The Planning Commission reviewed progress on plans for the new City Hall, which draws inspiration from a “treehouse” theme. The structure is pursuing LEED Platinum certification and will be Net Zero, with a photovoltaic roof. Exterior elements to evoke wood have evolved to wood-colored metal, and the structure will need to be steel and concrete, as structural timber did not meet the fire requirements for the lower floor. The path between Olive and the building entrance will be paved in a flowing water pattern with granite. Commissioners were concerned that the pavement ought to be permeable and perhaps softened a bit with additional landscaping.
The facade of a hotel approved for construction at 1120 Innovation Way is being modified. Earth tones are giving way to ridged metal.
Trumark Homes petitioned for a General Plan Amendment Initiation request to study changing the General Plan designation for the Sunnyvale Lumber site at 870 W Evelyn to build townhomes. Staff recommended against this initiation, owing to the area being the only C-4 zoning in the city, which permits lumber yards, fabrication, and other consumer-oriented light manufacturing that is otherwise not commercially viable under a different zoning designation.
Several neighbors objected to the proposal. Concerns included traffic, parking, safety, privacy, and a general sentiment that they liked having the lumber yard as a neighbor. The Planning Commission voted to recommend that the City Council deny the General Plan Amendment Initiation request.
Morse and Ahwanee
A second General Plan Amendment Initiation request was heard for 828 Morse and 560 E Ahwanee. The site is an apartment complex that is not in great shape. The applicant states an ambition to rebuild the complex, in phases, to avoid displacing residents. The site was downzoned in the 1990s, so to rebuild, the site would need to be changed back to medium-high or high-density zoning. The site is adjacent to the Columbia Park, Middle School, and Neighborhood Center, adjacent to the freeway, and a short walk from bus stops on Fair Oaks.
Several residents came forward with concerns that the rental agreement was being modified, and it was difficult to understand the changes. Staff recommended that the city has partnered with Project Sentinel, which will be happy to help tenants understand their legal rights. The Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the General Plan Amendment Initiation, but that the city should also pursue an agreement with the landlord to avoid displacement and reduce the number of relocations residents might experience during reconstruction.
Climate Action Playbook
Sunnyvale is unique in having a Climate Action Plan, which is undergoing revision. The Planning Commission reviewed the final draft of the “CAP 2.0” Playbook. The Planning Commission voted to endorse modifications proposed by other Boards and Commissions. This includes a recommendation from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission to prioritize implementation of a high-quality bicycle network, as well as more aggressive efforts to reduce Vehicle Miles Travelled. The Planning Commission made additional recommendations to enact policies to promote infill residential development, review minimum parking requirements, and develop a plan to maximize the number of trees that can be planted, which can help make the city more comfortable on hot days, while also serving as a method of carbon sequestration.
Selection of Chair and Vice Chair
The Planning Commission voted to retain the current Chair, Vice Chair, and seat assignments. Daniel Howard will serve as Chair and David Simons will serve as Vice Chair again for the next year.