Here are my positions and reasoning on the various 2016 ballot measures in Sunnyvale.
Measure A ( Santa Clara County Affordable housing bond) YES . I support this bond because Santa Clara County including Sunnyvale desperately needs increased revenues to help build more affordable housing. The bond would be paid for by increasing property taxes per year by$12.66 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. Cities and the county lost a lot of funds used to build affordable housing when the state disbanded all the redevelopment agencies. This measure will help replace that lost revenue.
Measure B (Santa Clara County Sales tax increase to fund transportation) YES. Improving transit is critical to improving everyone's quality of life and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I don't like some of parts of Measure B, but I think it is 'good enough' compromise to deserve a YES vote. I don't like a sale taxes as the primary way of funding transportation because it is regressive and does not link the 'cost' to the 'benefit'. A sales tax is not the correct way to fund local road improvements either. Local city roads maintenance should be funded by local property taxes or other general revenue sources decided city by city. I think regional transportation systems should be funded by gas taxes and property taxes. It continues to baffle me that at federal, state, and county levels our governments have been unwilling to increase gasoline taxes to keep up with costs of maintaining roads and other public transportation system. I do not support dedicating funding to improving Santa Clara county expressways. I think those funds would be better spent to reduce congestion by building and funding more public transit instead rebuilding our county expressways to support more vehicles. Increasing road capacity only encourage more vehicles on the road which leads to more congestion on other roads. It is short-term 'solution' which actually makes the problem, too many vehicles for our road capacity, worse in the long run.
Measure M ( Sunnyvale Public Lands for Public Use Act). NO. I basically oppose measure M because it is too broadly written and would seriously impact the city council's ability to carry out its responsibility in making land use decisions effectively and efficiently. Here is more info on why NO on Measure M makes sense.
To me, there was one event which led to Measure M being on the ballot. The Raynor activity Center (RAC) parcel sale and the Raynor Park priority use agreement (PUA) with Strafford Schools. The RAC parcel is next to Raynor Park and many residents considered it as part of the park. Sunnyvale decided to sell this parcel to Strafford Schools for a private school as the best use of land it no longer wanted to own or manage. Sunnyvale also granted the new owners of RAC, Strafford Schools, priority use of some areas of Raynor Park during school hours. Previously all of Raynor Park was available to the public all the time. Many residents felt that the thousands of signatures they collected opposing the deal should have compelled the city council not to approve the sale and PUA. Some residents considered this PUA a 'giving away' of public park space.
This event led to concerns that the city council would execute similar or other 'public land' decisions in the future without the specific consent of the residents. That decisions like the RAC sale and Raynor Park PUA are so important, they should require a public vote.
Many residents think selling city owned land, particularly park land or open space is a bad policy. "We are not making any more land so the city should never sell it." Some dedicated individuals decided a ballot measure was the best way to prevent the city council from making similar decisions in the future without a public vote. Ditto for the leasing, including Priority Use Agreements, city owned public lands.
I think there are better ways for Sunnyvale to address the concerns raise by the Raynor Activity Center sale and the Raynor Park Priority Use Agreement. One is to engage the community better. Almost everyone agrees the city should have engage the neighbors more and provided more communication before the sale. More outreach could have and should have been done. The city can help assuage residents concerns by communicating more about how Sunnyvale is actually increasing park and open space, not selling it. Sunnyvale has been added 7 acres of park recently so it has shown its dedication to meet its goal of 5 acres of open space per 1,000 residents. I think it would be useful for Sunnyvale to develop a policy statement about how the city should engage with residents when considering selling or leasing parks and open space. I think a public vote before selling any existing park space would be a good policy.
Measure N (Sunnyvale Utility User Tax (UUT) update) YES. Sunnyvale has not significantly updated its UUT ordinance in over 40 years, and many provisions are outdated and do not reflect changes in the telecommunications industry since that time. The changes proposed in the measure would ensure that all taxpayers, regardless of the technology they use, will be treated fairly so that everyone pays their fair share. It is not a tax rate hike. It is changes the which services are taxed.