San Jose residents vote to expand police oversight, gambling

San Jose City Hall | Photo: Wikimedia
By Laila Weir - Published on November 04, 2020.

The city of San Jose will expand oversight of its police department and increase gaming at its casinos, while also raising taxes on casinos, after voters resoundingly approved Measures G and H.

Measure G amends the city charter to expand the power of the city’s Independent Police Auditor, add members on the city’s planning commission and let the city council establish timelines for redistricting if results from the U.S. Census are late.

The move to expand police oversight is part of a wave of efforts intended to reform policing in California and around the country. The San Jose Police Department was hit with a lawsuit claiming officers used excessive force during protests after the killing of George Floyd, according to ABC7 News. The San Jose Police Officers' Association came out in favor of the measure, according to KPIX.

“I’m grateful to our San Jose voters and San Jose police officers who overwhelmingly supported Measure G,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in a statement. “History will view Measure G as a critical step forward in our efforts to expand the authority of our Independent Police Auditor and boost police accountability and transparency.”   

The measure also increases the size of the planning commission, which San Jose Inside reports has been criticized for overrepresenting wealthier areas of the city and for a lack of racial diversity.

The measure passed 78.1 percent to 21.9 percent.

Voters also approved by a large margin the "cardroom tax," Measure H, which will raise taxes on two casinos. This will bring in much-needed revenue to the city, which says it is facing major pandemic-related shortfalls, according to the San Jose Mercury News

At the same time, the measure will permit 30 new card tables in San Jose, meaning both Bay 101 Casino and Casino Matrix could add 15 new tables each.  

Mayor Liccardo opposed expanding gambling in the city, supporting a tax raise on the casinos without an increase in tables, according to KPIX. Liccardo told KPIX that he feared negative impacts from increased gambling, citing “the child neglect, the domestic violence that results.”

“Social science has found direct links to gambler activity and gambling addiction," the mayor told KPIX, raising concerns that the eventual costs to the city of increased need for social services would outweigh the tax gains. Nevertheless, close to three-quarters of voters, 73.6 percent, approved the measure.

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