Rumor Control – the “14 Acre” Civic Center Fiction

One of the more ludicrous claims being circulated nowadays is that “the City wants to sell 14 acres of the Civic Center!”  This takes on many variations, but it invariably degenerates to a bizarre assertion that Sunnyvale wants to sell off a large chunk of the Civic Center “to benefit developers”, and “14 acres” is the number that’s normally tossed out by people apparently focused on scaring residents into some sort of action.

The source of this particular piece of absurdity is a cartoon in a PowerPoint presentation that the City displayed as part of a discussion of the future of the Civic Center back in 2012.  This was a public study session held at the Sunnyvale Library, well-publicized, and attended by a good 100-150 residents.  In it, staff outlined the problems with the current Civic Center, and they talked about possible approaches to solve them.  One of the solutions that was discussed was the idea of a public/private partnership (PPP), which I mentioned in an earlier post.  To illustrate the general concept of a PPP, staff displayed an overhead view of the Civic Center and overlaid four colored blocks, one representing “Civic Center” services, two representing potential “Residential” property, and one representing potential “Commercial” property.  I looked on the City’s web site to find an image to link to, but the cartoon is apparently no longer even there, for some obvious reasons.

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04/28/2015 Council Preview – Peery Park Specific Plan

Sort of a one-topic evening.  We start the evening with yet another closed session to discuss ongoing labor negotiations, but only one pre-meeting session for a change.

The general session starts with not one but two special orders.  The first is our annual Public Safety special awards, for officers and members of the public who have performed distinguished service in the past year.  The second is our annual recognition of certified green businesses.

The consent calendar is pretty minor, since we just met last week – appointing of a new NOVA board member, our annual approval of the master work plans for the boards and commissions, and our hazardous waste agreements for the next three years.

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Rumor Control – Civic Center “Plans”

We’ve been hearing a lot of misinformation circulating the city in recent months, some of it propagated by uninformed individuals, some of it being deliberately spread, unfortunately.  At any given time, there’s always someone making bizarre claims about the city, and you can’t do this job very long before you develop a thick skin to this kind of nonsense.  But sometimes the rumors gain legs, and it becomes important to set the facts straight.  I’m going to spend some time over the next couple of weeks trying to knock a few of these things down.

One of the rumors I keep hearing is that the city has been secretly negotiating with developers to build the Civic Center, and that the city has even developed new plans for the Civic Center, specifically for private high-rise offices on the Civic Center property along El Camino.  There was even a rather bizarre claim of 140′ tall buildings on El Camino.  I’ve now heard a number of variants of this – that we want 6-10 story offices, 6-story apartments, you name it.

For the most part, this is all nonsense.  But I’ll explain where it came from, and how reality is now being (deliberately) distorted.

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04/21/2015 Council Preview – Art and Mixed Use Projects

Another diverse night.  We’ll be holding this meeting in memory of Sunnyvale resident Michelle Philips, who passed away last month.

We start the evening with another closed session regarding ongoing labor negotiations.  This is followed by a study session on transportation policy and process.  This is obviously a pretty broad topic, but the discussion should be more focused than it sounds.

The general meeting starts with special recognition of the Serra Little League program.  The Serra All-stars won the District 44 and Section 5 championships last year, and we’re recognizing that. The consent calendar is pretty typical.  We’ve got a couple of public works-related contracts, including the replacement of the roofs at four of our six fire stations.

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State Issues Sunnyvale Water Reduction Requirement

The State Water Resources Control Board issued its draft recommendations for mandatory water cuts for the various CA jurisdictions today.  If I’m reading it correctly, they are telling Sunnyvale to achieve an additional 16% reduction in water use.  They based their cuts on needing to reduce urban water usage by 25%, adjusted according to how much jurisdictions have voluntarily reduced their water use in recent years.  In other words, areas that have already cut back aren’t being penalized for the work they’ve already done, and areas that have not are being told to do their share.

We will be addressing this in Council in the next few weeks, after staff has digested this and the legal requirements and developed a specific plan.