11/15/2011 Council Summary

Pretty short night, all things considered.  Councilmember Lee was absent (excused).

We started the evening with a study session to discuss our various intergovernmental relations assignments.  There are some 20 or so local or regional bodies on which we get representation, and every year we reshuffle the assignments.  Last year, the changes were pretty minimal, since it was in between elections.  This year, with three seats changing, a lot of the assignments will be changing.  In addition, it turns out that several assignments belonging to councilmembers who are still in office will be changing hands as well, since people have chosen to drop them (for various reasons, usually lack of interest or scheduling conflicts).  So we went through who wants to relinquish what and who is interested in the available assignments.  We will be voting on them at the January 10th meeting.

We then went into the general meeting, and members of the public pulled 1G from the consent calendar.  We then approved the balance of the consent calendar on a 5-0 vote.  1G is a retroactive pay raise for public safety employees, and three members of the public spoke against the benefit.  But we then approved it on a 5-0 vote.  An explanation is in order, since even councilmembers who opposed the PSOA contract renegotiation supported this.  We have a signed contract with PSOA that says that we will give them annual raises based on a survey of public safety salaries in nearby cities.  There’s a complex formula that calculates the raises in October, even though the city’s fiscal year starts in July.  Some of the speakers criticized elements of the agreement, both the retroactive increase and aspects of the salary survey.  But whatever people think about the specifics of the agreement, that doesn’t change the fact that we do have a signed contract with PSOA and PSMA, and this action fulfills the city’s contractual obligation.  And the raise is retroactive to July because the survey couldn’t be completed until October, but the contract specifies that the raises take effect in July.  While we could have voted against doing this, the alternative was to be in breach of contract with PSOA and PSMA, and to open ourselves to significant and indefensible legal action.  So of course we fulfilled our contractual obligation.

And during discussion of this issue, staff informed us that they needed to pull item 5 from the agenda and bring it back, due to a wording problem.

We then moved on to the general items.  Under item 2, we voted to fill a spot on the Arts Commission and one on the Heritage Preservation Commission.  For the first one, there was a tie between two of the three candidates in the first round of voting, which required a second round of voting.  After that second round, we appointed Misuk Park to the Arts Commission.  For the second one, we had one nominee for one spot, and we appointed Dale Mouritsen to the Heritage Preservation Commission.

Item 3 was a bit different.  It involved renewal of an existing taxicab franchise, but staff recommended against the renewal due to problems with that specific company.  With little discussion, we supported staff’s recommendation and denied the renewal on a 5-0 vote.

And Item 4 involved yet another awarding of a new franchise, which we approved rather quickly on a 5-0 vote.

Finally, based on staff’s earlier comments, I moved to bring back item 5 at our next meeting, and that passed on a 5-0 vote.

That was it for the regular items.  During non-agenda items, I proposed a new study issue, which was co-sponsored and added to the list.  As you may or may not know, we require new commercial developments to spend 2% of their development costs on artwork located on site.  In some discussions we had during interviews for the Arts Commission, there was some speculation that that requirement may not create the best artistic impact to the city, which got me thinking.  The end result of this process is that we get a whole lot of art concentrated in certain private buildings where they may or may not be available to the general public, while some public facilities have no artwork whatsoever and no prospects for funding any artwork.  So I proposed that we examine changing our art dedication fee process to either require or permit developers to pay some of that 2% charge as an “in-lieu” fee, which the city would then use to fund art elsewhere in the city – artwork in parks, in civic buildings, whatever.  Bottom line is that I suspect some developers would prefer to simply pay cash to absolve that responsibility, rather than spending time and effort.  And this would give Sunnyvale flexibility to fund artwork where it’s most needed, rather than where development happens to occur.  So I think it’s win-win, and my colleagues seemed to support it.  We’ll see what staff comes up with, and we’ll consider this at our January all-day budget and study issues workshop.

That’s about it.  In and out in about 45 minutes.  We then adjourned to a closed session to discuss the upcoming performance reviews for the City Manager and City Attorney.  Next meeting is the 29th.

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