Relatively uneventful evening.
We started off with two closed sessions, one involving our City Attorney recruitment, one involving the ongoing labor negotiations with SEA. Not much I can say about either of them, but hopefully soon.
We then went to the open meeting, where we had special orders of the day for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Arts and Humanities Month. During public announcements, a member of the public representing the Sunnyvale Democratic Club thanked the City Manager for his service and the Council for recognizing his service last meeting. There was another announcement about the Centennial Teas being held by the Sunnyvale Heritage Museum. We then had a presentation by Acterra. And then it was on to business.
The minutes from our last meeting, the list of bills, and the item about the easement vacation were all pulled from the consent calendar, and the balance of the consent calendar was approved on a 7-0 vote.
There were a couple of public comments, one involving the Governor’s pension reform, one perpetuating a pattern of misinformation about the ongoing civic center exploration. And then we got on to general business.
Item 2 involved a study issue regarding Sunnyvale’s cultural heritage, and we quickly voted 7-0 to continue this for two weeks at staff’s request.
Item 3 involved a proposed pedestrian plan for the area generally bounded by Wolfe, Fair Oaks, and Arques. And with little discussion and no public input, we voted 7-0 to accept the plan.
Item 4 involved changes to the city’s vision triangle ordinances. Council asked staff to come back with some changes, which they’ve done. But staff also proposed a change to our changes, based on their study of this issue. There was some public input supporting the changes, specifically applying vision triangles to alleys as well as normal streets. And then we approved staff’s recommendation on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).
Item 5 was a bit tricky – adopting city positions on the November ballot measures. This is always a bit odd, because there are differing philosophies about this. On the one hand, some of my colleagues don’t think the city should be telling voters how to vote. Some of my colleagues think it’s important for the city to tell residents when issues will affect city operations. And some colleagues view this as an opportunity for the city to take moral stands on issues, regardless of whether or not the city has a stake in the issue. I tend to fall into the middle group, personally. We started out with two speakers who urged us to take a position against Measure M, the El Camino Hospital initiative limiting executive pay.
After that, we went to voting. I made an initial motion to support staff recommendation. There was then a formal amendment to remove positions on Prop. 34, 35, and 40, which failed on a 2-5 vote. there was then a friendly amendment to remove the three, and I accepted removal of Props. 34 and 40 from the list. And then we approved the following city positions on a 5-2 vote:
- Support Prop. 30, temporary taxes to fund education, guaranteed local public safety funding.
- Oppose Prop. 31, state budget constitutional amendment.
- Support Prop. 35, penalties for human trafficking.
- Support Measure B, safe, clean water.
There was then a motion to support Prop. 34, eliminating the death penalty, and it wasn’t seconded. This was followed by a motion to support Measure A, 1/8c county sales tax, which I seconded, and which passed on a 4-1 vote with one abstention. Another motion was made to support Prop. 40, affirmation of redistricting, which passed on a 4-1 vote with 2 abstentions (I agreed). And a motion was made to oppose Measure M, the El Camino Hospital initiative limiting executive pay, and it passed on a 4-1 vote with 2 abstentions (I agreed). And that was it for that one.
Item 6 was the second reading of our ordinance involving developments with 70% or more floor/area ratio (FAR). Without much discussion, we approved the second reading on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).
Then came Item 7, changes to council policy to deal with some parliamentary problems we’ve been having in our meetings. Historically, a lot of the practices Council have followed have just been practices that everyone has accepted, without having a formal, written policy. In most cases, they’re just common sense things, such as “respect the Mayor as the person running the meeting”. But that has become challenging in light of a… sudden refusal to collaborate. In light of that, staff took the time to codify a bunch of our accepted practices, for inclusion into council policy. We discussed the proposed changes ever so briefly, then got to voting.
The initial motion was to defer action until after a study session could be held to discuss the issues at greater length. But probably largely because nobody had any serious questions about the proposed changes, that motion failed on a 2-5 vote (that’s certainly why I dissented). A motion was then made to accept staff’s proposed changes, reinserting a line that staff had inadvertently deleted and recommended re-adding, and I seconded it. I then proposed a friendly amendment to whack a line involving council dinners, which was accepted. We get dinner provided for us for any council evening that starts at 6:00 or earlier, as a matter of practice. I didn’t want to change anything – I just didn’t want that budgetary item codified as a policy (that makes it harder for us to change things if, for instance, we want or need to tighten our fiscal belts). It was accepted. I also proposed a minor fix to correct two conflicting sentences in the proposed change, but the maker made a different change that was a better fix. A colleague then made a formal amendment to strike a line about closed session minutes, which was seconded but failed on a 2-5 vote. I opposed it because we can’t easily have minutes for closed sessions – the minutes-takers aren’t cleared to attend those closed sessions. And then the main motion, as amended, passed on a 5-2 vote (I agreed).
These changes should help our meetings go a lot more smoothly and without so much unnecessary contentiousness that we’ve seen recently. Already, we’ve seen an improvement in meetings, which is good.
We then returned to the pulled consent items. The easement issue was pulled by staff because the public noticing of that issue stated it would be at 8:00 instead of 7:00. So staff needed to make sure the item wasn’t actually heard until after 8:00. So we approved that on a 7-0 vote.
Regarding the minutes from the Sept. 18 meeting, a colleague proposed a language which wasn’t seconded. I then moved to accept the minutes as proposed, which passed on a 6-1 vote.
And then the list of bills was pulled for the usual reason, and we passed it on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).
Then we had IGR and non-agenda comments, which resulted in a bunch of study issue discussions. First was a sponsored study issue to look at podcasts or audio recordings for currently un-broadcasted meetings. Then was a sponsored study issue looking to use the landfill for a possible facility like Mountain View’s Deer Hollow. I proposed one to publish our pre-meeting questions and staff answers, but staff said they’d just come back with a proposed policy for our consideration.
And that’s about it.