San Jose Excels! Reflecting the Communities' Values and Concerns of People in the City Budget

February 19, 2008 -- Working Partnerships USA

On Thursday, February 7th, Working Partnerships USA released the final report of the Community Budget Working Group and presented it to officials from the City of San Jose.

San Jose Excels!: A Recommendation from the Community Budget Working Group, is the final seven-page document articulating the community’s driving budget principle and ten keys to assure excellence from the City’s budget process.  Each key includes specific recommendations that stemmed from multiple conversations with scores of community members and suggestions that were submitted through the Working Group’s website,

“Silicon Valley is built on a model that embraces the idea that, by working together, we can generate innovative strategies and solutions to problems our community faces,” says Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA.

“We’re pleased to be able to provide the community’s thoughts on how best to allocate the City’s resources,” said Working Group member Tamara Alvarado.  “We heard repeatedly that the City’s top budget concerns should be public safety, neighborhood services, the environment, a vibrant artistic and cultural life, and a government that is community-oriented and friendly.  Today, we’re able to present the ideas of some of the City’s brightest minds on how to ensure that those concerns are met.”

Representatives from the Mayor’s office and several Councilmembers’ offices were on hand to receive the report.

The Community Budget Working Group was formed by a group of community leaders to assure that a broad range of voices can bring innovative ideas to elected leaders, as the City of San Jose discusses how to allocate increasingly scarce resources.  Convened byWorking Partnerships USA (WPUSA), the Working Group features a steering committee of representatives from a broad range of community organizations and constituencies.  Participants include City commissioners, heads of ethnic Chambers of Commerce, religious leaders, environmentalists and neighborhood activists.

The Community Budget Working Group was formed in November 2007 to assure that a broad range of voices can bring innovative ideas to elected leaders working on the city’s budgeting of scarce resources.  The Working Group held several meetings open to the public to discuss the City budget and its resources.

“Without the real input of people from across San Jose, the City’s budget analysis, unfortunately, will be incomplete,” said Working Group Steering Committee member Michele Lew, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Community Involvement. “It’s important that the discussion build from positive ideas from the community that the entire community can review.”

The ten keys to excellence outlined in the report include:

  1. San José should maintain the highest levels of security and safety in its neighborhoods through the prevention and control of crime and the provision of emergency response services;
  2. San José should fully fund the provision and maintenance of basic neighborhood services including parks, pools, community centers, libraries and neighborhood streets;
  3. San José should increase its code enforcement programs in city neighborhoods;
  4. San José should strive to be a prosperous city in which residents can reasonably attain a middle class standard of living with opportunities for economic advancement;
  5. San José should be a regional center of the arts and culture;
  6. San José should be a national leader in strategies to protect the natural environment;
  7. San José should meet high standards for an efficient, open, and community friendly government;
  8. San José should build a stronger tax base in order to provide first-rate public services;
  9. San José should implement land use policies and capital budget plans that enhance Smart Growth but do not burden the city’s General Fund operating budget or cause reductions in city services;
  10. San José should promote fairness and equity amongst the multiple diverse constituencies that make the city their home.

The Working Group intends to present the report to the entire City Council during an upcoming Council meeting.