6/25/2013 Council Summary – We Have A Budget

Yes, I’m still getting caught up.  It’s been a busy time.

We started the evening with a study session involving city-owned property.  This was a look at all of the properties we own that isn’t already used to provide city services, and it turns out there’s a lot of them.  There are small pieces here and there, like the “Girl Scout House” on Dona, a triangle of property at the end of Washington near Evelyn, and so on.  Some of them are too small to be anything other than sold for a single-family home or converted to a small pocket park, and I think that staff is investigating the park option for one of them in particular now.  The most interesting was a series of parcels we own on Mathilda near the Denny’s.  It’s kind of a checkerboard situation now, but there’s some interest by the surrounding property owners to sell their lots to the city.  If that happens, we’d be able to consolidate the blocks and turn the property into something very interesting.

We then went to the general meeting, where we had no less than four special orders.  The first was to swear in our new Commissioners, which is always fun.  The second was a quickie to recognize Parks and Recreation Month.  The third was also a quickie, honoring the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club for their 80th anniversary.  The fourth was more involved.  We recognized the award winners from the Santa Clara Valley Science and Engineering Fair.  Former San Jose Councilmember Forrest Williams was on hand to recognize the winners.  Unfortunately, most of them didn’t show up, which was disappointing.

There was one public announcement involving an upcoming presentation at the Sunnyvale Historical Museum recognizing Sunnyvale Authors.  We then got into the consent calendar, and out of eleven consent items, six were pulled by one of my colleagues or the public, and the balance was approved on a 7-0 vote.  There were a couple of public comments of various types, and then we got to business.  But we mucked with the order of the agenda in a particularly crazy fashion.

Item 2 involved possibly putting a “sensible gun restrictions” measure on the November ballot, and this was clearly the elephant in the room.  This was largely initiated by one of my colleagues in collaboration with the Sunnyvale Democratic Club. There are four proposed components to this – 1) requiring reporting of lost or stolen guns in a timely manner, 2) prohibiting the ownership of clips larger than 10 rounds, 3) requiring logging of ammunition sales, and 4) requiring firearms to be locked up or under a trigger lock when not in use.

There were a lot of speakers on the topic (over an hour’s worth), and the speakers were divided, maybe favoring the “put it on the ballot” side a little bit.  Then we got into the discussion, and a colleague moved to put it on the ballot.  After a lot of discussion, it passed 5-2 (I agreed).

I’m seriously conflicted on this issue.  Fundamentally, I don’t think this is city business.  Gun regulations are more properly the domain of the state or federal government, not individual cities.  Also, most of the items seem a little pointless.  Ammunition sales are already regulated, and I’m not sure what doing more will accomplish.  The only one I felt might be city business is the reporting of lost or stolen firearms to Public Safety – in that case, having us locally know that a firearm has gone missing as soon as possible would be a good thing.  But on balance, I’m not sure these are really effective or worthwhile.  But there was so much public support for the measure that I wasn’t keen on depriving Sunnyvale voters of the right to decide this.  At the same time, I’m uncomfortable with the very notion of voting on civil rights.  This was a no-win vote for me, and whether yea or nay, I wasn’t going to like the outcome.  And sure enough, I didn’t.

Item 3 involved adopting the 2013/2014 budget, and it went very fast.  That’s the way our budgeting really works.  We have the budget items as part of the study issue process in February, the all-day budget hearing in May, and the public hearing on the budget, so most of the items have been talked out by the time we reach this point.  So after a couple of public comments, we approved the budget on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).  This is a good budget, and it’s a good start towards beefing up our public safety staff in particular.

We took a break, and then we came back to deal with the consent calendar pulls.  But this got a bit muddled, because we decided to deal with items 6 and 7 after 1G, the modified CalPERS resolutions.  Most of them went fast.  We approved the minutes on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).  We approved the list of bills on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).  One of my colleagues recused himself from the Downtown parking district item and then after some questions from another colleague, we approved it on a 6-0 vote.

The paperwork item involving the CalPERS resolutions had a public speaker, and then we approved it on a 6-1 vote (I agreed). We then jumped to item 6.

Item 6 involved changes to the city’s language governing unrepresented classified confidential employees.  This basically means the Directors and some people in HR and Finance, and with very little discussion, we approved the changes on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).

Item 7 involved creating new employee classifications plus giving the unrepresented classified employees a 2% raise, and this was also surprisingly quick.  A couple of public speakers had some pretty bad misinformation about the issue, which we tried to explain to them without much luck.  Then I moved to approve the changes, and it passed on a 6-1 vote.  These particular employees have gone four years without a raise, so giving them 2% is pretty reasonable.  We then went back to the remaining consent item.

After a public comment, the air flotation tank bid was approved on a 7-0 vote.  After a question, the paving bid was approved on a 7-0 vote.  And then we went to item 4.  No kidding, that’s the order we did things in.  More convoluted than a game of Chutes and Ladders.

Item 4 was the various administrative steps involving the armory housing project.  After a brief staff presentation, I moved to approve the agreements, and it passed it on a 6-1 vote.

Item 5 involved an update to our sign code.  This went pretty smoothly since it was covered in detail in a study session (which is why we have them).  After a little public input a motion was made to approve the proposed changes, but with a change requiring the hold time for electronic message centers to be two minutesThis passed on a 7-0 vote.  I disagree with the hold time issue – I think most electronic messages are more like 30 second messages.  But I wasn’t willing to oppose the whole thing because of this one issue.  In retrospect, I probably should have moved to amend the motion.  Ah well.

We then jumped ahead to item 8, which involved approving a contract to develop a Peery Park Specific Plan and related Environmental Impact Report.  There was a little bit of discussion with the company that is sponsoring the study, but we accepted staff’s recommendation on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).

Long night – we finished around midnight.


6/25/2013 Council Summary – We Have A Budget — 1 Comment