Yes, I’m well behind. It’s a busy time, as you might guess (#Dweeb2013!).
We started the evening with a bit of an unusual event – a study session in Council chambers. The discussion involved the city’s response to the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Apple Campus 2. And since that’s my employer, I immediately recused myself and have no further comment on the topic…
We then went to the general meeting. There were no announcements. The minutes, bills, street sweeper contract, asphalt contract, and changes to council policy were pulled, and the two remaining items were passed on a 7-0 vote. There were a couple of public comments, and then we got into it.
Item 2 involved the naming of the new park at Santa Real. This is somewhat unusual, because we haven’t opened a new park in 20 years. We’ve already named Seven Seas Park, but it was driven more by the theme of that neighborhood (all of the condo streets are named after bays), and there wasn’t any discussion. This one had no obvious theme. So we did a public poll to get both name suggestions and a sense of people’s inclinations. We had an overview of this, and there were no public comments, so we got into it. The voting method was the same as we use when appointing commissioners – councilmembers nominated names and we vote on them in the order nominated, with the one with the most votes winning. I made the first nomination of Swegles Park. A colleague then proposed Rancho Posolmi Park. Another colleague then nominated Santa Real Park. The vote on Swegles Park was 5-0-2 (I agreed). The vote on Rancho Posolmi Park was 2-0-5. The vote on Santa Real Park was 3-0-4. And thus was Swegles Park selected.
Item 3 involved an appeal of a Planning Commission decision regarding the Prometheus project on Evelyn. As background, Council heard this some time before, and we sent it back to the Planning Commission for further modifications. The PC approved the proposed modifications, but a colleague had concerns and filed an appeal. I believe the basic concern was as follows. We originally voted to send it back for consideration with fewer dwelling units than the applicant proposed. So the applicant redid the design, but in doing so, he reduced the number of units but left the building footprint exactly the same. That seemed to subvert the directions we’d given regarding this project, which caused the appeal. Frankly, I was happy to see it appealed, because I had the same concerns.
There was a fair amount of discussion about the proposed changes, as well as a concern raised by a resident across the way – the original proposed driveway shined headlights into units across the way. But the modified project included relocating the driveway to avoid that. The bulk of the concerns involve potential traffic impacts from the change, which concerned a couple of residents. And then we got down to it. Staff and the applicant had satisfied the concerns of the colleague who filed the appeal, so he moved to approve the project, and the motion passed on a 5-2 vote (I agreed).
Next up was an annual assessment on the downtown parking district, and with no questions or discussions, we approved it on a 6-0 vote with one recusal.
Item 4 involved a possible ballot issue regarding Personnel Board eligibility. In short, we had a highly qualified applicant who had to be rejected because a clause in the City Charter prohibits public employees (working for *any* city) from serving on the Personnel Board. So there was some talk about amending the City Charter to simply prohibit Sunnyvale employees from serving. And we had some back and forth on this, but then the motion was made to take no further action, and it passed on a 4-3 vote (I agreed). I agreed that the problem was a problem, but I disagreed that it was a problem worth $43k to fix (the cost of a ballot measure). This problem has come up twice in maybe three decades, so I couldn’t justify the expense.
We then went back to the consent calendar (I’m still not quite sure why). The minutes were approved on a 6-1 vote (I agreed). The list of bills was approved on a 6-1 vote (I agreed). After some questions, the street sweeper contract was approved on a 7-0 vote. After some questions, the asphalt contract was approved on a 7-0 vote.
Next came a more involved discussion on the proposed council policy change. This should have been pro forma, because it proposed changes to language to reflect a better understanding of limits set by the Political Reform Act involving the size of gifts to elected officials. After some discussion, a proposal was made to approve the changes but eliminate council gifts and plaques, but it failed on a 2-5 vote (I dissented). I was neutral on the gift aspects, but it seemed petty to eliminate plaques for councilmembers who have served 4 to 8 years. I’m not keen on the whole gift idea, and I’ve already declined mine in the event I’m not re-elected, but I think that should be a choice left to the individual. Anyway, I then moved to approve the proposed changes as submitted, and that passed on a 6-1 vote.
We then returned to item 6, the Community Event Grant Distributions, and with very little discussion, we approved the committee’s recommended distribution on a 7-0 vote.
That was it for the regular agenda, but there were a couple more items that came up. In non-agenda comments, I sponsored a study issue to look at the issue of density bonuses. This was driven by the Prometheus project, where the applicant “reduced density” by simply building larger units. That struck me as… not exactly a lower density. So I want to see if there is a better way for us to define density – number of bedrooms, for instance.
Then another colleague moved to put an item on the next agenda to discuss whether or not to request a general assembly vote on the One Bay Area Plan, and it passed on a 5-2 vote. i dissented because the timing relative to the vote would mean that we’d make this decision without having any understanding of what it really meant.
And that was it.