If there is one topic which has dominated political debate in this country for the past year it is taxes: who should pay, and how much? For most people the answers are "not me" and "not much." That is exactly why what a group of downtown property owners did stands out. They not only taxed themselves, the liked it so much they did it again.
There was a reason Chuck Hammers opened his very first pizza restaurant in San Jose: it was the only place that would have him.
The year was 1986 and Chuck had recently graduated UC Berkeley. He says they only downtown where the rents were low enough for a 25-year-old with no restaurant experience to open a shop was San Jose.
Hammers grew that first restaurant into what is now a 20-outlet Pizza My Heart restaurant chain.
Because of the opportunity San Jose had given him, Hammers had always wanted to give something back to the city.
In 2008, with city revenues plummeting and services being slashed, Hammers saw his opportunity. He, and other downtown property owners offered up a plan to help the keep the downtown streets clean, without costing the city any more money.
It was the birth of the Groundwerx program.
To pay for the plan, the property owners voted to tax themselves. They've been so happy with the results, they just voted to do it again.
To see just what Groundwerx does, and why the city calls it a success, watch Garvin Thomas' story above.