Is Santa Clara Overpaying for the Santa Clara Weekly?

January 16, 2017

Rod Diridon
City Clerk
City of Santa Clara
1500 Warburton Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050

Dear Mr. Diridon,

Thanks for meeting with me last year after we sent our complaint about advertising dollars being wasted in the Santa Clara Weekly. Since our conversation, we’ve done some research.

The Santa Clara Weekly was adjudicated in the City of Santa Clara in 1976, publication number 98550 and was “designated as an official newspaper for the Publication of Legal Notices,” on December 15, 1992.  This is according to an information box  printed in the Weekly.

As you mentioned to me,  the Weekly is the only print newspaper primarily serving the city of Santa Clara. However, there are other means of publishing legal notices in publications that also serve the city of Santa Clara, like the San José Mercury News, Metro News, and others. The list is available from the Superior Court, and entitled “List of General Circulation Newspapers.”

Government Code Sections 6000 and 6008 lay out the framework for being a newspaper of general circulation.  Section 6000 provides:

A “newspaper of general circulation” is a newspaper published for the dissemination of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character, which has a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers, and has been established, printed and published at regular intervals in the State, county, or city where publication, notice by publication, or official advertising is to be given or made for at least one year preceding the date of the publication, notice or advertisement.
Many people in the community have become alerted that the Santa Clara Weekly may not have a bona fide list of paid subscribers. In fact, it is primarily distributed unsolicited to homeowners and businesses. Government code cites, “A list is “bona fide” if it is a “real, actual, genuine subscription list.” You told me that you have no way of knowing the Weekly’s subscription numbers.

Given this information, we believe that the City may be overpaying for legal notices since you don’t know the Weekly’s paid subscribers.  According to our sources, it may be as low as 90. We ask that city staff confirm the circulation of the Weekly before any more advertising dollars are spent with this publication since it may be wasteful. Currently, Silicon Valley Power is advertising with the Weekly.

Also, we believe the city of Santa Clara could save money if it printed legal notices in other publications. We ask that you do an analysis of cost to determine if their rates are lower. City staff should not waste taxpayers’ dollars by overpaying for legal notices when other publications are less expensive and probably reach more residents of Santa Clara.

Burt Field
Stand Up for Santa Clara