5/15/2012 Council Preview

Might be a short night, for a change.

We start the evening with a study session involving a potentially large rezoning issue.  There is a general plan amendment study to examine the possibility of rezoning a large quantity of industrial space in east Sunnyvale (near DeGuine, I believe) to residential, possibly high density residential.  I haven’t seen the study yet, so I may have some of the details wrong.

Then we start the general meeting.  First up is the annual Public Safety special awards.  If I’m getting this right, this recognizes both officers and civilians who have performed extraordinary service to Sunnyvale in the past year, usually in the form of a particular act of public safety, but sometimes for ongoing service.  I love this event.  Most of us spend most of our time never thinking about public safety or how those folks are capable of serving us in an emergency, unless we find ourselves in dire need.  This is a really good reminder of what we call on them to do for us.  (Hopefully, after that build-up, I don’t have the event wrong…)

Then we have a special order of the day recognizing Foster Care Appreciation Month.  After that comes the consent calendar, which is a big one.  One item of note is a budget modification to spend $250k in park dedication fees to defend us against a legal challenge to our park dedication fees.  An organization called the Building Industry Association is saying our park dedication fees aren’t legal in some way.  And since we don’t have the in-house legal expertise on this specific area of the law, we need to hire a firm to assist us (something that cities our size have to do fairly frequently).  So even if we win the legal case, this will have cost us a quarter million in park-building money (assuming we pass it).  I have to say that the RTC comment that “a significant portion of the complaint has been dismissed based on motions filed on the City’s behalf” is really nice to hear.  Anyway, the balance of the consent calendar is a rather eclectic set of items.

Then we have not one but two Planning Commission appeals.  Item 2 is an appeal of a decision to allow live entertainment at Da Kine Cafe.  Item 3 is an appeal of a decision to deny a large family day care facility to be developed.  Most interesting is that in both cases, staff is recommending granting the appeals, but with modifications.  That suggests to me that after both appeals were made, staff worked with the applicants/appellants to work out the items of concern (which, if so, is always a great outcome for these things).  But I haven’t read the specifics yet, so I don’t know yet what to think of the specifics of the two appeals. [Note after having read the items – it turns out that “grant the appeal” is a legal technicality, and my speculation is incorrect]

Item 4 is one hinted at during the past two meetings – suggested revisions to our ordinances governing taxicab franchises.  I have to get into the details of this over the next couple of days, because this is small but important.

And item 5 is my baby – potential changes to terms for new Housing & Human Services and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory commissioners, plus possible changes to the council appointment voting mechanism.  This came out of the Boards and Commissions subcommittee that I chair, and it’s “my baby” in the sense that I get to provide the staff report (the document was collaborative).  The first one involves proper term staggering.  Most commissions have nicely-staggered terms, so that new appointments are made as evenly as possible, year by year.  H&HS terms are all up for appointment over two consecutive years, meaning it’s possible for complete turnover to remove all experienced commissioners.  BPAC does the same thing every first and third year.  So the proposal is to artificially shorten a couple of terms from both, so that they’re staggered properly forever after.  The second involves the voting method we use to appoint commissioners.  It works, but it’s long, drawn out, and unnecessarily demoralizing to those who aren’t appointed.  So we’ll look at if a different method might be better.  This is always fun for me.  This is maybe the third or fourth one of these we’ve done.  Sometimes my colleagues just run with whatever our subcommittee comes up with, which is always gratifying.  Sometimes they take a chainsaw to it, which can be a bit frustrating.  But it always involves sort of big picture philosophy discussions, and those are fun.

And that’s it.

Comments are closed.