7/16/2013 Council Preview

Possibly a short night, as a result of staff splitting one long meeting into two meetings, at the urging of a couple of people.

We start the evening by going straight to the general session.  Note that Councilmember Whittum is teleconferencing once again, meaning all of the votes will be voice votes ordered by random draw.  I haven’t talked about this in a while, so I’ll explain.  We cannot do electronic votes by teleconference, they have to be voice votes.  The advantage to an electronic vote is that the votes are secret and simultaneous, which prevents councilmembers from playing games by seeing how other people vote and responding accordingly.  That possibility exists with a voice vote, so to minimize it and make it more fair, the voice votes are requested in random order.

There are no special orders or presentations.  The consent calendar is pretty minimal – just a contract for studying reuse possibilities for the landfill.  So we get right to it.

Item 2 is possible adoption of a MOU for the Public Safety Manager’s Association (PSMA).  This is something of a placeholder MOU.  When the previous round of negotiations started, PSMA was the first to step up with concessions, followed by PSOA, then COA.  This caused PSMA to be a little out of step with PSOA’s contract cycle, which covers the bulk of safety employees (PSMA is only 10 employees – the Captains and Deputy Chiefs).  So this is an interim contract that maintains status quo and shifts their contract renewal period to match PSOA.  The goal seems to be to get all of the safety units in sync, and (probably) to get all of the misc. units in sync, but having the two groups separate.  The long-term fiscal forecast and existing budget assumes the PSOA renewal date for all current and future negotiations, so there’s no budget impact other than “this is what we planned for”.

Item 3 involves ratifying an agreement governing the Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Reduction (RWRC) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).  This is wonky, and it involves the County Commission that I chair, so I’ll explain.  The RWRC provides county-wide technical advice to the individual cities and county on solid waste practices, and there are solid waste fees related to this.  The County manages both the RWRC and its own solid waste programs, and it uses the same staff for both functions.  This has created some confusion and occasional problems over whether the money that cities are paying was being used strictly for RWRC purposes, or if there was a co-mingling of resources that meant that cities weren’t getting their money’s worth.  This agreement more clearly spells out the roles and responsibilities of county staff and the RWRC, to ensure that the two entities that the county manages are truly separate.

Item 4 is a three-year report on the quality of the city’s water service.  This is a bit of an annoyance.  Sunnyvale has incredibly clean drinking water, and we measure and test everything.  But the rules say that if we ever measure above a state or federal water quality guideline in a three-year study, then we have to do a three year study again.  And one of the measured items, coliform bacteria, is set up so that we pretty much always violate it.  There’s a federal maximum level, which we’re way below, but there’s no state maximum, meaning there’s an effective maximum level of 0.  And we measure 1 on coliform bacteria – the lowest value above zero, and well below the federal maximum.  It’s the only area where we “exceed a guideline”, but we don’t really do so.  So we have to do this report pretty much forever, unless we can somehow get coliform bacteria down to zero.  And doing so would cost much more money than doing the report, with no real gain in water quality.  So we keep doing these reports and holding these public hearings every three years…

Item 5 will be the big issue – approving the ballot language for the “sensible gun restrictions” ballot measure.

And item 6 may attract some attention – discussing whether to take a position requesting a General Assembly vote for approval of the Plan Bay Area.

That’s about it.

UPDATE: staff provided responses to council questions regarding the proposed ballot measure which is worth passing along:

Item #5

I have been getting conflicting statements from citizens with regard to whether any of the four parts of the proposed ordinance are already state or federal law.  My understanding from the public hearing was that other jurisdictions have adopted them, and that some of them are being discussed as potential state laws, but none of them is currently the law.  Is that correct? Was any of the ordinance language adapted from the other jurisdictions that have already passed such ordinances?

OCA Response:  Yes, these proposed measures are based on measures that have been adopted in other cities.  Currently, similar legislation is pending in the state legislature:  

— AB 231 would require safe gun storage in houses where children are likely to gain access.  Currently, Penal Code 12088.1 only requires that firearms be sold with an approved safety device; it doesn’t require that these devices be used. Also, under current law, parents can  face criminal charges if a child obtains access to a gun and causes death or injury, unless the gun had a trigger lock or was kept in a locked container.

— SB 396 would prohibit large capacity magazines. Currently, state law restricts sale but not possession of large capacity magazines.  A federal law restricting sale of large capacity magazines expired in 2004 and was not renewed by Congress. Earlier this year, Senator Feinstein introduced a federal assault weapons ban (S.150)  that would have included a ban on large capacity magazines, but the Senate voted it down in April.  Subsequently, Senator Harry Reid announced that work on a gun bill would be suspended for the time being.

— SB 53 would require the DOJ to track ammunition sales and purchases.  Currently, there are no laws regulating ammunition sales.  A prior federal law, which regulated the sale of ammunition and required sellers to be licensed and keep sales logs, was repealed by Congress in 1986.

— SB 299 would require owners to report lost or stolen firearms with 48 hours. Federal and state law does not currently require individual owners to report lost or stolen guns.  Only licensed firearms dealers are required to report lost or stolen guns.

Note, if any of the above measures are enacted by the state, local ordinances could be preempted.


7/16/2013 Council Preview — 3 Comments