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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo hasn’t washed his car since April 3, 2013 — the day he drove the Chevy Volt off the dealership lot.

As Liccardo tells it, it’s one of the few things he hasn’t accomplished since being elected mayor in 2014.

Delivering his final State of the City address Thursday night — under the bright stage lights at the California Theatre — Liccardo used his dirty car as a metaphor for San Jose’s penchant for taking the “long view.”

With the state in an ever-worsening drought, the aging Volt became a “not-so-shining model of water conservation,” an antidote for a made-up disease he described as “temporal myopia” — “short-term thinking that undermines our long-term quality of life” and has led to such things as burning through fossil fuels and underinvesting in public education, he said.

“Throughout our history, San Jose has thrived by overcoming temporal myopia, by fixing our focus on the future,” Liccardo said. “Saving for the future. Investing for the future. That’s the ethos of generations of immigrants that have shaped San Jose’s character: sacrificing in the present, even in the toughest of times, for a better future for our children.”

In his speech, the mayor highlighted “key dimensions” of the city’s future while lauding the accomplishments of his eight year tenure.

Despite the 11 percent jump in homelessness the city experienced throughout the pandemic, Liccardo said he believes San Jose is “finally seeing some hopeful signs” in housing the unsheltered homeless population.

Since the start of the pandemic, the city has doubled down on constructing prefabricated communities that often cost less and are quicker to build than apartments. Liccardo said the three tiny-home projects the city has built have taken 686 residents off the street. Nearly 80% of them remain housed today.

The city is erecting hundreds more quick-build units with the goal of 1,000 under development by the end of the year.

Liccardo also expressed triumph over the city’s financial situation — a drastic change from when he took office in 2015 when the city was “licking its wounds” from the Great Recession and battles with unions over the cost of public pensions.

While San Jose is still working to restore city services — many impacted by pandemic-related budget cuts — the mayor spoke about the recent “promising results,” including opening libraries for the first time on Sundays in 16 low-income neighborhoods, repaving or resealing 303 miles of streets and launching a free junk-pickup program.

Liccardo said that wouldn’t be possible without the city getting its “financial house in order.” For the first time in two decades, San Jose’s budget office is projecting a modest surplus for the next five years.

In the wake of a gun-violence epidemic that rocked San Jose last year when a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority employee killed nine co-workers at the light rail yard before turning the gun on himself, the city has made reducing gun violence a priority.

Liccardo asserted San Jose’s leadership in the area as the city recently has banned the possession of ghost guns, required stores to video record transactions, and instituted a first-in-the-nation mandate that will require gun owners to purchase liability insurance.

“We have inspired other cities, and even the California legislature, to propose similar legislation,” Liccardo said. “We’ve also inspired a few groups to sue us. But with the successful advocacy of Tamara Prevost and City Attorney Nora Frimann, we will continue to fight to protect the lives of our kids in court, in City Hall, and in our neighborhoods.”

The evening was hosted by the well-known Bay Area radio duo Lissa Kreisler and Sam Van Zandt, who reunited publicly for the first time since their KBAY-FM morning show went off the air in 2016.

Van Zandt brought a few items along to help Liccardo in his future employment after he terms out this year, including hair spray, self tanner and hair gel, which Kreisler remarked “looks good on Gavin Newsom.”

Councilmember Matt Mahan, who is running for mayor and has been endorsed by Liccardo, praised his achievements.

“Mayor Liccardo’s legacy includes many accomplishments, from protecting Coyote Valley to taking on gun violence, but none is more important than his tireless efforts to right the ship fiscally,” Mahan said. “It’s been a long and difficult process, but we will all benefit in the years ahead from Sam’s prudent stewardship of the city’s finances.”

Mahan’s opponent, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, also congratulated Liccardo in a statement for his “years of service to the residents of San Jose.”

“While there is still much to do to address homelessness, make San Jose safer, cleaner, and more affordable to live in, Mayor Liccardo continued the tradition of mayors supporting big projects that carry on past their tenure — such as the extension of BART into San Jose at the Berryessa Station and funding the electrification of Caltrain, which will be deeply appreciated for generations to come,” she said.

Several community members were also honored Thursday evening, including Reymundo Espinoza, the CEO of Gardner Health, who received the 2022 mayor’s community champion award.

As for Liccardo’s dirty Chevy Volt, he told the Mercury News that he plans on washing his car after he leaves office — unless it rains.

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