Neighborhoods Commission Off To A New Start As Permanent Advisory Group

More on the Neighborhoods Commission

A leaner and more focused San Jose Neighborhoods Commission met for the first time since the City Council made it a permanent advisory group, with a mission to plot the future election of new members and zero in on the “quality of life” issues members are intended to tackle.

The special meeting on October 23, also allowed a representative from the City Clerk’s office to swear in the 17 commissioners who served for two years on the commission as a pilot project. The next regular meeting will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13, in rooms 118-119 of the City Hall wing.

The council action to give the commission permanent status also trimmed the membership from 30 to 20, with two members elected through a caucus process from each of the 10 council districts. The Neighborhoods Commission is the only one of San Jose’s 38 advisory boards and commission to elect members from neighborhoods. City council members appoint all other commissions.

But for now, the vacancies in Districts 1, 4, 5 and 10 will be filled through council appointments. Applications for those seats are working their way through the process, said Ernest Guzman, executive analyst for the City Manager’s Office. The caucuses will be held again when the fiscal year ends in June and half of the commissioners will be termed out.

However, Districts 3 and 7 have one too many representatives because of the old structure, and one from each district may have to resign, Guzman said.

The Neighborhoods Commission was created to provide a citywide group that could advocate for neighborhoods and make sure residents’ voices were heard during City Hall decision-making. But the members were also directed not to step into the territory of other commissions, leaving many members feeling too limited in scope.

“Those limitations have really hamstrung our ability to work with other commissions,” Beth Shafran-Mukai said at a Neighborhoods Commission meeting in February.

At the special meeting on October 23, Guzman said the commission’s charge would be quality of life issues with an emphasis on neighborhood safety (police department), the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force (Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department), transportation (Department of Transportation), code enforcement (Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department), and the budget.

“The work plan will be developed around those areas,” he said.

The members who are listed on the November 13 agenda are:
District 1 – Charles E. Jones
District 2 – Norma Callendar and Marie Arnold
District 3 – Beth Shafran-Mukai, Jaime Angulo and Mauricio Astacio
District 4 – Linda Locke
District 5 – Bob Dolci
District 6 – David Dearborn and Larry Ames
District 7 – Moses C. Ramirez, Robert Sandoval and Bertha Ward
District 8 – Matt Whalin and Neetu Dhaliwal
District 9 — Jim Cantore and Hugh Graham
District 10 – two vacancies

The city council liaison for the commission is Councilman Don Rocha from District 9.