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LIST OF ISSUES
"I, my wife, and two sons have lived in Sunnyvale 30 years. We have enjoyed it's lovely parks sports fields, and library. I want to work for you. We need to create more parks, improve our existing library and add more branch libraries within walking distance of schools, without selling off public land to do it. With a lifetime of political involvement and experience, inside and outside the government, I know what it takes to find win-win solutions, navigate the complicated governmental agencies, and get things done."
Parks and Open Space
As Sunnyvale grows we need more parks and playing fields. Of the $55 Million recieved in Park Mitigation Fees since 2010, not one cent has been spent on acquiring new park land. If we don't start acquiring land now for future parks, it will become virtually impossible. If, as many say, the current economic boom is a bubble, when it pops we will have squandered a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire green fields for kids to play in and families to enjoy.
Even more important is that we not give up any of the open spaces we currently have! Once the land is developed, we will have lost forever the opportunity to turn it into a park.
Situation: The entire SF-SJ metro area is growing tremendously, but with no consideration for roads, public transit, schools, parks (see above) housing (above right) or the environment. The strains are obvious in Sunnyvale schools, traffic, and housing. Residents in SF, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Oakland, etc., etc. are all upset.
Problem: The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) was set up by the CA legislature to optimize the environmental and transport aspects of growth. ABAG estimates the SF-SJ-Oakland metro area will grow 30% by 2040 - an additional 2.5 million people. ABAG distributes that equally among all the local towns and cities. So they want San Jose, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, etc. to each grow 30%.
The cities love 30% more office space because it means 30% more tax revenues with little demand on services. Not so much 30% more housing which requires substantially more police, fire and administrative services.
Solution: If there were some all-powerful urban planner in charge they would direct growth where there is good transportation such as rail, BART, light rail, major airport, conflux of highways, maybe a shipping port. (Sounds like SF, SJ, and Oakland - Sunnyvale not so much.) Then public transit would radiate outward like spokes in a wheel and people could commute easily by BART, light rail, bus, or car pool. That would be ideal but it's too late for that.
What we can do is to get ABAG to direct more of the growth to San Jose, which is actually less dense (5,600/sq. mile) than Sunnyvale (6,200/sq. mile). San Jose would welcome more development (they need the money). They have the space and underutilized transit systems for it. We don't. Sunnyvale will still grow like the rest of the Bay Area, but at a manageable pace, while schools and public transit catch up with the recent hyper-growth.
The affordability of housing is an issue around the Bay Area. Rents and housing prices are skyrocketing as more people move in. (see "Growth" - lower left). Sunnyvale seems to be at the epicenter of this.
There is no solution that will please everyone. Cities like San Francisco tried rent control - rents skyrocket. Government built housing become nightmare "projects" people want to escape from. Mandated low-rent housing are available only to a lucky few who sit on waiting lists for months or years to get in.
In the supply-demand equation "supply" is land and they stopped making it. As more people move in, density increases, increasing the demand for land so the price of land goes up. Then the height of buildings goes up to increase the rental income on the more expensive land. Building higher adds significantly to the cost per square foot, so up go rents and housing prices even more. Single family homes become 2-story duplexes and townhomes. Two-story garden apts. become 5-story block apts. You can't build more streets so traffic worsens.
Building more doesn't decrease rents. Look at NYC if you want to see what increased density does to housing prices.
The only real solution is directing new housing to the cheapest parts of the SF Bay area where land prices are low enough you can build housing that ordinary working people can afford.
Worsening traffic is an inevitable consequence of growth. You can't have one without the other.
We can't undo what has been done, but we can provide better public transit (perhaps private buses during rush hours), traffic enhancements such as "round-abouts" at intersections as in Europe (and parts of Sunnyvale) to provide constant traffic flow, and some side entrances and exits at major trouble spots. Particularly near the new Apple headquarters, we need to discourage through traffic while allowing residents and public safety ready access.
We have a "General Plan" which was set with community input but it has no legal standing so the city council ignored it and authorized much more development than the plan called for.
We need to consider making the general plan binding and voted on by residents. There are many ways this can be done but it won't happen with the current make-up of the city council.
The "Stone Age" didn't end because people ran out of stones but because they found something better. With solar, and wind energy and cheap long-lasting energy storage, we will see more change in how we get and use energy in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 100. Sunnyvale needs to be a part of that. We need to encourage electric vehicles, renewable energy by business (the major consumer), biking, and public transit.