We started the evening with a study session regarding a comprehensive revision of Sunnyvale’s sign code, and it was surprisingly interesting. Business signage is a complicated topic, involving economic, aesthetic, and public safety concerns, and it was obvious that our staff has done a pretty thorough job considering the topic, particularly given the various complaints we’ve had from businesses over the past several years. There were many aspects that staff raised which we weren’t expecting at all. It will be interesting to see what specific revisions come back to us in the future.
We then moved to the general meeting. Councilmember Moylan was absent (excused), and we got started. There were announcements involving library programs, the naming contest for the new public park on Santa Real, and the Mary Avenue bike lane project. We then had the consent calendar, and a colleague pulled every single item except two. Those two items were passed on a 6-0 vote.
We then had public comments, which were dominated by concerns about dog facilities at Las Palmas Park. Apparently, residents with small dogs have gotten in the habit of using a portion of the park for off-leash activities, because of the conflicts that arise in the dog area with small and large dogs. That was fine with them until the city started citing them for having dogs off-leash, which isn’t legal. So they want the city to provide for a separate small dog off-leash area. I pointed out that Council just ranked a study issue about dog park accommodations, and staff will include their concerns in that study.
Item 2 involved our annual report on our progress in implementing the housing element. The Association of Bay Area Governments requires cities to plan (zone) for certain quantities of housing growth in the city. There are potential penalties if cities do not do so, and there are transportation grant opportunities for cities that try to make their numbers. But to be eligible for those grants, cities have to submit an annual progress report to the state. So this was just our annual report, but it provoked an interesting discussion because of the specific numbers. We’re doing fine on meeting our moderate to high-end housing requirements, but we’re coming up short on our low and very low income housing. There are a couple of reasons for this. Most housing developments involve very few low income units (usually no more than 12%), and due to a recent court decision, the city cannot do anything to mandate low income rental units. The main way we make progress is when some large-funded senior housing project is completed, as was the case in 2010. So we’re in the position where the state requires us (through ABAG) to zone for low income, but they don’t provide us with any incentives for developers to do so. Our two methods are our BMR program (and rental BMR is now illegal) and redevelopment agency funds for housing (which the state just took from us). Not a good scene. Anyway, we discussed the issue and then approved the annual report on a 6-0 vote.
Item 3 involved our contract with the city manager, and possible changes to his compensation. We do semi-annual performance reviews with the city manager and city attorney, and in our most recent one for the city manager, we decided to consider giving him a raise. There were two components to this. The first is what’s called his “control point”. When we hire senior staff, we determine a “control point” for the position, based on a salary survey, and we hire them at a point as much as 15% below the control point, depending on the position, the market, the specifics of the person being hired. The employee then has a performance review after six months and every year after that, and as performance warrants, the salary is adjusted upward until it finally hits the control point. This is separate from a raise (merit-based or cost-of-living adjustment). The City Manager was hired at about 3.5% below his control point, and he’s been here for four years now with no adjustment towards his control point and no other raises. So we considered the issue.
After some discussion, an initial motion was made to authorize a salary survey to re-evaluate the CM’s control point, which passed on a 6-0 vote. A second motion was then made to give the CM a 10% raise (basically, the 3.5% control point adjustment and a 6.5% raise). After some healthy discussion, that failed on a 3-3 vote (I seconded the motion). A second motion was then made to give the CM a 4% raise, which I again seconded. A friendly amendment was made to change it to simply raise the CM’s salary to the control point, which was accepted. And that passed on a 5-1 vote.
We then returned to the many consent calendar pulls. A colleague attempted to insert language into the minutes of the last meeting in two or three specific places, none of which were seconded, and the minutes were approved as submitted on a 5-1 vote. The list of bills were opposed for the usual reason, and we approved them on a 5-1 vote. A member of the public spoke on behalf of the Leadership Sunnyvale program, and we approved the annual agreement with Silicon Valley Leadership on a 6-0 vote. Concerns were raised about the Onizuka legal contract work, and we approved the Onizuka budget modification on a 5-1 vote. A question was asked about the bidding process for the Sunnyvale/Old San Francisco interchange rebuild process, and then that bid was approved on a 6-0 vote. And a question was raised about the Bill Wilson agreement, and what steps would take place to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future. And that agreement was approved on a 6-0 vote.
We then had intergovernmental relations reports, followed by non-agenda comments. Concerns were raised because Google just entered into an agreement with San Jose Airport to house their jets there instead of at Moffett, and that puts the future use of Moffett in jeopardy. So a future agenda item was created to have a study session to form a working group with Mountain View regarding Moffett Airfield. There was more discussion about the ongoing troubles at Fairoaks Mobile Home Park and what we can do about it.
We then closed the meeting in memory of several people, first in remembrance of the two law enforcement officers who were killed in southern California, and then in memory of Sunnyvale resident Mary Marley.
Next meeting is on the 26th, and it will be a big one. First, we have the “above/below the line” discussion about this year’s ranked study issues. Then we have a discussion about retooling the zoning code. Finally, we will be looking at phase 2 of the Lawrence Station Area Plan. Looks to be a weighty night.