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Mountain View Sets New Minimum Wage Regional Standard

With its decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018 and tie future wage increases to the regional San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index (CPI), Mountain View has set a new regional standard. To keep pace, Silicon Valley cities will need to allow their minimum wage increases to be driven by either the national or San Francisco Bay Area CPI, whichever is higher in the given year.

Currently, a number of South Bay cities, like San Jose, have their minimum wage increases tied to the national CPI. While from 2002 to 2011 the national CPI increased at a higher rate than the San Francisco Bay Area CPI that has not been the case in recent years. The result is that workers in these cities are earning less real wages. It is estimated that full-time minimum wage workers in San Jose will lose $900 in earnings in 2016 because the minimum wage is specifically tied to the national CPI.

By linking the minimum wage to the higher of the two CPIs, regional or a national, we ensure that minimum wage workers do not fall further behind economically.


City of Mountain View First to Raise the Wage to $15 by 2018

The latest victory in the fight to raise the wage occurred last night when Mountain View became the first city in Santa Clara County to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. The vote was 5-2 with Mayor John McAlister and Councilmember John Inks opposing the ordinance.

The City Council agreed to raise the City’s minimum wage in phases to reach the $15 mark. The current wage is set at $10.30 per hour, but will rise to $11 an hour in January of 2016, $13 an hour in January of 2017 and $15 an hour in January of 2018.  After reaching $15, the minimum wage will be tied to the Bay Area’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Additionally, there are no exemptions for certain classes of workers, such as tipped employees or teenagers, thus ensuring that the wage increases apply to all workers, not a select few.

As expected, the Council Chambers were packed with community members and local leaders expressing their support for raising the minimum wage. Yesterday’s vote is another win for Silicon Valley Rising, a campaign launched by the South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships, USA to improve the working conditions of South Bay families.


Palo Alto Minimum Wage Tip Credit is a Guaranteed Lawsuit

The City of Palo Alto is considering a minimum wage tip credit, despite the fact that it is illegal. The proposed credit would authorize employers to pay tipped workers less than the local minimum wage, with the assumption that the employees’ tips would make up the difference.

Specifically, Section 351 of the California Labor Code, which makes tips “the sole property” of the employees, prohibits employers from paying tipped employees “a wage lower than the employer would be obligated to pay if the employee did not receive tips.”  Further research done by the City Attorneys of San Diego and Berkeley and the National Employment Law Project have confirmed that a tip credit is unlawful in California.

The City of Palo Alto must recognize that any attempt to proceed with the minimum wage tip credit will draw a lawsuit which the City will most certainly lose.


Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet for what’s going on in your community

City of San Jose

San Jose is considering recommendations related to the agreement with Taxi San José for the On-Demand Ground Transportation Program

It is recommended that Council accept the report regarding citywide taxicab regulations and operations of taxicabs and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) at the Airport, as recommended by the Transportation and Environment Committee on Oct. 5, 2015.

Where:    San Jose City Council

When:  Nov. 3, 2015 at 1:30pm

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West Valley-Mission Community College District Trustee Area 4 Candidates

The process for filling the vacant seat on the West Valley-Mission Community College District is underway.  Nick Heimlich resigned his seat, creating the vacancy on the board that oversees the maintenance and operation of West Valley College in Saratoga and Mission College in Santa Clara. Here are the candidates, as of today, who are looking to fill the position.

Randi Kinman is a former San Jose Planning Commissioner and community activist. She has more than 15 years of experience working with the San Jose Evergreen Community College District, participating in discussions on educational master plans, bond financing and spending, facilities master plans and educational metrics. She is the current chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Policy Advisory Council (PAC), where she serves on the Regional Equity Working Group (REWG) for One Bay Area and is a member of the Equity and Access (E&A) subcommittee. Prior to the PAC forming she was on the Minority Citizens Advisory Committee (MCAC), also serving on and chairing equity analysis groups.

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Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet for what’s going on in your community

County of Santa Clara

Overview of the Charter Revocation Process.

After the discussion on October 7, 2015 regarding the failure of Spark Charter School to ensure all staff have the clearance and credentials required by state law and the city’s charter, and the closure of the school until these violations were corrected, the Board requested an information item on the charter revocation process.

Where:  Santa Clara County Board of Education

When:  Oct. 21, 2015, 5:00 pm

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Short-Term Rentals: Another Harmful Component of the On-Demand Industry

The on-demand industry is not only affecting employment and workers, but also consumers and communities. One particular segment of the on-demand industry, the short-term rental of homes as hotel rooms via Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey and a number of others, is already having significant negative impacts on cities and neighborhoods. Short-term rentals worsen Silicon Valley’s housing crisis by taking land that was planned, zoned and developed as housing and converting it in part or in whole to a hotel.

It is important to note that in most cities in California, commercial short-term rentals of residential property are illegal unless specific legislation has been enacted to allow them. Like many other businesses in the on-demand industry, short-term rental companies have for the most part moved forward in flagrant violation of local laws and standards.

The harm being done to our communities as a result of short-term rentals can no longer be ignored.  City, state and federal government must move forward on this issue. There is no value in “innovation” that consists of finding new ways to push the costs of doing business onto workers, communities and taxpayers. These damaging practices need to be reviewed with an eye for defending workers’ rights, safeguarding both consumers and communities, and ensuring a fair and a level playing field for all businesses.


Spark Incident Leads to County-Wide Discussion on Future of Charter Schools

The recent investigation at Spark Charter School in Sunnyvale has lit a fire under the Santa Clara County School Board (County Board). In the wake of the child molestation accusations against a Spark employee, the County Board now seems ready to take responsibility for the more than 9,000 students attending the 23 county-approved charter schools.

At the October 6, 2015 meeting of the County Board, Don Bolce, Program Director, Special Projects, detailed the County staff’s investigation of Spark Charter. County staff concluded that, almost a month after school began, the employees had not been vetted and cleared to work with children.  In fact, no employee had gone through the mandated finger-print background check or had current TB test results on file. In short, the school had done nothing to ensure the safety and well-being of its students.

The flames felt by the County Board were further fanned by the absence of Spark administrators and board members from the County Board meeting on the school’s future. The same individuals who had been more than willing to stand before the Board, tout their expertise and ask for the approval of the charter school were nowhere in sight.

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Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet for what’s going on in your community

City of San Jose

San Jose Neighborhoods Commission will discuss Crime-Free Multi-Housing proposal by Council Members Khamis and T. Nguyen; would evict residents for any violation.

On October 7, 2015, the Rules Committee referred the proposed Crime-Free Multi-Housing memo to the Council’s Neighborhood Services and Education Committee for future action, and to the Neighborhoods Commission to discuss the possibility of engaging in public outreach around this topic.

The Neighborhoods Commission discussion should focus on the following:

  • Options for outreach (i.e. a public hearing at a Neighborhoods Commission meeting, multiple meetings in the community, etc.)
  • Recommendation to the Committee about the type of outreach the topic warrants
  • Impact on the Neighborhoods Commission’s adopted work plan should the Commission take on the recommended outreach.

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Before Launching “Crime Free” The City Needs To Become Confusion Free

The City of San Jose is considering the adoption of a Crime Free Multi-Housing Program supposedly designed to facilitate the eviction of problem tenants. However, it is written so badly it places at risk victims of domestic violence, residents who engage in acts of civil disobedience and others who are in no way a threat to their neighborhood.

The discussion over this measure has necessitated the creation of a whole new category of Whopper. Up to this point, Whopper stories were directed at statements that were false or misleading. A Galactic Whopper would identify a bigger lie than a mere Whopper. After hearing the “Crime Free” debate, I am now announcing the designation of INCOHERENCE WHOPPER. An INCOHERENCE WHOPPER column will identify proposals or comments characterized by such stupefying confusion that they boggle the mind.

Below are several excerpts from the comments of city officials during the discussion of Crime Free at the Rules Committee meeting of October 7th.

  1. Rick Doyle (City Attorney): “This is not a city law, this is not going to be a city ordinance, this is not going to be a city…the city is merely participating in a program, and it is a contract between private parties, that is, landlords and tenants.”
  2. Councilmember Johnny Khamis (speaking just a few minutes later): “…this is a program that would be run by our police department…”

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