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Measure U – 2018 Charter Amendments

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Measure U?

A: Measure U is a ballot initiative placed on the November ballot by the San José City Council.  If approved, it would make two changes to the City Charter.  First, it would remove the Mayor and City Councilmembers from the process of setting their own salaries.  Second, it would allow the City Council to place a competing ordinance on the ballot by a two-thirds vote of the Council and after an independent report analyzing the citizen initiative is accepted by the Council.. 

Q: Currently, who sets the salaries of the Mayor and City Council?

A: The City Charter currently requires that the Mayor and City Councilmembers set their own salaries through a vote of the City Council. Every two years, the Salary Setting Commission recommends to the City Council what the City Council's salaries should be. The recommended salary for all Councilmembers must be the same except the Mayor's may be higher. The City Council may, by ordinance, adopt the Commission's recommendations or a lesser amount but cannot increase the Commission's recommendations. The City Council may also vote to reduce their salaries at any time.

Q: How will Measure U change the council salary-setting process?

A: Measure U would make the Salary Setting Commission the final decision-maker for Mayor and councilmember salaries.  The Mayor and Council would no longer have the ability to set their own salaries.

Under the proposed changes, the Salary Setting Commission would meet every five years and make a final decision as to what the Council’s salary would be.  The Council would not have the ability to review this decision.  In the years between meetings of the Salary Setting Commission, the Council’s salary would increase along with Consumer Price Index (or CPI), but would be prohibited from increasing more than 5% a year even if CPI exceeded that amount.

Q: How would members of the Salary Setting Commission be selected?

A: The City Council wouldn’t appoint the members of the Salary Setting Commission.  The Salary Setting Commission would instead be appointed by the Civil Service Commission, a separate City commission appointed by the City Council.

Q: What is a citizen initiative?

A: The City Charter allows the citizens of San José to place an initiative on the ballot through a petition process.  To qualify an initiative for a special election ballot, proponents must gather signatures from San José voters equal to 8% of total eligible voters within the city.  To qualify an initiative for a general election ballot, proponents must gather signatures equal to 5% of total eligible voters.

Q: Currently, can the City Council place an ordinance on the ballot that competes with a citizen initiative?

A: No.  If a citizen initiative is placed on the ballot, the Charter currently prohibits the City Council from placing an ordinance on the ballot that would serve as an alternative to the citizen initiative.

Q: How will Measure U change the rules for competing ordinances?

A: State law allows city councils to submit measures to the voters, even if they are an alternative to or compete with a citizen initiative.  Measure U would align the San José’s charter with State law and allow the Council to submit an alternative measure to a citizen initiative, provided that two-thirds of the City Council votes to place a competing ordinance on the ballot and after an independent report analyzing the citizen initiative is accepted by the Council.  If voters were to approve both conflicting measures at the same election, the ordinance receiving the highest number of affirmative votes will control.