Safe Streets. Social Justice. We believe that everyone should be able to walk and ride a bike to their everyday destinations safely and comfortably. Traffic Violence in the City of San Jose claimed 42 lives in 2014 and 44 lives in 2013. We VOTE for candidates who will end these tragic and senseless deaths.
I Walk I Bike I Vote Endorses Both Mahn Nguyen and Tim Orozco!
June 23, 2015 Special Election – San Jose City Council District 4
Deadline to Register to Vote: June 8, 2015
Below are the candidates’ answers to our Five Endorsement Questions, with blue text added to highlight responses supporting our mission of Safe Streets and Social Justice and orange text indicating responses that don’t support our mission. Both candidates scored 19 out of 25 possible points. It’s a tie! What do YOU think?
1. If elected, what would you do to ensure that San Jose achieves the Vision Zero goal of ending all traffic fatalities in the city by 2025? Why?
Mahn Nguyen: Although San Jose has some of the safest streets of any major city, there is a great deal more that San Jose can and must do to reduce our traffic fatalities. If I am elected as the next member of the San Jose City Council, I will work to ensure the fulfillment of Vision Zero’s mission, building a traffic system which places the preservation of human life as its first priority. Vision Zero acknowledges that data-driven decision-making combined with infrastructure investments is the most effective way of making a difference in reducing traffic fatalities, pointing out that over 50% of San Jose’s traffic fatalities occur on just 3% of San Jose streets. These streets should be prioritized for capital improvements to minimize the risk of traffic fatalities, including enhanced bikeways, enhanced crosswalks, and brighter LED streetlights, as well as other street improvements. Additionally, “road diets” should be an option for improving the safety of some major streets. The preliminary data from Lincoln Avenue’s road diet in Willow Glen suggests that similar programs can substantially improve street safety without significantly impacting street traffic.
Tim Orozco: San Jose has created an inspiring model with the Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan to incorporate green vision strategies and pedestrian-friendly measures into the proposals for our city’s future growth. With this goal comes the expectation that San Joseans will be taking more pedestrian eco-friendly alternatives for day-to-day travel. With the Vision Zero Plan, our city joins many cities across the country and around the world in the belief that even one traffic fatality is unacceptable – we can and must do better to end traffic violence in our city. As a neighborhood activist and City Council member, I will work to ensure that the promise of the Vision Zero plan is achieved. I will support the investment of providing brighter LED lighting throughout the City, implementing innovative infrastructure like boulevards, creating economic initiatives in the form of bike-friendly business districts, installing enhanced crosswalks and bikeways on major streets with better signage and signals (not just limited to and around schools or community centers). We should also invest in public safety to make sure our City has the capacity to make regular roadside safety checks. Additionally, I will support the “Street Smarts” program in our schools, to encourage safe traffic habits among our students and to educate traffic dangers to families. It is also important that the Streets Smarts program reaches seniors and multi-lingual households. Overall, we must maintain and continue San Jose’s practice of being a green, bike/pedestrian friendly metropolis and develop strategies to promote the ease at which one can become a bicycle/pedestrian commuter.
2. Which transportation infrastructure investments do you believe are the highest priorities to be included in the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)’s anticipated November 2016 transportation sales tax measure? Why?
Mahn Nguyen: As a San Jose City Council member, it will be important to me to ensure that the City of San Jose receives a fair share of funding from any county-wide tax initiative. In particular, I would want to ensure that adequate funding is available to extend BART from Berryessa all the way to Downtown San Jose, which would finally complete the Bay Area transit rail loop. Additionally, it should include infrastructure investments to support Bus Rapid Transit, improved light rail efficiency, and walk/bicycle trails.
Tim Orozco: A diverse coalition of elected officials, business leaders, labor organizations, and residents are already coming together in support for the proposed transportation sales tax measure to be on the ballot on November 2016. The revenue generated from such a measure would have a direct effect on the growth of District 4 in San Jose. As BART comes to Berryessa, there is great potential to build a new economic and transportation hub to serve commuters and those in the community. We will work to ensure that BART is extended to its final destinations downtown and to Santa Clara. We will also invest in bus service expansion which will include affordable and accessible service to seniors, youth, those with disabilities and low-income families. Additionally, we should invest in more bikeways and pedestrian walkways. Improving San Jose’s transportation infrastructure is a crucial element of meeting/exceeding San Jose’s green vision goals — improving air quality, creating jobs, and providing the standard quality of life that residents deserve.
3. Do you support the modifications of Montegue Expressway as proposed by Santa Clara County’s Roads and Airports Department? Why or why not?
Mahn Nguyen: I support the proposed modifications as a good first step, but some concerns have been raised and should be addressed before the project proceeds. I have always encouraged the use of alternative transportation, so I am glad that the proposed modifications to Montague Expressway include bicycle-friendly improvements such as shoulder widening and pedestrian-friendly improvements such as continuous sidewalks and crossing enhancements. I am open to community input as to what other specific changes can be made to ensure that Montague Expressway is friendly to alternative transportation. There is a legitimate concern that road modifications designed to increase auto capacity, such as the addition of new lanes, will encourage the use of motor vehicles over alternative transportation options. Although I believe that it is important in the long-term for Silicon Valley to move away from a car-oriented culture, it is also important to ease traffic congestion in the short term because of the serious economic and environmental impacts it causes. For those reasons, I believe that a compromise must be found.
Tim Orozco: I do support the proposed modifications to Montague Expressway. Montague is a major thoroughfare for commuters in Northern Santa Clara County, and as such, requires the adjustments and improvements to alleviate traffic and provide safety for those on the go. However, we must remember that commuters on Montague are not just car drivers, they are bikers and walkers as well. According to the League of American Bicyclists, San Jose saw a more than 30% gain in bike commuting between 2000 and 2012. The proposal to extend sidewalks for the entire length of the expressway and to widen shoulders and re-stripe bicycle travel areas is commendable. We must also ensure there is the proper signage and lighting to alert drivers to be cautious of pedestrians and bikers and to stay within the appropriate speed limits. The County and cities can also make a greater effort to encourage taking public transportation alternatives.
4. If elected, what would you do to reduce motor vehicle traffic resulting from events at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara?
Mahn Nguyen: As an elected official, I would work closely with the City of Santa Clara to ensure that patrons of Levi’s Stadium are encouraged to utilize alternative and public transportation options. We live in a car-oriented culture, but by making public transportation accessible, inexpensive, and convenient, we can encourage sustainable modes of transportation. Specifically, I would like to see full access to the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail restored so that patrons can bike to the stadium, and the continuation of increased VTA light rail service on game days to reduce delays.
Tim Orozco: Event traffic, parking and public safety are serious issues for communities surrounding Levi’s stadium. On the City Council, I would like to work closely with the City of Santa Clara and local businesses to create a better regional effort to reduce motor vehicle traffic and provide the parking accommodations to serve event-goers (parking structures/lots, shuttles, etc.) However, the greater goal should be among the cities, VTA, the County and others to increase light-rail ridership and lead campaigns to encourage routine biking and walking to and from the stadium.
5. Do you support raising San Jose’s minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020 and to $20/hour by 2025? Why or why not?
Mahn Nguyen: San Jose and Silicon Valley are among the most expensive regions in the world in which to live. Recent studies have shown that our high cost of living makes San Jose’s current minimum wage of $10.30 only worth about $5.91 in actual dollars. With an average apartment renting for more than $2,000/month and the average cost of owning a home exceeding $1 million, it is virtually impossible for anyone making minimum wage in San Jose to actually live in San Jose. Other major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles have already committed to raising their minimum wages to $15 or more, and the state of California is phasing in a higher rate as well. This means San Jose could raise its minimum wage without creating a competitive disadvantage for local businesses. For these reasons, I would be supportive of raising San Jose’s minimum wage — provided that this increase is phased in over time and takes into account the challenges of small business owners, restaurants, and nonprofit organizations, all of which operate on very thin budgets and could be forced to pass along the additional cost to their customers.
Tim Orozco: I wholeheartedly support an increase to San Jose’s minimum wage because I believe fundamentally that anyone who works full-time should not live in poverty. 53% of all minimum wage workers are full-time workers, and 55% of those who would benefit from an increase are women. This is an issue that affects every demographic population in our city. San Jose and the Bay Area remains one of the most expensive places in the country to live and raise a family. Considering that 30 million workers are making less today then workers made in 1968, raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction to help our local economy and provide families and working individuals the much-needed boost to live a quality life in San Jose. Los Angeles recently made the bold decision to raise their minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by 2020. Let’s raise the wage here in the Capital of Silicon Valley and improve the lives of those with the lowest incomes in our City.
Dear Voter, what do YOU think? Nguyen or Orozco?
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I Walk I Bike I Vote Scoring & Analysis
Scoring: Each of the five questions was scored from 1 to 5 by the I Walk I Bike I Vote Board of Directors for a total possible 25 points. 1 is a terrible score, 5 is perfect. Both candidates scored a total 19 points. Pretty good!
1. Vision Zero: Nguyen 5, Orozco 5
Perfect answers from both candidates! Nguyen and Orozco affirmed that San Jose’s transportation system must prioritize human life and that all traffic deaths are unacceptable, officially declared by the City of San Jose as:
Human life takes priority over mobility and other objectives of the road system. The street system should be safe for all users, for all modes of transportation, in all communities and people of all ages and abilities. – Vision Zero San Jose, Core Principle 2.
Both candidates listed many actions the City can take to reduce traffic deaths, including data-driven decision-making, prioritize infrastructure investments according to safety, road diets, LED lighting, Safe Routes to Schools, bike-friendly business districts. We believe both candidates have a comprehensive understanding of how to make streets safer and are committed to its declaration that life is precious and must be protected.
2. VTA Nov 2016 Sales Tax: Nguyen: 4, Orozco: 4
Both candidates cite specific improvements to transit, bicycling, and walking networks that should be funded by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)’s November 2016 Sales Tax. Nguyen’s response is light on the details, but he does state that BART should be extended to Downtown San Jose and not to Santa Clara as suggested by Orozco.
Since Caltrain already serves both Santa Clara and downtown San Jose with rail service, and will be running electric trains to provide frequent and reliable transfers to BART at the Diridon Station (in 2024?), the estimated $800 million BART extension from San Jose to Santa Clara is a spectacularly-wasteful expenditure of public funds. $800 million could fund a major expansion of VTA’s bus service or the County’s entire bicycle plan and more. We need to carefully examine the public benefit of BART to Santa Clara compared to various transit alternatives that could be funded instead.
Otherwise Orozco’s answer was impressive, especially “We will also invest in bus service expansion which will include affordable and accessible service to seniors, youth, those with disabilities and low-income families.” We agree that funding a County-wide Expanded Bus Service Practical for All Residents To Use must be the #1 Priority of the Sales Tax Measure.
3. Montegue Expressway: Nguyen 3, Orozco 2
The answer we were looking for here was “NO” and both candidates answered poorly by declaring in the first sentence that “I support the proposed modifications” to Montegue Expressway. This 6-to-8 lane motor vehicle traffic capacity expansion project is based on outdated traffic congestion management practices inconsistent with current state and local laws and policies, which mandate reductions in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Both candidates did make an effort to insist that walking and bicycling safety measures should be included in the Expressway Widening project, they also failed to observe that such a project is inherently detrimental to local and regional efforts to improve conditions for walking and bicycling. Money spent to widen Montegue Expressway can’t be spent on better bus service or walking and bicycling paths in this part of San Jose instead. Walking or bicycling along or across 8 lanes of car traffic compared to 6 lanes of car traffic is more hazardous since both vehicle speeds and volumes are higher, and crossing distances at intersections are longer.
Neither answers qualifies as “terrible” however, and Nguyen has the edge on Orozco by acknowledging that the Montegue Expressway Expansion could induce more car traffic and is “open to community input as to what other specific changes can be made.”
4. Levi’s Stadium Traffic: Nguyen: 4, Orozco: 4
Neither response was perfect, but both candidates pointed to better public transit, bicycling, and walking options for attending events at Levi’s Stadium. Nguyen prefaced his pro-transit comments with “we live in a car-oriented culture”, indicating a bias toward driving as the “deservedly” dominant mode of transportation. However, Nguyen also cited the restoration of full access to the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail and more VTA Light Rail service to the stadium as practical ways of reducing car traffic. He didn’t mention VTA bus service as another important transportation option to improve.
Orozco outlined a brilliant strategy to reduce motor vehicle traffic in the area with the help of local businesses, and also pointed to increased Light Rail usage as a traffic mitigation strategy. Orozco did point out that walking and bicycling should be encouraged, but failed to mention the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, which is closed to the public during all events at Levi’s Stadium, in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
5. $20/Hour Minimum Wage: Nguyen: 3, Orozco: 4
The answer we were looking for here was “YES”. While neither candidate agreed with $15/hour by 2018 and $20/hour by 2025 for San Jose, both candidates did endorse the $15/hour adopted by several other large cities. Both candidates explained why San Jose’s Poverty Minimum Wage of $10.30/hour is too low and needs to be raised.
Nguyen’s statement of support for a minimum wage increase only if it “takes into account the challenges of small business owners, restaurants, and nonprofit organizations” would mean either lower minimum wages or longer deadlines to meet the mandated minimum wage increases compared to other business. We oppose these exceptions.
Nguyen: 19, Orozco: 19. YOU decide!
.DISTRICT 4 MAP – IF YOU LIVE IN THIS AREA MAYBE YOU CAN VOTE ON JUNE 23
Previous City Council Election Questionnaires