San Jose: Council takes on construction hiring, billboards

In their first week back after a month-long recess, the San Jose
City Council tightened hiring requirements for some city-backed
projects and took another step in a long process toward allowing
electronic billboards on city property downtown.

Earlier this summer, the council voted to require contractors to
pay workers on projects that get a subsidy from the city a
prevailing wage. On Tuesday, the council added other requirements
around hiring one apprentice for every five journeymen and local

The new ordinance, which allows exemptions for some affordable
housing projects, requires that construction companies make a
“good faith effort” to have local residents perform 30 percent
of the total work hours on such projects. It also says that such
projects must make an effort to hire underrepresented workers, such
as low-income people and veterans, to perform a quarter of the
total apprentice hours.

“I want to make sure we have housing, but I can’t have it on
the backs of our laborers and working poor,” said Councilwoman
Sylvia Arenas.

Despite objections from some council members who disagreed with
the definition, the ordinance defines a subsidy not only as giving
money to a project, but also the reduction, suspension or exemption
of a fee or tax.

The new ordinance comes as the city prepares later this month to
consider adopting a high-rise fee reduction program to jumpstart
the development of thousands of homes downtown.

“This ordinance is a big step,” said Louise Auerhahn,
director of Economic and Workforce Policy at Working Partnerships
USA, a worker advocacy organization.

The council also voted to authorize sending out bids for
billboards on two city properties downtown, with the aim of
generating revenue for the city and reducing blight by eventually
removing billboards in other areas where they are out of place with

The city will put out bids this month, with the goal of having
the billboards installed and operational sometime in the spring or
summer of 2020.

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One of the billboards is set to go at one of a series of locations
that has already been through an environmental clearance, such as
the Hammer Theater or the San Jose Museum of Art, while the second,
which will need environmental clearance, could go at another city
property suggested by a billboard company.

For years, the city had banned jumbo signs, but city leaders
have had renewed appetite for them as a way to increase commerce

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
San Jose: Council takes on construction hiring, billboards