2/28/2012 Council Summary

Pretty brief night, all things considered.  Sorry for the delay – work has been busy.

We started with a closed session involving Raynor Center reuse, but it ran long, so we continued it after the general meeting.  Mayor Spitaleri was out sick, so it was just six of us, with Vice Mayor Whittum leading the meeting.

We then went into the general meeting, where we opened with a recognition of the passing of Ted Ringel, former Heritage Preservation Commissioner.  Ted was a good guy who worked hard to make a difference in Sunnyvale.  He passed away at the beginning of January, and he’ll be missed.

There were a couple of announcements, for commission recruitment, for tonight’s Grand Boulevard forum, for the Centennial Writing Contest for students, and for a miniature art show at the Sunnyvale Art Gallery, benefiting Sunnyvale Community Services.  Then it was on to the meeting.

I pulled 1A, the minutes from the study issues workshop.  Others pulled 1I, the establishment of 15 MPH speed limits near schools, and 1J, the updated council policy regarding priority legislative issues.  Lots of pulls this time.  And the balance of the consent calendar was approved on a 6-0 vote.

I pulled 1A because the order in the minutes didn’t match the order in which we voted on things, making them not so much minutes of what happened.  And we voted 6-0 to refer the minutes for revision.

A colleague pulled 1I to discuss the proposal to drop the speed limits to 15MPH at 37 locations near the 28 schools in Sunnyvale.  I think there was some dismay that this was dropped on Council as a consent item, implying it required no consideration.  There was some discussion about the $30k that would be used to install signs.  There were some public speakers who spoke in favor of dropping the limit, and then we got into the votes.  A motion was made to instead use the $30k for additional hours of enforcement, which died for a lack of secondA motion was made to approve staff recommendation, but it failed on a 3-3 vote (I dissented).  Then a motion was made to defer this item.  I amended the motion to defer this to be a part of the larger comprehensive study of traffic near schools, which was accepted.  And this passed on a 4-2 vote (I agreed).

I had some serious concerns about the way this was done – staff just proposed dropping the speed limit everywhere pretty much overnight without any real outreach, and as near as I can tell, without any other cities in the county having done this, except for San Jose, which started with a small pilot project.  I’ve since learned that San Francisco also did this, also phasing in locations piece by piece but with outreach.  The statement was made at the meeting that “everyone supports this”.  But in reality, the people most likely to oppose this really have no idea it’s even being proposed, and most of them won’t know so until it’s implemented.  We have no idea what negatives may come from this – what areas may suffer from traffic backups, what residents may respond negatively.  So I wasn’t at all happy with doing it all at once as a fait acccompli.  I think lower speed limits are needed in some areas near schools, but I want us to make sure we know what we’re doing before we do it.  And since we’re looking at a comprehensive traffic study near schools anyway, to be completed by December, it only makes sense to make this a part of that survey.

Item 2J involved our legislative priorities.  A colleague pulled it to move to suspend all legislative advocacy, but it died for lack of a second.  And I moved to accept the revisions, which passed on a 5-1 vote.

That did it for the consent calendar.  We then had three public speakers who spoke to ongoing pension and expense problems in the city.

Item 2 was approval of our tentative council meeting agenda calendar for the year, which was mostly non-controversial.  Two members of the public specifically spoke in favor of the July study session to look at replacing our library facilities.  And then we approved the TCMAC on a 6-0 vote.

Item 3 involved a general plan amendment study involving property on Evelyn near the downtown.  There is a set of small office/commercial buildings nestled between residential properties, and a developer wants to put in very high density apartments there.  But he asked to postpone the discussion for a month to make a change to the proposal.  After discussing some of the aspects of the proposal, a motion was made to continue the item for about a month, which passed on a 4-2 vote (I agreed).

Item 4 involved a report on progress on the community event grant and neighborhood grant distribution process.  There were some minor changes to the application forms.  One change that I pushed for (and there seemed to be support for) is to disallow neighborhood grants from organizations that collect dues – homeowners associations and the like.  The rationale is that such organizations already have a means to raise funds for events, and the city’s money would be better spent supporting groups with a lack of funding than those that already have revenue.  But this involved no actual vote.

And that was it, after various reports and such.  In and out in less than two hours (although we had closed sessions before and afterwards).

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