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Community Letter about 2020 Mid-Year Update

Post Date:06/17/2020 9:45 AM

From the Office of the City Manager

2020 Mid-Year Update

June 17, 2020

Greetings Santa Clara Community,

This week we will be holding our annual State of the City events and, on behalf of the City team, I am sharing a mid-year update on our many accomplishments and activities. You will see in the attached listing of accomplishments that we have achieved great success over the last year and have handled the COVID-19 crisis while helping Santa Clarans with essential services.

We are increasingly becoming a data driven organization and, with resident and employee surveys now regularly underway, we are happy to share how we are doing. Data shows that we are moving in the right direction and that there is satisfaction with the efforts underway, for example:  

  • Employee survey showed that over 75% of employees felt favorable about the City as a workplace;
  • Community survey showed 67% of residents believe the City is doing an excellent or good job (up from 2018’s 64% rating);
  • 70% of residents believe the City is keeping residents informed; and,
  • Over 50% of the community feels the City is focusing on the priorities that matter most to them and that we are using tax dollars responsibly.(Source: 2019 Employee Survey and 2020 Community Survey)

Understandably, due to the public health and economic crisis resulting from COVID-19, our priorities have quickly shifted. Where we were once focused on growth strategies for the strategic addition of resources for expanded services, we are now focused on strategic decisions to maintain service levels. During this time of crisis, we have applied resources to address important needs in our community. These activities fall within the context of strong community values and against the backdrop of the City Council’s strategic goals and priorities. In January, the Council was wise to affirm its policy priority areas, which are:

  • Deliver and Enhance High-Quality Efficient Services and Infrastructure
  • Manage Strategically Our Workforce Capacity and Resources
  • Promote and Enhance Economic, Housing and Transportation Development
  • Enhance Community Sports, Recreational and Arts Assets
  • Ensure Compliance with Measure J and Manage Levi’s Stadium
  • Enhance Community Engagement and Transparency
  • Promote Sustainability and Environmental Protection

Accordingly, the attached matrix highlights a select group of initiatives that advance Santa Clara’s interests and quality of life. While many of our residents are appropriately sheltering-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Santa Clara municipal organization remains open and working for our community while ensuring that the County public health orders are being followed. Here are some highlights of the work we have been able to accomplish and continue to pursue:

  • COVID-19 Response – We quickly adapted to providing essential services and maximizing remote working where feasible; implemented a suspension on service disconnections for utility non-payment (electric and water); adopted an ordinance for a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent; expanded the Senior Nutrition Program to provide weekend to-go meals for seniors; collaborated with the Santa Clara Unified School District, Spectra Venue Management, Levy Premium Food Services, Intel and California’s Great America to provide weekend meal service to youth; and partnered with the nonprofit, Mission City Community Fund, to raise funds for the food delivery programs. As of the end of May, the Healthy Meals Program had served a total of 116,084 meals. Many community partners have shown tremendous generosity by donating masks and face coverings. We have received approximately 80,000 donated masks/face coverings. In turn, we have used these donations to benefit the community by supplying them to nursing homes, senior living facilities and residents. The Mayor launched “Mask Up with the Mayor,” an effort where she and councilmembers distribute masks/face coverings and hand sanitizer on the weekends at various locations throughout Santa Clara.

  • Local Economy Response – Established a $1.1 million Small Business/Non-Profit Assistance Grant Program that provides grants in the amount of $10,000 or $5,000 for businesses with at least one, but no more than 25 employees. Grant funds can be used for payroll or lease expenses. This program began accepting applications on April 17 and was one of the first small business assistance grant programs launched in Santa Clara County. To date, the program has awarded $1,095,000 to 152 businesses. To support the continued growth of the grant fund, the Mayor recently partnered with the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce to fundraise. This effort resulted in an additional $30,000 of commitments during its first week.

     

  • Fiscal Management – I quickly shared information about the City’s fiscal condition by releasing a Community Letter that summarized the budget impacts as a result of COVID-19.For this fiscal year (FY 19/20), the city is facing a projected $10 million deficit. This deficit is projected to grow to $22.7 million over the next fiscal year (FY 20/21). This situation is not unique to Santa Clara: local governments throughout the nation are also facing COVID-19 related deficits. The City took immediate actions to reduce expenditures while trying to minimize the effects on public service levels (i.e. implementing a hiring freeze; enacting stricter expenditure controls; decreased part time staffing by 50%). In coming months, we will bring forward budget reduction strategies to resolve our estimated deficits, which may include: reduced parks and recreation programming, fewer library hours and/or programming, longer planning, code enforcement and public safety response times, fewer community events and grants, reduced or deferred capital infrastructure maintenance, and potential layoffs.

  • Strategic Management – Continued development and implementation of several studies to help move the City forward including Downtown Revitalization efforts, completion of the Bicycle Master Plan and updating the Climate Action Plan. Facilitation of development projects continues including processing a record number of building permits, approving new affordable housing units and facilitating approvals for the Related Santa Clara project. Conducting public outreach to help prioritize the future infrastructure needs of the City, as well as virtual tours of community facilities to increase awareness of facility needs. Completed an 18-month effort to change the way the City studies transportation environmental impacts as a part of the California Environmental Quality Act.

  • Transparency –Transparency efforts included a newly redesigned City website and Inside Santa Clara publication after significant public outreach to ensure these items meet community needs. Increased the use of short topic-specific videos as a means of communication, which proved to be a valuable way to connect with the community during the shelter-in-place order. Leveraged technology to disseminate information and host virtual public meetings. We continue to quickly respond to public records requests, e.g., 483 public records act requests, with 12,324 unique sub-requests, and closed 474 requests with 12,401 sub-requests from July 1, 2019 through June 1, 2020. Continued developing and sharing community letters on various services/areas and the City Manager Biweekly Reports; introduced the City Hall News publication to ensure residents and employees have access to the latest information regarding City work.

     

  • Innovation and Technology for Process Integrity – Implemented process improvements/efficiencies including the introduction of LaserFiche, a document management system that will streamline document review processes for City staff, and Next Request, a Public Records Act requests management system that allows members of the public to submit requests through a portal. NextRequest increases transparency by providing a searchable archive of previous requests and unprecedented insight into the number of public records requests the City responds to monthly. The City pivoted quickly to new technology to sustain essential services during COVID-19, including greater use of virtual meetings, virtual appointments, contactless payments, virtual library and recreation services, and virtual community engagement.

  • Stadium Authority Management – The Board terminated the Stadium Management Agreement with the Management Company (49ers) for mismanagement of the publicly-owned facility, violations of state and local laws including labor code violations, and apparent self-dealing. In a continuing effort to provide greater transparency, we have provided detailed information about the 49ers’ poor fiscal performance and mismanagement that resulted in losses to the Stadium Authority and City’s General Fund. Additionally, through quarterly financial status reports, we demonstrated the 49ers’ practice of not reporting increased costs and flawed contract awards that cost the Stadium Authority money, and how the 49ers’ booking practices of Non-NFL events resulted in revenue losses of nearly $8 million to the City’s General Fund over three fiscal years. The Board adopted a Stadium Authority budget that requires that the 49ers use public procurement practices (in compliance with federal, state, and local laws) for managing the Stadium. We also updated the Stadium Authority Procurement Policy to require Board approval of all Stadium Authority contracts to ensure complete procurement oversight and 49ers’ compliance with state and local laws related to prevailing wage, public projects and conflicts of interest. Lastly, City staff provided support for twelve (12) NFL games for the 2019 NFL Season, including the NFL Divisional Playoffs and the NFC Championship Game in January 2020, and four Non-NFL events.

Our City is resilient, and we have already accomplished so much together. I am confident that we will continue working together to respond to the new realities we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to take the opportunity to thank our Mayor and City Council, City employees, and Santa Clarans for working together, especially during this unprecedented time, to ensure Santa Clara is a place where people want to safely live, work, play and learn.

In community spirit,

Deanna J. Santana
City Manager

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