From the Desk of 

March 19, 2024

Mayor's March Budget Message FY 24-25 Our budget advocacy begins today!

Today, the San José City Council will be considering Mayor Mahan’s March Budget Message, which includes directions to the City Manager for how to structure the City’s budget for the coming fiscal year beginning in July. You can read the full memo here.

Unfortunately, while the Mayor’s Budget Message explores additional opportunities to fund arts, culture, and tourism programs and other initiatives to improve the vibrancy and quality of life in San José, we have serious concerns with a continued reliance on one-time or bridge funding to “fill the gaps.”

Of particular concern is the neglect to address either a “Private Percent for Art” or a full or partial reallocation of the Transient Occupancy Tax (aka “TOT” or “Hotel Tax”), both of which are SJAA policy priorities.

We just sent a letter to the City Council letting them know where we stand. Now, we need your help to boost the signal!

We know you’re busy, so we drafted a message you can personalize and send to the Mayor and City Council to let them know you support SJAA’s priorities to improve City funding for arts and cultural programs. You can go here to edit and send a pre-populated email or see below for a cut-and-paste version.

Unfortunately, the Council recently decided to suspend online comments during public meetings. So if you want to speak up during the meeting, you’ll have to show up at City Hall in person. Here’s more info on how to participate or watch a City meeting.

However you choose to make your voice heard, we appreciate your advocacy, and we thank you in advance!

SUBJECT: City Council 3/19/2024 – Item 3.3: Mayor’s March Budget Message

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council,

My name is YOUR NAME, and I am a San José Arts Advocate. I am writing regarding Item 3.3 on your agenda for Tuesday, March 19, 2024: Approval of the Fiscal Year 2024-2025 Mayor’s March Budget Message.

Despite existential threats, San José’s creative industry continues to be a critical component of our city’s economic engine and Downtown’s recovery. According to a 2023 Americans for the Arts study, San José’s nonprofit arts sector alone generates $292M in annual economic impact, supports over 4,700 jobs for local residents, and contributes $6M in direct local taxes. This financial impact is a tremendous return on the City’s modest annual investment in cultural grants that help keep these organizations afloat and city cultural centers maintained.

I appreciate the Mayor’s intention in his March Budget Message to explore additional funding opportunities to support arts, culture, and tourism programs and other initiatives to improve the vibrancy and quality of life in San José. However, I have serious concerns with the Mayor’s continued reliance on one-time or bridge funding to “fill the gaps.”

Of particular concern is the neglect to address a “Private Percent for Art” policy, which has been a City Council priority since 2020. Such a policy could meaningfully improve the city’s built environment and generate desperately needed infrastructure for local artists, arts nonprofits, and small businesses that live under constant threat of displacement by large developments. There are many cities in the Bay Area and throughout California which have successfully implemented a Private Percent for Art policy. San José needs to stop dragging its feet on this issue.

Also unaddressed in the Mayor’s March Budget Message is the option of allocating a greater portion of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue to arts, culture, and tourism programs. During the Council’s recent study session on Arts, Destination Marketing, and Destination Events (Feb. 16, 2024), three different TOT funding scenarios were examined, yet none of these are currently being recommended for further examination.

Instead, the Mayor has chosen to focus on only one of the 12 funding options presented at the study session: an admissions fee for San José events. While the potential for revenue generation from such a fee is immediate and measurable, it would effectively create an additional burden for arts patrons and presenters alike. Any such fee would need to be structured to keep the programs provided by arts and cultural organizations accessible to our entire community and anyone visiting San José to experience those programs.

While considering the Mayor’s March Budget Message, I call on you to direct OEDCA staff to work with San José Arts Advocates, the local developer community, and other stakeholders to return to the Council with a Private Percent for Art ordinance for your consideration prior to the close of Fiscal Year 2023-24.

Furthermore, I ask that you direct City staff to conduct further financial modeling of a full or partial reallocation of TOT dollars and/or the establishment of a baseline of TOT revenues allocated to the General Fund with the “net new” allocated to arts, destination marketing, and destination events.

In addition to serving as an economic driver, the arts continue to provide equitable, inclusive, and accessible opportunities for learning, leisure, and community building in our city. It is within your power to ensure that our arts industry receives the resources it needs to survive.

Thank you for your service and your consideration.



EMAIL TO:,,,,,,,,,,;,,,,,,,,,,,,