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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
County

Santa Clara CountyCandidate for Supervisor, District 4

Photo of Don Rocha

Don Rocha

City Councilmember
44,942 votes (40.79%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Housing Affordability and Homelessness - Investing Measure A tax dollars wisely for new affordable housing opportunities and support for homeless residents.
  • Traffic, Transportation, and Growth - Promote a regional planning approach to land use, so decisions about housing and job growth benefit every resident, not a select few.
  • Public Safety - Partnering the County with City agencies to address crime and response times, while ensuring first responders have the resources they need to protect you and our families.

Experience

Experience

Profession:San Jose City Councilmember
Councilmember, City of San Jose — Elected position (2011–current)
Boardmember, Cambrian School District — Elected position (2008–2011)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez
  • Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager
  • California State Senator Jim Beall

Organizations (7)

  • Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter
  • Santa Clara County Firefighters IAFF Local 1165
  • Santa Clara City Firefighters – IAFF Local 1171
  • San Jose Police Officers Association
  • San Jose Firefighters – IAFF Local 230
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC)

Elected Officials (36)

  • Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
  • West Valley-Mission Community College District Trustee Karl Watanabe
  • Evergreen Community College District Trustee Craig Mann
  • Evergreen Community College District Trustee Jeffrey Lease
  • East Side Union High School Board Trustee Pattie Cortese
  • Cupertino Union School District Board Member Liang Chao
  • Campbell Union High School District Trustee Stacey Brown
  • Cambrian School District Trustee Jarod Middleton
  • Cambrian School District Trustee Aletta Godden
  • Cambrian School District Trustee Vice President Carol Presunka
  • Former San Jose City Councilmember Nancy Pyle
  • Former San Jose City Vice Mayor Judy Chirco
  • Milpitas City Councilmember Anthony Phan
  • San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez
  • San Jose City Councilmember Tam Nguyen
  • San Jose City Councilmember Sylvia Arenas
  • San Jose City Councilmember Sergio Jimenez
  • Santa Clara City Chief of Police Michael Sellers
  • Former Santa Clara City Councilmember John McLemore
  • Santa Clara City Councilmember Teresa O’Neill
  • Mountain View City Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga
  • Morgan Hill Councilmember Rich Constantine
  • Campbell City Councilmember Susan Landry
  • Cupertino City Councilmember Steven Scharf
  • Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran
  • Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul
  • Santa Clara Unified School District Trustee Albert Gonzalez
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education Board Member Anna Song
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education Board Member Claudia Rossi
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education Board President Rosemary Kamei
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District Director Richard Santos
  • Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Board Member Virginia Holtz
  • Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Board Member Sequoia Hall
  • Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Board Member Dorsey Moore
  • Former Santa Clara County Supervisor Rod Diridon, Sr.
  • Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese

Individuals (2)

  • Former Milpitas City Councilmember Armando Gomez
  • San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Housing Platform

Summary

An overview on how I plan to take action to address the housing Crisis in Santa Clara County.

A thriving community is one where everyone has a roof over their head – from the wealthiest resident to those with more modest means. Unfortunately, the reality in Silicon Valley is that many are one bad break away from homelessness – and it is the County, in partnership with the municipalities within – who must make sure public services and resources are robust enough to interrupt the pipeline to homelessness that currently looms so large over their heads. 
The lack of affordable housing and shelter space in Santa Clara County can be blamed for many of the ills our homeless community faces today. This is why as your County Supervisor, I will prioritize the development of affordable housing and the creation of shelter alternatives. While this will take some time, it is important to be bold in pursuing projects that will add to our shelter capacity in order to decrease the number of unsheltered residents in our communities. With a short term approach and a long term plan, we will tackle this housing crisis in an effective and focused manner. We must leave no stone unturned nor an idea unexamined as we search for opportunities to build the housing we need to be a thriving and equitable community in its truest sense.
   

Income Equity and Impact of our Tech and Corporate Community

It is time for everyone to pay its fair share.
  • Google, Facebook, Apple and countless technology companies have made Silicon Valley the home of wealth the world has never seen. Big tech has made many millionaires – this in and of itself can be a good thing. However, million dollar salaries for a select few without proper housing availability has precipitated a housing stock so slim it is infamous around the country and the world. This means many folks in our community may work several jobs because they cannot afford rent – much less achieve the American Dream and purchase a home. Others are barely holding on to rent or their mortgage – which towers above nationwide averages. These are our teachers, nurses, security guards and servers – and they play an integral role in making sure our region and communities can thrive in the 21st century.
  • Find ways to encourage hesitant municipalities in Santa Clara County to conduct nexus studies in order to examine the feasibility of a countywide Commercial Linkage Fee. Amounts to be received from this source would be entirely contingent on office space. Trillion dollar companies like Apple would be contributing a bit more when they build massive office buildings in the Valley in order to mitigate for associated impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. This revenue stream would provide municipalities with funds dedicated toward the development of affordable housing and infrastructure.
 

Measure A and Fast Development of Affordable Housing

  • Aggressively explore all land options available to the County and identify high impact opportunities where Measure A dollars could supplement the development of anything above 100 affordable housing units. Understanding that the only way we will get out of this crisis is by building affordable housing at an aggressive pace, this is exactly what must be done.
  • Prioritize identifying at least one County-owned parcel per municipality for the building of high density affordable housing upwards of 100 units in size. Low income populations cannot be made to segregate or leave the area altogether. Provisions must be made for all municipalities in Santa Clara County to make way for healthy, mixed income communities of size proportionate with the municipality’s size.  
  • Create a regional planning commission with Mayors, Councilmembers and Planning Commissioners from the municipalities in the County to plan out the use of Measure A dollars proportionately and responsibly. To find solutions to this crisis, we must solidify our communications structures. Having structured conversations involving our municipal leaders should be a great start to that end. 
  • Prioritize incentives structured to encourage cities to meet its RHNA goals. The Regional Housing Need Allocation is a state mandated formula which serves as a goal to municipalities on exactly how many units are needed at different income levels to slow and decrease homelessness as well as keep communities income diverse and vibrant. None of our municipalities meet all goals, and often times affordable housing is the one to be ignored. The County must find ways to incentivize the meeting of these goals, or work with the State to encourage it in a more aggressive manner. 
 

Homelessness, Housing and Vulnerable Communities

  • Opening at least four new homeless shelters in our County (Palo Alto has none currently). The even distribution of shelter facilities along Santa Clara County should lead to ready access to safety for the thousands of unsheltered and otherwise homeless residents in any corner of the County. What’s more, the lack of shelter facilities in the north County area puts the burden on San Jose and south County to provide these facilities to growing populations of unsheltered individuals. 
  • Ensure the proper operations on current County-funded shelters by conducting end user studies to inform future funding/operation decisions. Getting smart about the performance and quality of our shelters by doing research on the opinions and experiences of the shelter users themselves is a priority of mine. Services that better address the needs of homeless individuals will be better investments because they will be used more by individuals looking to get back on their feet. 
  • Establishing lawful sanctioned encampments in parking lots located in industrial areas at municipalities where such options exist. By leveraging private sector donations and nonprofit organizations such as Hope Village, conduct supervised sanctioned encampments in safe areas which can house up to 40 individuals in a more humane manner than currently exists. Ensure social services and basic hygienic facilities are available.

Traffic Platform

Summary

An overview on how I plan to address traffic in Santa Clara County as your Supervisor.

Santa Clara County has seen tremendous growth over the past decades – and with companies like Cisco, Google, Apple & Facebook making (or already having made) our region their home for the foreseeable future, elected officials need to be thinking ahead to make sure we are able to handle it and maintain our quality of life. Although limited in terms of tangible land use policies, the county is still able to play an outsized role in whether our transit infrastructure is able to accommodate impending growth, as well as acting as a mediator between cities to help make sure there is equity in addressing population increases.
   

My Record & Going Foward

As a councilmember, I supported and made policy that encouraged and invested in multimodal transportation to reduce the number of cars on the road and reduce congestion on our streets. As a part of that effort, I fought for higher Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) thresholds for commercial and industrial development projects to make sure new projects were designed to minimize the number of vehicles filling our streets. I also put in place road diets to make alternative modes of transportation more appealing and safer for residents. Finally, as more commuters have been taking trips each day and cutting through residential neighborhoods to find faster routes to and from work, I have increased pedestrian safety by adding crosswalks and crossing guards (especially near schools) to make sure our roads stay safe.
The county is ideally situated to help deal with increasing traffic in the region by convening cities to practice smarter and more equitable planning, and can improve public public transportation through the VTA to help make getting around car-free an option for all residents.
 

Regional Planning Commission

Unfortunately, county supervisors do not have authority over land use policy throughout the county. As Supervisor, I would establish a County land use policy commission that would bring together representatives of all the cities in the County to develop a joint strategy to accommodate growth in an efficient and equitable manner. Prioritizing even distribution of housing & jobs that are close to each other and public transit systems throughout our region is what will allow our region to handle an increasing population.
I would also advocate with the State and MTC on how land use is governed at the higher levels of government and how financial resource flow down to cities based on land use decisions to encourage this beyond of what the County can do on its own.
 

Transit Investment & Efficiency

The County has been a leader by investing in regional transportation systems that make it easier for everyone in the bay are to get around. A success story of this investment has been the County’s involvement in Caltrain – which has seen a spectacular increase in weekday ridership over the past eight years. Making sure Caltrain is fully funded is essential. The County should look for ways to invest further – as we have seen it has proven itself to be an effective use of funds to reduce traffic congestion.
On the other side, transit/bus system here. Ridership on the bus system has declined from 47 million riders in 1999 to 27 million in 2017.  Part of this decline can be attributed to new transportation technologies and the rise of private bus systems. However, public transportation can still play an important role, but to be successful in a modern world, it requires thinking differently about how it is implemented.
In the short term, the County with the VTA should review service plans and strike the proper balance between access (the number of people who have convenient access to transit) and efficiency (the amount of ridership per dollar spent).  Over the medium to long term, more significant changes to the service delivery model should be considered. One option the county has is to evaluate expressways and other roads to see if adding Rapid Bus Transit would be a feasible in order to make the system more efficient to use for commuters and residents.
 

Environmental Platform

Summary

How I plan to address environmental issues on the Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors plays a critical role in making sure that our parks and opens spaces, and overall environment, are as good – if not better – than the one that we leave for our children and future generations. As a Councilmember, I have worked to make sure San Jose follows this path, and I intend to do the same as a County Supervisor. I am incredibly proud of the endorsements my campaign has received from The Sierra ClubLeague of Conservation Voters, and various Board Members for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, to make sure that the County moves forward with sound environmental policy. With uncertainty at the federal level, it is more important than ever that local governments enact policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint in the ongoing global effort to combat climate change.
   

My Record & Going Foward

As a Councilmember, I helped play a role in San Jose’s adoption of its Climate Smart San Jose Plan – which helps make sure San Jose remains at the forefront of green and renewable energy, as well as be a model for best practices of how cities can reduce their carbon footprint. As a part of those efforts, I successfully advocated and secured funding for increasing public transit systems, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as advocating for tougher analysis of projects in terms of their effect on traffic and vehicle miles traveled each day.
I also fought to protect North Coyote Valley from environmentally harmful development, and have continually supported the conservation and restoration of our wetlands. I also proposed that CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) reviews be done by City consultants instead of third-parties, in an effort to make them less costly, as well as increase reliability and dependability of the analyses. Additionally, on a micro-level, I also proposed a phase-out on gas-powered leaf blowers to reduce noise & air pollution.
Having worked on these issues for over seven years, I am confident in my ability to deliver tangible policies that will improve Santa Clara County’s environmental conditions.
 

Preserve Open Space

Our County’s parks and open spaces are one of our area’s greatest assets. Making sure that they are preserved, restored when appropriate, and expanded when possible is incredibly important. They provide places for families and young people to explore nature, they add to our quality of life, and play an important role in keeping Santa Clara County one of the most beautiful regions in the country.
 

Promote Eco-Friendly Policies & Behavior

The County of Santa Clara is the third largest employer in our County, which means Supervisors can play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint of the region just by changing or improving its own actions. The County should be a leader that cities and corporations in Silicon Valley can look to for best practices. As Supervisor, I would take the fight for the following policies to make that a reality:
  1. Pursue green energy facilities (solar arrays, for example) on property that it owns.
  2. Convert its automobile fleet over to green energy vehicles.
  3. Support transit service on transportation facilities that it controls (namely, expressways.)
  4. Ensure that new County buildings are constructed to the highest green building standards, and aggressively implement energy efficiency measures to reduce energy use in County facilities and along County right-of-ways.
  5. Maximize water efficiency in County parks (our water supply system uses lots of energy, and therefore contributes significantly to carbon emissions.)
 

Regional Planning

Establishing a planning commission that brings together City representatives to make sure our cities are implementing their General Plans in a way that works with each other – rather than against one another. CO2 emissions from long commutes each day make up a huge portion of Silicon Valley’s carbon footprint. A regional approach to City planning focused on shortening commutes and viable transit alternatives will go a long way in reducing the number of trips that are taken each day.
It is for this reason I would advocate for the creation of a Regional Planning Commission consisting of County Supervisors, City Councilmembers, and Planning Commissioners throughout the County that would focus on making sure our County grows such that jobs and housing are accessible without extended commutes.
 

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