silicon chip of today.

Last week, we took the first step in naming our public library after a dreamer, Martin Luther King, a man who followed his dream for our society and changed the world—there is great power in a dream. This Valley, from the early forty-niners to the most recent immigrants who crossed the hazardous oceans from Southeast Asia, has been a “community of dreamers”. There are many people who continue this noble tradition, who contribute to the state of the City by their actions.

For many of us, that contribution to the future is earning an income and raising a family. It is not easy. If we have energy left, some of us reach beyond our homes. A few of us make a contribution that touches on those outside home and neighborhood. Still others reach for “water from the moon” and give a gift that affects our Valley and the very way we live.

The state of our City will be found in these contributions, both large and small. There are no more “new frontiers”; our frontiers are within ourselves and our community.

I have had the opportunity in the past year to see many contributions. So have each of you. In the few minutes I have, I would like to tell you about the state of the City I see.

Many in this Valley have devoted themselves to providing housing for the homeless and the low-income. Bob Brownstein and others have successfully advocated housing, by gently and strongly persuading City Hall to put more funds into low income housing. Others have actually provided shelter. Peter Miron-Conk has just opened the Julian Street Inn for the homeless. It is not just a shelter, but a place where the mentally ill can receive help, attention, and counseling. The Las Plumas Family Shelter was also opened this past year due to the efforts of Gerry Phelps. It offers not only a roof, but child care and job skill classes.

Sally Osberg, Frank Fiscalini and thousands of parents will give a gift to our Valley next spring—the Children’s Discovery Museum. When the doors open to the new museum, Sally and others will be opening doors of imagination and inspiration to the future. And, they will join a new neighbor: The Technology Center. I want to thank the dedication of Peter Giles, the fine work of Ed Zschau, and a tireless volunteer and organizer, Bob Grimm. As many great companies in this Valley have grown out of a garage, a great museum will grow out of this garage on San Carlos Street.
Rod Diridon, George Klaar and untold numbers of volunteers have brought back the dead—our historic trolleys. These old trolleys were not even given a proper burial. That did not stop these volunteers. Two of these remnants of our discarded history are now alive with thousands of new friends and no shortage of children on board. And, while on the subject of great historic projects, thanks to the Bishop of San Jose, Pierre DuMaine, and many, many contributors, St. Joseph’s Cathedral will once again take its rightful place in the center of our City.

Then we have a story about the rebirth of the Garden City. It is a story about power—the power of flowers. The story is just starting to grow. With the organizational help of Lorrie Freeman and Ruth Holmstrom, a new, unique park will soon bloom in San Jose—Guadalupe Gardens to join Guadalupe Park.

People from throughout San Jose’s neighborhoods contributed to a better state of the City. The Swensons, Cliff and Barry, have worked to rehabilitate the past and build new neighborhoods. Lenora Porcella has worked to protect the Hensley neighborhood district. Belinda Asencio, a Silver Creek student, babysits for parents to allow their participation in the PCP Drug Awareness Program. John Redding has worked to landscape the Almaden Expressway, Bob Foster nurtured the idea of Evergreen’s “Hometown Celebration”, and Bob Baines and the twenty-plus members of the Shasta-Hanchett Traffic Committee have reached out to help their neighbors and improve their neighborhood.

People from all areas of our City gathered together this year to celebrate Destination Downtown. With the leadership of Chuck Reed and the help of Dan Pulcrano, an interesting concept came true in September—people enjoying their Downtown—not as a resting place for high rises and parking garages, but as a place for people.

Let me tell you about a twenty-five year old dream—a community arena. Ted Biagini, Jerry Estruth, Carl Cookson, Frank Fiscalini and two seniors with the unforgettable names of Axel Smedberg and Orvil Plummer, worked with people of all ages, sizes and descriptions. Ten thousand T-shirts were sold and tens of thousands of voters made this twenty-five year old dream a reality. This is a project that would have absolutely died without great enthusiasm throughout San Jose.

And, then there are the inspirational. Those like Luis Valdez, who believe that the future belongs to those who can imagine it. Our Valley has more than its share. Ron Gonzales, who with the help of family, friends and his best supporter and campaigner, his dad, Robert, was elected to the County Board of Supervisors. LaDoris Cordell, who with hard work and broad support, was elected to the Superior Court.

There is a place in San Jose I visited recently—the Children’s Shelter. It is home to children who have no home. It is a place for abused, abandoned and neglected children. It is a place that a few decided to improve. Dianne and Regis McKenna have spent great energy this past year in raising funds for a new shelter. Lee Brandenburg has donated generously toward this worthy project. Their efforts will be felt by many. Their efforts are an inspiration.

All of these people deserve applause for so much.

And, for the two officers, Gene Simpson and Gordon Silva, who made the greatest contribution, their lives, to protect the rest of us—our City mourns them; our City honors them.

I would like to mention one more person.

Each year, people stand in the cold, in the dark, in a place where it is sometimes tough to park. Do you know where? It is right outside. Most of you saw it last month. Thousands come each year to a tradition in San Jose—Christmas in the Park. One person—Don Lima—started the tradition years ago with his own display. Each year the crowds get bigger, the lights get brighter. Bruce Pohle, the Concannons and the Linguists, and the entire committee contribute to this display in many ways. The efforts of one have grown into the contributions of thousands.

Don Lima did not come to the opening last December 10th; he was buried that morning. I miss him, but our City will not. Each of us will see him through Christmas in the Park and through the enjoyment of future children every year to come.


I have touched on only a few contributions. There are a million more dreams.

When I ran for Mayor a few years ago, I met thousands of dreams. I did not just bring my own dreams of San Jose to City Hall. I brought the hopes of my mother and father, my brother, John, my wife, Jill, my kids, friends, neighbors, and the thousands of people who wanted a better future. Some of those dreams have come true, many of them have not and will not very soon, because if all of them did, then our dreams would be too small, too achievable.

We are going to dream big this year in San Jose.

Many in our City have said we must protect what is 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, do not 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 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 spaces 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.

All of us must continue to dream about tomorrow…to care for and inspire the young people in our City.

I am committed to continuing and expanding the City’s annual Youth Conference – 1,500 came last December. The conference is much more than a day out of school—it is a day about the future. At the conference, we gather young people together from throughout San Jose and our 39 high schools. The size of the event is important. You do not have to count many heads to start realizing what a young city San Jose is and how many young people live here and will grow older here. In our jobs, we all take breaks now and then and think about what we have accomplished and what we would like to accomplish. Any time we give a young person the opportunity to take a day out of their lives to reflect on the future, it is a day well spent.
It is time to expand the Youth Conference from an annual event to a year-round program. This year, I will propose carrying on regional programs throughout the year and throughout our City.

This year we will also continue to strive to adopt a budget that emphasizes services for people.

This past year, the City Council put together a good, solid budget. That is why it was approved unanimously.

We added funds for more park improvements—at places like Lake Cunningham and the old Camden High School site. We added funds for more police officers. And, we thought it might be a good idea to start sweeping the streets every month in San Jose again, not just on the busy streets, but on every single residential street in San Jose. We also put millions into our reserve fund.

Every year at this breakfast I have talked about ways to improve public safety—from adding more police officers, to building a new communications center, to pushing for state legislation to keep violent felons in jail for their full-term—a position approved by 85 percent of San Jose voters last fall. You know you do not have to listen to my words, just watch my actions in the coming year—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 101, 237 and 85. And, our property taxes go toward funding additional highway improvements for 85 and 87. Still, that is 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.


There is so much that can be accomplished in this Valley if we work together. There is so much that can be accomplished in San Jose if we dream together.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a teacher at Overfelt High School, Karen Judge, asking if I might be able to visit her class that was Downtown on a trip to see the Tech Center’s new Holography Exhibit. It was a good excuse to get out of City Hall, so I took a drive over.

There were students from Mexico, Central America, Southeast Asia. They mingled with other young visitors. Everyone seemed to fit.

I also met dreams and dreamers that day. I met the future. In the assemblage of these young people was a future scientist, an entrepreneur, a builder, a teacher. I suppose there was also a mayor, and I hope I did not talk her out of it.

None of the dreams of that group were extraordinary. They were simple and similar to the others brought here since the first immigrants arrived. They were, however, very important and that is where I found the state of our City—at the Holography Exhibit, in a small garage on San Pedro Street. And, that is where we will continue to find the state of our City—in the millions of differences, decisions, and dreams that each one of us has in this special Valley.

Let us remember to appreciate our differences and diversities. For although we may face thousands of difficulties, we also can find a million opportunities—ourselves.

And, each of us must work for our dreams.

We must inspire our youth. We must accept compromises, and work to expand the opportunities for housing. We must build support to improve parks, open spaces and hillsides. We must work together to find funds to build highways and we must remain committed to a safer San Jose.

We have been able to accomplish so much these past few years because the goals have been “our” goals.

As each of us leaves here this morning, we must keep the spirit of unity alive in our City, not just at this breakfast, but all through the day and all through the year. We must keep the spirit of unity alive until that time comes when we pause for a moment, take a breath and find a City that is always a little better, a little warmer, a little brighter. That day can be every day in San Jose.

Have a good year and I look forward to seeing you again next January.

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