Relatively short, all things considered. This meeting wasn’t originally supposed to happen, but because of the long agendas that we’ve been having, this one was scheduled to spread the load. Councilmember Whittum literally phoned this one in…
We got right to it this night, with no special orders and no announcements. The minutes from the previous meeting and list of bills were pulled, and the remaining two items were approved on a 7-0 vote.
During public comments, a question was raised about the Urban Forestry Management Plan, which staff assured us is being worked on. A colleague moved to put it on the Council agenda in a month, but that failed on a 2-5 vote. I dissented because staff is on top of it, and I had confidence it wasn’t being lost, after some discussion with staff on the issue. It’s definitely an important thing, though.
Item 2 involved a new Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the Public Safety Managers Association. The tentative agreement was to preserve the status quo, to sync up the contract with the PSOA contract, which was explained by staff. During public comments, a member of the public proposed eliminating the “cash in lieu” option for medical benefits. The city is required to offer benefits to employees, but if an employee has benefits elsewhere, he or she can decline the benefit and get a small monthly cash payment instead. The member of the public asserted that it should be eliminated as a benefit to save the city money. But staff explained to this member that the cash payment is a fraction of the actual cost to keep the employee insured, and without the small cash incentive, employees would simply continue to accept the unneeded medical benefit, at a significantly higher cost to the city. In short, the small cash alternative results in substantial savings to the city. After some discussion, a motion was made to approve the MOU, which passed on a 6-1 vote (I agreed).
Item 3 was another wonky issue – ratification of an agreement involving the Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission. I’ll try to explain it in brief. We have this county body that recommends best practices county-wide, and it is overseen by Santa Clara County. Santa Clara County also has to run its own solid waste program, just like Sunnyvale does. And SCC uses some of the same personnel to run both its own solid waste program and the RWRC. That’s fine, except the RWRC is directly paid for by the individual cities. So there have been concerns that the County’s functions and the RWRC’s functions, being done by the same people, may result in the cities paying the County for resources that the County is using in part for its own needs. So we spent about a year coming up with an agreement to make sure that doesn’t happen. But it requires all 15 cities to ratify it. And after some comments from me, I moved to do so, and it passed on a 7-0 vote.
Item 4 involved acceptance of the 2013 Public Health Goal Report (on our water system), and with virtually no discussion and one speaker, I moved to accept it, which passed on a 7-0 vote.
Item 4 was the elephant in the room, the proposed “sensible gun measures” ballot measure. This was just finalizing the language for the ballot measure that was previously approved. The measure has four provisions:
- Require reporting of lost or stolen firearms within a proscribed period
- Requirements on securing firearms when not in use
- Prohibition of ownership of large magazines (greater than 10 rounds)
- Require tracking of ammunition sales
There was a lot of debate about this one, although those favoring it slightly outnumbered the opponents, and then we voted 6-1 to approve the ballot measure with slight language changes. I won’t repeat my thoughts and concerns on this, since I did that already.
Item 6 was a weird one, discussion on whether or not to request a general assembly vote for approval of Plan Bay Area. And concerns over Plan Bay Area tend to focus on issues of local control versus preventing urban sprawl. After a surprising number of speakers on these points, a motion was made to request an ABAG General Assembly vote on the approval of Plan Bay Area, which passed on a 4-3 vote. I dissented because of timing. We really didn’t get a proper explanation of what the vote actually means, and whatever this was for was happening just in a day or two after the vote, and I felt like we were voting without knowing what we were voting on.
And that’s about it.