'The city has endured a lot': SJ mayor gives final State of the City address, months remain in term

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Friday, September 23, 2022
SJ mayor gives final State of the City address, months remain in term
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo gave his final State of the City on Thursday, addressing traffic fatalities and homeless issues.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Following eight years in office, only four months remain for San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

He spoke with reporters ahead of his final State of the City address on Thursday. He reflected on all the country's 10th largest city has overcome in just the last three years.

"We've been through a pandemic, mass shootings, through droughts, flood," Liccardo told reporters. "The city has endured a lot."

The focus of his speech was setting up the city for future success. Among his six key initiatives to be worked on in the weeks ahead, Liccardo detailed anticipated action to help address homelessness and affordable housing, public safety, our water, our planet, our money and most importantly he says, our children.

RELATED: San Jose takes action after 8-year-old boy fatally struck by car while walking to school

Liccardo's address comes less than one week after Jacob Villanueva, 8, was hit and killed by a car while walking to school in San Jose.

The mayor announced the city will be investing nearly $100 million in traffic and roadway safety over the next year.

Beyond that, he said, "I'm talking to our Department of Transportation team also, about what we can do specifically around schools because I think we can do much more."

However, the mayor's critics question equitable action. So far this year, there have been at least 50 traffic fatalities on San Jose roads.

ABC7 News connected with homeless advocate Shaunn Cartwright, with the Unhoused Response Group. She took a ZOOM call from an encampment in south San Jose. Cartwright said her group was passing out fire extinguishers, and reflective headbands to create greater visibility for the unhoused population.

VIDEO: EXCLUSIVE: SJPD steps into the crosswalk as pedestrian decoys for traffic safety

On Wednesday as SJPD employees acted as pedestrian decoys, we saw just how many drivers didn't stop for someone crossing the road.

"We are addressing the largest number of pedestrian deaths, and that is unhoused people," Cartwright said. "I don't see the mayor saying, 'Oh, we're really sorry about Suzy who got struck by a vehicle at three o'clock in the morning.'"

The mayor has called homelessness the city's greatest failure. He delivered promising news on Thursday, as he referenced the most recent U.S. Census.

"We're seeing unsheltered homelessness -- actually for the first time -- dropping," he said. "And that hasn't happened in many, many years."

Liccardo acknowledged the city has a lot more work to do. During his speech, he detailed the strategy for San Jose's water supply, council's upcoming decision on whether to launch the city's own public utility, projecting budget surpluses, and even turned attention to the city's police department.

RELATED: San Jose residents calling for clean-up at homeless encampments: Here's what the city has planned

First proposed by the mayor in 2020, the city could soon move investigations of officer misconduct out of the police department. The timing for this push is significant, after several serious allegations have been made against SJPD officers.

With the California Theater in San Jose as his backdrop on Thursday, Mayor Liccardo reviewed a lengthy to-do list for his remaining months in office.

"I'd like for us all to think about this time as a time when we were able to work together, come together through the tough times of the present, and always keep an eye to the future," he said.

View the mayor's final State of the City address here.

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