San Jose mayor hosts walk-along, discusses homeless encampment cleanup

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan on Monday hosted a walk-along at the Guadalupe River Trail and spoke to the importance of cleaning up the homeless encampments there amid controversy surrounding how affordable housing dollars will be spent.

The City Council’s recent unanimous decision to allocate about $25 million of Measure E affordable housing funds to place unhoused individuals into short-term shelters raised concerns among housing advocates, who expressed fears of depleting permanent housing dollars.

The mayor, however, highlighted the need for cleaning up the waterways and addressing humanitarian issues while speaking to those who attended the walk-along.

“We’ve got thousands of people living out on our streets and in our creeks without any support,” he said. “People need some basic structure and supportive services, and that’s important for our environment, for our collective well-being. It’s a humanitarian issue, a fiscal issue.”

During a June 11 hearing on Measure E changes and the mayor’s budget, housing advocates acknowledged the need to support the unhoused but also raised issues with the concept of moving funds away from long-term affordable housing amid a housing crisis.

“What really makes a community safe? A permanent, affordable home for everyone is public safety,” said Leslie Zeiger of community advocacy group Showing Up for Racial Justice. “Use Measure E funds for permanent affordable housing as they were intended.”

Mahan said during the walk-along that the city is still investing in permanent affordable housing.

“We’re investing in a variety of interim and transitional housing solutions, but we’re also, as a stopgap measure, looking at immediate alternatives,” Mahan continued.

He further stated that the city needs to comply with the Clean Water Act by June 2025, as the encampments have caused damage to the waterways. A press release from the city alleged a risk of pollution fines to the tune of more than $60,000 per day, per pollutant, should San Jose be found in violation.

The council will vote on Tuesday whether to proceed with a plan to provide shelter to the hundreds living along the city waterways via “safe sleeping sites” — which would feature tents, cots and security.

Mahan said the temporary shelters are necessary to address the homeless crisis.

“People need some basic structure and supportive services, and we have a responsibility for providing that,” Mahan said.

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.