11/29/2011 Council Summary

Very short meeting, at least the main portion.

We started the evening with a 90-minute study session regarding the draft Land Use and Transportation Element/Climate Action Plan (LUTE/CAP), which was a four-way study session featuring Council, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, the Sustainability Commission, and the Planning Commission.  The focus was really on the big-picture policy direction set by the documents, and not so much specific issues enumerated in the LUTE/CAP.  It’s difficult to summarize 90 minutes of input from many different people with any accuracy.  The sense I got was that there was not so much concern with the CAP as with the LUTE.  Sustainability issues raised very little concern, other than the “point of sale” issues with real estate (the CAP proposes creating requirements for energy and sustainability audits of property prior to a property sale).  But there was some pushback on the LUTE’s advocating for increased density, planning for population growth, and provisions for “neighborhood villages” at certain locations.

We then went to the regular Council meeting, which started with the swearing-in of our two newest commissioners, Misuk Park on the Arts Commission and Dale Mouritsen on the Heritage Preservation Commission.  There were a number of announcements – one for the Lakewood Village Christmas Parade this weekend at 10:00 (at least, that’s when we’re supposed to be there, I’m not exactly sure when the parade itself starts), and one for the downtown tree lighting, with the festivities starting at 4:30 and the tree lighting at 5:30.

We passed the consent calendar without any pulls on a 6-0 vote. Then for public comments, Jeanine Stanek from the Heritage Museum welcomed Frank Grgurina, our new Chief of Public Safety, who attended his first meeting tonight after being sworn in yesterday.  Then it was on to general business.

Item 2 was a contract amendment with CalPERS regarding public safety retirement benefits.  This item was postponed from the meeting two weeks ago because staff raised a concern about one sentence in the report.  But it turns out the sentence in question is legally required by the IRS, which is why it was there.  However, staff attempted to deal with two separate CalPERS issues by combining them into a single action.  And part of this process requires actuarial numbers generated by CalPERS.  And CalPERS informed the city this morning that the actuarials for one half of the issue were not available and would not be available for a couple of months.  So staff requested that the item be postponed indefinitely until this can be resolved.  I believe staff intends to bring this back as two separate issues – one in the next two weeks for the part for which actuarials are already available, one a few months from now when CalPERS can provide us with what we need to take the action.  So no vote was required from us, and we took no action on this issue at this time.

Item 3 involved proposed changes to city ordinances to broaden Sunnyvale’s definition of what constitutes a “nuisance”, for code enforcement purposes.  Staff constantly looks at our codes and actual code enforcement issues in the community to see where our codes may not provide the tools necessary to legally resolve issues of blight.  And this was another round of that.  The proposals themselves created little resistance or commentary.  One member of the public spoke about ongoing problems with a house on Worley at Balsam, which apparently was the impetus for some of the specific changes proposed in this action. But there was also concern about issues of blight inside homes, i.e. hoarding, which isn’t addressed by existing codes.  So first we passed the changes on a 6-0 vote.  Then a study issue was proposed and co-sponsored to examine ways to deal with internal issues such as hoarding.

Item 4 involved changing our codes to require new residential developments to provide wiring to support electric vehicle chargers.  Basically, if residences cannot be easily fitted with an EV charger, that creates a serious disincentive for residents who might be interested in buying an EV.  And it’s worse for residents of apartments or condos, who may not be allowed to retrofit garages or parking areas to support EV chargers.  A resident named Luc Hermange pointed this out to me shortly after I was elected, and I ran with it as a study issue, co-sponsored by Councilmember Whittum.  We had a study session a few weeks ago to bring us up to speed on all of the complexities of this issue, and we additionally got input from the Sustainability Commission and Planning Commission.  So the vote itself turned out to be pretty anti-climactic, with no questions asked by councilmembers and no public speakers.  And on a 6-0 vote, we approved staff’s recommendations, which include revisiting this topic as part of our upcoming revisions to the green building codes, to possibly provide building incentives for developers who include actual charging stations in their projects.  This is a pretty significant change, because it will lead towards Sunnyvale becoming the most EV-friendly city in the bay area.

That was pretty much it for the meeting, in and out in 40 minutes (not including the hour and a half study session).  Very productive evening.

Comments are closed.