Mayor Liccardo Unveils San Jose’s “Tale of One City”

On February 11th, 2016 Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled plans for protection for immigrants, beautifying the city and an appeal to all residents to pitch in a the 3rd State of the City Address. Photo Credit: Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo

Mayor highlights city’s progress in restoring services and enhancing public safety, and outlines plans around Youth, Sustainability, Service and Beautification initiatives 

San Jose, Calif. – Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled a “Tale of One City” during his 3rd State of the City address on Saturday February 11th, showcasing how San Jose has come together to improve public safety, restores service and address inequity, and outlining his vision for the future where San Jose continue to lead the country in solving the biggest challenges facing cities today. 

San Jose offers our discordant nation another way,” said Mayor Liccardo. “In contrast to the ‘Tale of Two Nations’ that occupies daily headlines, we have a different story to tell. To our divided nation, and to a troubled world, San Jose unveils its ‘Tale of One City’.” 

Citing how collaboration and perseverance remain a part of the city’s “basic DNA”, the mayor cited the significant progress made in the past two years addressing three of San Jose’s most pressing needs:

–          Restoring Basic Services: Thanks to voters’ overwhelming approval of new revenue measures in 2016, the mayor celebrated the City’s ability to restore police department staffing, activate our “browned out” fire companies, expand housing for the homeless, and repave more than 100 miles of city streets. All of these service enhancements were enacted this past year as part of the FY 2016-17 budget.

–          Improving Public Safety: The mayor cited recent momentum towards rebuilding staffing levels in the San Jose Police Department thanks to voter approval of a pension settlement in November and a recent wage agreement that will make SJPD officers’ take-home pay competitive with neighboring cities. Already, the department has seen an increase in the size of its most recent academies.

–          Fighting Inequity: The mayor thanked the leaders of six other Santa Clara County cities that joined him in adopting minimum wage increases that will reach $15/hour by 2019, as well as the broad coalition of community partners addressing the homelessness crisis, whose recent successes have included finding homes for 590 previously-homeless veterans in the past year. 

In addition, Mayor Liccardo boasted of the city’s deep immigrant roots – which go back all the way to its founding – in delivering an impassioned message to San Jose’s immigrant community that “we’ve got your back”: 

To those who seek to divide new Americans from the rest of us: we denounce the politics of fear and exclusion. Our police officers will not engage in immigration enforcement that tears our families apart, and sows mistrust in our community. We will fight for our Muslim neighbors. We will fight for our Dreamers. We will fight for any community member earnestly striving to better their families’ lives.” 

Looking to the Future and the Year Ahead

Stating how San Jose always has an eye towards the future – the second unifying theme of our “Tale of One City” – Mayor Liccardo also outlined new initiatives he will be championing in 2017 that will help San Jose thrive in the future, including:

–          A call for San Jose to set a new standard for sustainability and climate leadership through the development of a new Sustainability Plan during 2017;

–          Plans to launch a San Jose Promise initiative this year with local colleges and philanthropic organizations to eliminate financial barriers to higher education. for struggling San Jose students;

–          A continued focus on embracing innovation to improve services through his Smart City Vision; and

–          With seven transit lines, including BART, ultimately expected to converge in Downtown San Jose, a vision of creating a “Grand Central Station of the West” around Diridon Station with several million square feet of office space, restaurants, retail and housing. 

Acknowledging that the future is now, Mayor Liccardo culminated his speech by officially launching two new initiatives to help achieve residents’ collective vision and aspirations for our city: #ServeSJ and #BeautifySJ. 


In unveiling #ServeSJ, Mayor Liccardo outlined a vision of transforming San Jose into a national model of service by rallying all San Jose residents to embrace their collective commitment to serve. To propel this vision, the Mayor outlined two specific efforts:

–          Through a partnership with Encore and the Gen2Gen campaign, the City recently launched an effort to expand opportunities for older adults to serve their community, ranging from volunteer tutoring to more intensive opportunities such as City Hall fellowships.

–          Working collaboratively with a broad coalition of non-profit organizations and foundations, the Mayor will seek to expand Service Year opportunities – where young Americorps members spend a year engaged in community service – for hundreds of San Jose young adults. 

This is our collective call to action: to serve. Imagine how we could transform our city with a renewed culture of service – one in which we all embrace our role as stewards for our neighborhoods… our youth… our earth.” 


In announcing #BeautifySJ, Mayor Liccardo offered a renewed commitment to address persistent sources of blight in San Jose that have hampered the city ever since the preceding decade of budget cuts and which been a constant source of frustration for residents, businesses and visitors alike: 

For too many who see the current condition of our freeways, our parks, and our neighborhoods, San Jose doesn’t have a visually appealing story to share. Trash, graffiti, and illegal dumping affect how we feel about our city. The aesthetic neglect tells visitors that they shouldn’t invest in San Jose, and more importantly, that we shouldn’t invest ourselves in our city… that our city doesn’t belong to us.  

Today, we’re going to empower our community to reclaim our public spaces.” 

As part of the #BeautifySJ effort, Mayor Liccardo pledged to:

–          Improve City beautifcation efforts, including plans to expand the City’s free residential junk pick-up service in the coming months, boost enforcement of illegal dumping, and launch a new smartphone app that residents can use to report graffiti and neighborhood blight concerns.

–          Continue pushing other government agencies to better maintain the areas of the city that fall within their jurisdiction. In particular, he cited recent success in urging CalTrans to partner with groups like the San Jose Conservation Corps, who will begin helping clean up San Jose freeways later this month.

–          Expand partnerships with residents, non-profit groups and volunteers to address blight and neighborhood aesthetics, through an expansion of small grants that can be used for beautification efforts and a sustained volunteer mobilization, engagement and recognition campaign. 

A Call to Action

The mayor closed his speech with an appeal for all San Jose residents to come together to renew our city and write the next chapter in San Jose’s “Tale of One City”: 

Friends, this will be our story: a story of a community uniting, to tackle our challenges, and to celebrate our successes, together. This will be our Tale of One City. As we share our story with a troubled nation, we demonstrate the possibilities of collaboration – the power of working together to create the most successful multicultural community on the planet.  

I invite each of you to join me in writing the next chapter of our story. Together, we can ignite a movement and lift our city. Together, we can inspire the next generation to join our collective work. Together, We Are San Jose.” 

Notes About the Event

The 2017 State of the City Celebration was held at Gunderson High School, continuing Mayor Liccardo’s tradition of holding the annual event at a different San Jose school each year. As in year’s past, the event featured Community Honorees from every City Council District and the Pride of San Jose Awards recognizing exemplary groups of City of San Jose employees:

Community Honorees:

–    Project Hope

–    Los Paseos Neighborhood Association

–    Desiree Barragan

–    RCC Rock Canyon Circle Concerned Residents

–    San Jose Conservation Corp.

–    San Jose Auxiliary for Children

–    Alma Neighborhood Association

–    San Jose Sikh Gurdwara 5k Walk for Humanity

–    Cambrian Park Kiwanis

–    District 10 Faith Community

Pride of San Jose Award Recipients:

–    Marcus Rosado

–    City Manager’s Budget Office Team

–    Illegal Dumping Mitigation and Response Team

–    Peoplesoft Upgrade and Budget Project Team

–    Sparta Student Housing Team

–    Traffic Signal/Projects Lighting Maintenance Team

–    Officer Michael Katherman