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Measure T – Disaster Preparedness, Public Safety, and Infrastructure Bond

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Measure T?

A: Measure T is a $650 million general obligation bond measure that will appear on the November 2018 ballot in San José. If approved by voters, bond proceeds could be used to acquire land or construct public improvements identified in the measure related to public safety and disaster preparedness. Also, assuming that the $650 million principal amount in Bonds authorized by Measure T is issued, at least $300 million in bond funds will be used for repaving streets and potholes in the worst condition.

Q: Why is Measure T on the ballot?

A: Measure T was placed on the ballot by the San José City Council. Many city services, such as public safety, disaster response, and transportation, rely on physical infrastructure. As the City has grown and technology has changed, many of our public safety and emergency response facilities have become outdated and undersized, and some streets have fallen into disrepair. Measure T would allow the City to invest in these areas.

Q: What is a general obligation bond?

A: General obligation bonds are a way for local government agencies to borrow money and repay it over time out of property tax revenue. The State of California Constitution provides that a city may issue general obligation bonds for the acquisition and improvement of real property if authorized by two-thirds of its voters. General obligation bonds are payable only from ad valorem property taxes, which is a tax assessed as a percentage of assessed property value. The ad valorem tax is required to be levied in an amount sufficient to pay interest and principal on the bonds coming due in each year. These property tax revenues are generated from an additional property tax that is distinct from general property tax collections and are dedicated to paying debt service on the bonds and cannot be levied or used for any other purpose. General obligation bonds are generally issued over a period of years and then repaid over a twenty- to thirty-year period from the date of issuance. More information on the cost of the bonds can be found in the Tax Rate Statement.

Q: Is there a list of projects to be funded by the bond?

A: All bond projects would need to fall within the broad project categories established in the ballot language, which reads as follows:

  • Upgrade 911 communications, police, fire, and paramedics facilities to improve emergency and disaster response;
  • Repair deteriorating bridges vulnerable to earthquakes;    
  • Repave streets and potholes in the worst condition;    
  • Prevent flooding and water quality contamination; and    
  • Repair critical infrastructure.

The City Council has also adopted an allocation plan that provides more specificity as to the projects eligible for bond funding.

Q: Which streets would be repaved with bond funds?

A: The bond sets aside $300 million to repave streets in the worst condition. The City ranks the condition of streets based on a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) which is expressed as a numerical score between 0 and 100. The below chart illustrates how PCI score ranges correspond to pavement condition.

PCI Categories 

388 miles of local and neighborhood streets score between 0 and 49 PCI, within the poor, very poor, and failed condition ranges. The City’s Department of Transportation estimates that repaving these streets would cost $300 million. The $300 million set aside in the bond measure could be used to fund repaving of all local and neighborhood streets that score between 0 and 49 PCI.

For your reference, the City maintains an online map that color codes every street in San José according to its PCI range, and has also published a complete list of all streets between 0 and 49 PCI.

Q: Are there restrictions on how the Council can spend bond proceeds?

A: Yes. By state law, the Council may only spend general obligation bond funds on the acquisition and improvement of real property. Additionally, the Council may only spend bond funds on projects that fall within the categories listed in the full text of the measure. The Council may not spend bond funds on operating expenses or equipment purchases.

Q: How much will the issuance of the bonds cost homeowners?

A: The City estimates that repayment of Measure T bonds would result in an average levy of 11¢ per $1000 of assessed value for properties located in San José. Note that the assessed value of a property is different from a property’s market value. The assessed value of a property can be found on a property tax bill or on the County Assessor’s website. More information on the cost of the bonds can be found in the Tax Rate Statement.