San Jose is a city in California’s famous Silicon Valley. It is the 3rd-largest city in California, the most populous city in Northern California, and the the 10th-largest city in the U.S.
In 2000, San Jose residents had the highest median household income of any city in the United States with a population over 300,000, and currently has the highest median income of any U.S. city with over 280,000 people. But the cost of living in San Jose and the surrounding areas is among the highest in California and the nation, housing costs being the primary reason.
Despite San Jose’s seeming prosperity, the city is on the verge of bankruptcy. Already, three cities in California have filed for Chapter 9: Stockton, San Bernardino, and Mammoth Lakes. A fourth city, Atwater, with Hispanics/Latinos comprising 52.6% of its population, is teetering on the brink, having declared a state of fiscal emergency in October 2012.
Since 2001, San José has been forced to make progressively deeper cuts
to balance its budget. In some cases, positions or programs have been
eliminated altogether. In others, programs or hours have been scaled back,
limiting access to important services. The number of sworn police officers and firefighters has been reduced to historically low levels (see Figure 7). These lowered levels have increased response times to all but the most serious situations by 20% and reduced community policing. The police
department has been forced to prioritize cases and is often unable to respond to property damage or theft complaints. (Source: “2012: The City of San Jose’s Budget Crisis“)
All of which is resulting in crime being rampant in San Jose thanks to the near-bankrupt city having fired hundreds of cops.
The San Jose Mercury News reports, Dec. 9, 2012, that the city’s residents can’t get police to respond to break-ins because the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) “is woefully short-handed, its burglary unit fanned out to patrol while the city scrambles for new recruits as officers flee deficit-driven pay and benefit cuts. And even flush departments don’t follow up every reported theft.”
Kurt Loeswick found that out when his home near Branham High School was burglarized Nov. 9. Glass was broken and valuables were missing. He and his neighbors had evidence a neighbor kid was involved and, on their own, succeeded in recovering a stolen safe. But the police haven’t responded, even after neighbors reported a similar string of break-ins.
“I can’t do much more unless I take a vigilante stand,” Loeswick said. “And I don’t do that.”
He’s made a report to the Independent Police Auditor. And with his neighbors, he emailed complaints to the mayor and council. In response, mayoral agenda manager Sara Wright emailed Loeswick and his neighbors a link to the mayor’s opinion piece on his budget and public safety strategy.
“This is not the time to give Mayor Chuck Reed a public relations promotional moment,” neighbor Michelle Holtz shot back. “We, the people of this neighborhood, have done about as much foot work on this particular case as possible, unless we need to perform a couple of citizens arrests as well.”
A big reason for San Jose’s fiscal crisis is its bloated employee pension system, which is a problem shared by cities across California and other U.S. states. To illustrate, here’s a chart showing how the city’s contributions for pension and retiree health care costs have increased 334% in just ten years from $73 million in 2001-2002 to $244 million in 2010-2012!