Q1: What are your plans to control the rapid growth Sunnyvale has been experiencing lately? Q2: How do you propose financing the Civic Center modernization with 3 new buildings? Q3: Do you support the sale of public lands to raise funds? Q4: Would raising fees for commercial properties motivate the city council to approve more of them and fuel more housing? Q5: What can you do about overcrowded schools? Q6: What can you do about the increase in Airplane Noise caused by more flights and a new route (BVA) into San Carlos Airport and planes using the new 'Nextgen' Southern approach route into San Jose Airport? Q7. Are you in favor of a ballot measure to require a vote of the residents in order to sell or dispose of city land on the PARCs list? Q8. Our downtown has been terrible for a long time. What are you going to do about it?
A: My plans for controlling growth are to increase development impact fees, change zoning and land use plans and require intermediate development caps. Sunnyvale needs better development policies and goals to meet the needs of its residents in the 21st century.
Increase Development Impact Fees Development fees are not a general revenue source like sales tax or property tax. Sunnyvale can't use development fees for pension or similar purposes. They are collected and to be spent based on the types of impact they cause.New development causes more traffic so the city charges a traffic impact fee. New residents need more open space so developers either need to donate land or pay 'parks-in-lieu' fees. The important question is "How high should those fees be?". Given the increased congestion almost each new development causes, it is clear the current fees are not enough to allow Sunnyvale to mitigate the impact. I will champion Sunnyvale increasing the impact fees as a key way to better mitigate the impacts of growth while also discouraging it. The Nexus study Sunnyvale recently conducted shows the fees the city is currently charging do not cover the cost of the impacts.
Sunnyvale currently charges $17/sq ft for some of these fees for commercial developments. Other cities which are struggling to control growth and mitigate its impacts are considering increasing the fees they charge. Palo Alto currently charges $30/sq ft and is considering increasing this fee to $50 or $60/sq ft as a way to slow growth and generate more funds to offset the impact. Sunnyvale should do the same. Control growth through land-use, zoning and development agreements. Sunnyvale regulates growth via our land use plans, zoning, and development agreements. We need Sunnyvale to develop differently going forward. The old model of housing in one area and jobs in another is no longer the best choice in the 21st century. We need much more integrated land use going forward with apartments and/or condo or offices above ground floor retail in our transit corridors like El Camino Real. We need more mixed use housing near transit. We need more housing instead of more office space in Sunnyvale to reduce the jobs/housing imbalance. For example, after reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Peery Park, I spoke in favor of rezoning much of Peery Park ( the area west of Mathilda and East of 85, North of Caltrain and South of US101) to mixed use residential instead of keeping it mostly industrial.The DEIR projected that if Peery Park were allowed to be redeveloped as proposed, the total # of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by all the new employees there would double along with all the related increases in traffic, air pollution, and stress. Part of solving our traffic problem is adding more housing instead of more office space in Sunnyvale so more people who work in or near Sunnyvale can have shorter commutes. This is particularly important in areas close to the Sunnyvale and Lawrence Cal-Train stations. I think there are areas in Peery Park where a planned community, with schools, parks and local retail would be a much better use of land instead of more office towers. If elected, I would vote to start over with a new vision for Peery Park. Sunnyvale hopefully will continue to evolve its development requirements to require more open space with public access around new developments. The East Sunnyvale Sense of Place project will have 1 mile bicycle and pedestrian trail around it which is open to everyone.We need to work with developers to insure these type of community benefits are included in large projects.I support higher open space requirements in future developments.
Intermediate Development Caps Another way to control growth is with development caps or limits in land use plans. Development caps are based on the environmental impact reports used and approved as part of changing zoning. For example, the Moffet Park Specific Plan has a development cap of 24M sq ft. It was expected that it would take about 20 years for developers to add 24M sq ft of office in Moffet Park when it was approved. Instead, developers added about 24M sq ft office space in about 8 years. Approving all this new office space in such a short time did not give Sunnyvale time to see how it would impact resident's quality of life. If the Moffet Park Specific Plan (MPSP) had intermediate development caps, like only allowing 12M sq ft in the first 10 years and the next 12M sq ft in years 11-20, it would have worked out much better for Sunnyvale residents because it would have allowed the city time to adapt and mitigate the impacts. If elected, I would push for requiring intermediate development caps in new plans. Sunnyvale did include them in the Lawrence Station Area Plan.
Q2: How do you propose financing the Civic Center modernization with 3 new buildings? Sunnyvale is financing the new city hall building from infrastructure funds and the income from selling various commercial properties Sunnyvale owned. The new city hall and civic center master plan are schedule to be approved late in 2018 or early 2019. You can read more about it here .
There currently isn't a plan for how to finance a new library or public safety building. I propose Sunnyvale fund these through issuing bonds.
Q3: Do you support the sale of public lands to raise funds? I don't support the sale of open space or other public lands for any reason. Sunnyvale has a goal of having at least 5 acres of open space/thousand residents. It charges park dedication fees so it has enough money to buy new parks if they are not included as part of new developments. Sunnyvale has been adding parks and has plans for adding more parks. I support Sunnyvale municipal code 18.10 30 to provide residents with at least 5 acres/per thousand residents. Q4: Would raising fees for commercial properties motivate the city council to approve more of them and fuel more housing? I hope not. I would not make decisions on whether a project gets approved or not because of the fees charged but wether it is in the best interests of Sunnyvale. The reason I want to increase development fees is to slow commercial growth and provide more funds for parks, affordable housing etc. Slowing commercial growth should slow the demand for new housing once the housing supply catches up with unmet demand.
Q5: What can you do about overcrowded schools? I hope to help our overcrowded school by slowing the growth rate of commercial development. This will give our schools more time to build new classrooms. School charge their own impact fees for new developments to help pay for more classroom. Cities are not allowed to consider the impact on schools when deciding to approve or not approve a new housing or commercial development. Sorry but that is state law.
Q6: What can you do about the increase in Airplane Noise caused by more flights and a new route (BVA) into San Carlos Airport and planes using the new 'Nextgen' Southern approach route into San Jose Airport?
These are two separate problems impacting the residents in western Sunnyvale. San Carlos flights generated noise - #1 component of the problem is many more flights into San Carlos Airport. Surf Air is a new commuter flight service to & from Southern Ca into San Carlos Airport which has dramatically increased the # of flights. The #2 component of the problem is the FAA has approved a new "Bay Visual Approach (BVA)' route to into San Carlos Airport, which goes over western Sunnyvale. The BVA route concentrates the noise from planes going into San Carlos airport over western Sunnyvale instead of further west where these flights used to go. This situation is very unfair to the homeowners in western Sunnyvale. I have been and will continue to advocate for changes to the BVA route with our federal elected officials and the FAA.
Concentrated airplane noise created by the 'Nextgen' Southern approach route into San Jose Airport. This problem also has two components; more flights and concentrating the flights over western Sunnyvale. There is little that can be done about increasing # of flights overall. Residents have been focused on how to reduce the noise from those flights and spreading those flights out like they used to be before the NextGen Southern Approach Route was adopted. I will support Sunnyvale implementing local noise monitoring to create data to support requesting future changes to the FAA to implement more diverse and or alternate routes. I will continue to advocate for residents for changes to reduce aircraft noise with our federal elected officials and the FAA. Many of potential changes are summarized in the Ad Hoc Committee report. For the latest, check out the Save my Sunnyvale Skies website.
Q7. Are you in favor of a ballot measure to require a vote of the residents in order to sell or dispose of public open space on the PARCs list? Yes. Many residents are concerned that future Sunnyvale city councils may decide to sell some open space land, particularly at the Civic Center, to fund other needs like a new library or a new public safety building. I spoke in favor of protecting properties on the PARCs list at the June 26th city council meeting where a policy requiring a supermajority of 6 council members be requires to sell lands on the PARCs list was approved. Here is the summary of my comments from the official minutes "John Cordes spoke in support of the provision of the ordinance increasing the vote to a supermajority of six to overturn and recommended putting a measure on the ballot."
PARCS list = publicly accessible recreation and city service properties, and adopt a Resolution approving the list of PARCS properties subject to the requirements of the amended SMC Chapter 2.07
Q8. Our downtown has been terrible for a long time. What are you going to do about it? I agree our downtown was terrible for a long time. The great recession caused the developer to go bankrupt and lawsuits stalled development for years. The good news is that Sunnyvale’s downtown is more ahead quickly now. The new developer is moving as fast as they can. They have created a new Redwood Square and extended Murphy Ave down to McKinley. They are finishing the apartments along Washington Ave. They are building a new Whole Food and movie theater and there is much more planned. I will vote to keep these important projects on track and create an amazing, lively, walkable, sustainable downtown over the next few years. See http://citylinesunnyvaleconstruction.com/